Generation Z and corporate travel in 2020

This title may surprise you. In my last article, I promised to end the year by reviewing a few key corporate travel trends that have emerged in the previous few years and will continue to grow in 2020, but who is Generation Z? Well, first, some background.

I have spoken extensively about I.T and its incredible influence on corporate and leisure travel. A.I have all but revolutionised the industry and those who have not embraced it have been burned badly. This will continue into the next decade to become more sophisticated as Chatbots, simple automated voice interaction with customers, extend to real robots that welcome and serve patrons in certain hotels.

We have spoken about the difficulty TMCs face juggling adherence to traditional corporate travel systems and beliefs, with accommodating young executive with very different ideas about their travel experience. ‘Bleisure travel’ has grown extensively and is the idea of the Millennials, keen on the idea of combining short business trips with leisure time to enjoy and learn from the country being visited.

According to one source, “the length of stay for business versus Bleisure traveller has already trebled from two nights to six-plus. 43% of business trips in the U.S. are now Bleisure, whilst 70% of business travellers who add on a leisure stay travel at least every 2 to 3 months.”

‘Work travel’ goes a step further with the corporate executive actually remaining in a country to work and get to know business associates on a deeper level. Convincing their employers is the tricky part. Still, as my last article expressed, there are advantages to the company too, so this is becoming a serious consideration and will expand in 2020 and beyond.

Enter Generation Z

The Millennials (those born between the first half of the 80s and the first half of the 90s, AKA Generation Y) rule the roost right now, but in 2020 will be old news. This is due to the emergence of Generation Z (those born from the mid 90’s onwards) who will, according to one report, be worth US$200 billion dollars to the travel & tourism industry by 2020!

The critical thing to remember is that this is a cell phone, social media mad generation who have grown up with mobile devices and express themselves only by text through social media platforms. They hashtag and message you, e-mail is the second choice!

They will embrace and drive many IT changes in the next decade. These will include making managed travel programs more personalised, fueled by IoT, the network that connects devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other electronic items with the software and connectivity that joins them up.

Technologies combine to create a superior travel experience

Mobile has transformed the way we search, book and pay for travel. 39% of hotel and 22% of air bookings now come from smartphones. The introduction of 5G will improve connectivity 1,000 fold in the new decade.

Travel suppliers will use AI and VR to explore travellers’ tastes, monitor their travel movements and encourage them to buy more. VR will enable a hotel room to adjust to guests’ tastes and moods automatically. As always, the list goes on and on…

Let’s make it a decade of positive change

In South Africa, in some respects, we are onlookers for a while before we adopt such substantial technological advances. We are a little behind, but not so much so that we can ever allow ourselves to be uninformed of what will become the norm in a few years.

As we stand on the threshold of not just a new year, but a new decade and a new generation of IT-savvy young people, let us embrace change, but always tempered with an acute awareness of our idiosyncrasies and distinctive corporate culture.

We are unique and proudly so. Let’s never forget many South African’s competing with far more advanced countries have changed the world through their ideas and accomplishments. We are champions at facing and overcoming seemingly impossible challenges, so let’s always place that as our first and ultimate objective.

I wish every individual, company and organisation in our travel industry and all the people we serve a blessed, peaceful holiday and a spectacular new decade.

Travel safely!LIDIA FOLLI



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