In this edition of Generational Viewpoints, we’ll explore the perspectives of two team members on how they approach business travel. We asked Baby Boomer partner Michael Freedman, born in 1943, and Millennial audit senior accountant Hugene Fields, born in 1987, from Bethesda, Md.-based Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman CPAs (www.grfcpa.com) to answer the following question:
“How does your generation view and manage business travel and how is it different or similar to the views of other generations?”
FREEDMAN’S BOOMER VIEWPOINT
[IMGCAP(1)]Whether you are traveling for work in Paris and London, or in Bujumbura and Bangui, the day remains pretty much the same: Wake up, have breakfast, work at the client’s office all day, go back to the hotel and find a place for dinner.
However, after traveling for several years with our Millennials, it’s apparent that they experience travel differently than I do.
Baby Boomers want the basics first: a hotel close to their place of work, a clean room, air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter, hot water and an on-site restaurant for when they don’t want to travel outside the hotel for dinner.
Millennials seem to reverse the order — placing reliable Internet service and a health club before a convenient location, price and food service. Millennials live in a digital age and use social media in ways that some Baby Boomers have yet to comprehend. As a result, they look for access to high-speed Wi-Fi both in their room and in the hotel common areas. When I use the hotel’s health club, I often see Millennials using the cardio equipment and it seems like it’s an expectation of theirs to have access to this type of facility. They expect Wi-Fi and health clubs in order to continue daily life as if they were at home.
They also seem to expect a “travel experience” — something unusual to do that cannot be done at home, a new place to visit, a new adventure. As Baby Boomers, we want to go to work, complete our tasks and go home. Going to a new museum, seeing a monument or visiting the beach is not a high expectation.
Younger travelers are also much more vocal in expressing their experiences. They’re used to sharing their opinions, whether satisfactory or unsatisfactory, on Yelp and TripAdvisor.
These differences likely coincide with the increasingly digital and accessible world that Millennials grew up in, and it will be interesting to see how this aspect of work changes with future generations, too.
FIELDS’ MILLENNIAL VIEWPOINT
[IMGCAP(2)]As a Millennial who has experienced several business travel engagements both domestically and internationally, I’ve quickly grasped the importance and need for these trips both on a professional and personal level.
Business trips are opportunities to engage in face-to-face dialogue and communication with colleagues, clients and business partners. Most communication is nonverbal, so the enjoyment of face-to-face communication is still the No. 1 preferred form of communication by myself and other Millennials, despite the advances in technology (or what other generations may believe). For international clients, video conferencing is a great substitute at times, but having an opportunity to be with them in person allows you to get to know them and their culture better. Business travel produces greater interaction and engagement with clients. It also helps foster a deeper understanding and first-hand look at how their organization operates.
Business travel is also an opportunity to experience new places, cultures and environments. I have traveled internationally to several countries in Africa, Central Asia and Europe, where I’ve been able to learn life lessons that extend beyond the initial purpose of the business trip. Those experiences translate into the professional world in ways that one might not initially expect. Interacting with individuals around the world helps broaden your perspective and makes you more relatable to other parts of the country or world.
Millennials also tend to be more flexible than other generations when it comes to business travel, primarily due to our stage of life. Millennials might not mind being away on business for longer periods of time. Our personal responsibilities allow us to embrace business travel from an open and opportunistic perspective. Like many other Millennials, I look forward to new client opportunities, the possibility of traveling to new places, learning about other cultures, and collecting experiences along the way. AT
This column is facilitated and edited by Brianna Marth, the Millennial sales and marketing coordinator, and Jennifer Wilson, the Baby Boomer co-founder and partner, of ConvergenceCoaching LLC (www.convergencecoaching.com), a leadership and marketing coaching and training and development firm that specializes in helping leaders achieve success.
To have your firm’s generational viewpoints considered for a future Accounting Tomorrow column, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.