A strange new term has been floating around the hospitality world recently: “bleisure”. No, that isn’t a typo. Bleisure refers to a growing class of business travelers adding a leisure component to their trip. More and more business travelers are choosing to extend their trips, essentially adding mini-vacations on to their work-related travels. A recent study from Expedia Group reveals that there has been a 60% increase in bleisure travelers since 2016. Over the last year, 43% of business travelers turned their work trips into bleisure getaways. More and more, business travelers are looking beyond generic, big-box hotels in search of unique and memorable lodging options, including bed & breakfasts and boutique hotels. Clearly, this is a powerful and growing group that innkeepers across the board should capitalize on. In this post, we’ll tell you how.
Who are Bleisure Travelers?
Let’s pause and take a moment to better understand just who these bleisure travelers are. Bleisures travelers overwhelmingly work in the tech industry, but smaller portions also work in public administration and health care. They are frequent travelers, with 32% taking a business trip once or twice a month and 38% taking a trip every 2-3 months. Typically, they are traveling for a conference or convention, but may also be taking trips for client meetings, presentations, team building, or sales. Most are only traveling domestically, at 87% percent. The other 13% travel internationally for work.
Bleisure travelers also tend to be practical and somewhat cost-conscious. 66% of them are willing to spend more on the “leisure” portion of the trip because of the money they are already saving (since they have already traveled to their desired destination for work.) 60% of them take bleisure trips because they don’t usually take trips for pleasure on their own. Many are looking to treat themselves and take full advantage of their time at your destination, since they likely didn’t have much time to relax or explore during the work portion of their trip.
Why Do They Bleisure?
There are many reasons corporate travelers chose to extend their work trip into a real vacation, but by far the most common is that they simply like the destination they are traveling too. If guests feel like they are traveling to a particularly exciting or desirable location, they will consider extending their trip. Bleisure travelers are drawn to destinations with great restaurants, bars, entertainment, and arts & culture offerings. By and large, bleisure travelers tend to be foodies, flocking to cities with great dining scenes. They might also be drawn to the destination for its bucket list potential. If the place they are traveling to for work is close to a major city, historical site, beach, or natural wonder, they are more likely to extend the trip.
Bleisure travelers are also looking to relax. After a dull conference or hectic week of meetings, travelers are looking to treat themselves and unwind. They are willing to indulge in a spa weekend or rejuvenating beach getaway.
Other motivating factors include:
- The proximity of the trip to the weekend.
- Your location’s weather
- The duration of their work trip: If business trips are three days or longer, bleisure travelers are 30% are more likely to add leisure trips, especially if they are traveling from far distances
- Additional cost to extend trip
- Family or friends in area
- Festivals, concerts, sporting events, or other cultural events that might be happening while they are there
Profile of a Bleisure Traveler… Me!
Hi, my name is Ben. I extend my business trips to include a few extra days for “leisure” all the time. I guess that makes me a bleisure traveler. I work at a startup software company. My schedule is relentless, our customers are demanding, and our team is small. My business travel frequently requires me to cut into my weekends and off-hours in order to get where I’m going. It is tough for me to take vacations in the traditional sense, so I try to fit in some leisure.
My bleisure travel definitely resembles the “motivating factors” listed above. I typically extend my trips when:
- I have to go to a fun or interesting destination
- My trip requires me to be at the destination on a Monday or Friday
- If there’s another event I want to attend or friends & family in the area.
For example, I recently went to Louisiana to visit with the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association for their annual meeting. The trip meant I’d have to travel through New Orleans to get to the meeting. I love New Orleans, so I brought my wife along and we spent a couple days in NOLA before I went to the meeting and gave a presentation on digital marketing and visited with the group. With our extra couple of days, we had some beignets, went to a carousel bar, took in some jazz, checked out design, and went on a swamp tour, among other things.
Two of those days were regular work days, and we posted up at a local coffee shop & market and worked for most of the day for one, and the other day we worked from our accommodation. Having a desk, wifi, even USB outlets etc was critical. Even though I worked, it was still a nice change of scenery. It doesn’t always work out like this, but when it does I try to take advantage of the opportunity.
Here’s a Couple Moments from my BLeisure Trip to Louisiana
Taking in some jazz at my favorite spot in New Orleans Bacchanal Wine
Getting to know the local wildlife on a swamp tour with my wife.
How to Attract Bleisure Travelers to Your Property
84% of bleisure travelers want to stay at the same hotel they are staying at for their work trip. The average business trip length is two nights and the average leisure portion is 4-6 nights. The leisure days typically equal or exceed their business days. That means you need to market your property as fit for both work and leisure travel.
Bleisure Travelers Want A Unique Business Travel Experience
More and more business travelers are looking for a unique and memorable lodging experience. Hiltons and Double Trees are no longer doing it for these travelers. This means bed & breakfasts, unique inns, and boutique hotels are a particularly great fit to fill the needs and desires of bleisure travelers. Showcase your property’s unique character while also highlighting the amenities bleisure travelers need: free WiFi, phone chargers, in-room coffee, quiet, early breakfast, and so on. A charming bed & breakfast or hotel they actually feel excited to stay at goes a long way to making that business trip a little more appealing.
Sell Your Destination
As mentioned in the study, the number one factor that will encourage a guest to turn a work trip into a bleisure getaway is destination. Market your property accordingly. Your website should market both your property and your destination. Showcase your destination through your high-quality photography, packages & special offers, and of course, your Things to Do page. Fill your Things to Do Page with lots of helpful and informative local’s advice on what to do, see, eat, and buy at your destination. Use your Things to Do Page to share your favorite museums, restaurants, hikes, and local treasures. By making your destination attractive to guests, you are also helping to encourage them to stay with you.
- Use high-quality photography to show off your destination and your property
- List all the amenities that might be attractive to business travelers, including WiFi, in-room phone chargers, free coffee, complimentary breakfast, and so on.
- Consider offering package deals to guests who chose to extend their trip over the weekend (you might pick up some non-bleisure travelers with this too)
- Consider creating a page or section of your website dedicated to the amenities that appeal to business travelers. Add a photo of someone working at your property (or simply a stock photo from unsplash or stocksnap) to bring the point home.
- Share your favorite local restaurants and bars, as bleisure travelers tend to be foodies
- Highlight your proximity to major attractions, including concert halls, theaters, museums, natural parks, beaches, and so on
- Showcase your spa or massage offerings (if you have them) so bleisure travels know they will have a rejuvenating experience if they stay with you. Consider creating a package just for them.
How Bleisure Travelers Book Accommodations
Bleisure travels plan and book their bleisure getaways in a relatively short period of time. 43% book a room one to two weeks before the trip. 41% book three to four weeks before. However, before they decide to extend their trip, bleisure travelers are going to research. 37% say they do a lot of research and 41% say they do a fair amount of research. 80% of them say they spend an hour to five hours researching during both the inspiration and planning stages of their Travel Customer Journey, which is shorter than traditional leisure booking but longer than traditional business booking. Research shows that bleisure travelers research their hotels or accomodations first before they tackle things to do, transportation, food, events, and so on. If you have an excellent Things to Do page, you might help them kill two birds with one stone.
Many bleisure travels research using a mix of search engines, travel-related websites, destination websites, and their own preferred sources. 41% visit an OTA but do not limit their research to OTAs. Most OTA visits are conducted on smart phones but the rest of their research is distributing between phones and laptops, computers, or tablets. 47% visit events websites as part of their research, referring to the websites for local events such as sports games, concerts, and so on.
Not all boutique hotels and bed & breakfasts may be suitable to business travelers, but if you happen to be a unique property in an attractive destination with the amenities that business travelers crave, we recommend trying to tap into this growing market. As more and more business travelers chose to turn boring work trips into exciting vacation getaways, you have the power to book more and more guests who could easily become return guests if their work brings them to your destination again.