What is bleisure travel?

The word bleisure is a portmanteau (blended word) of “business” and “leisure.” As the name implies, bleisure travel is a type of trip that’s part business and part leisure. In recent years, the practice has become increasingly popular among travelers and companies.

In an increasingly chaotic world, business travelers have opted for a happy balance between corporate responsibility when working abroad and using this time for personal experiences, like walking tours, hikes, beach days, or enjoying the hotel spa.

There are a few different ways to experience bleisure travel, but travelers usually opt to extend either the front or back ends of the trips, or take friends and family along for the ride, fitting in quality time in between work commitments. The belief is that the happier the business traveler, the more productive they’ll be, which means a better return on investment for the company.

What are the advantages of mixing business and leisure as a corporate traveler?

As a result of Covid, many companies introduced hybrid working and by now we’re relatively used to this set-up. There are many advantages to flexibility in the working environment in general. When it comes to bleisure travel, the benefits for the bleisure traveler are plentiful:

  • Time zones – Business travel often calls for working abroad, far from the corporate traveler’s home country. Extending a trip on the front end lets travelers adapt to the time zone and helps them work more effectively and efficiently.
  • Less stress – On a basic level, pairing fun or personal activities with work helps achieve a healthier work-life balance. This can lower stress levels and provide travelers with a more enjoyable experience.
  • Job satisfaction – If the employee feels the company cares about them, it can motivate them to work harder, leaving them satisfied with their performance post-trip.
  • Emission reduction – When employees enjoy bleisure travel, they may not feel the need for an extra vacation later in the year. This results not only in saving time and money, but potentially also one less flight and a reduction in their carbon footprint.

How can your company benefit from bleisure travel for your employees?

  • Employee retention – Offering bleisure travel options can increase job satisfaction and discourage employees from looking for other opportunities elsewhere.
  • Boosting morale and company spirit – Allowing employees to enjoy a bleisure trip enables them to return to the office refreshed and raring to go.
  • Attracting talent – Aside from keeping current employees motivated, the opportunity of bleisure travel can also attract new talent to your company.
  • Improving productivity – The more productive the employees, the more likely an increase in profits.
  • Repeat business – It’s not always easy to encourage employees to work from abroad, especially when they might have commitments at home. Allowing your employees to combine work with a vacation may convince them to go on this particular trip and even again when necessary.

Are there any challenges to bleisure travel?

  • Visibility – There needs to be an element of trust when it comes to any type of business travel. Just as you trust employees to do an excellent job at home, the expectation remains the same when they’re working abroad.
  • Expense management – Knowing who pays for what and how is essential. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this, but it's common practice for businesses to cover their employees’ costs on business days and during flights, with the employee footing the bill for anything during their time off.
  • Communication – Setting up communication channels for check-ins with bleisure travelers is a must. There needs to be a delicate balance between checking in and micro-managing or monitoring employees too heavily.

Top 5 tips for companies planning a bleisure trip for employee(s)

  1. Carry out a risk assessment – You may decide to prevent individuals from taking extended trips for leisure purposes altogether if they’re traveling to locations considered high-risk. Check your country’s government website for more info on where it's safe for your employees to travel.
  2. Business first - While bleisure is great, make sure your employees don’t prioritize it at the expense of work. For example, if they arrive a day or two before the week-long conference, perhaps suggest they avoid late-night drinks the evening before the conference starts. After all, business is the reason for this trip
  3. Policies with clear parameters – Agree on what constitutes working and personal periods, ensuring employees understand your company's travel policy before departure. Knowing what is and isn't covered regarding traveler spending and security will make the process easier and safer for travelers and businesses. For example, if employees are only covered under an assistance and insurance plan in the travel business portion of your organization, ask them to arrange their own insurance for the leisure part of the trip.
  4. Written documentation – Hopefully there’s a good amount of trust between management and employees, but even with the most trustworthy employees, you can’t rely on a handshake agreement. Without documenting bleisure travel policies in writing, companies leave room for noncompliance and overblown expenses – and, in extreme cases, lawsuits.
  5. Technology – As the bleisure trend continues to rise, some tech companies offer new tools to businesses specifically for this type of travel, such as bleisure loyalty programs, contactless payment solutions, or safety-focused GPS apps. While it’s difficult to eliminate risk for bleisure travelers completely, management teams can use technology to help keep track of their employees' well-being wherever they are.

Top 5 tips for business travelers embarking on their first bleisure trip

  1. Use your vacation time wisely – If possible, plan your bleisure trip around a public holiday, just before or after the weekend. Planning the trip this way will give you three days of exploring a new country without losing a single day of paid time off. Don't forget to book as early as possible to avoid sky-high flight and hotel costs.
  2. Bleisure travel far from home – Why not travel to a couple of nearby cities, either at the beginning or end of your bleisure trip? For example, if traveling to a European city, another exciting and beautiful city is usually only a short and cheap train ticket away. Feel free to explore!
  3. Choose the hotel – Ask what the budget is for accommodations and if you can decide which hotel to stay in while there. You might not have time to stray too far from the hotel, so facilities like an on-site swimming pool or a spa would be ideal. Or perhaps you’ve decided to bring your partner or children along on your bleisure trip. Amenities and activities for them to enjoy while you work—such as tennis courts or a playground—might be perfect.
  4. Do your hot-spot homework – Not all hotels will have dedicated workstations, or even know where the best place might be to set up your mobile office. Research local areas before you go. Make a list of potential cafes that offer Wifi, have a strong signal, or perhaps just a quiet spot with a fantastic view of the beach.
  5. Pack like a pro – What was first a three-day business trip has turned into an eight-day bleisure break. Packing can get tricky. To make sure you don't have to wear your swimsuit under your suit to save room in your luggage, opt for a smaller carry-on bag to give yourself more packing space in a backpack rather than just one medium-sized case. When strapped for space, consider versatile clothes that can pass for both business and casual – clothes you can dress up or down by simply changing shoes, whether for a client dinner or exploring the city streets.

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