Travel Notes: Young business travelers likelier to spend more

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Young business travelers are more likely than older travelers to spend their company's money on expensive meals and first-class airline seats and to schedule vacation time during work trips.

But if things go haywire, these young road warriors are probably going to fire off a negative review of a restaurant or hotel.

The findings come from a survey of more than 8,500 travelers in 24 countries that was designed to look at the different behavior of millennial business travelers and older trekkers.

Globally, 42 percent of business travelers ages 18 to 30 said they will spend more of their company's money on high-end meals than they would their own money, compared with only 26 percent of travelers ages 46 to 65, according to the survey by travel website Expedia and Egencia, the business travel arm of Expedia Inc.

But don't upset the millennials: One in four American travelers younger than 34 has posted a negative hotel review in the past year, compared with only 14 percent of older travelers.

Mark Hollyhead, a senior vice president at Egencia, would not theorize why young travelers spend and vacation more than veteran business travelers. But he said they are more likely to post hotel and restaurant reviews because information sharing is a big part of the digital age.

Kelsey Blodget, editorial director at the hotel review site Oyster.com, has another theory.

"It could also be that more mature generations have many more hotel and restaurant experiences under their belts and are just less fazed about bad experiences than they once were," she said.

Fed workers can afford more

The government gives and the government takes away.

The federal government agreed recently to increase the per diem rate that it reimburses federal employees for hotel stays on work trips. This follows two years when the rate remained nearly flat.

The General Services Administration raised the per diem to an average of $113 across the country, up from $105 last year and $104 the previous year. (The rate varies by city and region.)

"The increase in per diem rate was a big win for the industry," said Vanessa Sinders, a senior vice president at the American Hotel & Lodging Association. A higher per diem means government workers can stay in rooms with higher rates.

The bad news is that the new rate took effect Oct. 1 -- the same day that a Washington, D.C., stalemate prompted a partial government shutdown that put a halt to much travel by federal workers.

Since the shutdown, the nation's hotel industry has reported a 12 percent drop in business from the same period last year, Ms. Sinders said.

"We are definitely hearing from many of our members about how the shutdown has impacted their businesses," she said.

Luxury flights

An arms race is heating up among airlines battling to lure passengers with a taste for luxury.

Etihad Airways fired a volley in the war recently when it announced that it is offering the services of nannies and onboard chefs on long-haul flights.

The chefs will serve made-to-order meals only for customers in "diamond first class" seats, but the nannies will help clean, pamper and entertain children throughout the plane.

"It's all about how to differentiate yourself for regular travelers," Etihad chief executive James Hogan said about the new services.

The nanny service was unveiled shortly after JetBlue Airways Corp. introduced its new premium-class service, dubbed Mint.

The new class offered on JetBlue's Airbus A321s will have 16 lie-flat seats, including four suites with doors that close for privacy. The seats will have a massage feature, and fliers can order free drinks and tapas designed by renowned New York restaurant Saxon + Parole.

But the pinnacle of in-flight luxury may have been reached several years ago when Dubai-based Emirates unveiled several opulent amenities for its A380 jets.

First-class passengers get access to two on-board lounges, staffed by bartenders, plus two shower-spas.

The luxury comes with a high price: A first-class round trip from New York to Dubai on the A380 costs about $22,000.



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