Ever traveled for work and sprinkled in some sightseeing during your stay? Or stayed on an extra day to indulge in a little R&R by the hotel pool or grab a reservation at that hot new restaurant you heard about among the murmurings of a meeting? Welcome to the club – the club of “bleisure” enthusiasts. If you’re not yet familiar with the buzzword – which is a portmanteau of the words “business” and “leisure” – you likely will be soon. While bleisure – the act of mixing in some personal vacation or leisure time while traveling for work – is not a particularly brand new travel trend, it sure is booming in a big way right now.
The Trend on the Rise
The stats don’t lie. In a 2019 survey by Great Hotels of the World (GHOTW), 75 percent of respondents said that they had extended their business trips for leisure purposes in the past year, in most cases multiple times. That number is up over the past years and expected to continue to rise in the following years.
Why it’s So Popular Now
More than ever, people are craving memorable experiences in a new place, whether that means for work or pleasure. While Millennials have led the way to normalizing the trend – after all, they’re said to be the generation that has most valued memorable experiences over material things – the other two core generations currently in the workforce clearly are endorsing it, too. According to the second annual State of Business Travel Survey by National Car Rental, 90 percent of Millennials have engaged in bleisure travel in the past year, but so have 81 percent of Generation Xers and 80 percent of Baby Boomers.
In terms of who’s going, 56 percent of travelers had friends or family join them, while 43 percent went alone. “I’ve been working with meeting and event planners for 28 years, and it is only in the past several years that I have seen companies become aware of employee’s contribution on the road and in meetings,” says Paul Bashaw, Benchmark’s corporate director of global sales. “Bleisure is a really nice way to incorporate family time into business travel, by bringing family along for that leisure portion.”
How it’s Affecting Meetings and Events
While bleisure is often thought of as extending the start or end of a business trip to add in some leisure activities, corporate event planners are increasingly integrating business and leisure travel activities into one seamless agenda as well. That’s because destinations are such a driving factor in attendance. “It fosters relationships if you take your attendees to a sports game, as opposed to a board room, to meet. You get to create a more personal bond,” says Bashaw. “We want the clients we work with to experience Benchmark destinations, even if they are in town for business. It’s a different kind of business travel experience.”
The Beauty behind a Family “Bleisure” Vacation
“I’ve been fortunate to take my wife, Michele, on three bleisure trips with me recently and it has been a great experience for both of us. We’ve been able to economically travel to some wonderful locations and have enjoyed some incredible experiences,” notes Tom Faust, Benchmark’s vice president of sales. After all, if you have a family waiting back at home, you’re likely not going want to stay on a few extra days in a location without them. The key is to determine if the destination and hotel have added amenities for family bleisure travelers. Take, for example, The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark, home to, yes, amazing meeting facilities, but also an on-site two-acre waterpark, arcade, bowling alley, and more for keep the family busy while you focus on business.
3 Tips to Taking a Bleisure Trip
>> Be Upfront with Your Company Don’t hide the fact that you’re looking to enjoy the destination while you’re on the trip. That’s because, while it’s obviously economically beneficial to the traveler, it can be for the company, too. “When a traveler stays over the weekend, it can also sometimes save the corporation money if the extended dates give a better flight price,” says Faust. “The key is to communicate with your admin prior to the airfare being booked.”
>> Schedule Meetings at Beginning or End of the Week To avoid having to take any of your precious paid holidays, arrange your meetings so that they start on a Monday or end on a Friday. That way, you can simple arrive the weekend prior or extend your stay through the weekend following your meetings.
>> Do your Homework, But Leave a Little Room for Spontaneity As is the case with taking any trip, research the destination and activities to do in advance. That way, once your business concludes, you can head straight into leisure without wasting any time. However, once there, ask for recommendations from clients or colleagues who live there about what to do for a true local’s perspective.