The impact of millennials on corporate travel and expense

Within the past year, millennials (born 1981-1997) surpassed baby boomers (born 1946-1964) as the largest living generation in the US and now make up the largest share of employees in the American workforce, according to Pew Research. This generation, totalling more than 75 million people, has changed how organisations recruit, retain and use their workforces, but to date, there has been little information about what millennials actually spend on corporate travel and expenses.

To gain more insight, Concur analysed US$36 billion in dining, entertainment and hotel expenses processed via Concur Technologies between 1Q2015 and1Q2017, broken down by general age brackets: 22-35 (millennials), 36-49 (Gen X) and 50-65 (baby boomers). Here’s a look at what the survey uncovered.

Older generations still spend the most.

Employees ages 36-65 account for 80 per cent of dining, entertainment and hotel transactions, and total expenses per employee in this age range are 66 per cent more than millennials, averaging US$8,596 compared to US$5,188 over nine quarters (1Q2015 to 1Q2017).

However, breaking things down by transaction tells a slightly different story.

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.

In fact, millennials spend:

– 18 per cent less than employees ages 36-65 on dining and entertainment, approximately US$44 per transaction compared to US$52.

– US$33 per meal when travelling, while colleagues between ages 36-65 spend US$39 (which also indicates a senior-level title may not necessarily come with a more lavish per diem).

– Three per cent more on hotel related expenses (from their room, to parking, Wi-Fi and room service) than senior colleagues, averaging US$114 per transaction compared to US$111.

Age Bracket Spend Per Transaction

The spending gap gets bigger when you compare industries and countries.

On average, all generations in the financial services and public services industries spend more per business travel transaction compared to other industries – 22 per cent and 19 per cent more respectively.

For example, employees ages 36-65 working in financial services spend an average of US$52 per meal, while employees in the same age range working in healthcare spend US$42. Meanwhile, millennials in public service jobs spend an average of US$124 per hotel transaction compared to millennials working in healthcare who spend US$107.

Difference From Average Industry Spend – Financial Services and Public Services


By and large, millennials spend less on dining, entertainment and hotel expenses than older generations globally. By region, we see the biggest difference between what senior colleagues and millennials spend in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

Difference From Millennial Spend


How different generations spend company dollars is one piece of the puzzle.

As the workforce evolves, employee spend patterns is one of many factors companies should consider to make sure travel, expense and invoice management programs meet their changing needs.

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?

– Regular check-ups on your travel and expense policy are also a great way to stay ahead of the curve. And regardless of employee age, a few key policy principles stand true.

– Be clear and to the point. Make sure your policy is straightforward. The easier your policy is to understand, the easier it is for your employees to follow (and enforce).

– Ensure policies are easy to find. If your policy is buried in an intranet, it isn’t going to be used. Making your policy visible keeps it top of mind. And if you update it, plan a procedure to inform employees of this change.

Emphasise the benefits. Explaining the reasons behind the policy and how it benefits all employees helps with acceptance. Not only having a policy to follow, but holding everyone accountable (no exemptions, regardless of rank), keeps it fair all around.

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