Corporate travel is nothing new but with technological advances having made the world smaller than ever, we’re travelling further and more often for business purposes. We now live in a global society where thousands of flights – many run by low-cost carriers – can get us from A to B – or even A to Z – with ease.
At Open Destinations London HQ many of our teams are often on the road – implementing our software in Australia, working with our development specialists in Goa, or attending conferences in continental Europe. That’s the reality for many businesses in this day and age. Companies are paying for their employees to travel the world and it presents a situation from which both employee and employer can benefit.
With the millennial workforce driving change, the bleisure boom has very much arisen. According to Travel Weekly’s 2016 Consumer Trends Report, the amount of leisure trips with business components was up to 17% up from 11% in 2014. Expedia Media Solutions claim that 43% of business trips in the US are actually bleisure trips (Source).
The generation game
Young professionals are working hard and many are expected to travel abroad on a regular basis. Often short on money and always short on time, these workers see their business travel as an opportunity to experience more of the world. Expedia Media Solutions say that 84% of bleisure trips are spent in same city or area as business trip (Source). It’s plain logic, if you’re already in New York for work, why not stay for an extra couple of days sightseeing? Simply take the weekend or a vacation day and pay the difference for your flights and accommodation. That’s if there is a difference in cost at all. Due to the higher cost of peak time flights, adding an extra weekend day to a business trip can actually bring the price down in many cases.
The corporate push back
Of course, it’s not that simple. Most companies, especially larger ones, have corporate policies or rules in place for staff travel. Knowing where the travelling employee is at all times, ensuring economy class travel and capping expenses are likely areas of consideration. As uncomfortable as it may seem to some companies, there is pressure on them to adapt these standards in line with the bleisure trend. It’s a big ask, but some will evolve.
A win-win-win situation
If the opportunities presented by the bleisure boom are seized, then there are 3 main beneficiaries: the employer, the employee and the supplier. As far as most companies are concerned, recruitment and employee retention are of the utmost importance. Offering employees, the chance to combine leisure with their business trips is a good perk that will help in both areas. 47% of workers actively looking for new positions say company culture is the main reason why they’re looking to leave (Hays), while 75% of employees reported they’re more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefit program (Willis Towers Watson).
Bleisure is the coming together of two areas that blend and complement each other. When the week of meetings is finished, the satisfied employee who remains at the destination for an extra days’ holiday, is more likely to continue light work that they wouldn’t have otherwise if travelling or at home. With the ability to communicate wherever whenever via the web and our smartphones, this way of working is a reality now, and bleisure plays right into it.
The bottom line
Opportunities for cost-savings are rife. A traveller staying an extra Saturday night could actually make the overall trip cheaper as the price of flights will often plummet sufficiently. It doesn’t just make sense for the company financially, but the travel service providers too. Hotels, airlines, travel agents, tour operators and more have an opportunity to access a huge market. The Global Business Travel Association estimates the number of business trips taken annually in the U.S. at 488 million. Those beds that are full during the week with business travellers but so often empty come Saturday could and should be getting more use.
Technology as a solution
Travel reservations technology platforms have the capability to automatically push out prompts and offers to those who may benefit from them. Imagine a pop-up during an online booking asking whether you’d like to ‘stay on Saturday and receive a free room upgrade’ or ‘stay over the weekend for only X dollars more’.
When the cost of the entire trip could actually go down if it is extended by 24 hours, the corporate customer would naturally consider it a plus. And, if the client is opting to stay a little longer for leisure purposes, why not use software to propose activity or excursion add-ons?
Mobile technology can play an important part too. Individual employees and their employers can share a full itinerary combining business meetings, flights, hotels and excursions using apps like Tineri. And, while it may be considered too Big Brother-esque for some, the same apps could also enable a company to know where their travelling staff member is via GPS tracking features. This is just one example of how technology can provide ways around the corporate rules and policies that may prohibit bleisure. The age of combining business and leisure is already here and it’s only going to grow. With benefits to be had from all parties, the market for bleisure is massive. A change in mindset and the introduction of reservations technology with the right capabilities can help your travel business capitalise.
To talk to our team about how reservations technology can help your travel business take advantage of the bleisure boom, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marcos Isaac is Senior VP Sales & Marketing for Open Destinations