Trips that combine both business and leisure are a growing segment of the travel market; this reality obliges hoteliers to rethink their offerings.
Bleisure has already been identified and discussed since several years.
Typically these are trips which are primarily of a professional nature, but include a leisure component, often in the form of an extension at the end of the traveller's stay.
According to an Expedia study, entitled "PROFILE OF THE AMERICAN BLEISURE TRAVELER", 2016, 43% of all business trips can be classified as 'bleisure'.
However, over half (52%) of international business trips are likely to fall into the bleisure category, according to the study.
Bleisure travellers are frequent business travellers who work in a wide variety of industries and their business trips tend to last between two and three nights.
The leisure portion of a bleisure trip can often equal or exceed the length of the business portion, making bleisure trips much longer than a typical business trip.
Destinations with outstanding sightseeing attractions and beaches were the most frequently cited motivations for extending a business trip, respectively mentioned by 85% and 63% of respondents to the Expedia survey.
MICE (meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) trips are more likely to become bleisure trips than client meetings or corporate 'woods meetings'.
In fact, organisers of business-related and academic conferences pay particular attention to the leisure attractions of a destination when deciding where to hold their events, so as to attract a maximum of participants.
Most bleisure travellers stay on in the same hotel
Clearly bleisure represents a significant opportunity for hoteliers.
First of all, for 84% of bleisure trips, the traveller ends up staying in the same hotel, according to the Expedia study.
Price and proximity to key leisure attractions were much more frequently cited as hotel selection criteria (respectively mentioned by 72% and 54% of survey respondents), than "How fancy/nice the hotel is", which was cited by only 32% of those surveyed.
Also, perhaps surprisingly, the hotel is most frequently the first travel component searched when planning a bleisure trip - ahead of sightseeing locations and travel arrangements.
Addressing the bleisure market
So, how can hoteliers best target the bleisure market?
The first obvious answer is to offer packages specially tailored to this segment.
Weekend extensions at a lower rate usually tie in with a business hotel's overall revenue management strategy, which is to offer incentives to fill rooms on Friday and Saturday nights when business is slow.
Another feature that can be packaged with overnights in the hotel is tickets for special events like festivals, concerts, theatre and sports competitions.
Indeed, a third of respondents to the Expedia survey indicated “whether there is an event going on in that area (a convention, concert, show, etc.)” as a major factor for adding leisure time to a business trip.
Now what of Leisbus?
You've no doubt heard of bleisure before reading this blog, but have you heard of leisbus?
Probably not. So what's the difference between the two?
As explained above, bleisure trips are typically taken primarily for work-related reasons, but with a leisure component, most often added on at the end of a journey.
Now, with the rise of technology, the workforce has become increasingly mobile - even nomadic - especially as concerns young digitally connected employees and freelancers, many of whom operate in the so-called 'gig economy'.
These people don't go to an 'office' in a fixed place, but can work anywhere, anytime.
Are resort hotels prepared?
Indeed, increasingly those travelling to resort destinations must also take care of business-related matters when travelling, but are leisure-oriented hotel properties prepared to serve the needs of this growing guest segment?
It seems not to be the case in many instances.
Even the most basic budget hotels operating in a typical urban business traveller environment, like the fast-growing German chain Motel One, offer comfortable well-designed work spaces in their hotels' small bedrooms.
By contrast, in resort hotels – even those that are quite luxurious – it can be difficult to find a suitable place on the property to sit down comfortably and do some in-depth work on one's laptop.
A weak internet can be another stumbling block for those who need to do serious work.
Some resort hotels still don't see reliable high-speed internet as a priority, the assumption being that people on holiday don't have the same needs for connectivity as those travelling on business.
Hoteliers should also be attentive to having sufficient electrical outlets in convenient spots in the bedrooms or lounge of the property. For hotels that receive foreign visitors it is also not a bad idea to have some converter plugs on hand, e.g. in a European resort hotel that receives guests from North America or Asia.
Society is evolving in a way that work and leisure are increasingly intertwined.
It behoves hoteliers to take this trend into account when renovating or upgrading their properties.