Combining business with leisure. This trend, which has emerged over the past few years, will inevitably gain momentum. As the idea of work-life balance becomes enshrined in law, many businesses are looking to incorporate aspects of the extended leisure stay within a business trip.
“Business travel is a lifestyle for many of our guests and we’re seeing a growing desire by these travellers to add a leisure component to their trip and experience the destination beyond the meeting room,” says Kelly Phillips, SVP Global Engagement & Strategic Accounts, Hilton in the recent GBTA study, Extending Business Travel into Leisure Time.
But who are today’s bleisure travellers?
In ‘Understanding Tomorrow’s Traveller’, a recent Amadeus paper that unveiled the six Future Traveller Tribes, Amadeus identified Obligation Meeters as the most likely bleisure travellers.
Obligation Meeters have their travel choices restricted by the need to meet some bounded objective. Their behaviour is shaped by their need to be in a certain place, at a certain time, without fail.
Even though Obligation Meeters may have their luxury travel options restricted by the need to meet an objective, once the objective is fulfilled, their behaviour changes and they transform into leisure travellers looking to indulge.
This tribe will turn to Travel Management Companies (TMCs) or Meetings and Conference services (MICE) to understand how to best manage the flexibility of work travel and add the personal leisure extras as a stand-alone component. They’ll insist any added-on travel follows conveniently from their business trip. For example, after three days of meetings in San Francisco, they may want to travel to a lodge for wine tastings in nearby Sonoma Valley.
Also cultural purists, although not typically associated with the business traveller, are ideal candidates for bleisure. They would be very keen to explore a city once business has been taken care of. TMCs and travel agents should look to provide content which will allow their employees to extend the experience of business travel, be that by destination services or restaurant recommendations. Be sure however not to offer sight-seeing at tourist traps, but rather suggest places where they can eat what the locals are eating and do what a local would do.
Social Capital Seekers, for whom work-life balance is very important, equally appreciate the opportunity to experience destinations they may not otherwise visit. Make sure to offer them Instagram-worthy location so that they can share their experience online with their friends and family.
The GBTA study further stipulates that most bleisure travellers hold middle management positions (42 percent) at a slightly higher rate than entry-level (27 percent) and senior leadership/C-level positions (31 percent). Additionally, almost three in five (58 percent) have children at home and 44 percent travelled with someone else for the leisure portion of their trip.
Business travellers who take bleisure trips most typically extend them for a short period of time. While 90 percent do so from more than one day, only one-quarter (23 percent) do so for more than three days. On average, travellers typically extend their trips for three days.
The most common reasons business travelers identify for taking bleisure trips are to visit a destination where they like to spend their time (43 percent) or visit a new destination they wanted to see (38 percent). Not far behind are a less expensive way to take a vacation (34 percent) or needing time away from home and work (34 percent).
For business travelers who have chosen not to take bleisure trips, it is rarely because they cannot afford to or do not want to explore the destination they are visiting for work. The most common reason given is lack of time (58 percent). Less common explanations include company policy (18 percent), undesirable location (17 percent) and cost (14 percent).