Millennials, who now account for roughly a third of the U.S.
workforce, represent a growing share of business travelers. Unlike the road
warriors of previous generations, however, millennials are demanding a new type
of business travel experience, and hotels are moving quickly to accommodate
In a recent survey of business professionals ages 25 to 35
released by Hilton Hotels & Resorts, nearly 70% of respondents expressed a
desire to extend their work trips for leisure.
Wes Bergstrom, vice president for hotel value and revenue
management at American Express Global Business Travel, said, "The
behaviors and priorities of today's modern business traveler are evolving. They
are looking for work-life balance. Because of these shifts, companies are
beginning to adapt their travel policies to enable both personal and
Players in the hospitality space have also taken note. In
recent years, hotel brands have revamped their rooms, public spaces and
marketing approaches to better appeal to younger business travelers.
Emily Drees, a travel adviser for Christopherson Business
Travel, said, "Our millennial clients tend to ask more questions about
their hotel, like asking about which hotel might be great for exploring a cool
area. They also appreciate things like quick and easy food and coffee options,
walkability or a shuttle service to a downtown district. Hotels have responded
by trying to give their properties a hip, modern and young vibe."
This year, Hilton began targeting millennials with its New
Business Traveler Initiative. Featuring work travel tips from ClassPass founder
Payal Kadakia and Milk Makeup co-founder Zanna Roberts Rassi, the marketing
platform aims to help new business travelers maximize their time on the road.
Armand LeVasseur, senior director of global brand marketing
for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, said, "We want to let these travelers
know that if you come stay with us, we can ensure you'll have a great work
trip, both from the primary business standpoint but also from the leisure
standpoint. None of us enjoy having the laptop out at 8 p.m., and we want to
reassure that new business traveler that it's OK to put it away."
Crowne Plaza's WorkLife room concept features zones that encourage guests to work, relax and recharge.
Hilton is also touting business travel-friendly amenities
like its recently launched Five Feet to Fitness room concept, which offers 11
options for in-room fitness equipment and accessories, as well as its Herb N'
Kitchen in-room delivery service and dining concept, which specializes in
healthy grab-and-go options.
Likewise, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is targeting
millennial business travelers with its Crowne Plaza brand, which began rolling
out a major refresh last year.
Meredith Latham, regional vice president for Crowne Plaza,
said, "Just like the shifting needs of travelers, we knew Crowne Plaza
needed to adapt. Our focus has been to keep the modern business traveler in the
center of everything."
The brand's revitalization has included the addition of a
WorkLife room concept, which offers "distinct zones" for working and
relaxing as well as free WiFi, multiple USB and power outlets and wireless
printing capabilities. Crowne Plaza has also transformed its lobby area,
creating what it calls a Plaza Workspace. Latham said the Plaza Workspaces are
Crowne Plaza's "answer to the desire for co-working spaces.
"Millennial business travelers have become more
attracted to the freedom that 'third spaces' can deliver," Latham said. "What
was once a business center with desktop computers and printers in the basement
is now a collaborative workspace in the lobby that is designed to accommodate
So far, Crowne Plaza has 3,000 WorkLife rooms and close to
25 renovated Plaza Workspace lobbies across the U.S.
While hotels are certainly making a strong play for new
business travelers, millennial darling Airbnb is also gaining traction in the
space. The home-sharing giant reports that around 700,000 companies have had
employees sign up and book stays with its Airbnb for Work platform since its
2014 launch, with Gap Inc., Facebook, Twitter and Columbia Sportswear Co. among
the site's many corporate users.
David Holyoke, global head of Airbnb for Work, said his
division "makes it easy to travel for work without sacrificing the
comforts of home. It allows travelers to feel like they get a chance to live in
a city, even if it's just for one night."
Holyoke added that many business travelers are opting to add
weekend days to their work travel in order to explore the destinations they're
"More than 30% of Airbnb for Work bookings in the past
year included at least one weekend night," he said.
Earlier this month, Airbnb for Work announced it would be
expanding into the team-building experience and meetings segments. According to
Holyoke, 60% of Airbnb for Work trips over the past year were booked for more
than one guest, and nearly 40% had three or more guests, suggesting the
platform is well suited for teams traveling together.
"For meetings spaces, sterile conference rooms aren't
motivating and don't foster creativity," he said. "People need more
than whiteboards and colored Post-it notes. A relaxing environment helps people
open up to connect and contribute, and an interesting space helps people
experience something new together."