Adam Lawless, Communications Director at Viator, discusses the growing phenomenon of Bleisure and how it might impact your next work trip.
We are living in a time with an increasingly global workforce and companies everywhere are seemingly aiming to strengthen their culture to boost employee engagement and retention. That’s why business travel broke records the week after Labor Day – corporate spending on business travel is expected to rise to 55% of 2019 levels by the end of 2022.
With many organizations operating in completely remote or hybrid work environments, connecting dispersed teams is likely one of the main drivers for many companies’ upleveling business travel. There’s been nearly a 6x increase in trip bookings and spend for travel starting between Sept. 1 and Nov. 19, compared to a year ago – but there’s a twist.
Now, business and leisure travel has started to morph into one and people are calling it ‘bleisure’, or ‘business leisure.’ As business travel continues to pick up steam, many companies (along with the employees themselves) are opting to blend leisure into work trips, particularly given the fact that 35% of business travel bookings are on or over a weekend. Business travel provides a unique opportunity to build company culture for employers, and allows employees to spread their wings and do a bit of exploring while traveling for corporate purposes.
The Rise of “Work Travel”
But as the name implies, bleisure is part business travel, part leisure travel. It’s combining a work trip with an extended vacation before, during, or after a work event.
Work travel isn’t exclusive to company size. Many organizations, ranging from ten employees to 1,000, plan work trips in order to build camaraderie between coworkers. However, corporate updates aren’t how these companies build amity between a workforce. The team-building activities or experiences they do as a group build relationships between employees.
If a company is hosting a huge summit in Las Vegas, why not set up an after-hours ride in the famous High Roller overlooking the Las Vegas strip for team members to mingle? Or, knowing outdoor experiences are exploding in popularity, with nearly half (48%) of the experiences booked this year predominantly outdoors per the 2022 Viator Travel Trends Report, you could take your team on a Friday day trip to the Grand Canyon, while seeing several other sights like the Joshua Tree and Hoover Dam along the way.
Although there’s opportunity for leisure activities for every type of company trip as a group, that doesn’t mean you can only participate in bleisure activities with your colleagues. We’ve evolved into a new future of work where corporate professionals can travel and work from virtually anywhere, as long as they have access to a good wifi connection. Through bleisure, these digital nomads — long-term travelers that can work anywhere, or virtual employees that are also travelers at heart — can complete their work priorities while also satisfying their travel desires.
Whether you’re on a solo trip to visit a client or scoping out a business prospect in another city, the beauty behind bleisure travel is that it encapsulates all of these ideas. From the Chicago River Architecture Tour, to the Flavors of Philly Food Tour, to this narrated lunch cruise along the Potomac River in D.C., there’s always something to do to spend your downtime after work hours.
Future of Blended Travel
Flexible work policies are the new normal for much of today’s workforce. As work-life boundaries continue to blur with remote-work options, bleisure is a hybrid that’s growing in popularity. And many employers are supportive of bleisure travel. After learning that virtual and hybrid work is a viable, almost seamless option for most businesses, a lot of employers decided to make the pandemic-born policy a permanent one. In fact, 63% of high-growth companies use a “productivity anywhere” hybrid work model. Many progressive companies even promote bleisure travel as a work perk, in an effort to attract and retain talent in the competitive job market.
Overworked and undervalued employees can quickly become fatigued and potentially develop poor health, high stress, and eventually dissatisfaction with their company. Job satisfaction and travel well-being go hand-in-hand – people stay productive and stay longer in their jobs if they’re given the opportunity to take advantage of travel while working. Bleisure travel offers employees a necessary recharge while still meeting their work goals.
As post-pandemic travellers increasingly adopt seamless blended travel behaviours and attitudes, bleisure will likely prove to be a lasting trend in the professional and travel worlds.
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