Does Business Travel Expose Some Millennials’ Feelings of Entitlement?

Jetsetters

Millennials have been characterized by many as entitled, whiny brats, and I sometimes get flak for agreeing. I’m not saying everyone born after 1980 believes the world should be handed to them on a silver platter, but a sizeable portion of my cohorts do. I’ve compiled these observations over the last few years—through interactions during my four years at college and my post-grad life. And I can tell you right now, it’s not a matter of growing up in a working class family vs. growing up in an upper-middle class family.

Millennials of all socioeconomic backgrounds feel an overwhelming sense of entitlement I don’t think was as prevalent in past generations. Think about this—many older millennials are in the midst of planning weddings and having children. Now, in the history of marriages and child births (aka “forever”), have you heard of people acquiring small amounts of debt so they can afford their friends’ over-the-top bachelor parties, bridal showers and gender-reveal parties? When my presence is requested for a friend’s “birthday week” or “birthday month” festivities, I politely decline. I’ll gladly attend one event in someone’s honor, but I refuse to sit through and pay for four birthday dinners to celebrate anyone’s birth. I’m not sorry about it.

I see it in professional environments, too … but I’ll let the data speak for itself. Some research compiled by the folks at Expedia.com and Egencia found that travelers aged 18 to 30 are a lot freer with spending their company’s money than they would their own when they travel for work.  They are more likely to spend company money on a flight upgrade to business- or first-class, and 42% percent reported they will spend more of their company’s money on high-end meals than they would their own money (compared to 26% of people 46-65 who do this).

You’d think that millennials would feel justified in doing so—perhaps they feel deserving of a really nice dinner when they’re on the road because they’re putting in more hours than they would at the office (which I can totally agree with) … but no, that’s not necessarily the case. According to the study, 45% of respondents under the age of 34 claimed to work fewer hours when they travel than they do at the office. I feel it’s important to note that 39% of ALL travelers reported they work more hours when they are out of the office.

Millennials tend to be more comfortable mixing leisure with business—62% of 18 to 30 year olds have extended a business trip into a personal vacation, which is fabulous. With the high percentage of us who have racked up student loan debt, it’s tough to justify a cross-country or international trip for a weekend. Already being on a particular coast for business is a great way to explore a nearby city while spending a lot less to get there.

On another note—when it comes to voicing their opinions, millennial business travelers are more likely to express their dissatisfaction with their hotels. Although those who leave negative reviews are still in the minority (sixty-seven percent of travelers worldwide have never done so, according to Expedia and Egencia), Americans under the age of 34 more frequently posted negative reviews of hotels within the last year. Twenty-six percent of millennials left unfavorable reviews, while just 14% of their older counterparts did so. (This could be attributed to the fact that a much greater share of tech-savvy millennials probably leave reviews in general, thus generating a higher percentage of negative reviews.)

Regardless of whether or not it’s a feeling  of entitlement that exists within the millennial business traveler, this is the future of business travel. They already travel slightly more on business than any other generation (4.7 times per year vs. 3.6 times per year among 31 to 45 year and 4.2 times per year among 46 to 65 year olds), according to the Expedia and Egencia report. Paying attention to our habits, wants and dislikes is crucial as more of us continue to enter the corporate world.

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