New report shows more travelers are mixing business with leisure

New report shows more travelers are mixing business with leisure

Summer is heating up and so apparently is the bleisure trend among North American business travelers, this according to a new study from the Global Business Travel Association and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Also known by its less popular mélange, bizcation, the bleisure experience is all about blending leisure time and required business travel with the express purpose of economizing one's personal expenses. Bleisure travelers often make the most of their hotel stays by inviting spouses or friends along with the promise of an extended vacation when the work is done. The leisure part coming on the employee's own dime, of course. Still, bleisure is an increasingly popular way to piggyback on the travel costs the company is already paying for without pushing the limits of corporate policy (mostly).

The GBTA/Hilton study surveyed a total of 675 people who made at least one business trip in the past 12 months. While the study found that bleisure travel increased just 1 percent from the previous year, GBTA expects the trend to grow for a number of reasons. Not the least of which includes greater corporate flexibility around work-life balance and a greater focus on employee wellbeing.

So, who are today's bleisure travelers, and what does an increase in bleisure travel among employees mean for the enterprise?

Of those survey respondents who combine their business trips with personal leisure time, 48 percent were between the ages of 22 and 35. This is the highest reported percentage of any age group, and there are several reasons why this might be. For the Millennial business traveler, bleisure likely affords a way to maximize what might be a limited vacation budget while fueling the younger generation's drive to see and experience new things. Similarly, a somewhat predictable inverse relationship can be seen in that, as the age demographic increases, the number of individuals reporting bleisure trips decrease; 33 percent for those age 36-55, and 23 percent for the 55+ business traveler.

Overall, 37 percent of North American business travelers responding to the survey reported extending their business trips for leisure at some point during the last year. With numbers like that, bleisure is quickly becoming a significant factor for company accountants, supervisors and travel managers alike. And much like the rise of ride-hailing and other “non-traditional” travel services, many corporate travel policies have been caught off guard by the bleisure trend and do not account for procedures and costs that could affect the bottom line.

Added fees for peak weekend travel or additional meal and hotel costs can easily slip through the expense reporting process, making the company responsible for what would normally be considered personal expenses. Also, expectations may not be clear around when a company's responsibility to duty of care obligations begins and ends when employees mix business and leisure. Importantly, 12 percent of bleisure travelers experienced an issue where they needed assistance from their company. The potential for misunderstanding can put companies, employees and their traveling companions at greater risk.

For more facts about bleisure and to gain access to the full report, Extending Business Travel into Leisure Time, check out the Global Business Travel Association website now. Looking for an integrated travel booking solution? See what Certify Travel has to offer or talk with a representative today.