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Business or Pleasure: The Travelling Habits of Millennials

Maturing as both consumers and business owners or entrepreneurs, Millennials are playing a pivotal role in the shaping of just about any market or industry you can think of. Because of their influence and spending potential, their habits in different walks of life have been carefully scrutinized by advertising agencies, travel companies, hospitality services providers and everyone else hoping to start earning their loyalty.

Business or Pleasure: The Travelling Habits of Millennials

Millennials are adventurous; eager to learn and expand their experience; thrilled by the hunt for a bargain, but still willing to spend a bit more for certain comforts; and, of course, much more reliant on mobile devices than their elders. Take a closer look into their traveling habits below.

How Frequently Do They Travel?

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While there are some discrepancies in the results of various studies on the subject, most seem to have reached the conclusion that Millennials travel more often than members of older generations, both for business and for leisure. Naturally, this depends on a number of additional factors, such as income, marital status and so on.

One of the major sources of information we used is a study by Expedia conducted in 2013 by Harris Interactive. It included approximately 8,500 employed Millennials from all over Asia Pacific, Europe, North and South America. According to its findings, people under 30 take 4.7 business and 4.2 leisure trips per year (people who most frequently find the time or means for leisurely travel seem to be American and Canadian Millennials with 7.8 trips per year). On the other hand, members of Generation X have been found to take 3.6 business and 2.9 leisure trips a year. The same study found that Millennials are more likely to merge business with pleasure by extending a business trip into a vacation. While only 51% of members of the 31-45 year olds have done this, 62% of Millennials have taken the opportunity to engage in some ‘bleasure’ (business + pleasure).

Another study that will be heavily referenced here is the one by The Boston Consulting Group, Service Management Group (SMG) and Barkley, conducted in 2013. The study observed the habits of 4000 Millennials and 1000 participants in the 35-74 age bracket. All the correspondents were from the United States. The study determined that, despite the fact that Millennials can be thrifty when it comes to certain aspects of traveling, on average, they still spend more than their elders. The most common motivation for leisure travel among Millennials seem to be different special events or adventure trips. Business focused Millennials most frequently travel in order to attend different conferences, seminaries, and other events that can help them with professional development.

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When it comes to booking trips and making use of different loyalty programs, Millennials seem to be somewhat prone to succumbing to the temptation of instant gratification. While this is sometimes dismissed as rashness of youth or impatience, it makes sense when you consider the dynamic lifestyle and overabundance of choice that this generation has been growing up with. For instance, 43% of people between 18 and 34 think that as soon as they sign up for a service, they should immediately receive the benefits of a rewards program. Likewise, the mentioned Expedia study found that half of them will consider availability of such programs when deciding on a service provider, while only a third of their seniors will base their choice on this criterion. Not only are they more mindful of such offers, they are much more pliable to being swayed by them to change providers, even once they’re already mid-journey.

Unsurprisingly, the same study shows that Millennials are far more likely to use mobile devices to book their trip, with 32% and 20% of them using smartphones and tablets for this purpose, respectively. When it comes to older people, these numbers are much lower – 12% and 9%.

Seeing how they enjoy looking for the best deals, they can sometimes postpone booking their trip, if for nothing else then to ensure they’ve seen as many offers and programs as possible. Regardless of their reasons, a study by Hipmunk found that while 59% members of the Generation X will book their trip 6 months in advance, only 47% of Millennials will do so.

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The Journey

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Airline companies have recognized the potential of the Millennial generation, and have done extensive research on the way they travel. While this group can sometimes prove to be more frugal than members of Generation X (for instance while only 54% of people older than 30 would be willing to sit next to a restroom on the plane to have the fare reduced, 70% of Millennials find that to be a good deal) they can also spring for some comforts in the right conditions. As an example, while only 18% of those older than 30 are prepared to pay extra for a ticket that allows you access to an open bar, 38% percent of those under 30 will be perfectly willing to pay a little more. The same goes for themed flights (79%M VS. 64%X) and paying for a ‘child free ticket’ (24%M VS. 18%X). However, those statistics mostly reflect the habits of Millennials who are travelling for business.

Apparently, this generation can be quite discerning and willing to pay extra for convenience or comfort, as long as they are not paying for it out of their own pocket. As long as they can charge the extra expenses to their company, Millennials will gladly upgrade the flight or treat themselves, however, when travelling for leisure, situation is quite different. For instance, when going somewhere just for the fun of it, without an expense account that is, 28% of Millennials will stand for the duration of the flight in order to pay less, while only 16% of people belonging to the Generation X will make this sacrifice.

Finally, one of the interesting things to mention in this section is that, while this generation is usually known for brand loyalty and sticking with the businesses they perceive as credible, they seem to be really fickle when it comes to the choice of the company they travel with. As a matter of fact, they are four times more likely to refuse loyalty to an airline company than members of other generations.

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We’ve already mentioned that the most popular leisure destinations for Millennials are those which promise adventure and excitement, while business oriented youngsters are most likely to travel with professional development in mind, but we have yet to discuss how they behave once they get there.

Again, if they are travelling on company’s expense, 42% will spring for a nicer meal and 37% for room service, while only 26% and 21% of their older colleagues would do the same. When choosing a hotel, business travelers will first consider its exact location, while price will take the second place; while those travelling for fun will first look at the room price, and only then take the location into account.

Members of the Millennial generation are most likely to post a negative review of an establishment they felt deserved it, be it a taxi service, restaurant or a hotel, but even they can hold back, as apparently, a whopping 67% of people surveyed by Expedia have never left one in their life. Despite that, 77% of interviewed Millennials still consider online reviews to be extremely important when making a choice on an airline or lodging.


A vibrant and virile generation, armed with nothing but a Samsonite carry on and a smartphone, Millennials take their zest for life with them wherever they go. For instance, 79% of them will readily admit they are more adventurous when it comes to food or drink when they are abroad than they are at home; while 33% will delay buying a home if they can instead use the money for a dream vacation. Even though some might call this behavior reckless, Millennials see it differently.

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