Tapping Into The Bleisure Travel Niche
Feb 18, 2019 - 8 min read
The rising trend in bleisure travel is something that we are all learning to love, because, honestly who wouldn’t? In a globalized age rich with technology advancements, the opportunities for blurring the boundaries between business and leisure are simply growing. So who is taking bleisure trips? What do bleisure travelers need? How can you, as a travel industry professional or marketer cater to them? 360 Stories has done a bit of research, and here are our results!
Bleisure Traveler Profiles
Perhaps when we say bleisure you immediately think of the digital nomad type. This person makes travel his or her business. They go from one country to the other and make a career out travel writing, running their own website or blog and/or vlogging among other things. Perhaps their travels aren’t part of their career but they work in tech and therefore can make anywhere with an internet connection their office. The idea of bleisure is combining professional travel with personal travel, and there are many ways that this can happen, and you don’t need to be a digital nomad to experience it!
Many of us are holding down a full-time job in an office setting, stable and staying put for the most part. This doesn’t mean that we won’t be given opportunities for a little bleisure travel of our own. In fact, statistics are showing that bleisure is becoming a much more common phenomenon as the years go by. The truth is, many of us are required to go on business trips once in a while. Some more often than others, depending on their position. It’s during these business trips that employees are given the chance to tag on a few extra days for a little bit of leisure time. Business + leisure? You guessed it, bleisure. These trips could be a simple tagging on of a weekend, or maybe even a week or more of work trips. Some people do it alone, some are given the chance to bring a partner or family along.
It’s people from all different levels too, not just entry-level professionals. Managers are in on it as well, but who seems to be doing it most of all? You guessed it, Millennials. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how extensively we’ve covered how important it is for Millennials to experience things. And if your business trip is obliging you to visit an area where there are lots of touristic things to do… why not?
Show Us The Numbers
So how trending is bleisure travel really? The term was first coined in 2009 in The Future Laboratory by Jacob Strand. He was making predictions as a future forecaster, and while the trend really started to pick up in 2014, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere! Back in 2014, a survey was conducted among 600 business travelers, according to which 83% of participants use their time in their travel destination to explore it actively. 60% indicated that they have tried bleisure travel at least once, and 30% use two vacation days to extend the duration of their stay. Of those same respondents, especially in the lower age range, 90% suggested that they would like to do some bleisure traveling within the next five years.
And more recent studies in 2017 shot that bleisure travel is still going strong. According to an Expedia report, 43% of all business trips, both international and domestic, are extended to include some kind of leisure activity. Not only that, it seems like leisure days are starting to outnumber work days on the average business trip! Predictions state that these numbers are only going to increase with time, and employers are beginning to embrace this mode of doing business. They understand that bleisure opportunities help to increase job satisfaction, meaning more productive employees who stay to work for the company longer. Little elements like being given the freedom to take your kids or family help to relieve the stress of a business trip all the better.
One more reason this kind of agreement is mutually beneficial, business travelers who are able to spend more time exploring their destination will learn a lot more about the local culture of the people that they are going to be doing business with in the future. This makes it easier to build more genuine and stronger connections with clients and once again, boost the bottom line outcome for the company overall.
The Where’s and the How’s
So what is it that bleisure travelers hope to gain during their leisure time? Well, essentially what any traveler would want. An experience where they will be able to learn about the location, the local culture, art, cuisine, and of course sightseeing. Millennials plan their business trips like they would a weekend away, that is, hoping to get the opportunity to live like a local. 96%of respondents from a bleisure report believe that they gain cultural experience and knowledge through their bleisure trips. They want to see the world and gain all the experience that comes with it. As you can come to expect, this means that a destination actually plays a big role.
Destination can be a huge deciding factor on whether or not an employee will decide to make their business trip a bleisure one. According to Expedia’s report, 66% of respondents said they would book an extension to their business trip if they were traveling to an exciting location, and even further, 85% would highly consider a destination if it has great sightseeing locations! According to Expedia’s study, bleisure travelers are interested in sightseeing locations most of all, followed by beaches, then, of course, the food culture of a given location. Variables like weather are also taken into consideration. And nearly half of them are interested in various museums and centers for art which are available nearby. So you see, the leisure aspect is more than just a fun night on the town.
All of this is important, because 84% will stay in the same city for the entirety of their trip, and further still, 80% would opt to stay in the same hotel booked by their organization. Talk about big numbers! Plus, since their companies are paying for part of their expenses, bleisure travelers tend to also be big spenders. In fact, in one particular study, the amount spent averaged $1,556 vs. $1,332 for pure leisure trips.
As travel industry professionals, it would be foolish not to tap into the opportunities to be had and get to know how to market to this niche better. We’ve established that bleisure travelers are out to find information. They are interested in making the most out of their trip both in terms of professional and personal, so making relevant information conveniently available to them is extremely important. The next thing to keep in mind is that unlike regular Millennial travelers bleisure travelers need and want convenience. Airbnb’s become less appealing and they will probably not venture far from the location they are staying at. Therefore, hotels should do a number of things.
Offer business travelers the opportunity to extend their stay for the same corporate rate which was paid by their company. Make this process as convenient as possible. Offer reliable amenities like high-speed WiFi, well-equipped business or workspaces and amenities, complimentary breakfasts etc. Provide them with a gym, as well as family-friendly offers for those who choose to bring the family along.
Provide them with a city guide that highlights the must-see sights and must-do activities, which are nearby. Of course, we at 360 Stories feel that giving the opportunity to see what is available at any given location ahead of time is key in organizing a stress-free and seamless trip. That’s why tour agencies and the hospitality industry could work together using the technology available to make that happen. Hotels could offer a VR headset for example to their business trip guests showcasing all the greatest sights and activities near their location, with the added convenience of being able to book the tours right in the application. Little conveniences like those mentioned above can really make all the difference in catering to the bleisure traveler and tapping in on that market.