BNH - The Benefits of Mixing Work and Pleasure

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Business NH Magazine

Business trips weren’t designed to be fun, but many traveling professionals are becoming “bleisure” travelers by infusing vacation elements into their business abroad. According to a BridgeStreet Global Hospitality report, 60 percent of travelers have taken bleisure trips, with 30 percent adding at least two additional days to their trip.

According to the BridgeStreet survey, bleisure travelers are almost evenly split male and female, with most falling into the 45- to 54-year-old age group. More importantly, the second largest group was 25- to 35-year-olds; millennials who are more apt to deploy a business-mixed-with-pleasure mindset.

Regardless of age, bleisure travel continues to grow: 60 percent of BridgeStreet respondents were more likely to take a bleisure trip now than they were five years ago, and 94 percent would do so to gain cultural experiences and to explore the cities they travel to on business. Additionally, almost 55 percent of bleisure travelers bring family members with them, while about 29 percent said they haven’t yet, but would like to or are planning to.

When exploring the possibility of bleisure trips, it’s important to establish clear and concise travel policies that cover bleisure activity, particularly when it comes to cost:

  • Flights: Whether it’s a regular business trip or a bleisure trip, employees have to fly home at some point. As long as there is no substantial increase in price, flights home from belisure trips should still be paid for by the business.
  • FAccommodations: These costs are usually negated by cheaper "off peak" weekend flights; business flights on a busy Friday night usually cost more than a Sunday afternoon flight home from a bleisure trip. This saving usually offsets the cost of an extra night or two at a hotel.

Some companies even use the business-trip extension as a recruiting tool. A flexible travel policy can be used as a way to “attract and retain employees.”

But the practice does carry risks. Companies are becoming increasingly responsible for the safety of their employees under “duty of care” laws, which includes responsibility over traditional business trips and bleisure trips.

For example, Employers are advised to warn business travelers of any known dangers in the immediate vicinity of their business travel in case those dangers are encountered on leisure or tacked-on time. Some countries have adopted stringent employer duty-of-care legislation or case law precedents that generally apply to that company’s employees traveling in other countries.

All indications are that bleisure will continue to be a corporate buzzword, particularly as business travelers start to skew younger and younger.  But no matter the age of the business traveler, more and more will be looking to roll some pleasure into the workload. Businesses should aim to adapt this trend for both recruiting new workers and retaining current ones.

Franc Jeffrey is CEO of EQ Travel, a travel management with offices in the United Kingdom and Massachusetts.