Bleisure is a term that has been used and growing in popularity over several years. There was definitely an awareness of this ‘phenomenon’ prior to the pandemic but since 2020, people are quite rightly reviewing the need for travel: the objectives, the frequency, the value. Not to mention the sustainability aspect and the consideration of their and their company’s carbon footprint which is now a more valid consideration for many travellers and organisations than it has ever been.
Bleisure: Beyond the buzzword
Statistics suggest that the way we travel for business is changing and will continue to evolve. It's believed that more than one in three business travellers, globally, will add some sort of leisure component to at least one of their business trips. According to Expedia, it is around 43% which highlights the fact that leisure is once again becoming a fundamental part of the modern-day business trip. Whereas in the past it might have been eschewed as ‘still being work’ or unimportant, people’s priorities and views have changed and are still evolving.
In an "always on" world of 24-hour connectivity, where the lines between work and home life have been firmly blurred, it can be hard to get away from technology, thus effectively hard to "switch off" from the demands of constant email traffic and digital platforms.
Yet business travellers are indeed now able to find and are actively seeking respite through leisure trips tied to business travel. Business travel can be physically and mentally demanding and the opportunity to recuperate affords travellers a much-needed and welcome benefit to any work trip.
Who exactly is the bleisure traveller?
This is a growing and specific (although diverse) market segment. By developing a better understanding of those who participate in bleisure travel for their meetings and events, suppliers in the industry can target and incentivise this population more efficiently and effectively.
A joint Expedia Group and Luth Research study provided one of the most extensive insights into the modern bleisure traveller to date. It found that bleisure travellers tend to make frequent business trips, with 70% travelling on behalf of their business at least once every three months. The same research found that these travellers tend to work across a wide range of industries, but the most common were in the areas of technology, healthcare, public administration and manufacturing.
In terms of demographics, there is much evidence to suggest that millennials are more likely to seize the opportunity to add some leisure elements to their business travel than their older colleagues. Indeed, SAP Concur research found that millennials accounted for 38% of all such travellers. However, generation Xers and baby boomers also accounted for 31% each, indicating a need for travel companies to appeal to all of these age groups.
What are bleisure travellers looking for?
The research shows that when considering their travel requirements, some of the features or local offerings that are most likely to encourage an extended trip are those where there is an opportunity for sightseeing—beaches, restaurants and opportunities for experiences of local culture. Major events such as festivals, cultural events, sporting events and music concerts are also a big factor.
These travellers also tend to want to use services that make travel easy and flexible. In terms of accommodation, they are likely to seek hotels and other options which offer a combination of fast and reliable internet, work areas, and 24-hour services, while also offering leisure facilities like spas, gyms, restaurants and pools.
The future looks bright!
Corporate business travellers (and millennials in particular) are tech-savvy and health-conscious—key aspects like design, experience and perceived value are all extremely important in attracting this group’s interest. This demographic gives great importance to living unique experiences, as well as the decision-making power of their journey.
They are keen to break through the common activities of a conventional business trip of meetings and events in order to balance it with their leisure preferences. Hotels and other tourism-oriented businesses are continuing to enable, adjust, evolve and tailor their services and facilities to meet the needs of the bleisure traveller, offering the perfect equilibrium between their business and business needs and this is in no way set to slow down.
The dual trends of a flexible work environment and a renewed interest in travel have caused bleisure travel to soar. Hotel groups are focusing on leisure and all-inclusive packages to meet travellers' new expectations.
The concept in essence is not entirely brand new. However, it is now certainly recognition of an ongoing evolution in traveller needs and the increasingly blurred lines between work and play, with the gradual intermingling of professional and personal activities, that represent the modern traveller. It is a continuing global trend and one that the industry would be foolhardy to underestimate.
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