Tourism

Millennials are shaking up corporate travel in China

Millenials appear to be making waves in the Chinese corporate travel industry.

And no, it’s not because they can’t keep up with the demand for avocado on toast and soy lattes.

In 2016 China overtook the US to become the world’s largest corporate travel market, accounting for nearly a quarter of all business travel worldwide.

However, their rapid growth has come with a new set of challenges, and the biggest challenge yet is the new travel habits of millennials and social media.

2017 China Business Travel Survey from Carlson Wagonlit Travel and TTG Events, found that 49 per cent of travel managers surveyed believe millennials’ travel behaviour will have a significant impact on corporate travel programs over the next year with 54 per cent choosing social media.

According to Ctrip’s 2017 China Corporate Travel Market Analysis, 65 per cent of Chinese small and medium businesses made flight reservations on mobile devices, 60 per cent of which were made using a smartphone app.

According to Jing Travel, the increase in mobile booking correlates directly with the emergence of Chinese millennial business travellers.

Jung Travel also reports that millennials are more likely to use sharing economy services like ride-sharing apps and Airbnb.

While China’s business travel industry is currently adapting well to these changes, Jing Travel says many travel managers fear the use of social media and sharing services will make it difficult to ensure bookings comply with companies’ travel policies.

Shanghai, China - April 20, 2010: Air Pollution, high-rises shrouded in heavy smog, air in City remained severely polluted, man standing on the Bund, and looks at the Pudong District.
Shanghai, China – April 20, 2010: Air Pollution, high-rises shrouded in heavy smog, air in City remained severely polluted, man standing on the Bund, and looks at the Pudong District.

The survey also found an increase in bleisure (trips combining business and leisure) among Chinese employers, which has historically been frowned upon in China.

The increase of white-collar jobs has contributed to a huge increase in business travel paired with the fact that more people now have access to the internet and can work remotely.

So with attitudes to bleisure softening a bit, the increase is set to lead to a surge in the leisure industry, particularly in Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Paris and Frankfurt which Ctrip’s analysis says are the top five locations for business travel.

Despite the huge size of the Chinese business travel market, the survey indicates there is still no clear leader, with the top five industry leaders making up only 17.5 per cent of the total market share.

It seems pretty clear to us that for a real winner to emerge, they need to provide free avocado on toast and cute house plants on arrival.

But seriously, adaptability to travel apps, social media, and a knowledge of millennial behaviours could contribute in a huge way.

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