How the rise of bleisure among Millennials is shaping travel technology

A new study by Travelport find that Millennials’ preference for bleisure travel drives a need for smoother digital interactions throughout the journey.

The survey of 11,000 travelers in 19 countries who took at least one return flight in the last year finds that the adequacy and availability of digital trip management can be a major point of frustration for millennials in the UK

• 44% of British millennial business travelers consider being unable to access booking information at all times across their digital devices to be one of their biggest points of dissatisfaction when traveling. Only 32% of the UK’s Gen X travelers and 12% of baby boomers feel the same.
• 38% of are frustrated by a lack of personalization in travel recommendations based on their past preferences. Only 18% of baby boomers feel the same.
• 42% of Britain’s millennial business travelers also say a common pain point is being unable to get advice from human consultants during the booking process, suggesting many would want solutions that offer a blend of human and digital interactions.

Bleisure tech

The trend of combining business and leisure trips is growing among millennials travelers in the UK as it is in the US.

• 62% now regularly extend their business trips by a few days so they can see local attractions, while only 27% of baby boomers will do so.

As a result, most British millennial business travelers want to do their own travel research which ensures that itineraries stretch to meet both ends. Their digital habits are therefore shifting the types of technologies used for business travel bookings.

• 88% rely on travel review sites to fine-tune their itineraries and 84% go to general travel advice sites.
• 82% will also review friends’ travel videos and pictures on social media before making their final decision.
• 56% use voice search technology throughout the travel planning process. Only 38% of Gen X business travelers and 18% of baby boomers do so.
• 51% will use desktop or laptop to finalize travel arrangements, when they are required to book a trip themselves, and 42% will use a corporate booking tool.
• 27% of millennial business travelers, however, say that they now book business travel online through their smartphone and 23% use tablet devices. That is more than twice the number of Gen X business travelers who use their smartphone (11%) or tablet (12%) for booking. And millennials are four times more likely than baby boomers (6% in either case) mobile digital electronic devices will smartphone.

The trend towards mobile is also evident in how reliant UK’s business travelers are on apps when they travel. On average, UK-based millennial business travelers use 18 different categories of apps, nearly twice as many as baby boomers (10).

• 87% of UK millennial travelers use social media apps
• 86% use weather, banking and instant messaging apps
• 81% use ground transportation apps like Uber
• 81% use destination guide apps
• 78% use travel review and translation apps

Simon Ferguson, Vice President and Managing Director, Northern Europe, Travelport, commented:

“Millennials’ demand for always-on, omni-channel engagement and personalized recommendations keeps rising. Travel management companies, as well as other businesses that support corporate travel booking and management, need to rapidly evolve to ensure these needs are met or risk losing relevance. Travelport stands ready to support businesses as they respond to the rapid changes in customer behavior. Having spent many years investing in areas such as mobile, data analytics and artificial intelligence, we feel uniquely positioned to help our customers stay ahead of the curve.”

Let the Bleisure Commence

Travel brands around the world would be well advised to keep a closer eye on and foster this trend towards ‘bleisure’. A study conducted by Expedia last year finds that offering bleisure packages that highlight sight-seeing opportunities, special events and activities and offering small incentives like free breakfast, and discounts on spa services can encourage many travelers to extend their stay. Working with MICE and visitors bureaus to call attention to these packages in event literature can help encourage more meetings and exhibitions attendees to stay on after the special sessions end.

Employers can gain from liberal bleisure travel policies, as this adds very little if any costs to their travel budget but offers great value for their staff. As companies work to attract top millennial talent, being flexible with how employees take their time off and encouraging them to use accrued vacation days throughout the year makes good sense.

But travel technology will need to keep up, not only by supporting bleisure-themed travel search and making bleisure bookings easier, but also by embracing mobile wallets and other convenient forms of payment.

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