Travel has become integral to most businesses, spread out through virtually every industry, during the the past few decades. Even when taking into account the advent of more communication options than ever before - Skype, Join Me and other video conferencing applications - there's still a great deal of good to be gained from providing a personal touch in various business relationships and interacting in person regardless of distance.
Like all aspects of the modern economy, business travel is dominated by trends and cyclical patterns. As a result, it's important for employees who regularly travel to keep abreast of the latest happenings in this regard to potentially make their professional lives more efficient. Employers should also monitor these trends in the interest of facilitating best practices that help their jet-setting staffers fulfill their responsibilities with greater efficacy and more benefit to the company's bottom line. Let's look at some recent business travel trends today:
Millennials are changing the conversation
Gallons of ink - both figuratively and literally - have been spilled in the past few years regarding the lifestyle habits and professional behavior of those within the millennial generation, running the gamut from highly positive to hand-wringingly negative. Regardless of one's stance on the generation, though, it can't be denied that those in their 20s and early to mid-30s who've entered the working world exert a considerable influence in the market.
According to CNBC, this effect extends to business travel. Not only do millennials take business trips twice as often as baby boomers, but they're also being more conscious of what is and isn't valuable. Specifically, these young professionals seek out flight and lodging deals in the short term - everything from temporary hotel discounts to cheap tickets to Florida or any number of other destinations - rather than joining frequent-flyer or hospitality-related loyalty programs. Additionally, they're more likely to use smartphone apps and other mobile solutions to aid numerous aspects of their travel planning. Last but not least, CNBC noted millennials' proclivity for extending their business trips into personal vacations when the opportunity arises, thus taking advantage of lodging deals contingent on longer stays.
Because all of these practices can be considerably advantageous to business travelers regardless of age or demographic, it will behoove employers to recommend these to traveling staff whenever and wherever applicable.
The convergence of high-tech with peace and quiet
Millennials are well documented as a tech-savvy generation, but the commonality of technology in business travel can't be solely credited to them. All high-flying employees enjoy significant advantages based on creative uses of technology. According to a piece from The Economist (aggregated by The Australian), approximately two-thirds of 5,000 travelers surveyed - residents of Europe, Australia and the U.S. - stated that booking travel arrangements through solutions that synced across all devices, and editing them up to the minute as needed, was a major priority for them. Additionally, 50 percent said that they sought out travel websites and apps that offered them instant updates via text message.
Interestingly, the data noted by the news provider also found that 50 percent of business travelers, when asked, said that they wanted little to no human interaction while traveling for professional purposes. Based on the rest of the answers to the survey's questions, it did not seem that this stemmed from any macro-scale antisocial tendencies, but rather from the need, real or perceived, to make business travel as speedy and efficient as possible.
Both of the sets of trends described above - millennial preferences and efficiency over all - have benefits that all corporate travelers can observe. Thus, employees and their managers should endeavor to incorporate them into their operations.