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Millennial travelers spend more, complain more

8:16 AM, Oct 15, 2013   |    comments
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Millennials travel like no other age group when they're on the road for leisure or business, spending more and complaining more, a new study released today has found.

When traveling for business, Millennials - those between the ages of 18 and 30 - are freer with their company's money, according to the study conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Expedia.com and Egencia, its business travel sister company. They are fans of room service: 37% said they would spend more of their company's money on room service, compared with 21% of those between the ages of 46 and 65.

They are more willing to use company money to pay for high-end meals, with 42% of Millennials saying they would spring for a fancy meal, vs. 26% of their older peers. They are also more likely to spend company money on a flight upgrade to business or first class and on alcohol.

Harris Interactive polled 8,535 employed adults online in 24 countries. The study was conducted between Aug. 20 and Sept. 12.

The behavior of Millennial travelers is being closely studied by hotels, airlines and research firms because they're projected to become the most influential and lucrative travelers as they mature.

For one thing, they travel a lot more for business and pleasure than travelers ages 31 to 45, according to the study. American and Canadian Millennials travel far more than their European counterparts, the study found.

"As Millennials increase their decision-making power at work and at home, they'll be increasingly disruptive in both areas of travel, and our aim is to have the right mix of technology, supply and programs to make the most of every trip they take," says Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Expedia.

Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International's largest brand with 600 hotels, recently started the "Travel Brilliantly" marketing campaign aimed at Millennials, which includes new commercials on mobile devices and websites such as Hulu and Mashable and during shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live.

READ MORE: Holiday Inn Express, Marriott eye the younger traveler

Hampton Hotels has launched the Forever Young Initiative, or FYI, to attract Millennials. The chain is completely overhauling guest rooms, bathrooms and exteriors to create a more modern look. Common areas and rooms have more functional spaces and furniture, as well as more power outlets for travelers to plug in all their devices.

Mobile devices are crucial to Millennials. To book business travel, 32% of Millennials report using a smartphone, and 20% report booking on a tablet. Just 12% of those older than 45 used a smartphone, and even fewer used a tablet to book travel. Millennials are also much more likely to use mobile devices to enhance their travel experience.

"Business travelers are early adopters of technology - Millennial travelers even faster - and all on the move from device to device, from online to offline and back again," says Rob Greyber, president of Egencia. "We realize that keeping pace with Millennials and future generations of corporate travelers demands significant focus on mobile in order to sustainably engage them with the right information."

They are also far more likely to embrace loyalty programs. Half find loyalty programs important when booking flights and hotels, exceeding their elders.

But they are also quick to voice their displeasure. Younger travelers are much more likely to post a negative review online, with 26% of those 34 and under saying they had posted a negative review within the last year. That compares with 14% of their older peers. Eight in 10 Millennials find travel reviews to be "very important" or "somewhat important" when they book their travel.

Millennials also are much better at mixing business with pleasure, the study found. More than half - 62% - extended a business trip into a personal vacation, far more than their older peers.

Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY

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