Millennial business travelers in the UAE are driving an evolution in corporate travel by demanding both cutting-edge digital support throughout their trips and on-demand advice from human consultants, according to an independent global study commissioned by Travelport (NYSE: TVPT), the leading Travel Commerce Platform.
The research, which surveyed 11,000 travelers in 19 countries who took at least one return flight in the last year, revealed that:
- One third (36%) of UAE millennial business travelers now count being unable to access booking information across their devices 24/7 as one of their biggest gripes
- One third (36%) say they get frustrated when companies don’t use data analytics to provide highly personalized travel recommendations based on their past preferences
- Two fifths (40%) say not being able to get expert advice from human consultants during the booking process is a major pain point
Millennials escalating thirst for ‘bleisure’ – itineraries combining both business and leisure – is also driving change. Two thirds (62%), for example, now regularly extend their business trips by a few days so they can see local attractions.
To satisfy their ‘bleisure’ needs, most UAE millennial business travelers are now doing their own research before finalizing their travel plans. Among the most common tools used to build their perfect itinerary are general travel advice sites (used by 85%) and review sites (used by 82%). Looking through videos and photos posted by travel brands on social media (82%) is also typical for digitally-advanced UAE millennials, as is using voice search technology (61%).
If required to book a trip themselves, the majority of millennial business travelers do so online through a corporate booking tool (71%) or their desktop or laptop (48%). However, two fifths (38%) say they now book business travel online through their smartphone and one third (31%) say they do so using their tablet.
While on business trips, on average, UAE-based millennial business travelers use 19 different categories of apps. Of these, map and banking apps are the most popular (used by 88% of UAE millennial business travelers), closely followed by those that provide instant messaging and translation tools (both 84%). High results for travel review (81%) and destination guide (80%) apps further support that it’s not all business for the UAE business traveler.
Kathryn Wallington, Travelport’s Country Manager for the United Arab Emirates, commented: “The world’s first smartphone was launched in 1992. Millennials have therefore had digital devices supporting and improving their experience of the physical world for all their adult lives. This is why they don’t see omni-channel engagement as a nice to have. In 2018, they fully expect it! It’s important that travel management companies, as well as other businesses that support corporate travel booking, recognize and respond to this. If they don’t, they risk losing relevance – especially in a country as digitally advanced as the United Arab Emirates.
Wallington continued: Travelport stands ready to support businesses as they respond to changes in customer behavior. Having spent many years investing in areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and developing mobile applications like Trip Assist, we feel uniquely positioned to help our customers stay ahead of the curve.”