REPORT FROM THE U.S.—A generation gap among U.S. business travelers might define the travel landscape in 2012, according to Deloitte’s annual business travel survey.
Corporate travel is expected to fuel growth in the hospitality industry in 2012, meaning the survey’s findings could be beneficial to hoteliers looking to capture additional business travelers this year.
Eighty-five percent of the business travelers surveyed by Deloitte said they expected to take the same amount of business trips or more in 2012 when compared to 2011.
Younger respondents, aged 18-44, are expected to take more trips in the upcoming year, with 27.1% responding that they will travel more frequently in 2012 opposed to the 16.1% of business travelers in the 45+ age group that reported they will travel more frequently.
Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman and global leader of the Travel, Hospitality & Leisure sector at Deloitte, said the younger generation remains optimistic about an economic recovery and look forward to travel, while older generations experienced these cycles before and are more cautious about traveling.
The survey also found that a generational divide might be responsible for business travelers’ hotel preferences.
Key distinctions include:
• Of the business travelers aged 30 or over, 49.3% were more in agreement that hotel brands are not consistent. Meanwhile, just 39.5% of the respondents between the ages of 18-29 said brands are not consistent.
• Millennial travelers (18-29) tend to be more brand loyal with 45.6% of respondents saying they would stay at their favorite hotel brand even if it were not in a convenient location for a business trip, while only 36.6% of older respondents (30+) said they would do the same.
• Older respondents, 45 and older, work less often in the lobby or common area of the hotel; 61%reported they do not. Only 38.6% of younger respondents, 18-44 year olds, said they do not work in hotel common areas.
• Of the younger respondents, 35.8% prefer to use automated check-in kiosks rather than checking in with a hotel employee at the front desk versus the 19.4% of older travelers that prefer automated check-in systems.
HotelManagement Ad Will Appear Here
“People want to feel like they’re more than just another number walking through the door. I don’t think the hotel companies have really addressed that,” Wiessenberg said.
While loyalty programs are one way hotels have started to tackle the issue, Weissenberg said older business travelers are looking to be further understood, as they feel their hotel experiences are not unique, which is what they look for when they travel. Travelers want the hotels they frequently visit to know the amenities they prefer and to facilitate the check-in process for them.
Weissenberg believes more limited-service properties are doing a better job at providing these services for corporate travelers. “They keep things for them, they know them … it’s something they may not necessarily find at the full-service hotels.”
Younger business travelers, on the other hand, tend to stay in hotels that appeal to the issues they care about. For example, sustainability is important to the younger generation, and they expect hotel companies to follow certain standards, Weissenberg said.
There is a lot of opportunity to attract the younger travelers by offering them the environment that appeals to them, Weissenberg said. They see lobbies as social environments where people can sit and work on their laptops as opposed to baby boomers that prefer to work alone in their rooms.
Despite the variations in hotel preferences among business travelers, there’s one thing many do agree upon. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said they expect more from hotels in regards to services and amenities given that hotel prices have increased.
“If people are paying more, they expect more … I don’t think they’re just going, ‘This is the law of supply and demand,’” Weissenberg said.
Amenities such as free breakfast and Wi-Fi are becoming more and more expected, he said. In fact, 77.3% of respondents believe that complimentary Internet is important to them.
Weissenberg’s one takeaway for hoteliers is that the outlook for 2012 still is good in the United States from a business traveler point of view.
“Even though we keep reading in the papers about all the problems in Europe, it still has not seemed to impact business travel in the U.S.,” he said.