Bleisure travel: how it is transforming the hotel industry and 5 strategies to take advantage of it
Bleisure, bizcation or workation: three terms for a trend that has changed business travel forever and can make a difference for your property. Find out how!
In modern tourism, the concept of business travel is no longer limited to the austerity of corporate meetings and conferences. The line between business and pleasure has gradually vanished, giving rise to a new trend known as bleisure travel.
In this article we will explore the meaning of bleisure travel, its evolution, how it is transforming the hotel industry, and what the best strategies are for capitalizing on this trend.
Origin and evolution of the term bleisure
The term "bleisure," which in the post-pandemic has become increasingly familiar in the hotel industry, is a fusion of the words "business" and "leisure”, traditionally representing two of the main segments of the tourism market.
The trend of extending business travel by adding vacation days seems to have been around since the early 2000s, but it was not until 2009 that the consulting firm the Future Laboratory coined the term "bleisure”, marking a real turning point in the way people and companies looked at business travel.
Since then, synonyms bizcation and workation have been added, and the global bleisure tourism market has grown to a value of $150 billion in 2021, which is expected to increase to $360 billion (+140%) by 2027.
While the driving factor behind the emergence of this new mindset was mass access to the Internet from 2000 onward, the real boom came in the post-pandemic period when remote work emerged as a new way of working for millions of employees worldwide.
Bleisure travel statistics
According to a study conducted by Expedia and Stratos Jets in 2022:
- 60% of business travel will turn into bleisure travel
- bleisure travelers make an average of 6.4 trips per year
- 71% of bleisure travel is domestic travel, while 29% is international travel
- 65% of bleisure travelers travel alone, while 35% travel with company
- the average bleisure trip is 6.8 days. 57% of the time is devoted to business and 43% to leisure
Bleisure: how is it different from traditional business travel?
While the classic business traveler organizes their day mainly around business meetings and work obligations, the new bleisure traveler also tries to carve out free time to use for activities typical of leisure travel. In fact, again according to Expedia and Stratos research, the favorite activities of this segment are:
- Food and restaurants (56%)
- Beaches (52%)
- Natural sites (51%)
- Monuments and historical sites (49%)
- Museums, art and culture (41%)
- Destinations to see at least once in a lifetime (39%)
- Outdoor activities (39%)
A tangible example of how bleisure can be applied is the widespread practice of the corporate retreat, which can be off site or on site.
During a corporate retreat, participants have the opportunity to work as a team, but also to participate in leisure activities, training sessions, and moments of relaxation.
While these types of activities have always been of interest to companies, the phenomenon of great resignation − which began in 2021 in the U.S. and has seen employees resign in droves to seek a better work-life balance − has turned a focus on employee wellness into a key factor in attracting and retaining talent, and has also incentivized bleisure travel.
The impact of bleisure travel on the hotel industry
The transition to increasingly leisure-related business travel has contributed significantly to the increase in demand for accommodations in recent years, with a preference for boutique hotels and resorts. Statistics from the International Hotel Industry Association show that 45 percent of bleisure travelers book an extra day to explore the destination.
But that's not all: bleisure travel has forced the hotel industry to review many of its dynamics, for instance by adopting services and facilities targeted at bleisure travelers such as flexible meeting rooms, coworking spaces and special packages.
How bleisure travel is affecting demand for accommodations and other services
Bleisure travel, therefore, is having a major impact on the demand for accommodation and a wide range of tourism-related ancillary services. Indeed, this new trend seems to have opened up new opportunities not only for hotels, but also for non-hotel accommodations, tour operators, and entertainment service providers.
Here is how bleisure is affecting these sectors:
Accommodations, such as B&Bs, residences, and vacation rentals, are experiencing a significant increase in demand from bleisure travelers. These accommodations often offer a more authentic experience and larger, quieter spaces to work and relax, alone or with family. Bleisure travelers appreciate the variety offered by these accommodations, which include furnished apartments, villas, chalets, and more. This diversification of accommodations results in increased competition for traditional hotels, which often fail to adapt spaces and services to the new needs of guests.
Tour operators, guides and entertainment service providers
Tour operators are adapting their tour packages to include elements appealing to bleisure travel. Some, for example, offer flexible packages that allow travelers to add extra days at the end of their trips to explore the destination independently. Others offer unique cultural and recreational experiences, such as guided tours of lesser-known local attractions, intensive regional cooking classes, or food and wine tours. The goal is to allow travelers to fully experience a piece of the culture and history of the places they visit within one or at most two days.
5 strategies for attracting bleisure travelers
To take full advantage of the growing interest in bleisure travel, accommodations can adopt some simple but effective strategies. Here are the main ones:
1) Offer technology solutions
According to a survey by National Car Rental, 93 percent of frequent business travelers prefer brands that employ technology to simplify travel, although this is a trend now observed among leisure travelers as well. So go for digital check-in and check-out, contactless payments, and digital concierges that can assist guests with their every need, anytime.
2) Provide fast Wi-Fi and workspaces
Bleisure travelers need comfortable workspaces in hotels with high-quality Internet access. Old meeting rooms, but also common spaces, need to be rethought in a more fluid way, equipped with ergonomic seating and comfortable workstations.
3) Choose the right booking channels
Working with travel agencies and tour operators specializing in corporate travel can help you increase your bleisure clientele. At the same time, don't neglect communication on each of your booking channels, highlighting dedicated services and offers, as well as reviews from previous travelers
4) Focus on extra services and experiences
To attract bleisure travelers, it is crucial to highlight the value that the accommodation can add to the trip, beyond working comfort. This means highlighting in-house services such as parking, laundry service, early or late check-ins and check-outs, but also experiences to enjoy during leisure time such as tickets to local attractions, museums, theaters, guided tours or outdoor activities.
If you want some more insights on this topic, read our in-depth look at complementary services you could offer at your property!
5) Dedicated offers and packages
Always recommended, the promotion of specific packages, such as discounts on overnight extensions or pairings with services and experiences, should be highlighted on the hotel's website and online booking channels. Taking a look at your own data and the habits of previous travelers will be key to building the "perfect package."
In this article, you have seen how offering a smooth experience and extra services can prove decisive in attracting the growing bleisure clientele.
Very often, however, hoteliers make the mistake of thinking that this type of offering is difficult to implement or that it is reserved for accommodations with large budgets and dedicated space.
But this is not the case! Don't forget that you don't have to do everything yourself. Digital tools can take the pressure off you elsewhere, allowing you to focus on important strategic tasks such as attracting the bleisure segment.
One such solution is Smartpricing.
Smartpricing is the revenue management software that finds the right price at the right time and helps you focus on your guests.
If you would like to know how Smartpricing works, book a personal demonstration with our team now.