India’s New Generation of Road Warriors – What Makes Them Tick?

Having grown up in a time of rapid change, millennials have a set of priorities and expectations sharply different from previous generations. If companies want to boost employee engagement, increase travel program compliance and drive savings in their corporate travel spend in years to come, it is crucial for them to understand millennial travellers’ priorities, expectations and behaviours.

ONE OF the largest generations in history is about to move into its prime spending years. Millennials already represent the biggest segment of India’s workforce, accounting for more than half of India’s working population.

In Asia Pacific, we see a growing proportion of business travel being done by millennials, matching and surpassing countries like the United States or the UK. In India, for example, CWT’s data shows that millennial travelers already outnumber Gen X and baby boomers. In 2016, nearly 60% of the travelers from CWT’s clients in India were millennials. These millennials accounted for close to half of the trips made by CWT’s clients in India, representing about 53% per cent of the total travel spend. As millennials take on more senior roles in the workplace, we can expect the proportion of business travel by this generation to increase substantially over the next decade.

Having grown up in a time of rapid change, millennials have a set of priorities and expectations sharply different from previous generations. If companies want to boost employee engagement, increase travel program compliance and drive savings in their corporate travel spend in years to come, it is crucial for them to understand millennial travellers’ priorities, expectations and behaviours.

Here are seven ways that companies can better align their corporate travel programs with the expectations of their millennial travelers:

Give them an amazing mobile experience

Millennials want to use technology at every stage of the booking process and their preferred method is mobile. Think about how you communicate your travel policy, making it available online, via mobile and communicating with them through social media methods such as Yammer. You can also try employing gamification techniques to influence their travel behavior.

They’re using your online booking tool but if you really want them to stick to policy, the next move is mobile, giving them everything they need at their fingertips.

Keep them connected

For a hotel to be favored by the millennial generation, it does not need to have gadgets available (as travelers will have their own), but it does need to make it easy to connect those gadgets to WiFi. While some hotels offer free standard WiFi, others are locked into costly deals with providers and are forced to pass this cost on. As these contracts slowly come to an end, we should see free WiFi becoming a standard offering.

Immediate access to WiFi – whether that be on a flight, in an airport or in a hotel – will soon become the norm.

Online reviews are influential

While making travel decisions, millennials are highly influenced by user-generated content, including experiences and reviews shared on travel blogs and social media. They’re not shy about sharing a review of their own, either.

Give them access to review sites for your travel program and let them make sound choices that fit within your travel policy. They will then be less drawn to alternative channels to book their travel.

Personalise it

Personalisation isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s a must. The new generation of travelers expect content to be tailored to them and their needs. In the case of business travel, this could mean up-front service notifications such as push messages, email reminders and profile messages

True personalisation is more than just customizing a promotional email or newsletter with each customer’s first name; it’s about creating unique experiences for each customer at every stage of their journey. Technology such as Near Field Communication (NFC), combined with smartphone capabilities, can proactively push offers and personalized information to travelers.

The key to delivering real-time, personal service in business travel is using data in a meaningful and productive way.

Consider the sharing economy

Research by Nielsen found that millennials are twice as likely as Gen-Xers to participate in the sharing economy, from ride-sharing to apartment rentals.

While the sharing economy does offer real benefits in terms of convenience and lower costs, there are still some concerns around the consistency of service offered by these companies, as well as the legality of these services in various markets.

In any case, the sharing economy is not a passing trend and these services should not be ignored. It’s likely that some of your travelers are already using services like Uber and Airbnb for business travel, even if these suppliers aren’t part of your travel program.

The sharing economy is a good fit for some travel programs, but it may not be right for all. It really depends on a company’s culture, their appetite for something new, and their risk management policies, among other things.

Once you’ve done your homework and determined whether or not the sharing economy is right for your company, you should outline that in your travel policy and educate your travelers. If it’s not allowed, tell them why. If it is allowed, guide them on how to be responsible and safe when using these suppliers.

Make sense of “bleisure” travel

“Bleisure travel”, or situations in which travelers add personal leisure days to their business trip, is another area where Millennials stand apart from previous generations.

A recent study by the CWT Solutions Group found that a traveler under 25 is two to three times more likely than one aged 40-45 to add a weekend to his or her business trip.

It is therefore important for companies start creating travel policies around this trend. Well-designed policies around bleisure travel create opportunities for organizations to drive savings and boost employee engagement and morale, among other benefits.

Understand their travel behaviors

The travel industry has always operated on advanced reservations, but that might be changing soon. Millennials are famous (or perhaps infamous) for their spontaneity. They are far more likely to book a trip or change their travel plans at the last minute, and travel businesses are taking note. Many airlines and hotels have begun offering last-minute online travel deals targeted at digitally savvy millennial travelers.

Millennials are also less fussed about flying economy instead of business class, or staying in a 3-star property instead of a 5-star hotel; instead, they look more for convenience and flexibility.

What would therefore help is allowing greater flexibility to travelers around the “trade-offs” they could make when working on their travel plans, which might actually result in cost savings for the organization. Of course, safety, security and “duty of care” continue to guide these decisions.



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