By Lorenzo Trevisan and Claudia Gualdi
The new normal and the way people work and travel have resulted in new travel trends. Although the pandemic lockdowns meant lower volumes of departures for tourism and business alike, the reopening of international borders has led to interesting outcomes in the travel industry. One of them is that people were found increasingly interested in combining work with leisure, thus the term bleisure.
Bleisure travel enables a better work-life balance, two spheres that were both severely affected during the long-term border closures and stay-at-home orders. This practice developed between 2020 and 2023 and is set to continue growing in 2024.
Allied Market Research estimated that bleisure travel will rise by 8.9% per year to reach $731.4 billion globally by 2032, from $315.3 billion in 2022. Such a growing market represents an opportunity both for travellers and travel management companies alike.
What are the advantages of bleisure travel?
Combining a business trip with a personal holiday is very attractive for employed people, especially for new hires. An American Express survey found that about 60% of employees would favour workplace policies that support leisure travel. The reasons are the possibility of partial or full coverage of transport and accommodation by the company.
Employees can extend the duration of the trip to relax for a few days bringing their partners or family too. The combination of work and leisure is also an incentive to keep motivation high and relieve the stress.
What does bleisure travel mean for travel managers?
Travel managers’ main challenge with bleisure travel is to adopt a clear bleisure travel policy. It should be part of the overall corporate travel policy, seting guidelines for adding leisure extensions to business trips. This policy ensures that employees have the right to explore a destination before or after their work-related commitments. It also provides parameters for blending the two sides into a single trip. While the policy should keep satisfying company employees, for the travel manager it has to prevent issues such as non-compliance and overspending.
A successful bleisure travel policy is based on careful planning and optimisation of travel. The goal is to reduce costs and environmental impact while maximising the productivity of both parts of the trip. Eligible costs associated with bleisure trips, and cost management, are necessary to avoid disputes and maintain a positive relationship with employees.
Ultimately, a travel manager should recognise that bleisure travel represents an opportunity for growth for both sides. If this practice improves employees’ satisfaction, improving their productivity and loyalty to the company are good outcomes for the company alike. Monitoring the bleisure travel policy with constant feedback and adapting to the fast-changing travel trend is also a key factor.
Travel safety during bleisure trips
Speaking about safety, companies must also take travel risks into account. If a company has a duty to ensure the safety and security of employees during business trips, what happens when employees switch to leisure travel? In addition to effectively communicating in the travel policy what the company’s duties are towards employees and where these begin and end to avoid confusion, other solutions are useful.
The fusion between business travel and leisure can really make the most of work trips. They offer opportunities to travellers for personal growth and discovery. Riskline’s Alerts API is a great tool that allows travellers to be notified quickly of incidents or travel disruptions, but it can be used also when they switch to leisure mode.