Millennials and Baby Boomers Split on Business Travel Preferences

Millennials and Baby Boomers

Millennials are much more inclined to travel for business than older generations, according to the latest Business Traveler Sentiment Index by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and American Express. The findings suggest that millennials and baby boomers are split among a range of business travel preferences, from airport security to Wi-Fi access.

Younger travelers were 45 percent more interested in travel for work purposes, compared to 26 percent of baby boomers. Their willingness to travel could be explained by the fact that 57 percent of millennials polled believe that face-to-face meetings cannot be replaced by technology.

“Millennials are the newest generation of road warriors, and like their more experienced peers, they understand that face-to-face meetings remain key to getting business done,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and chief operating officer.  “Over the last quarter, business travelers across the board – millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers – reported that their goals were met on business trips, leading to greater satisfaction.”

However, millennials deferred back to technology as their favorite airport amenity. About 30 percent were interested in free Wi-Fi, versus only 17 percent of older travelers. That figure could be explained by their social media habits—46 percent use social media to connect with friends while traveling, while 17 percent of baby boomers admitted to the same.

Susan Chapman-Hughes, senior vice president of American Express Global Corporate Payments, thinks that social media could be a reason why millennials view business travel as less of a burden. “This generation may see more upsides to business travel because they’ve found new ways to stay connected to their personal and professional commitments while on the road,” she said.

Baby boomers were more interested in ease of travel and airport convenience. About 47 percent of older travelers preferred not to pay checked baggage fees, compared to 34 percent of millennials. For 52 percent of baby boomers, a smooth security process was essential to a positive experience. Just 35 percent of millennial travelers saw the same importance in getting through airport security.

There were only two areas agreed upon by older and younger generations. Two out of five business travelers wanted more non-stop flights to their destinations. And nearly two thirds of those surveyed disliked allowing other passengers to talk on mobile devices while aboard the aircraft—only 9 percent did not oppose phone use in-flight.