The pandemic and work-from-home trends have led to a surge in mixing business with leisure travel. No longer a trend just for millennials, the hospitality industry can capture additional room nights and ancillary revenue by catering to the needs of this sizable segment.
From the digital strategist launching a campaign while beachside to the manager checking emails at an alfresco café, the pandemic and its rise in working from home have blurred the lines between private and professional lives and travel.
Today’s business event-goers no longer show up to a business event, let loose at the afterparty, and leave as soon as possible. Instead, a new generation of attendees is going beyond the typical two-to-three-day business travel trips to increasingly add weekends (or entire weeks) to work trips – solo, with a partner, or as a family.
Let’s break down how bleisure travel – the blending of business and personal travel – is transforming the hospitality industry.
1. What is bleisure travel?
The concept is appealing since the traveler’s employer pays for airfare and hotel stay during the business portion of the trip, leaving only additional leisure hotel nights and other expenses on a personal tab. It’s also more efficient to extend a trip than plan another one – especially if the locale features sightseeing or other activities on a traveler’s bucket list.
Bleisure travelers fall into two categories:
- Corporate, group, or conference guests who tack on a few days of vacation to their business trips
- Business travelers who bring companions like friends or family members to an event
2. What is motivating the bleisure travel trend?
The pandemic pushed more people to work from home, creating a new standard that has persisted despite the reopening of many offices. As a result, employees can travel more while working remotely, discovering new locations, cultures, and environments, or participating in self-care.
Many employers support bleisure travel since it contributes to job satisfaction, increased productivity, and longer career tenures. According to a Booking.com study, 59% agree that traveling and exploring new places inspires them to be more productive at work.
3. Who are bleisure travelers?
Bleisure travel is typical with millennials: 78% have purposefully carved out personal time during a business trip, according to Forbes.
But bleisure travel isn’t limited solely to millennials. Past CWT research has shown the second largest bleisure travel group are Gen X employees, those 36-54 years old.
4. What has bleisure travel’s impact on the hospitality industry been?
Travel Edge Network has noted an increase in bleisure travel by over 25%. And while typical business trips average two to three days, bleisure trips often last as many as six days or more.
Sixty-five percent also believe bringing family, friends, or a significant other along on a business trip is appropriate — as long as it doesn’t interfere with work.
Bleisure travelers represent opportunities to capture additional room nights and ancillary revenue for the hospitality industry – but also require new offerings, such as more spacious accommodations or amenities, to meet their needs.
5. What do bleisure travelers want?
After the pandemic, mixing business with leisure allows business travelers to spend less time away from their loved ones and enjoy trips together. As a result, bleisure travelers increasingly want larger or adjoining hotel rooms to accommodate their group.
Since work remains a focus for bleisure travelers, accommodations with separate workspaces are also in demand. Just under half (47%) of employed travelers are interested in booking accommodations with a co-working space, with 55% of flexible workers also citing this as something they would do.
6. What are bleisure travelers looking for in a hotel specifically?
Hotels catering to bleisure travelers have begun offering additional hospitality amenities, such as:
- A dedicated concierge to provide recommendations and coordinate bleisure itineraries
- Quiet, comfortable workspaces (separate from a guest room)
- Ergonomic desks and chairs
- Multiple power and USB charging outlets
- Complimentary high-speed Internet
- Food and beverage (F&B) credits
- Discounts for on-property amenities, like spa services or beach/pool cabanas
- Group packages that include perks like transportation, photos, or videos
Hotels can offer off-property bleisure itineraries that blend local experiences with culture and cuisine to encourage extended stays. For example, they might partner with local companies to provide:
- Cooking classes
- Wine tastings
- Special excursions
- Guided tours
7. How can hotels capture more business from bleisure travelers?
Get started positioning your property as a “bleisure hotel” by:
- Creating content geared to bleisure travelers, such as blogs with the top hidden gems in your city or suggestions for two to three-day itineraries
- Running targeted social media campaigns that speak to typical job titles that engage in bleisure travel
- Participating and contributing to online travel groups and forums
- Partnering with related businesses like co-working spaces, transport, and even restaurants
8. How can bleisure activities be incorporated into group bookings?
The first step is offering amenities that groups want, like upgraded WiFi, flexible check-in/check-out times, or F&B packages that cater to varied group needs.
Then, start telling meeting planners you’re open for bleisure business. Highlight available bleisure amenities by offering virtual venue tours or special rates for guests extending their stays.
Remember to ensure that all corporate group sales promotions highlight bleisure-focused services and amenities.
9. Should all destinations and venues get in on bleisure travel?
Yes! All signs point to bleisure travel as a sizable segment for years to come. Business travelers frequently extend trips due to the location’s available entertainment or activities, being known as a “bucket list” destination, and the ease of getting around the area.
New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando are particularly popular, but other major North American city centers are increasingly busy.
Due to longer travel times, bleisure Europe trips are also growing to cities like London and Paris.
10. How can bleisure offerings convert business travelers into repeat leisure visitors?
Most bleisure travelers (82%) stay at the same hotel for the duration of their trip versus changing accommodations for the business and leisure portions.
Provide a variety of offerings to help bleisure travelers enjoy their extended stay. Hotels can also showcase other properties to encourage future leisure trips – especially if travelers see locations suitable for family travel or different themes such as adventure, mountains, beaches, spas, or golf.
Bleisure travel is changing the hospitality industry. Make it easy for event-goers to see your bleisure-friendly accommodations and amenities.
This article first appeared on Allseated.com