Bleisure travel combines both business and leisure travel into one trip, creating an increasing trend of “bleisure”. Employees staying for an extra day to explore their business trip destination or adding vacation days after attending conferences have increasingly mixed work and play into their travel itinerary. Hotels must therefore offer an array of elements tailored specifically to these bleisure travelers in order to accommodate this growing market.
Bleisure travelers seek experiences and activities that help them connect to their destinations, such as cultural offerings, outdoor recreation activities, sightseeing tours and unique local events. Hotels can add these activities into post-conference or event programs to draw in this growing segment of business travelers.
Bleisure travelers are an invaluable source of business for hotels, as these guests tend to return for both work and leisure trips, often because of the strong connection they had with the hotel, staff or experience they had there. To take full advantage of this potential business source, hotels may wish to encourage bleisure travel by providing incentives like discounts or upgrades upon extension of stays.
Social media and blogs offer hotels an effective means of reaching bleisure travellers, who tend to be younger demographics than business travellers. Furthermore, reaching out to meeting planners and industry professionals can also be effective ways of promoting your hotel’s bleisure-friendly offerings.
Millennials in particular appear more willing than older generations to sacrifice personal time in order to get more done at work, fuelling this global trend of bleisure travel. Global figures indicate that over two-thirds of business travelers take at least one combined work/pleasure trip annually. Partly this trend stems from employees wanting to take advantage of employer-provided flights and accommodation, but also due to changing mindsets about work – both factors being key contributors.
Companies can help employees take advantage of business travel for leisure by offering flexible policies regarding when and how employees can utilize company-paid airfare and hotel stays, helping to strike a balance between work/life obligations and personal vacation time. Furthermore, this saves both parties money on corporate travel expenses due to reduced business trips.
Businesses that encourage bleisure travel can reap significant benefits in employee engagement and retention. Employers should, however, set clear boundaries around what can and cannot be expensed as personal travel. For example, it would not be appropriate to reimburse employees for dining at expensive restaurants while traveling for work; an easier and more affordable solution may be to provide employees with meal vouchers redeemable at their hotel – this can save on costs while helping avoid disputes over what qualifies as personal expenses.