Business “Lifestyle” Travel: catering for the new generation of business travellers with technology

Consumer travel has radically evolved from what it was a decade or two ago. The explosion of travel technology has meant that holidaymakers can now book flights and experiences wherever they are in the world with a tap and prices and availabilities are completely transparent. This is causing “touristy” travel to go out of style as people prefer more customised, “off the beaten track” experiences. The ability to “live like a local” extends to accommodation. The growing alternative accommodation sector means that travellers are able to stay in fully-furnished properties in great locations often for cheaper than a hotel.

As Millennials and Gen Z grow to become the majority of the workforce, this requirement for a “home away from home” when travelling is now extending to the previously traditional business travel market as well, generating a new phenomenon altogether: Business “Lifestyle” Travel.

With a quarter of business people travelling for thirty days or more, there is real potential for them to set up a “home away from home” in new cities. Yet, while there are lots of rental options for shorter trips, there’s a massive gap in the market catering to these travellers looking for stays of a month or more. This is despite the long term business travel accommodation market being worth $160bn globally. So, like in many industries where legacy processes still rule the roost, PropTech is infiltrating real-estate and business travel to better cater for this new class of business lifestyle travellers.

What do Business Lifestyle Travellers Want?

Nearly 40% of Millennial and Gen Z workers wouldn’t accept a job that doesn’t include travel and 30% of workers would even accept lower salaries in exchange for more business trips. 36% of Millennials and Gen Z are also moving away from the traditional hotel stay in search of a more unique business travel experience.

 

30% of workers would even accept lower salaries in exchange for more business trips.

 

At Homelike we recently conducted our own research into the long-term business travel landscape and interestingly the vast majority of people who stay long term (42.3%) were Millennials aged 25 to 34. In contrast to older generations, a higher percentage of Millennials expect “home away from home” features when travelling for business, such as being close to green spaces (29%), having their partner and family live with them (23%) – also an important feature for Gen Z – and having their pets live with them (21%).

Both generations cited homesickness and missing family and friends as the main thing they dislike about extended travel. Gen Z despises the stress that long-term business travel causes more than the other generations and unpleasant accommodation was the second most disliked factor from the Millennial respondents.

What are the options for long-term business travellers now?

The long-term business traveller is neglected by both hotel and furnished apartment providers.

As detailed above, the lack of amenities (particularly the lack of a kitchen and the fact that hotels often wouldn’t allow you to host family, friends or pets without additional cost) and space in hotel rooms makes them unsuitable for long-term stays. Many hotel rooms can’t be booked for over thirty nights (the system will often actively block this) meaning that travellers have to rebook every month and risk being constantly moved around or not even being able to rebook in the same hotel. All these factors mean that travellers will never feel settled contributing towards the feelings of isolation and homesickness suffered by business travellers.

The long-term furnished apartment rental market is incomparable to the short-term side. 90% of long stay accommodation providers market their units offline making it pretty much impossible for travellers to find and book these units. If they do find somewhere, there is often no way of seeing what an apartment will look like before they move in meaning people are taking a risk if they have to sign a contract remotely. The process is often very time intensive and corporates often go through up to sixteen manual touch points to process a three month booking. As well, a large deposit is often required. Finally, there is no convenient way to compare prices and availability between different properties. The entire process is incompatible with the service and technology standards of the modern business traveller.

This is a missed opportunity for the long-term apartment rental space. The only way to take advantage of this young and profitable market is to embrace technology. For real-estate, this may seem arduous at first, but just look at how tech has vastly enhanced other industries like consumer banking, insurance, travel or mobility. Long-term business accommodation is a hundred sixty billion dollar opportunity after all.

Dustin Figge