What millennials know about business travel

From what to pack to how to buy, a 21st-century digital warrior’s guide to travelling right.

Millennials may have been born in the last century, but their lives are driven by 21st-century expectations. Virtually everything technological is tailored to their every intuition—and all things, digital or otherwise, ought to work as seamlessly. If they don’t, a simple Google search often reveals a way to work around it, hack it, or make it.

Millennial expectations are (re)setting how industries are doing business, and business travel is no exception. CNBC, Fast Company, Traveler, and Skift each wrote about millennials and business travel in 2017; Forbes wrote about it twice for good measure.

What the reporting seems to miss, however, is the details. What tools and strategies do millennials properly use to execute their digital, affordable, and convenient approach? Read on to find out (and, for the record, the answer does not include “bleisure”):


Google wields the world’s most powerful search engine, and since its $700-million purchase of flight information software, it has put its algorithms to use for flight aggregation. Unlike Kayak, CheapOair, Expedia, and others, Google Flights is exclusively plane tickets, combined with all the simplicity and intuitiveness a millennial would expect. Try googling your flight number to reveal a special flight-status widget.


It wouldn’t be particularly millennial to wait for a checked bag: a light carry-on with wheels and a backpack or handbag for a laptop should be all that’s required. After all, a committed digital warrior armed with cloud storage and in-browser document processing like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides can work from any device, anywhere with an Internet connection. Pack a mini-projector for presentations, a smartphone for in-flight entertainment, noise-cancelling headphones for solitude, and a neck pillow for comfort.


Paying extra is not the millennial way, especially when Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are free, Netflix is $9 or $10 a month and Apple Music is $10. Paying extra to choose your seat is therefore irritating—but the workaround is simple: download your airline app and turn on notifications. The instant check-in opens, check in and select your seat of choice. Travel with a spare battery, because with an e-boarding pass, your smartphone takes the place of paper. A Nexus card, however, is well worth the $50 and the hassle of applying, for the benefit of fast-tracked lines at both domestic and international airport security.


Continuing the theme of cost-effectiveness, buying a pass into an airport lounge is often cheaper than eating at the nearest overpriced restaurant. Lounge food and drink (alcohol included) is usually bottomless, and the seats are more comfortable than the gate, too.


Other than at yoga class, the Internet is prerequisite for millennial life. Google Maps may allow you to download maps to find your way offline; Google Translate may do the same for many languages. But whether for Uber or Lyft, WhatsApp or iMessage, Slack or otherwise, sometimes you need an Internet connection and Wi-Fi is not as ubiquitous (or strong enough) as often claimed. Roaming data plans are the answer: many are now flat-rate per day to a monthly maximum and use the same limits for talk, text, and data as though you were at home. If you’re particularly adventurous and can navigate the vagaries of local phone plans, unlock your mobile (a one-time fee of 50 or so dollars, unless you’re a valued customer, who might get it done for free) and secure a cut-rate plan in your destination of choice.


Expense reports are much-hated by everyone, not least the millennial. But technology has long since solved that problem: touch a receipt only once (if at all) when taking a photo of it for an expense-report app, like Expensify or Shoeboxed. After that, the receipt travels no further than the closest recycling bin.


Have any travel tips of your own that are millennial-worthy? Post a comment below.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

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