Business leisure (“bleisure”) travelers are getting plenty of attention. This growing segment of the traveling population is included in the WEX and Mastercard Travel Trends 2018 Report on US travelers’ attitudes and preferences, which found nearly 60% of those surveyed extend their business trips.
Since one-third of respondents prefer to use vacation time for short periods away from work, adding a couple vacation days to a business trip is perfect. And having your company pay for the airfare and business-related expenses, while you pay the costs associated with your vacation days, is often too good to pass up. This opportunity for travel is important enough that Booking.com found 30% of business travelers “would accept a lower paying job if it meant more travel.”
WEX and Mastercard identified some important preferences for the bleisure group:
- 72% are most likely to travel outside of US this year (an increase from 68% for 2017 actual travel)
- 44% expect to take a “beach vacation at a resort or hotel”
- 26% plan to visit “a destination known for its culinary scene/foodie reputation”
- They’re the group most likely to travel in North America, Europe and Asia, to “travel to achieve balance/wellness” or to “take a class or learn a new skill”
Get it done online
When it comes to booking, the Travel Trends 2018 Report notes 74% of bleisure travelers book online, just behind Millennials at 76%. This group books with OTAs 52% of the time. Bleisure travelers are the top group using online destination review sites (44%) and through travel bots or chat bots (9%). While the overall use of bots is low, the bleisure group had the highest awareness of them (37%) against Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers.
A recent Expedia Group Media Solutions multinational study, Unpacking Bleisure Traveler Trends, found that, for all countries surveyed, “approximately 80% of bleisure travelers spend 1-5 hours on research during both the inspiration and planning phases, which is more condensed than more traditional leisure booking windows.”
Make it worth their time and money
Like the WEX and Mastercard research, others have found a business trip’s location greatly impacts whether it’ll become a bleisure trip. Expedia found 56% choose based on “great food and restaurants,” while 48% go for “great entertainment” and 43% want “an iconic or bucket list destination.” An AudienceSCAN study found “33.5% of frequent business travelers want to attend beer/wine festivals this year, and 31% want to visit arts festivals.”
In a travelweekly.com piece on bleisure travel, CheapOair’s Senior Vice President of Supplier Relations Thomas Spagnola said, “Bleisure travel tends to lean toward ‘new’ business destinations or resort-type destinations that provide more of an opportunity to enjoy a few extra days to enjoy the cities or beaches as they are attending to business.”
What are bleisure travelers spending on these hybrid vacations? Expedia found that when compared to a typical vacation, “57% of bleisure travelers spend the same amount of money or more on a bleisure trip, and more than 75% save money specifically for bleisure travel.”
And how are they paying? Whether they’re paying for major expenses or day-to-day expenses WEX and Mastercard found that more than 80% of US bleisure travelers prefer their primary credit card. This group also has the highest usage of digital wallet for major expenses (13%) and day-to-day expenses (20%).
Capture them in the moment
Nearly 70% of business trips are for conferences, so destinations benefit from encouraging longer stays by highlighting local activities and experiences. Hotels are tapping into the bleisure trend by offering attendees discounted rates for staying on after the conference, and opportunities are there for OTAs to convert business travelers to bleisure travelers—and add room nights and activities to their bookings.
Since bleisure travelers spend less time researching their trip, marketers have a shorter window to target and influence behavior and purchases. These guests may not book everything in advance, highlighting opportunities for travel companies to reach and convert travelers in-trip, particularly for dining, tours and activities, entertainment and transportation.
Marvin Lee, account manager for marketing and alliances at Asiana Airlines sees continued growth. “The bleisure segment was an inevitable evolution in the travel industry that will only continue to get larger and larger,” he says. “With the increasing globalization of business and technology, the once-discrete line between business and leisure travel will blur further. There is no longer a reason for the business traveler to have to sacrifice leisure in order to be successful in their profession.”
Download the full 2018 Travel Trends Report