There are fundamental changes taking place in the travel industry that is affecting the way that people take trips. Business travel is no longer strictly for work or leisure, but instead a blend of the two - referred to as “bleisure” - which combines business and recreation, two activities that are usually opposite one another. As a result, business trips are rolling into holidays, and holidays are incorporating business activities, thereby making bleisure the travel trend of the future (and now).
According to the Bleisure Report by Bridgestreet Global Hospitality, 78% of respondents agree that adding leisure days to business travel adds value to work assignments - which means that bleisure could improve employee happiness and engagement without added business costs. While on business trips, employees can take time from their responsibilities to enjoy sightseeing, dining and local cultural experiences - activities that rank highest among bleisure travellers, which they may not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.
As we’re entering the age of bleisure, more and more people realize the tremendous opportunities and the positive impact of extending work trips into holidays. When you consider how travel time between destinations, on board airplanes, and at hotels, is not deemed as lost business hours, you start to comprehend the untapped potential of this new trend fully. Therefore, it’s no wonder that 46% of people add personal travel days to business travel “every trip” or to “most trips.” By adding personal days to business trips, employees can add excitement to the trips that they have to take while enjoying things they want to do - like seeing the sights, visiting friends and family, or relaxing when they’re not working.
It’s no secret then that bleisure can benefit businesses in many ways when you consider the benefits of mixing work and play. However, many companies have yet to develop travel policies that address the subject. For example, how do employees distinguish between business and personal expenses? Can frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards be used for personal travel? Surprisingly, only 14% of BridgeStreet’s respondents have formal bleisure policies in place that get communicated to employees. For travel and procurement managers, employing such systems is crucial for ensuring responsible travel habits among employees, while creating business trips that are as equally productive as they are rewarding. One way to do this is by leveraging technology to ensure that there are seamless communication and full audit trails from trip submission through issuing itineraries.
“Capturing and capitalizing on big data, technology and a fresh critical look at your existing travel program will allow you to deliver better pricing and personalized service,” says Betty Tilton, Vice President of TWIN. With the rise of mobile devices, business travellers want an individualized experience which means travel managers must make these new technologies a part of their corporate travel programs. In 2016, the focus for travel managers will be creating a seamless experience for business travellers that incorporates personal and business expenses, proactive trip details, and other tailored services as part of this bleisure lifestyle.
As the number of businesspeople subscribing to this combination of corporate and leisure travel continues to grow, more employers will need to let workers take bleisure trips to promote healthy work/life balance. Six out of ten people say they are more likely to mix business and pleasure on trips compared to five years ago, which is a substantial increase and shows that bleisure trips are becoming the holiday of the future. Of course, this means that businesses and travel managers will need to adapt and roll out services that make corporate trips more affordable, more productive and more seamless as previously mentioned. For example, a corporate travel platform that lets employees and employers manage bookings and expenses is such a service that can help reduce costs, and streamline end-to-end processes when travelling for bleisure.
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