Bleisure: Business Travel’s New Normal

 
If you’re going on a business trip to San Diego, you might as well enjoy a little sun and sand while you’re there, right?

As silly as the term bleisure may sound, this growing trend is changing the way companies view business travel, all the way from travel policies and expenses to product development.

 

Travel Is a Work Perk

Leisure travel and business travel are becoming more and more difficult to separate. Last year, Hilton Hotels & Resorts surveyed 1,200 business travelers between the ages of 23 and 35 and the results were compelling. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said they would not join a company that did not offer travel as part of the job and 75% viewed business travel as a perk. These results show that not only do people enjoy traveling for work, but travel plays a major role in their career decisions. With the unemployment rate holding steady at a low rate, companies are having to get more and more creative with their employee perks, and many of them are turning to travel.

Travel—it’s Not Just for Millennials

Professionals in the corporate travel management sector agree that business and leisure travel will continue to go hand in hand. “National’s new research shows that workers in general, and Millennials in particular, are increasingly blending business travel with leisure activities, with nearly a third citing their desire to explore specific destinations as the number one reason to do so,” said Frank Thurman, Vice President of Marketing for National. “And business travelers of all ages clearly believe that bleisure travel helps them maintain a healthier work/life balance.”

To capitalize on the bleisure boom, travel companies are adapting to allow for simultaneous booking of business and leisure travel. In fact, the GBTA Foundation and Hilton published a 2018 report focused on bleisure and its implications on managed travel programs, finding that 46% of business travelers were likely to extend a work trip, while another 43% said they were somewhat likely. Only 11% of travelers surveyed said they were “not likely” to do so.

The Unknowns of Bleisure

The GBTA-Hilton study also brought about several additional unanswered questions about managing bleisure travel. How do you manage duty of care? What is the best way to estimate additional costs? How do you develop applications that can tell the difference between business and leisure expenditures?

While corporate travel managers and travel management applications continue to address some of the questions above, the fact that they are asking and assessing shows they are headed in the right direction. And if things continue this way, the business/leisure travel industry will likely look quite different by the time 2020 rolls around.