As Gen Z – people born between 1997 and 2012 – gain more independence and economic autonomy, what should travel managers be considering when planning their travel programmes? We explore what makes Gen Z distinct from previous generations and how the issues that are important to them will impact corporate travel.

Constant connection

We asked our own Gen Z employees on what they think distinguishes them from other generations. “We’re constantly connected; we use our phones for everything,” Reed & Mackay Event Coordinator Olivia Sharp says.

Coined the first ‘digital natives’, Gen Z’s use of technology is integral to who they are. A recent Expedia report highlighted that more than half use their smartphone for five or more hours a day.

This means that, unlike previous generations who may prefer to book travel on their desktop or over landlines, Gen Z are likely to turn to their mobiles. They are used to having everything easily accessible in one app with fast, efficient service. 

R&M/Mobile, part of Reed & Mackay’s proprietary suite of technology, enables travellers to book travel anytime, anywhere and it keeps them updated wherever they are in the world. When client Allegis Group was introduced to R&M/Mobile, Procurement Lead Keira Todd stated that their travellers found it was ‘handy to have information easily to hand [on R&M/Mobile], especially when picking up train tickets’.

Wellbeing in business travel

Gen Z are increasingly concerned about traveller wellbeing on business trips. “Employees are crucial to a company’s success so it’s essential, when travelling, they are the healthiest and safest they can be,” Reed & Mackay Event Coordinator Sneha Bhudia says.

A BTN Europe report reveals the key concerns for Gen Z business travellers are similar to those of older age groups when it comes to travel risks including delays, disruptions and losing their technological devices. Yet the report also shows that Gen Z are more concerned about having to isolate if they caught COVID while away from home. They are also concerned about being caught up in geo-political threats or in the consequences of a natural disaster.

Which confirms how crucial it is that a TMC works with a travel risk management company to ensure business travellers – of all generations – are kept as safe as possible. R&M/Protect, part of Reed & Mackay’s proprietary technology, is a unique travel risk platform, powered by risk management company Crisis24. It provides traveller tracking and, should an incident occur, R&M/Protect delivers immediate travel alerts across critical platforms such as email, R&M/Mobile and R&M/Portal.

Strong on sustainability

Gen Z have also inherited the responsibility of climate change and many are leading the charge in adopting sustainable practices to reduce carbon footprints. A 2023 Deloitte report unveiled that climate change was the most concerning topic for a third of Gen Zers, with 90% of Gen Z and millennials making an active effort to reduce their own impact on the environment.

They also consider it important for their employers to act on environmental issues, expecting them to address corporate travel policies and educate employees on sustainable travel practices. Have of Gen Zers surveyed say they and their colleagues are also pressuring businesses to take more action on climate change.

Reed & Mackay Events Administrator Isabella Cousins believes that, when planning itineraries for Gen Z travellers, it’s crucial to consider where they could use more environmentally friendly public transport or accommodate them in eco-friendly hotels. And, once you’ve planned as sustainable a journey as possible, consider how to be a responsible traveller on that trip, such as finding out more about how to support local communities in the destinations you’re visiting.

“Business trips tend to be to large modern cities with extensive public transport networks that are more efficient, cheaper and more sustainable than taking a car,” Cousins says. “Walking is also a great option and a way to immerse yourself more in the culture, so consider accommodation that may be within walking distance of meetings.”

Business travellers of the future

By 2025, 27% of the workforce will be Gen Z , according to the World Economic Forum, bringing with them their defined views on travel. 

Personalisation and convenience are already key technological considerations for Gen Z traveller programmes. Gen Z expect an end-to-end experience on a single platform with access to all the information they need, including direct and negotiated rates and tailored options based on their previous purchase history.

And, as these Gen Zers move into senior positions, they’re beginning to determine what travel policies look like. In response to this, the Business Travel Association launched a Generation BTA Advisory Board, created to bring diverse perspectives to the board and to meet the needs of the next generation of business travellers.

It’s therefore crucial that companies update travel policies to accommodate these views, Reed & Mackay Group CEO Fred Stratford believes.

“The new generation entering the workforce are bringing a solid leisure traveller experience with them, with first-class user experiences, the newest tools and tech features,” Stratford says. “Gen Z want to use technology to engage, work and travel so businesses must ensure they leverage technology all across the entire customer journey.”