Generational Differences Among Business Travelers’ Booking Habits

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found a number of generational differences among business travelers’ booking habits, according to a new study conducted with Carlson Wagonlit Travel. More than 500 business travelers were queried on pricing, needs, booking processes, amenities and more. Baby boomers and millennials proved to be split on the issue, however, their responses varied on the outcome of booking, rather than the process itself.

Millennials claimed to book their own trips less often than older travelers. But when they did, the younger generation communicated more often with hotel representatives and travel counselors before booking. Although Millennials are assumed to be more tech-savvy, study authors associate this facet with inexperience traveling for business.

“In identifying the booking habits of business travelers, the study revealed several ways companies can improve their travel policies,” said Joseph Bates, GBTA Foundation vice president of research. “By meeting traveler expectations with corporate booking tools, travel buyers can encourage travelers to stay within the system and not seek out alternative methods. Travel buyers also have an opportunity to influence what travel apps are downloaded and used bringing consistency to the use of travel apps within their travel programs.”

The price of hotels and the ability to meet travelers’ needs ranked highest in the survey, suggesting that booking methods should display more options which yield the greatest savings. Travelers also preferred a fast and easy booking process, aided with mobile apps to book on-the-go.

However, only 39 percent have booked business trips with a smartphone, compared to 58 percent that use laptops and 43 percent still using desktop computers. Just 25 percent have used a tablet to book accommodations. And, less than half of travelers surveyed have even downloaded a travel app. But Millennial and Gen-X travelers are more likely than Baby Boomers to use hotel, travel reservation, car rental, hotel check-in and general travel apps.

The study ranked the following booking factors in order of importance:

-61 percent wanted to find the right hotel that met their needs.
-54 percent were conscious of the price.
-53 percent wanted an easy booking process.
-44 percent wanted to spend a minimal amount of time booking hotels.
-41 percent liked to receive free amenities during the booking process.
-23 percent preferred to book on mobile devices.
-20 percent liked to chat with an agent.

The way business travel is booked also depends on the size of an organization. Employees from larger companies were more likely to use an online booking tool than those from smaller organizations who may lack access to alternative platforms for choosing hotel accommodations. Those that used alternative channels said they are not always required to share travel information with their company.

According to the survey, most travelers used two of three methods:

-54 percent used direct channels to book stays.
-41 percent employed a third-party website.
-5 percent used an event registration website.


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