Bleisure Travel: What is it and how can you maximise opportunities
What is Bleisure?
Bleisure is a term combined by a trend analyst for British think tank The Future Laboratory to describe travel that combines both business and leisure, by not committing to one purpose solely. Otherwise known as a “bizcation” or “workcation,” bleisure is a growing trend in the travel world where business travellers tack on a few extra days at the beginning or end of a business trip for some “me time”. These extra days can be used to explore the destination more, relax and recharge, or just have a slow day or two to catch up on work.
There are two main types of bleisure travel: business trips or group business travel that are extended on the front or back end of a visit and business trips taken with friends and family coming along for the ride.
Bleisure is an increasingly common practice for:
- those with few vacation days
- those whose travel is comped and want to leverage their time away, and
- Or could be all of the above.
Bleisure travel is an interesting brand of travel: it leans heavily on convenience, instead of aspiration. It’s a way of tasting some local cuisines, seeing some local art, and knocking off a few sites that keep cropping up on your Instagram without burning many—if any—vacation days.
Why is it becoming popular?
In the past, bosses might have frowned on this (and employees were unsure of policy and too afraid to ask). But over the recent years, there’s been a shift in communication with boss and employee being on the same page regarding a bleisure extension. In 2018, 60% of US business trips has a leisure component of some kind added. This shows that the trend is not only growing but also being actively adopted and promoted by companies.
There are several reasons why bleisure travel is on the rise:
- First is the type of travellers making these trips: millennials. Growing in power and numbers in the workforce, the millennials travel more for business than past generations, taking an average of 7.4 trips a year.
- This feeds into the second reason: a better work-life balance. Millennials have expressly prioritised this regarding when and where they work. They want to be seen and appreciated as valued members of a company, not replaceable machines. Hence, they apply to and work at companies that treat them as such.
Employers have been grappling with this new workforce trend and, eager to retain personnel, are opening up to ideas and policies like bleisure as it prevents burnout and promotes loyalty. A happy employee is a better asset to the company overall, with increased productivity and a greater likelihood of staying at the company for the long term. So if that calls for a few extra days of some off-time here and there, then companies are getting on board on adding bleisure policies. This varies, however, from company to company on details like hotel stays, what can be discounted as a business expense, length of extension, etc.
Bleisure is a fantastic way for companies to show appreciation for their employees. At the same time, for employees to broaden their worldview, which will make them better businesspeople, better travellers, and, most importantly, better people.
Ways to Maximise Bleisure Travel Opportunities
As with any hospitality trend, hotels can take advantage of bleisure travellers and build advertising campaigns targeting them. Bleisure travellers represent an exciting and rewarding new market to secure business from, which is why many hoteliers are interested in attracting as many of them as possible. Below, you will find tips that can assist with this aim.
1. Let planners know bleisure travel is an option.
You can't sell what you don't publicize. So get the message out about bleisure offerings early in the booking process. Create bleisure travel packages and offer them to planners to pass along to attendees. You can also reach out directly to business travellers with bleisure packages.
2. Market towards corporate conferences and meetings.
If your city frequently hosts conferences, it’s an opportunity to advertise to the guests that are already planning on being around. Consider approaching the conference organisers to see what opportunities they have for you to promote. Local hotels around convention centres are often looking to fill their check-in desks with local sites, which makes another excellent opportunity to advertise. Additional hotel amenities like shuttle services to-and-from convention halls and business centres can help target the bleisure traveller.
3. Know the habits of short-time travellers.
Even though they’re looking to experience a destination, many bleisure travellers are still on a tight schedule. They extend their stays for days, not weeks, so they want fun, fast activities that will keep them entertained. Make sure, therefore, that you’re providing a variety of activities with a variety of time requirements. Consider putting together two- to four-day post-conference or meeting programs that incorporate sightseeing, meals, and athletic activities such as hikes, bicycling, and water sports. Think about things that might only take an hour or two, possibly less. Give travellers the chance to build their trip around their schedule.
It’s also worthwhile to remember that some travellers are travelling solo. Thus, consider advertising a variety of activities that are great experiences for groups and solo travellers. Pass that information on to planners so they can do your marketing for you.
4. Make it easy for tourists to switch between business and pleasure.
Bleisure travellers spend hours researching what they can do once their business trip is over, exploring online or talking to co-workers. Venues that can take that planning off the traveller’s shoulders will earn loyalty points from already-overworked guests.
Hoteliers should take into account that bleisure travellers appreciate suites or one-bedroom accommodations so they can stay on task once their travel companions go to sleep. And planners will, too, since they'll know employees will be focused on work when they need to be. If these accommodations aren’t available (or affordable) for planners, coworking spaces and business centres also hold value and appeal.
5. Give travellers a reason to stay where they are.
When it comes to business travel, it's typically the planners and in-house travel agents who make reservations for sales meetings and book room blocks for conferences. While price is an issue for them, bleisure travellers are often even more price-conscious. You don't want to offend planners by giving bleisure travellers prices that are less than the corporate rates, but you can offer them specific perks that will make your venue more appealing. For example, consider a discounted rate for the extended stay or a free appetiser or glass of wine as part of their reservation. Free breakfast for all travellers at the bleisure party can also be very appealing and doesn't cost a lot in the long run.
6. Promote local culture and landmarks.
Part of the appeal of bleisure travel is getting to explore the city someone is visiting. Travellers that come into the town are wanting to see what the hype is all about. If there is anything culturally significant that they can’t miss out on, be sure to let them know.
7. Connect with local businesses.
Strategic partnerships are a win-win-win situation for you, local businesses, and bleisure tourists. When you work with local businesses, you’re sending them people that are already excited to experience anything local. Also, you might be able to secure a special restaurant or bar promotion to entice them to visit. In turn, you get the bonus of giving a good recommendation.
8. Consider the family.
Some bleisure travellers have children at home. And travellers with kids are just as likely to extend their trips as childless travellers. While venues don't necessarily need to create kid camps or child-centric events, doing so can boost the appeal of a bleisure trip. Have venues that offer s'mores roasting, pool games, programs like arts and crafts that can help keep families busy while Mom or Dad is being productive.
9. Play with the seasons.
Bleisure travel will happen all year long, thus the activities and attractions in your area are likely to change with the seasons as well. There might be things done only in warm months or hosted specifically in fall and winter. Get specific and advertise all of the local events in your community during all seasons of the year.
10. Capitalise on technology.
A bleisure tourist will need to fulfil their business travel obligations. They will want comfortable workspaces within the hotel and for those workspaces to have dependable internet access. Connection quality can make a big difference, as business travellers may need to download and upload files or communicate using video calling. Hotels can make the most of this by offering excellent facilities and charging a small rental fee.
Business travellers also prefer brands that use technology to make travel easier. Within hotels, examples of the kind of technology that might make a difference here range from the use of IoT devices in hotel rooms, such as smart speakers, right the way through to the use of smartphone apps that allow for contactless check-ins, check-outs, and restaurant payments.
Using Bleisure Travel to Your Advantage
A research study from Bridgestreet Global Hospitality found that 78% of employees felt more rewarded when being approved to take a bleisure trip. This could mean a lower rate of turnover and a much more engaged staff. Companies that offer bleisure options may see better employee satisfaction, especially for notoriously fickle millennials.
Bleisure is a trend that isn’t going to go away any time soon. Surely, more workers will begin taking advantage of the perks of bleisure travel!