Bleisure travel a mainstay post-COVID

The trend of business travellers capitalising on logistics afforded by their employers to spend more personal leisure time while on work trips will continue to be a mainstay in the mobile workforce.

Travel restrictions imposed by public health officials have abounded for almost two years, and business professionals are getting cabin fever. In the past, their jobs had them on planes and trains, waking up in foreign cities and interacting with other cultures as part of their work. These days, the only commute they are making is from their desk to the kitchen for a mid-afternoon snack.

What is bleisure travel?

The word “bleisure” is a portmanteau of the word “business” and “leisure”; it typically refers to a business trip with an added leisure component. It entails business travellers extending a work trip over the weekend, bringing a partner or family member along for holiday, or even going sightseeing after business hours on weekdays.

Business professionals are getting cabin fever.

The bleisure travel trend increased steadily from 2016 to early 2020, up until the pandemic grounded international travel to a halt. An ITB China Travel Trends report released early this year found that “Bleisure travel will still be one of the trends for business travel in the future. Over 60% of the surveyed travel companies expect business travellers to make personal or family trips to the destinations of their business travel next year.”

A year on, with global vaccination rates improving and the eagerness of governments to reopen their borders to international travel, the outlook is positive for bleisure travellers, even if it means rebounding at a slower pace. Whether or not the introduction of virtual and hybrid meetings is transforming the business travel landscape, we cannot discount the weight of interpersonal connections made when meeting in person.

We cannot discount the weight of interpersonal connections made when meeting in person.

Moreover, observers point to the pent-up demand for travel and the advent of a more flexible work environment, which are fuelling desires for bleisure travel. The shift away from the physical workplace, to remote-working patterns, now allows people more flexibility to consider between working from home and domestic or overseas travel. Likewise, hospitality providers are hoping to capitalise on the bleisure trend by offering promotions and packages that cater specifically to these travellers’ new expectations.

Benefits of bleisure travel

Business travel can be demanding on employees’ work-life balance, as it separates them from their families and loved ones for days and even weeks at a time. As seen in a report by the Global Business Travel Association, it mentions that, “Being able to take kids and family, to add some fun elements to a trip, makes that trip much less stressful”.

Furthermore, pandemic fatigue has created a host of mental health issues for working professionals who are ill-adjusted to working from home. With the view of retaining valuable talent and ensuring long term productivity, companies who offer bleisure opportunities have seen many positive impacts on employees’ mental wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Not to mention, such opportunities also help attract talent to the organisation. The growing adoption towards incentivised business travel is indicative by the expanding profile of bleisure travellers. As suggested in a Financial Times article, the demographic of bleisure travellers started from the younger generation and those in the tech industry, and expanded to “creatives and consultants, and now more corporate types of families”.

Key considerations for bleisure travel in the short term

No matter the enthusiasm, there is an obvious added level of anxiety for those willing to navigate through the varying travel guidelines of different countries, especially considering the Delta variant. While travellers are naturally liable for their own travel safety to a certain extent, knowing that managers embrace accountability and have oversight over their travelling staff is a morale booster.

In light of these trends and the fluid global landscape, it is more pertinent than ever for organisations to have a robust corporate travel security programme that encompasses bleisure. More importantly, companies should clearly outline their travel risk and duty of care policies for employees, to provide them with the right tools and knowledge to mitigate risk exposure throughout the business and leisure components of their trips.

Building a robust global travel risk management programme

At Healix, we offer a suite of travel risk management products and services to provide you and your employees with a robust support system to attend to the myriad of issues facing today’s global workforce. For more information, visit: healix global travel risk management or email us at enquiries@healix.com.

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