The rising reality of blurred lines
Business + Leisure = Bleisure – The rising reality of blurred lines
Today’s café has become the coffee and wine bar; the grocery, now a deli, buffet and caterer for private parties; the vineyard a restaurant, function and tasting room. There are countless aspects of everyday living that have evolved, growing into something more than they were, and blurring the lines that had distinguished the different compartments of our lives in the past.
This has spilled over into the world of business travel. Bleisure travelers are those who purposely add a personal aspect to their business trips for leisure. It’s no wonder; we all have been in the airports on a Friday after a long week on the road during summer travels watching the lines of vacationers. A recent twitter search on #bleisure brought back countless posts and one in particular caught my attention:“…finding your professional edge. #bleisure changes choices of decisions when traveling.”
Traveling for Bleisure?
One might be quick to judge, thinking the idea is still a one hit wonder and doesn’t have longevity for the traveling road warrior. Others have varying flavors for the name itself. For example, Avis dubbed the same concept“bizcation.”
Regardless of what it’s called, there are several recent research reports on the topic that show travelers on the move for both business and pleasure. One recent study by Hotwire of 2,020 American travelers found that just under half (49 percent) of adults use their business trips to discover new places. Since the topic is such an opportunity to cross-sell, booking sites now include upselling bleisure aspects of destinations following conventions, as hotels drop their prices after the large groups leave town.
To exemplify the shift in behavior, according to a 2014 study of 640 international guests, the BridgeStreet Global Hospitality Bleisure Study found 46 percent of respondents indicate they add personal travel days to almost every business trip.
Travelers hitting the road for business are extending their journey to experience life. Six out of ten travelers are more likely to take a bleisure trip today than they were five years ago. The primary reasons for adding a leisure component to a business trip are sightseeing, dining, arts and culture. But from my perspective there’s a broader and more stimulating motivation; according to the BridgeStreet report, the top reason for bleisure travel is to see more of the world and gain cultural knowledge.
Traveling alone has its pros and cons. However, more than half of those responding say they bring family members. With 40 percent of the American workforce foregoing countless paid vacation days, this could be part of a remedy that once again brings the core family together to share new experiences in art, culture, cuisine – in other words, life in general.
Mixing Work and Pleasure
A number of questions come up around the concept of bizcations. If you’re the owner of a company wondering about your organization’s responsibilities – or more specifically, who’s picking up the tab when the lines are so blurred – you are not alone.
Today, there is still a significant opportunity to help employees understand the company’s position on the topic. Since there are clearly benefits to having employees who gain life lessons that are only taught through first hand experiences, finding a common ground and a policy that benefits both the employee and employer seems fitting. At the time of the Hotwire study last fall, almost 60 percent said their companies did not have a policy to accommodate adding personal days to business trips.
This opens up even more questions. Who pays for the employee, spouse, significant other or even family members? (Remember, when your traveling employee makes a journey stretch over a weekend, there may be opportunities for greater cost savings.) Aside from monetary considerations, what happens if there are travel disruptions or even associated risks? Is your employee’s travel part of the company’s responsibility or are they on their own – and are they aware of that?
When the survey asked travelers their companies had a policy on bleisure travel, less than 14 percent of respondents said“yes.” Even though the lines may seem blurred, the time is at hand for companies to look at the balancing act and make those lines crystal clear for their employees.
Bizcations or bleisure travel is here to stay. There are countless benefits for employees and employers alike, and it makes a great recruiting tool for all of our companies. Embrace the idea, clear up the blurred lines and let your travelers experience new cultures, languages, food and the understanding of others.
Doesn’t that benefit us all? BT