Millennials who travel frequently for business are changing the way corporate travel is done. At work, this demographic generally places an emphasis on producing meaningful work, finding a creative outlet, and facilitating a team-oriented environment. We spoke to a millennial road warrior who shared her preferences, challenges and feedback on what work travel means to the youngest generation of business travelers.
Q: How do you typically book a trip? Do you rely on people, apps, or a combination?
A: For regular trips that are in a familiar destination, I rely on an agent and we talk by phone. If I’m returning to a place I’ve been before, she’ll simply rebook the previous stay. I have so much to do already and I trust that she’ll find a good deal for me. I avoid too much clicking and comparing - it gets frustrating and takes up a lot of my time, and I don’t need every single detail in front of me. It’s not the best use of my time when you consider my hourly rate. She knows that I prefer to save time over cutting costs and she’ll book the right flights for me. I don’t want to lose a day of work to make a meeting or trip.
Q: When you choose a hotel, what are your absolute must-haves in terms of amenities, location, special services and loyalty programs?
A: Primarily, I book accommodations for work travel according to where I have loyalty points. I like the consistent experience when I stick with a particular brand. Wi-Fi is a big deal for work travel, and fitness rooms or nearby studio classes are also top in my consideration set. I need access to breakfast and coffee, and I’m also concerned about having a clean, quiet place that’s close to the office.
Q: How do loyalty programs factor in?
A: I prefer a big hotel brand like Hilton or Marriott if it’s convenient to where I’m working and not excessively expensive. Of course, it has to be on our preferred vendor list. I like to build up my points and once I’ve reached a certain status level, it’s hard to let that go. Status gets me a nicer room, which is great when there’s not much to do other than work. I used points for my last vacation - it’s the perk of staying consistent with a hotel brand. When I change projects, or even jobs, that might change my loyalty preferences. Or if I have to travel with a senior colleague who has status on a certain airline, we have to fly together and she gets to decide on the carrier.
Q: Speaking of airlines, when you book an airline ticket, what’s important to you?
A: Getting points! I book with the carrier where I can get the most rewards, then by what’s most convenient, and finally price. Personally I’ll take an inconvenient flight to get the points, but ultimately, the schedule is what’s most important. I try to avoid an airline known to have a lot of delays. Our Travel Policy allows for direct flights even if more expensive, and I really appreciate that.
Q: When you are away on business, do you tend to eat out or stay in?
A: I like to ask local co-workers where to eat – it’s a nice ice breaker… a way to connect. I’ll start with asking around for something healthy and close to hotel, then go to Yelp to do more research. Sometimes I put it out on social media and see what I get back. I might Snapchat – ‘Hey I’m going to London, where should I eat?’ I get a lot of fun comments and suggestions. If we’re having a team dinner, I’ll use OpenTable to secure the reservation so that we have no wait time. And on days when I’ve been at the office 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., I get room service and chill.
Q: What’s your go-to technology for business travel?
A: When I’m at a location I’ve never visited before, I make a Google Map and pin all the restaurants and sights I want to see, and also fitness classes I want to try. These maps are great because they even work internationally and they use GPS so you don’t need Wi-Fi. I’ll bookmark a cool coffee shop or historic site on my Google Map and periodically check to see if I’m close to anything I’ve marked.
Q: Have you taken any business trips that you extended into a vacation? Does your company allow this?
A: Our Travel Policy allows a significant other to accompany you on a business trip. I was on a weekly project that ended the work week on Thursdays, so I stayed over the weekend quite frequently. When I go to a conference, I’ll spend an extra day before or after to take in the local sights. It works out well for the company because the flight is cheaper if I stay over a Saturday night.
Q: What’s the situation with ground transportation – car rental, Uber?
A: When I’m working in a metropolitan area, I’ll use Uber or taxis - I don’t want to be behind the wheel when there’s so much traffic. But, I can’t get an Uber in some mid-sized cities, so I rent when I’m there. I like to stay within walking distance of the office whenever possible. When I’m working late at night, I use Uber Select if I’m by myself for safety reasons.
Want to find out more about how Millennials and Gen Xers approach business travel, check out Generational Travel Differences: How Age Impacts Your Business Travel Policy.