Understanding the Digital Habits of Business Travelers

by James O'Brien + Skift Team - Oct 2014

Skift Research Take

Business travel is showing post-recession resiliency, and opportunities to reach working travelers abound in the digital ecosystem. For brands, capturing a segment of what’s estimated to be some $71 billion in business-travel revenue, however, means a balancing act between travelers’ wants, corporate travel policies, and the emerging expectations of Millennials in the space.

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Executive summary

The business traveler is a digital traveler. Research shows that they are carrying more digital devices, more of the time, and that their expectations surrounding how, when, and where they use their smartphones, tablets, and laptops are developing apace.

Business travel spend is also up, in recent years. Capturing a portion of the $71.2 billion in annual revenue that these travelers represent now means reaching them in the ways that they move and work. There are, however, challenges inherent to that proposition.

Digitally savvy Millennial business travelers, it turns
out, spend more in-trip than their colleagues among other demographics.

As digital devices augment all levels of the trip for travelers, the business travelers and the brands that serve them are navigating a landscape both fueled and complicated by the increasing autonomy that mobile technology provides to the individual. On the one hand, brands seek to meet the business travelers’ search for independence and flexibility during their journey — allowing them to interact with their itineraries and make changes via digital devices — but on the other hand they must also do this within the context of slower to change corporate travel policies. It is a balancing act on which travel management and verticals will increasingly depend.

These changes are not not only technological. The shifting digital habits of the business traveler are also generational. As Millennials age into the workforce, they are shaping — and to an extent sharing — their demands within the business-travel space. As they compose more and more of the business-travel population, they bring with them even greater potential for growth: digitally savvy Millennial business travelers, it turns out, spend more in-trip than their colleagues among other demographics. Supplying them with the right digital tools at the right times means further financial rewards for the industry. Experts say the landscape, in this regard, is not yet claimed. And therein lies an opportunity: there is room for new leaders to emerge in the business-travel space.