Bleisure Travel: A Look into How You Can Start Mixing Business With Pleasure
With the average international business trip costing over $2,600, companies want to extract maximum revenue from each day out of the office. In the short term, that might mean contracts awarded or negotiations won. Increasingly, however, businesses are recognizing the long-term investment of promoting "Bleisure"—enabling employees to incorporate a leisure element into their business travel. Driven by a younger workforce with different priorities and powered by cheaper, easier travel, bleisure looks set to oust "strictly business" as the default way to do business on the road.
What Is Bleisure Travel?
It’s one of the fastest growing trends in business travel, and it’s as simple as adding on a few extra days of vacation time to the standard business trip. That might mean rounding off two days at a conference with an extra day away from the convention center to explore the city. It could mean bringing along the family or partner for a weekend together instead of heading alone straight back to the airport on Friday night. Whatever the format, bleisure is the new normal, as recent industry statistics indicate.
- 4 percent of business trips now turn into bleisure
- More than half of bleisure travelers bring family members or a partner
- 37 percent of North American travelers—almost half of whom were millennials—took a bleisure trip in 2017
- 57 percent of companies now have a travel policy in place for bleisure
Anatomy of a Bleisure Trip
Bleisure doesn’t mean asking the boss to sanction a week in Cancun to round off a midweek business meeting in Cleveland. It works best when mutually beneficial to worker and business. The typical bleisure trip creates a seamless bridge from the weekend to a Monday or Friday meeting or conference. Usually, it will be in a location more than 400 miles from home, somewhere notable for its food, culture, beaches, or historical landmarks. For the bleisure traveler, it’s an opportunity for personal growth, a chance to recuperate and re-energize, and a key driver in building satisfaction and loyalty toward the company.
What Is Behind the Bleisure Boom?
Anyone who studied "Death of a Salesman" in high school English class will understand that bleisure wasn’t exactly an option for our parents and grandparents. Today’s workers, however, probably won’t serve a single employer from graduation to retirement, and will no longer accept a work-life balance tipped exclusively in favor of the boss. For millennials, pay isn’t everything. They want cultural experiences, flexibility, and less of a barrier between work and leisure. Other factors also play a part:
- The cost of travel has come down
- We’re traveling more: up to 10 percent each year
- Airbnb and similar services have disrupted the accommodation market
- There are more opportunities to share personal experiences online, pushing the "FOMO" factor
How to Take Your Own Bleisure Trip
Bleisure travel is most common in the big manufacturing, tech, and financial services corporations, but small and medium-sized enterprises are also getting in on the action. Not all business travel is in business class, and in many cases the price of a ticket that incorporates a weekend stayover is the same as the standard corporate fare. Here’s four ways to add some vacation to your next business trip.
1. Book Meetings for Monday or Friday
If possible, give your business appointment a weekend buffer. If your meeting is midweek, your travel over both legs will most likely be on company time, so it makes sense for the employer to let you move one leg of the journey to the weekend.
2. Take the Initiative
Most bleisure travelers personally research their flights and accommodation, particularly younger employees, who are more likely to use Airbnb to reduce overall cost. Use price comparison tools to find the best deals and discounts.
3. Know What Expenses Are Covered
You don’t want your memories of a skiing weekend with the whole family in Aspen to be marred by an awkward conversation with the boss about expenses. Typically, you’re on the hook for any costs incurred by your companions.
Trends in Bleisure Travel
Although most bleisure travel is some distance from the office, it is by no means exclusively international. New York City, Chicago, and Miami are always worth investigation for West Coast business travelers, while Los Angeles and Las Vegas are on the radar for East Coast workers.
Internationally, a handful of cities present a strong attraction as both business and tourism hubs. Long-haul travelers to Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, or Tokyo have a strong case for extending their tour. Since most bleisure trips are taken in September or October, you can also take advantage of visiting these major tourist centers outside peak season.
Bleisure travel isn’t cannibalizing vacation time. We still value the right to take a week or two off with the family each year. On vacation, however, we tend to unplug from work entirely and create a clean break from the 9:00am to 5:00pm routine. Bleisure, on the other hand, is an enriching experience that can directly improve professional growth and performance.
Written by Nick Marshall for Knockaround