A bleisure doing business

With the line between work and free time becoming evermore blurred, it comes as little surprise that travelers are looking to make the most of their business trips by adding on leisure time too.

Extending a work trip may not be a new phenomenon, but it’s growing and will continue to do so, ­fueled mainly it seems by adventure­-seeking and more demanding millennials. According to a report carried out by apartment rental company BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, 60% of business travelers have taken at least one so-called bleisure trip, with 30% adding at least two additional days to their trip. 

It’s a trend on the up as well – another study by Expedia Media Solutions and Luth Research finds that the length of stay for a business versus bleisure traveler has jumped from two nights to six or even longer. According to Expedia, the millennials (22 to 35 years old) are more likely than other groups to take the opportunity to ­extend a business trip, at some 48%, compared to 33% of Generation-Xers (36 to 54) and 23% of Baby Boomers (55 or older). The gender split among bleisure trippers is almost even.

The top three bleisure activities are sightseeing, dining and enjoying local cultural experiences, and if travelers are not staying in the same hotel as the one where they conduct their business, their most ­favored accommodation is in boutique ­hotels, or, if in groups, at all-inclusive ­resorts. 

When it comes to choosing whether to add leisure time, some 66% planned to do so because of the destination. Other features that may encourage such bookings include sightseeing locations (85%), beaches (57%), weather (52%), and culture (49%), such as museums or art ­galleries.

Las Vegas, Nice and Barcelona are some of the most popular destinations for Europeans, and it appears that the longer the flight, the higher the likelihood that employees will extend their trip. Other common cities for bleisure trippers in the US include New York, Seattle and San Francisco. 

The advantages for the travelers are obvious, but there are important lessons to be learned for the tourism industry, too. Hoteliers need to know the habits of business travelers, who represent a high-value market for them, and, as most people who extend their trips overwhelmingly stay at hotels for both the business and leisure segments, it represents an opportunity for them to tailor their loyalty programs ­accordingly. 

Barcelona is one of the most popular destinations for bleisure travelers. Photo: Biel Morro

Employers too will increasingly take into account such desires of current and prospective employees. Those that offer perks such as extra days tacked onto business trips will be looked upon favorably for considering the work-life balance as an important factor in young people’s job ­choices. 

In Scandinavia, the results pretty much reflect the global trend, with some 30% of business travelers from the region adding at least one extra day for themselves. The age group of those choosing to extend business trips will drop in the coming years though, according to Bodil Månsson, VD, FCM Travel Solutions Nordic. 

“The increase in bleisure is down to the fact that increasing numbers of 18- to 35-year-olds are becoming business travelers. They see it as an opportunity to see the world without it having to cost too much,” she says.

“What we also see in this group is a greater demand for things to be hassle-­free. Things such as Fast Track are important – not for the prestige, but more for the convenience. Similarly, they like to have seats near the front, so it is easier to get off first without the hassle of queuing in the cabin or in the terminal.”

“In this region, if travelers get the chance, they like to extend their trip,” Månsson adds. “More and more companies are allowing this and don’t see a drawback with it, as long as it doesn’t ­increase the cost to them.” 

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