As business travel increasingly becomes a necessity, more and more executives, especially the millennials, are injecting elements of play into their business trips by extending their stay, or interweaving leisure activities into their work itineraries. This mixing of business and leisure, also known as Bleisure, is a rising global trend and companies that can leverage it to empower their employees with a flexible, seamless and tailored experience will gain happy, well-rested and more productive employees.
According to a survey by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), 67% of business travellers report that having the option of extending their business trips for leisure is important to them and in another report by BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, 78% of the respondents feel that adding leisure days to business travel adds value to their work assignments.
These insights, while not unexpected, present a window of opportunity, not only for the travel industry as a whole, but also for companies that are able to adapt and accommodate these preferences. The returns in employee satisfaction and potential cost savings would be well-worth the investments.
Reaching new horizons
The trend towards extended business trips for leisure presents a wealth of opportunities to the travel industry. For instance, hotel chains can capitalise on the increased length of these trips by easing the process of booking and payment for the business traveller as well as the employer to ensure a clear delineation between business and leisure. Hotel associations can also assist the business traveller by coordinating the leisure portion of a bleisure trip so that the business traveller can truly have a fuss-free trip; focusing on his work without having to fret too much on coordinating arrangements post-business. The line of thought here is to ensure that both the business traveller and the employer continue to see the appeal of bleisure, without creating additional burden on either party.
Needless to say, as travellers spend more time in a city, they are likely to spend more on dining, transportation, services and entertainment as well, boosting not only the travel industry but the local economy as a whole.
A win-win for all
On the surface, the option to blend work and play may seem to benefit the employee more. However, companies that are able to strategically incorporate the element of Bleisure into their current travel policies can create a win-win situation where employees are happier, better engaged and more loyal. After all, at the heart of the trend is the employee’s welfare while companies recognise that happy employees make for good business.
Indeed, in a survey commissioned by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), it was found that Asian business travellers now enjoy greater autonomy and are demanding for more flexible travel policies. Furthermore, 56 percent of the respondents view business travel as a perk, rather than an unwelcomed requirement.
In fact, organisations that are able to leverage on their travel management partners to provide additional services to business travellers can also benefit from substantial cost savings as they are able to negotiate for better deals or additional value-adds due to the extended trip, whilst the cost of the extended leisure will be borne by the traveller.
As such, for companies with frequent business travellers, adding bleisure guidelines to your travel policy could be a well calculated investment used to attract and retain employees.
Going the extra mile
With other industry players having a clear stake in the bleisure trend, travel management companies can also claim a share of the pie. Traditionally, these companies have had access to business travellers’ schedules to better coordinate travel arrangements. In doing so, they may gloss over seemingly unimportant data, such as anniversary dates and personal notes.
To differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, companies can instead use this data to plan a more personalised trip. For instance, if it is known that a wedding anniversary precedes an important business conference, travel management partners can propose flying over the spouse to join the business traveller towards the tail-end of the trip while buying tickets to a favourite band’s performance.
By being exposed to the perks of bleisure, the business traveller will be motivated to collaborate further with the travel management firms, in anticipation of optimising both his leisure and business travel. Rightly so, instead of viewing bleisure as a disruption, the trend represents a gold mine of opportunities for travel industry and its various stakeholders.