Gen Y travellers spend big with the boss's money

Gen Y Australians have been maligned for being self-centred and materialistic. Now, new travel research about the under 34s has revealed that on business trips they are also spendthrifts with the boss's money.

They'll splash out with their corporate cards on luxury purchases such as flight upgrades, room service and expensive meals, according to research by online travel company Expedia and corporate travel specialist Egencia.

The research shows that Gen Ys, known as millennials, are travelling more for business than pleasure. They take an average of five business trips a year at an average of two days each – and only three personal trips.

This compares with travellers aged over 35 who average two work-related trips and three for personal reasons.

About 60 per cent of Gen Ys also extend their business trips to personal holidays, at their expense.

Kyle Davis, the managing director of Egencia Australia, said: “With the increased earning potential of millennials, and with fewer family and financial commitments than mature business travellers, they're much more likely to extend business travel into a holiday."

Mixing business with pleasure seems to be a growing trend, according to Karsten Horne, the managing director of corporate travel specialist Reho Travel in Melbourne.

"We are finding that more and more Gen Ys are adding private trips to business trips," he said.

"It is no longer just a few days lying on the beach at the end of a business trip. They are indulging in a personal passion. Quite often it can be something physical like mountain biking or surfing.

"A couple of weeks ago I went to Wellington for a weekend conference and I decided to give myself an extra day before the work began. I sourced a mountain bike shop, hired the best-equipped bike I could find and headed for the hills behind the city.

"We are also seeing a trend towards younger business people doing volunteering, assisting with community projects after business to trips to places like India with companies like Hand Up Australia," he said.

The study, The Future of Travel, also reveals that under-34s are embracing mobile technology to plan and book travel.

Nearly half of millennial business travellers (48 per cent) use smartphones and tablets to plan, book and share their travels and 53 per cent use mobile devices for leisure travel.

Among the over-35s, the take-up of mobile technology for travel is a lot lower. Only 20 per cent use mobile technology for booking business trips and 10 per cent for leisure trips.

The study polled 8534 adults in 24 countries.