Money & Business

Study Points to Growing Bleisure Traveler Market

By / Jun 13, 2017 (jacoblund/Thinkstock)

A new report reveals that millennials are extending business trips for a bit of vacation at a much higher rate than generations before them, creating a growing category of traveler.

If you’ve ever been tempted to extend your conference trip to Las Vegas or Paris by a few days to take in the sights, you’re not alone. And if you’re regularly extending business trips to add a bit of leisure time, then you just may be a bleisure traveler, the ranks of which are growing, according to a new report.

In the past year, 37 percent of North American business travelers extended work trips for a short vacation, according to the study released by the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association, in partnership with hotel chain Hilton.

The study, which tapped 675 business travelers in the United States and Canada, also found that age was a factor in those choosing to extend professional trips into a holiday, with nearly 50 percent of millennials choosing to do so, a much higher rate than Gen X-ers (33 percent) and baby boomers (23 percent).

To help companies improve the bleisure travel experience for employees, GBTA Foundation Director of Research Monica Sanchez laid out a few policies and practices.

“Some of these ways include establishing clear rules for reimbursing expenses incurred by nonemployees, helping travelers understand the resources available to them on the leisure portion of their trip, and developing a policy regarding preferred suppliers and booking channels,” said Sanchez in a statement.

The study also unearthed that most bleisure travelers extend their stays for a relatively short time, staying about three days after their business obligations end.

When extending trips for leisure, travelers overwhelmingly (91 percent) stay in the same hotel, with most reporting convenience as the main driver for doing so.

New Traveler Category Means Novel Challenges

The study did turn up some challenges with extending business stays for pleasure, however, mainly with its impact on managed travel programs, including “how to estimate the additional costs stemming from bleisure travel, distinguishing between business and leisure costs, and how to address these issues in company travel policy.”

Further, 12 percent of travelers experienced an issue that required assistance from their company during the leisure portion of their travel, raising the question: When does a company’s liability and obligation to help its business travelers come into play?

In this way, it may benefit companies to encourage travelers to stay within the company program when extending trips, offering them continued corporate discounts for their prolonged stay instead of allowing them to be enticed into other offers by apps or third-party websites.

To sift out ambiguities, the GBTA Foundation urges companies and hotels to develop and clarify bleisure travel policies.

“Business travel is a lifestyle for many of our guests, and we’re seeing a growing desire by these travelers to add a leisure component to their trip and experience the destination beyond the meeting room,” said Kelly Phillips, senior vice president of global engagement and strategic accounts at Hilton, in the statement.

Juliet Van Wagenen

Juliet Van Wagenen is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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