They've changed the way that we market most products. They're shaking up the housing market. They've gone from being called the "me me me" generation to "generation nice," and everything in between. They're a select demographic born between 1980 and 2000 that we just can't seem to stop talking about: Millennials.

Affecting all that they touch, their influence naturally extends into the travel market--and it's not hard to miss the ways they've reshaped business travel. Research by Booking.com for Business found that 30% of business travelers would accept a lower paying job if it meant they could travel more for work. They've given birth to the term "bleisure" by adding on more leisure time to their business travel than any previous generation. With a staggering 81% of Millennials combining business and leisure travel, some of those expenses are sure to have an effect on T&E.

So what are the biggest indulgences for today's corporate traveler?

  1. Meals - if there's one thing Millennials cannot say "no" to, it's an extravagant culinary treat. 42% of travelers in this generation were reported to spend more of their company's money on high-end meals than they would their own. Whether your company has a "be reasonable" policy or issues a per diem allowance for meals, dining can rack up a hefty tab on business trips.

  2. Hotels - Millennials are known for being a generation that enjoys luxury and unique experiences during their travel, so it's understandable that they enjoy all the perks that hotels offer. According to a study by Expedia, 37% percent of Millennial business travelers indulge on room service with company money.

  3. Flights - for a generation that travels more for business than any other (Millennials are on track to spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020 and a significant portion of that will go towards travel), making that travel as comfortable as possible is paramount. Millennials pay 13% more on airline tickets than non-millennial business travelers, and if policy dictates that it can go on the company card, it will.

  4. Rental Car - research has indicated that not only does Generation Y like to drive, but according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates, they love rental cars. The only concern from a T&E standpoint is whether they're going with the $150 per day Nissan or the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster at $1,950 a day.

Millennials aren't necessarily profligate spenders. They value a good deal when it's coming out of their own pocket, but when the company is footing the bill, it's a bit of a different story. Issues arise as T&E expenses become harder to control. Spending that goes over budget or even continuously teeters at the upper limits of policy can weigh heavily on finance.

T&E accounts for 10% of a typical organization's budget. While most companies have travel policies and parameters in place to control spending, incentivizing an employee to spend less can save the company a lot.

If your organization is concerned about monitoring or improving your employee travel program and minimizing company expenses, pinpointing trends in employee travel will be the gateway to successfully accomplishing those goals.

Invest in smart and efficient travel management, use strategic KPIs to track your spend, and get employees on board with reducing travel spend. You will find cost control that your whole company will love, including the Millennials.

Published on: Oct 24, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.