Despite advances in technology that have made telecommuting and live-streaming conferences and events commonplace, business travel is booming--and the reason has as much to do with who is traveling as how they travel.
Last year, more than 514 million business trips were taken with a total economic impact of $424 billion. While men still make up a large portion of those who travel for work each year, women and younger people are increasingly joining the fray. That's according to a new report on business travelers from the Upside Travel Company, a business-travel booking site based in Washington, D.C.
The survey, which canvassed more than 4,500 respondents between February and April, shows several shifts among travelers that might be helpful to note--particularly if you travel for business yourself or rely on this community as customers. Here are some trends from the report:
1. Wandering women
More women travel for work than ever before; they now make up nearly half of all business travelers. The report found women business travelers are significantly younger than their male counterparts. They also tend to value more information about what to do and what to expect in their destination cities. Women tend to shop around for booking options and are more likely to be dissatisfied with their chosen option, the primary reason being poor customer service.
2. Roving Millennials
Younger business travelers are also on the rise. The most frequent travelers are now just as likely to be under 45 as over. Upside co-founder Jon Ellenthal said, "older men are moving away from their position of dominance. In fact, by 2020, more than 50 percent of business travelers will be classified as Millennials."
3. Mixing business with pleasure
Business travelers are also finding ways to enjoy their trips more, with 50 percent extending trips to add in leisure activities. Upside CEO and Priceline founder Jay Walker says the ability to give immediate feedback through social media means users expect more from services--and that includes business travelers who maybe were overlooked by businesses in the past. "Because of Yelp and Tripadvisor, you can't hide if you're not a good business person. There's been a shift in the standards we expect."
4. All about you
Walker added that while there is no single group or image that represents today's business traveler, the greatest trend he has seen is that more travelers are personalizing their experiences. "In the past, companies had very rigid guidelines for employee travel, but now we can see employees pushing back and asking for a budget, they're saying 'maybe I'll book an Airbnb instead of a hotel, they're saying 'just tell me how much I need to spend, and I'll decide how to spend it.'"