Have you heard the term “BLEISURE?” If not, I bet you have tried combining your personal travel with a business trip or vice versa.
Since I went on business trips as a event manager for many different clients in the industry – I always liked the concept. What is wrong to extend your stay after a 3 day conference or sales meeting and have a 2 days on the pool to chill and relax? Or, if you’ve spent all week at a corporate retreat, don’t you deserve a day or two to enjoy the beachfront resort?
The term ‘BLEISURE’ may be relatively new but what it defines has been prominent for quite some time. Business travelers who add a day or two onto their trip for leisure purposes are not a fresh market – but a growing one that’s for sure. The line between work and play is blurring — and it’s creating a new kind of business traveler.
“BLEISURE” trips are a great idea, but gray areas crop up fast when you’re mixing business and pleasure. Will your boss like it? Can you bring your wife or a friend? When does work end and personal time begin? Who pays for the extras and how did you divide them?
Let’s put some light on those gray areas and find best practices of planning a “BLEISURE” trip.
Flights and accommodation
Check your work/ sales meeting or conference schedule. Does it start on a Sunday or end on a Friday? Perfect! Check out your company’s policy on booking flights a couple days earlier or later to explore a city without having to pick up the travel expenses yourself. Generally, companies are all good with it, especially if that other flight is a little cheaper and can save the company some money.
From working in the Event (MICE) industry I can definitely tell you that booking within the room block has its vantage. The hotels will be happy to have sold the rooms for two more nights and generally they will extend your stay mostly at the pre-negotiated, discounted rate.
Use Your Per Diem wise
Most companies have an expense policy that allows employees a modest stipend for leisure activities on business trips …. This isn’t going to send you for a 5 course dinner or to have a great time at the bar, but you can use the credit to visit a museum or do something cultural in your destination.
Act like a local
If I extend my stay in a big city my first move is to get in touch with locals or local info boards. I try to avoid the tourist traps and find reasonable und good local food experiences. While in the restaurant by myself, I always get in communication with locals and know after dinner what are the best clubs, bars and hang out’s I must go.
When it comes up to transportation I see how convenient subways or busses and city trams work with my hotel location. UBER would be always a choice if in the big cities. Use the Moovit app to get real-time public transport information all over the world.
Plan your trip to get the most out of it
Often when traveling to other places I’ll sit before on google maps and see what is around calling my interest. Often you get amazing deals with national flights and can see cities and places with in a range of 2 hours away. You can plan an overnight, or two and mostly I combine the flight back with my ongoing international flight. Time in between I hang out at the Airport lounge.
What does BLEISURE means for the hotel?
Statistics often tell a story and recent figures show the continued strength of BLEISURE travel and offer some insight into the strategy’s hotels can use to attract those travelers:
- Almost 40% of business travelers in North America added a leisure leg to their work trip in the past year.
- Expedia reports 43% of all business trips, both international and domestic, are extended to include some kind of leisure activity.
- 51% say they plan to do this at least one time a year
- Leisure days now tend to outnumber work days on the average business trip.
- Of those who didn’t take a bleisure trip 58% said they didn’t have enough time. Another 18% said their company policy didn’t allow it.
With global business travel spend forecasted to increase by 6% in both 2017 and 2018, here’s how hotels can turn business travelers into BLEISURE travelers:
Make it easy to bring extra guests
According to Skift, “more than half of those who extend a business trip bring family or significant others with them. If it’s convenient and worthwhile to bring other guests, corporate travelers are much more likely to add leisure time to their trip. In fact, about 75% of business travelers said they’d prolong a work-related trip for leisure if a hotel offered a discount or additional nights”.
“To encourage this your hotel might consider putting together packages aimed at business travelers. For example, a five-night bleisure package could include added extras on the fourth night, and the final night free. This would suit a traveler who has work on three days, but wants to bring their partner for some leisure time once these commitments are completed.
For business travelers with families you can easily bundle an offer that provides discounts to local theme parks or attractions. This way if a guest is concluding their business on a Friday they can extend their stay through the weekend and include their family in the trip”.
Understand the different personas of business travelers
“Just like other guests, business travelers have many different motivations for extending their trip. They may want to squeeze in some romance with their partner, be active and explore the surrounding area, or simply take time to relax and pamper themselves.
Profiling your guests will make it easier to know what strategy will convince them to extend their stay. Will you offer increased or discounted access to amenities like spas or massage services? Will you offer a discounted room upgrade? Will you give them personalized guides to local attractions or tickets to cultural and historical tours?
It’s important for them to balance their business and personal goals, and your hotel needs to assist them with targeted offers”.
Personalize all guest communication
“Some guests may be visiting for the first time, for others it could be their second or third trip to the area, so their desires will differ. You need to realize this and tailor your communication accordingly. For someone on their first trip, it will appeal to them to explore the city and see all the highlights. For a third-time guest, it might simply be a matter of using the extra time to unwind.
Make sure guests are aware of your offer. Send them additional information in pre-stay emails via your online booking engine, and remind them at check-in that they can still take advantage of your unique offer, or leave information in their rooms about the opportunities to prolong their stay.
You can also reward guests who are part of your loyalty program or give others an incentive to join with with additional night offers or discounted amenity offers.
The BLEISURE trend is certainly one worth pursuing for hoteliers. Many travelers may only get one opportunity per year for a proper vacation, so they’re eager to steal leisure time where they can on their business trips, lest they risk burnout.”
Read more on skift
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