Millennials vs Baby Boomers: Don’t believe the hype

Johan Wilson, UK & Ireland country director at Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), teaches us not to judge a book by its cover when it comes to the millennial traveller

Meet Emily. Emily was born after 1980, is tech savvy, entered the labour market around the time of the economic crisis and will belong to the largest group of travellers from 2024. Emily is of course a millennial.

Beyond the usual stereotyping of millennials, what do we actually know about their travel habits and what impact are they having on your travel programme?

Staying with Emily, she has 3.3 business trips a year and travels an average of 3.22 days per trip – that is almost half a day longer than the average of all travellers. Contrary to what some buyers may think, Emily is very aware of costs and manages to keep them low in comparison to her colleagues from the generations before hers – the Baby Boomers or Generation X. She saves almost 25 per cent on the average ticket price compare to the Baby Boomers and 17 per cent to Gen X. Of course, due to their higher hierarchical position in the company, her colleagues are more likely to resort to more expensive alternatives, such as business class tickets, but that is only one aspect of cost comparison.

Emily also needs a solid risk management policy in place to feel safe on the road. Compared to others she fears more about her safety and security and has already cancelled a business trip due to safety concerns.

Your company should be extremely happy to have Emily on board. She keeps the travel costs low and is very productive on the road. This is why her travel manager should consider some upgrades for excellent booking behaviour.

But companies should also keep an eye on the flexibility of the rules within the travel policy so that Emily, who usually adheres to the policy, is not forced to book options that cause a multitude of stress and endanger her productivity on the road.

Given the fact that Emily is more concerned about her safety than other generations, companies should prepare a lot of information for her business trips to make her feel secure. Emergency contact lists and a well-structured process for a crisis are a necessity. 

So don’t always believe the hype around millennials, as data shows they are some of your most cost-conscious and safety-aware people in your organisation.

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