Bleisure Travel: Why You Should Mix Business and Leisure
July 26, 2023 4 Minute Read
Pack your loafers and your sandals. Attitudes surrounding business travel are changing, and you’ll need more footwear to keep up.
With the pandemic having popularized remote work, employees across all industries have enjoyed the flexibility of working from anywhere. Now that client visits and conferences have returned, many are taking advantage of company-funded transportation to extend their business trips.
Young professionals, especially millennials, are leading this rise in what’s been dubbed bleisure.
What is bleisure?
Bleisure is the combination of business and leisure travel. By prolonging work trips, either by staying for the weekend or tacking on a few vacation days, travelling employees can enjoy leisure time and explore more of the city they’re in. They save on personal travel costs while reducing transit-related carbon emissions.
“Bleisure has existed for several years, but hybrid work has made it accessible to far more people,” says CBRE Hotels Director Nicole Nguyen, whose hospitality industry clients have witnessed the exponential growth of this trend over the past 18 months.
Employees can stay fully connected to their jobs while working from anywhere. For some, that means balancing office days with work from home, while for others, it means enjoying a new city and bringing along loves ones.
“The pandemic put things into perspective for a lot of people,” says Nguyen. “Many are prioritizing a healthy work-life balance and family time. Bleisure travel is well-suited for that.”
Combining business travel with leisure wasn’t always as widely accepted as it is now.
“In previous generations work travel was very formal,” Nguyen says. “People flew to out-of-town meetings in business class and came home as soon as the work was over. Extending trips for leisure or bringing along family members was frowned upon.”
Work and family life were to be kept separate, like church and state, and it was often considered inappropriate to bring a significant other on a work trip. Dialing into meetings was mostly used to connect with distant clients.
But approaches to work have evolved in recent years. More employees are flying in economy rather than business class, or even opting for alternative transportation such as trains or buses.
Email and video call technology has blurred the barrier between work and personal life, and therefore the line between corporate travel with family vacation time.
The hospitality sector is ready to accommodate the demand. “The infrastructure to support bleisure travel already exists in most places,” says Nguyen. Hotels are equipped with workspaces and conference rooms, and many offer onsite leisure amenities such as spas, pools and restaurants.
Hotels can provide restaurant recos for business meetings, partner with coworking groups, and create tourist itineraries for short visits.
“It’s up to employees to go from work to play,” Nguyen says. “Hotels will be there to assist with whatever they choose to do.”
Evolving attitudes concerning corporate travel are translating into new company guidelines, with some firms encouraging employees to extend their trips.
A few years back Scotiabank implemented a policy requiring employees to take at least one week’s worth of consecutive vacation days to ensure they feel refreshed when they come back to work.
Companies could benefit from the introduction of similar programs to encourage workers to extend corporate travel.
“Prolonging work trips encourages high-performing employees to use their vacation days and helps prevent exhaustion at a time when burnout rates are skyrocketing,” says Nguyen.
Several countries have begun offering digital nomad visas for longer stays. The inability to legally work abroad had been a major limiting factor in the past, but many countries are actively courting people who have flexibility at work.
“In other cultures, work is seen as a means to enjoy life,” Nguyen says. “We sometimes forget that in North America, but things are changing.”
The popularization of bleisure is yet another example of how technology and post-pandemic habits are changing our lives…and vacations!
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