Satur­day night is all right as more trav­ellers stay over

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Evans

THE trend of com­bin­ing leisure time with a busi­ness trip abroad has been on the rise for the last num­ber of years, and the lat­est data shows that it’s not slow­ing down.

So-called bleisure trips rose 46pc among Eu­ro­pean busi­ness trav­ellers last year, ac­cord­ing to travel and ex­pense man­age­ment gi­ant SAP Con­cur.

It’s de­fined as a trip that in­volves a Satur­day night stay as­so­ci­ated with a busi­ness trip in a for­eign city, and is be­ing driven, as with much of the changes in travel, by an ever-younger busi­ness trav­eller.

Glob­ally, mil­len­ni­als now ac­count for 38pc of bleisure trips, with Gen­er­a­tion X and Baby Boomer work­ers lag­ging be­hind at 31pc each.

And the leisure perk varies from re­gion to re­gion — 44pc of trav­ellers from the Asian-pa­cific area en­joyed a Satur­day night away, com­pared to just over a quar­ter (27pc) of Euro­peans and a mere 19pc of those in­dus­tri­ous folk in the US.

The mil­len­nial ef­fect can be seen with how trips are be­ing booked, with up­ward growth in the dis­rup­tive plat­form econ­omy, no­tably Airbnb.

Seventy per cent of cor­po­rates stay­ing in an Airbnb prop­erty hang on for a Satur­day night sleep­over to en­joy the sights, com­pared to just 10pc housed in ho­tels.

“As em­ploy­ees seek to achieve a bet­ter work­life bal­ance, they don’t want to only see the air­port of a city. In­stead they want to em­bed them­selves more in the cul­ture and ex­pe­ri­ences that their des­ti­na­tion has to of­fer,” said SAP Con­cur’s MD of UK En­ter­prise, Emma Maslen.

The data re­veals that em­ploy­ees in the man­u­fac­tur­ing, tech­nol­ogy and pharma sec­tors are in­creas­ingly likely to take more leisure time abroad, and it’s also be­com­ing pop­u­lar even with more cash-con­scious SMES glob­ally.

Where Euro­peans want to stay over is also re­vealed — Is­rael’s tech cap­i­tal of Tel Aviv is the top choice, fol­lowed by Lon­don, Paris, Dubai and Frank­furt.

Blame it on ho­tel prices per­haps, but Dublin doesn’t make the list of must-stay for­eign spots for Eu­ro­pean trav­ellers.

While Maslen ar­gues that “em­ploy­ees feel more job sat­is­fac­tion, lead­ing to higher pro­duc­tiv- ity and ta­lent re­ten­tion”, there is a note of cau­tion.

Com­pa­nies — and em­ploy­ees — need to know where the line is be­ing drawn, and who pays for what, and whether leisure is even al­lowed un­der com­pany travel poli­cies and in­sur­ance.

It’s an im­por­tant sub­ject, if the trend of leisure con­tin­ues, in light of a re­cent study by travel man­age­ment com­pany CWT re­veal­ing that four in 10 ex­ec­u­tives ad­mit­ted us­ing a com­pany credit card for per­sonal spend­ing while away.

On a re­lated note, it’s worth­while for em­ploy­ers to take their staff ’s needs into ac­count, es­pe­cially if they’re the kind of road war­riors who spent con­sid­er­able amounts of time abroad.

Lat­est data from the Air­line Re­port­ing Cor­po­ra­tion and con­sul­tants tclara found that em­ploy­ers run the risk of los­ing staff due to burnout — a se­ri­ous is­sue in a tight labour mar­ket.

The re­port warns that “those who spent at least 35 nights away from home and took at least four trips by air­plane in the last 12 months say there is a 24pc chance that they will vol­un­tar­ily leave their em­ployer in the next two years”.

The big­gest de­mand from the well-trav­elled is busi­ness-class seat­ing on flights longer than six hours and fewer in­roads into their per­sonal time for travel.

The re­port also noted that al­most half of staff hoped to travel much less in the next two years.

So it’s a mes­sage of qual­ity over quan­tity, with other de­mands in­clud­ing bet­ter-lo­cated (and qual­ity) ho­tels, ap­pre­ci­a­tion of ef­forts by man­age­ment and less em­pha­sis on cost and skimp­ing on ex­pen­di­ture.

Changes to Lufthansa’s sched­ule at Dublin air­port will be of ben­e­fit to Ir­ish trav­ellers.

From March 31, the Ger­man car­rier is adding add a third daily ser­vice on its Dublin to Mu­nich route, a rise from 13 to 19 flights per week

The air­line said that “Dublin is a key des­ti­na­tion within the Lufthansa net­work”, and it has more than dou­bled ser­vices from Dublin to its hubs in Frank­furt and Mu­nich in the last four years.

Aside from point-to-point flights, the new ser­vice, leav­ing Dublin at 6.15am, of­fers more long-haul con­nec­tions from Lufthansa’s sec­ond-big­gest hub, no­tably to the Aus­trala­sia re­gion, Africa and South Amer­ica.

Seventy per cent of those in an Airbnb prop­erty stay on to see the sights com­pared to 10pc in ho­tels

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