“Bleisure” in Business Travel – One Trend, Many Questions

The trend of combining business travel with leisure time is causing general uncertainty. Am I also insured during my free time, who is responsible for the family members I bring with me? Questions directed primarily at the travel manager. What bleisure means in terms of travel policy – and how it should be addressed.

Bleisure. Here's what it sounds like to try to put the combination of business and leisure on business trips into one word, while also making it look like a particularly trendy trend.

In fact, however, this describes a real and interesting development. In a new report, Bridge Street Global Hospitality addressed this issue two years ago, collecting data from around the world that points to a growing need, especially among younger business travelers: 78 percent of the 640 international employees surveyed agree that adding days off to their business trip significantly increases the attractiveness of their business routine.

An attitude that is also, or rather precisely, related to family life. More than half of business travelers take family members and life partners with them, though they don't appear to be driven by savings concerns.

“We've found that saving money by not having to pay for an airline ticket is not the main reason for taking the family,” says Kelly Murphy, spokesperson at Bridge Street. “It's more about spending more time with family and being able to share beautiful experiences with them.”

Bleisure – wish or reality?

Only 39 percent have never taken a family member or partner with them – but would like to. Twenty percent have not yet tried a leisure business trip in general, with family or without – but would like to as well.

The majority of survey respondents (60 percent), on the other hand, have already used the business travel model; in fact, nearly half use it regularly. Bleisure is therefore already a reality for many today, many others wish for it or are thinking about it.

Two things in particular should change in order for the obvious need behind Bleisure to turn into action without problems and misunderstandings: First, travel managers are encouraged to adapt their travel policies whenever possible.

Second, they should be sure to communicate these changes, as it appears many employees are confused. They are not aware if their company has any policies in place regarding leisure activities during business travel.

Only 14 percent of survey participants confirm that they know about a corresponding travel policy. Another 27 percent express uncertainty, and 59 percent are convinced that such rules don't exist. Kelly Murphy takes a pragmatic view.

“I'm not surprised by the numbers,” she says. “They could simply be related to changes happening at the departmental level or it could be a “don't ask” issue.As long as the company's costs do not increase, taking the family with you should not be taboo,” says the PR consultant.

How bleisure can be integrated into travel policy

On the part of the employees however still many open questions urge. So above all, the majority would like to have insights into how combination travel is handled insurance-wise – and an answer to the extent to which all travelers, including themselves, are covered during leisure activities.

Uncertainty also exists on the part of travel managers, however, who are now increasingly faced with the task of revising their travel policies. Just how exactly? In any case, it is worthwhile to initially be open to the concept of Bleisure. In addition, thinking through the following questions and actions should prevent losing control of business travel expenses.

Questions and actions

  • Should the number of days (and activities) that can be added be limited?
  • Image of business based travel: Even in the leisure portion of the trip, should certain activities be “off-limits”?
  • Who is responsible for additional travelers? = Clarify insurance issues.
  • How to distinguish between business and personal expenses on bleisure trips, or how to separate them? = Formulating clear guidelines on which expenses belong to Leisure and which to Business – and who pays for what. Integration of processes and tools to separate the different costs.
  • How to book? = Determine whether employees can also use the company's internal system to book the Leisure Part and thus benefit from possibly more favorable conditions.

At this point, it is certainly helpful to consult the company's business travel agency (if any) and seek the advice of professional travel agents. These can help not only to create a complete travel policy that applies to the entire company or only to individual employees, but also to adjust it regularly with regard to current trends and changes.

The next, important step is communication: to prevent misunderstandings, uncertainties and extra work afterwards, travel managers should continuously communicate the status of travel policies to employees. This can also be taken care of by the staff of the cooperating travel service.

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