Baby Boomers are retiring and Generation Ys are the new business travellers and the business leaders of tomorrow. So how is that changing business and conference tourism? Do we need to start thinking differently about how we market, develop, manage and measure business tourism? Do we need to get help from Financial Literacy Oklahoma City or we can handle all that knowledges by ourselves?
I’ve been looking at conference and business tourism for a number of destinations recently and been struck by how much we all rely on long established sources of information to evaluate opportunity and plan investment. Undeniably those tried and trusted sources remain valuable but they don’t tell me much about the motivations and mindset of today’s business visitor or get under the skin of how the marketplace is evolving and what it might look like 10 years from now. So, I was really interested to read and article in Tourism Review about Generation Y business travellers.
As it happens the day before I’d been watching a business interview on You Tube, both interviewer and interviewee are highly successful Generation Y entrepreneurs. Their observations on how they run their businesses, what motivates them and why they network with colleagues and clients was insightful. Both have chosen to run their businesses virtually. The interviewer made a virtue of having closed down his office because he could run his business better, develop it faster and have a much better quality of personal life that way. Both spoke about being networked 24/7 as an advantage because you can be anywhere in the world conducting your business. They both talked about the importance of periodically getting together with their colleagues and staff in real time.
Let’s remind ourselves of some of the characteristics of Generation Y. This is a generation for whom online communication is a way of life. As a result 20-30% of Generation Y will make their business bookings on a smart phone or tablet, compared with just 12% of Baby Boomers. Being IT savvy means they are adept at multi-tasking on multi-media, so they will demand that from conference programmes and content. Generation Ys are more likely to be influenced by online reviews and more likely to make negative online reviews too.
They have high expectations from life and so switch jobs regularly and have low company loyalty. They are described as confident with a strong sense of entitlement and are also the first generation to carry heavy student loan debts. Despite that they are well travelled. That means as business travellers they are more interested in loyalty schemes that provide free offers and discounts than upgrades, as travel thrift is instinctive. They are loyal to the discount rather than the company and will happily switch to another ‘loyalty’ programme.
The Tourism Review article quoted research that demonstrates that Generation Y will deliver the holy grail of conference and business tourism organisers – a business extender trip. That means location will become even more important for conference and business tourism as delegates are looking to seamlessly combine business and leisure in a single trip.
Back to the You Tube discussion between Gen Y entrepreneurs who spoke enthusiastically about getting together with their virtual staff and colleagues periodically for creative sessions and business planning. Those sessions clearly had a reunion feel to them and location was important. As more companies are run in cyber-space that demand for small meetings and get-togethers in inspiring spaces is going to grow .
I’m a little closer to getting a picture of business tourism visitors in the future. It looks to me that the approach we apply to leisure tourism is going to be increasingly relevant to business tourism too – bespoke, distinctive, inspiring, quality and offering value-for-money. So how does your destination shape up?