Millennials get a bad rap for everything from being unable to commit to a job to jeopardizing the cereal market. But, here's a bit of good news coming out of travel and expense management company Concur: Businesses that have millennials in their workforces may actually save money — at least when it comes to business travel.
A recent report from Concur, published last week, analyzed $36 billion worth of travel spend across dining, entertainment and hotel expenses. In assessing that spend based on spender age — examining millennials, Gen X and baby boomers, specifically — Concur uncovered something that may come as a surprise: Millennials actually spend less than their older coworkers while away on a business trip.
Employees aged 36 to 65, which encompasses both Gen X and baby boomer workers, accounted for a whopping 80 percent of dining, entertainment and hotel expenses and, on average, spent 66 percent more than millennials. In terms of dollars and cents, Gen X and baby boomers averaged spending $8,596 each across nine quarters (Q1 2015 to Q1 2017), while millennials averaged $5,188 spent across that same time frame.
A closer look at the data, though, shows a more complex picture.
According to Concur, “Millennial purchasing patterns may defy their reputation for being selfish and entitled, but they aren't drastically different than their senior colleagues, which we might expect.”
Millennials spend, on average, 18 percent less than employees aged 36 to 65 on dining and entertainment, but spend on meals is a bit more similar. The millennial generation spends an average of $33 per meal compared to older peers who average $39 per meal.
The one category in which millennials outspend their older coworkers, though, is on hotel-related expenses like parking and WiFi. Millennials spend approximately 3 percent more than senior colleagues at an average of $114 per transaction, compared to $111 per transaction for older professionals.
Regional, Industry Differences
Concur did find a few trends in how various age groups spend while on business trips based on location and industry.
For instance, millennials spend less than older generations across the globe, but the biggest difference can be seen across the Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, the report found.
Further, researchers found employees in the financial services and public services industries spend more than professionals in other markets, regardless of age. Financial services workers spend 22 percent more, while public services spend 19 percent more, on average.
Why It Matters
Understanding the differences in how various age groups spend corporate cash isn't about creating a rift between generations in the workforce. According to Concur, it's key to ensuring expense policies are as effective as possible.
“As the workforce evolves, employee spend patterns are one of the many factors companies should consider to make sure travel, expense and invoice management programs meet their changing needs,” said Tim Macdonald, Concur's lead for travel and entertainment Cloud initiatives, in a blog post. “For example, the millennial generation is looking for a seamless experience to book and manage travel, but are companies adapting quickly enough to implement integrated online and mobile booking experiences?”
Macdonald also identified three key strategies for businesses to upgrade business travel experience and their expense management strategies.
First, “Be clear and to the point,” he wrote, noting that policies must be straightforward for employees to understand and for businesses to enforce. Second, companies should “ensure policies are easy to find,” according to Macdonald. This keeps expense policies top-of-mind and readily available for workers. And third, he noted, these companies must “emphasize the benefits.” This holds employees responsible across the enterprise and supports broader adherence to the rules.