When a business trip takes you somewhere new and different, you might be tempted to spend a few extra days having fun at your destination – this is commonly called “bleisure” (business + leisure). Today’s young business travelers want to actually experience the places they visit, not just hop on a plane at the end of the work day. How does your company approach bleisure? Is it even considered within your travel policy? We’re taking a look at the pros and cons of bleisure and who is fueling the demand.
What’s Happening during Bleisure Time?
Travelers who have to hit the road for business tend to explore the area by acting like a local. Generally, they sample the local culinary scene by testing out the popular plates and pours. Some business travelers will post a message on social media asking their network for dining recommendations. Often, a cultural stop is on the agenda – whether it’s a world-class museum or an art gallery featuring home-grown talent. In the summer months, a visit to a garden or park is on the to-do list. Sporty types may book a bike share rental and tour the city on two wheels. And there may be time for a little shopping. Parents usually try to pick up a unique souvenir for the kids, or purchase a one-of-a-kind item only available at that location.
If an employee is spending part of their business trip on personal pursuits, does the company’s Duty of Care obligation only apply to the time spent on business?
Millennials and Bleisure
Not all business travelers want to mix work and pleasure travel. This can often (although not always) be affected by your travelers’ ages. In a recent study, Skift, an online business travel magazine, noted that the younger the employee, the more likely it is they will extend their business trip: 48% of millennials turned their business trip into a bleisure experience, compared to only 33% of those aged 36 to 54. Baby Boomers were the least likely to take advantage of bleisure opportunities - only 23% did so. The fact that millennials want to make their work trips more fun could be due to several factors: scarce vacation time (and therefore more incentive to tack some play days onto a work trip), greater use of social media to crowdsource suggestions for their destination, and perhaps most significantly, millennials are least likely to have children and spouses who might necessitate a speedy return home.
Travel Policy Impact
For those companies with employees asking to extend a work trip over a weekend or holiday for fun, there are some careful considerations. Your travel management company can provide a wealth of wisdom and experience with implementing bleisure into an overall travel policy. Duty of Care (a legal term meaning the responsibility one party has for the care of another) is an important obligation on the part of the employer to its business travelers. But if an employee is spending part of their business trip on personal pursuits, does the company’s Duty of Care obligation only apply to the time spent on business? Or should you ensure Duty of Care throughout the entire trip? Better to consider the answer before staffers start asking about this.
In some cases, an employee indulging in some bleisure can be beneficial, since many plane tickets decrease in price with a Saturday night stay.
Comp Time for A Road Warrior
Another important travel policy consideration is “comp time” for extra hours worked outside of the regular business day. A business traveler who flies to Los Angeles on a Monday morning, ends their meetings on Friday evening, and decides to fly back to town the following Monday night might not want to take Monday as a vacation day - after all, they spent the last week in LA going to early morning breakfast meetings, and taking clients out for late dinners. Does taking a day of comp time fit in with your organization’s policy? Or would your staffer be required to count Monday as a vacation day since, after all, she will not be working.
There’s also the subject of money. In some cases, an employee indulging in some bleisure can be beneficial, since many plane tickets decrease in price with a Saturday night stay. But what happens if the timing dictates a higher price for the extra days? Does your business have a policy about that? Is the employee responsible for the additional airfare, and if so, what are the arrangements to pay the difference? And do they need to book their personal travel on their own, or may they take advantage of the business’s corporate travel partner?
Bleisure can contribute to happier employees, and a greater willingness to travel for work. That equals a higher retention rate and cost savings all around.
Happy Employees = Healthy Bottom Line
The big takeaway? Bleisure can contribute to happier employees, and a greater willingness to travel for work. That equals a higher retention rate and cost savings all around. There’s no doubt that bleisure is here to stay, and it is important for companies to develop strong policies that meet their own needs, as well as those of their travelers.
While it’s important to consider the possible issues that might arise, the advantages of your employees accessing bleisure can be numerous. Exploring the destination can give the traveler more to talk about with their clients. Your employee can check off a destination on their personal bucket list and build goodwill toward the company. In a family-friendly place like Orlando or Hawaii, allowing a staffer to bring the family along could encourage her to stay longer.
Want to know more about how to craft an effective travel policy, check out Travel Policy Do's & Don'ts.