People tend to extend their business trips to one or two more days to enjoy some of the leisure activities at the destination, and as a result, bleisure travel may replace the original leisure travel. However, as teleconferences and remote working platforms are on the rise, how is bleisure travel going to be?
What is “bleisure travel” and what makes it phenomenal?
Bleisure is a portmanteau of “business” and “leisure”. So in short, bleisure travel is when a business trip is combined with some leisure activities, which may range from sightseeing and relaxation, through to hiking, visiting entertainment venues, or attending events, so that the traveler can explore the destination in addition to their working time.
As Millennials come into adulthood, they become the main labor source in the market at the moment. And with their great appreciation of real experiences in life, they usually take every opportunity to have more of these, even when they are on a business trip. As a result, most of bleisure travelers are Millennials who may accept lower salaries just to have a job that requires many trips to different cities and countries so that they can make a living while enjoying life. A study by the Global Business Travel Association found that 37 percent of North American business travelers, more of whom were millennials (48 percent), and only 23 percent were baby boomers, took a bleisure trip in 2017.
Why may bleisure travel replace leisure travel and why should businesses encourage bleisure travel?
To bleisure travelers, these bleisure trips add value to their work assignments and benefit them as an employee while giving them the opportunity to gain cultural experiences and knowledge at the same time, according to the Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler report from Skift. And as millennial employees embrace these business trips so as to take advantage of their time and try to gain as many experiences as possible, the widely-accepted bleisure travel really gives them the best of both worlds.
Moreover, travelers when planning for a leisure trip at its purest have to put aside their busy working life in order to truly take time for self-relaxation. However, as the boundaries between working and private life become blurry, travelers may find it challenging to find a period of quality time without the disruption from work. Bleisure travel, on the other hand, eases the nerves about handing work over, and also enhances the opportunities of the travelers going back to visit the destination later on to continue their adventure since they may have to go on another business trip at the very same place to continue their project at the company.
Bleisure travel also helps travelers minimize their expenses on transportation from and to the destination and even between the attractions within the destination as enterprises are more likely to accept the concept of bleisure travel nowadays and implement new policies to support this type of travel combined when their employees have to go away for a few days to handle the tasks.
Vice versa, to enterprises, bleisure travel creates the added value and loyalty that they would like to see more from their employees, whether they are Millennials or other generations, as the bosses may be more satisfied if their employees are willing to go on a business trip at weekends or holidays. Besides, supporting bleisure travel demonstrates the company’s commitment to its employees, and it can be seen as a new tailored policy for incentive trips since the company allows its employees to stay longer than needed.
Besides obviously helping the companies reduce their corporate travel expenditure, bleisure travel also helps deepen client relationships as their employees have more time to grasp a better understanding of the destination and its culture as well as its people, and therefore have a better understanding of their clients’ general traits and viewpoints.
What opportunity from bleisure travel can travel suppliers grasp?
For hoteliers and travel suppliers in general, bleisure travelers offer a clear opportunity to increase revenues from business travelers extending stays. Non-business-oriented hotels should also strategize targeted marketing to this demographic to grab share from business-focused hotels with less appeal as leisure accommodation, according to Sabre.
As bleisure travel benefits all parties, hoteliers can also aim to enhance the business traveler experience with leisure travel options. Travel businesses can thrive if they offer products and services to serve these blurred lifestyles while helping customers separate work from pleasure when needed. For example, they may offer incentives to bring along a partner or stay longer – by creating targeted extended stay offers.
The BridgeStreet report shows that the top three bleisure activities include sightseeing, dining and local cultural experiences. By providing a wide range of additional choices to business travelers, hotels can be well-positioned as local experts and allies. This can be accomplished by advising guests on what to do and see in the cities they travel to on business while highlighting the unique culture and dining spots. These add-on services will not only create new revenue streams but their brands will stand out in business travelers’ minds for providing a unique and memorable extended-stay experience.
What is the future for bleisure travel as the business trips are shifting to online platforms with teleconferences and video meetings due to COVID-19?
Teleconferences and video meetings may replace some, but not all, business trips as enterprises still find it necessary and preferable to get the job done in person. According to GlobalWebIndex report in June 2020, only 8% do not anticipate going back to business travel at all, which means most of them feel business travel will return at some point. Consequently, bleisure travel will be recovered and continue to grow in the future. However, these bleisure travelers only go when they are confident in travel again, and that depends a lot on how travel service providers respond to a post-COVID world.