March 2, 2024

Work and play

Four experts share their views on the trend to combine business trips with leisure time

Live in the moment, blow-it mindset

Kate Fitzpatrick, Regional Security Director, EMEA, World Travel Protection

Combining your business trip with a holiday at the end of it will become more attractive this year as more consumer travellers are priced out of travelling abroad because of the high price of flights. We expect ‘bleisure’ to be a hot topic in 2023 as organisations grapple with who pays for what? Where do businesses draw the line when your business traveller has also added their partner and kids to the booking?

Having clear rules will be more important than ever, as well as being clear about which parts of the trip are the responsibility of the organisation and which are not. In the past a company may have turned a blind eye to a partner joining for a couple of nights at the end of a trip, and this perk can be good for morale and company loyalty, but from a risk and insurance point of view it important that everyone knows the rules.

As travel resumes to more normal patterns, we’re also seeing increased risk-taking from individuals. There’s a ‘live-in-the-moment’, ‘blow-it’ mindset where people seem to be doing things and trying things that maybe they wouldn’t have done three years ago, such as a business traveller visiting Peru deciding to do the Inca Trail whilst they are there. But from a safety perspective, it’s important that risk is not underestimated. Many destinations have changed since the pandemic, often with increased crime. Business travellers have always been a target for criminals. Now is the time to take travel safety seriously and not let your guard down.

Changing attitude to blended travel

Carrie Hartman, Chief Revenue Officer, 3Sixty

The term ‘bleisure’ has been in use for some years, but a new term, ‘blended travel’, will be a key industry buzzword in 2023. Unlike the laptop lugger or digital nomad, this is intentionally visiting somewhere for business but using the time outside working hours to explore a destination.

Corporates’ attitudes towards blended travel are already starting to change, and they are becoming more accepting of how these trips boost employee productivity and career satisfaction.

Blended travel will be a key driver in the continuing recovery of our industry into 2023 and will play a crucial role in the continuing popularity of extended-stay accommodation. It’s no coincidence that over the last couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in the average length of stay booked on our 3Sixty platform by about 20%. Business travel trips are shifting towards mid and long-term stays and this brings a big opportunity for accommodation operators to market themselves to this new segment.

Just about anybody is able to work remotely

Sarah Wilson, CEO, ACE Travel Management

The future of travel is ‘bleisure’: business and leisure, blended.

This trend is expected to take hold over the next 12 months. A Sabre study showed 82% of airline executives expect the combination of business and leisure to become more frequent among travellers.

Thanks to recent advancements in digital tools, just about anybody is able to work remotely, so long as they have a laptop and access to the internet. The flexibility that technology offers is appealing to business travellers and many will seek out opportunities to explore new destinations through work.

Another factor is employee wellbeing. Employers that reward their staff with the possibility to extend business trips to incorporate annual leave will benefit significantly. It shows their teams that they value their hard work but also respect their need to unwind and relax. Studies show that happier staff are far more productive and generate better results for their companies.

Perhaps more pressing are economic factors. People are cutting down on personal spending yet travel is still a priority as it helps to relieve stress and can enhance a sense of fulfilment. Bleisure allows people to explore new destinations, experience different cultures and meet their business targets.

Disconnect between employee and employer

Hana Lear, Vice President, Corporate, UK Card Services, American Express

Companies are rethinking their approach with business travel as they face a more challenging economic outlook, changing work patterns and a growing focus on sustainability.

Our research uncovered a disconnect between business travellers and travel decision makers, who aren’t aligned on how to make business travel as successful and valuable as possible.

In our survey, two in five (42%) business travellers prefer it when they can blend business travel with leisure time. While companies are increasingly exploring new ways to help their employees enjoy this trend, six in 10 (62%) travellers still think there is more their employer can do to make trips easier, more productive and fuss-free.

For more business travel trends, see our Trends Special