Business travel is quickly emerging as a lifestyle. The amalgamated term “Bleisure” encapsulates the crossover of business travel and leisure activity undertaken by business travellers. Here’s how it works: An employee sent on a business trip may extend the trip for a few days to rest and relax, in some cases even inviting a significant other to join them paying only for the extra fare and extended hotel stay. In today’s increasingly globalised and time-pressed world, it is not surprising that the line between work and play is becoming increasingly more ambiguous.
Why are people doing it, and how?
Business travel provides travellers with the opportunity to positively expand their horizons. Technological advances coupled with time-saving amenities (think in-flight Wifi) allow travellers to be more efficient equating to more recreation time. As a natural consequence, business travellers are capitalising on their new freedom – in a study conducted by Bridge Street Global Hospitality, 83% of respondents said they used time on business trips to explore the city they’re visiting, whilst 54% of bleisure travellers said they brought their family members with them. Financially, it makes sense. Particularly in an era where being away from home is many a business travellers’ main concern. Loyalty schemes can play a large part in the rise of bleisure travel as travellers will often use air miles to fly their partner to join them.
What are the pros and cons?
Rather than being limited to meeting rooms and hotels, business travellers find solace in some designated R&R time and can enjoy a trip they needed to take for work anyway. There are benefits for businesses too – they benefit from employee’s increased cultural awareness of where they’re being sent and reduce the likelihood of burnout. However, many companies are yet to define a travel policy in relation to bleisure, which is unsurprising considering this is a new trend.
Is it for each department to decide, is it the place of a manager to approve accordingly, or is it a simple “don’t ask” scenario? So …
How can companies harness this trend?
One would suggest that adopting an open dialogue internally is crucial – it’s an opportunity for companies to embrace a new trend and create shared interest for business travellers. More and more employees are responding to more flexible working patterns, and arguably becoming more productive outside of the more traditional working hours – perhaps the old adage of “work hard, play hard” could apply? In any sense it’s a growing trend that needs to be addressed within organisations.
What do TMC’s need to do?
Add value! If the bleisure trend is set to continue, travel management companies have to be able to enhance their offering beyond traditional products and services. Generally most companies aren’t thrilled at the prospect of employees mixing business with leisure, potentially perceiving it as wasting company time, but as long as travel management companies can balance corporate travel policy restrictions with the way business travellers want to use their services, the potential of leisure add-ons provide a welcome opportunity to add value and ultimately benefit the traveller.
Travel companies as a whole will be faced with a plethora of new opportunities to innovate and design products and services that make business travel more seamless, more productive and more inspiring.