When business leadership consultant Marian Thier flew from the United States to Italy and back in less than 36 hours, she knew things had to change. “I landed in Florence at six o’clock in the morning, gave a keynote speech and returned to the airport that evening to fly back to the U.S.,” says Thier. “I thought ‘I am never doing this again’.”
Because business travel had become a major part of her life, Thier decided to start adding a few extra days before or after her trips to explore each destination and recover from her long journeys.
And so she became a “bleisure” traveler: a term coined to define professionals who shun the grind of business trips by mixing them with vacation time.
Mixing business with pleasure: a beneficial cocktail
A 2014 Bleisure study conducted by BridgeStreet Global Hospitality found that adding leisure days to business travel adds value to work assignments. Two-thirds of those surveyed have taken bleisure trips, many of them by adding a couple vacation days to the beginning or end of their trip. One quarter of those who haven’t done so cited lack of time as the reason, rather than a lack of desire.
Three-quarters of BridgeStreet respondents said the opportunity to add leisure days to business trips benefits them as an employee, helping them alleviate stress, recover from jet lag and gain cultural knowledge, which can be helpful when breaking into a new city or country.
“Travel is now a part of work,” says Marian Thier, “so anything that you can do to make yourself more relaxed, focused and more present is what people should be looking for, not just ticking off the next leg of your journey.”
Bleisure: a powerful attraction for the mobile workforce
By 2022, the global mobile workforce is expected to grow from 1.45 billion in 2016 to 1.87 billion, accounting for 42.5% of the worldwide workforce. As a result, a new generation of mobile workers is trading cubicles for coffee shops, and offices for hotel rooms around the world.
As long as these digital nomads have Wi-Fi and a laptop, they can get their jobs done from just about anywhere – be it from a pool, beach bar, or a trendy restaurant.
Unsurprisingly, the group that is taking the most bleisure trips is Millennials, who seem to be the most comfortable with the hazy line between work and play. By shaking up the traditional 9-to-5 workday, they have in turn enabled greater fluidity and an enhanced work-life balance. They prioritize experience and value, and use this same approach when it comes to business travel: they want the whole trip to be a fun experience.
Offering employees a bleisure travel policy makes good sense these days… as long as those who benefit agree that the cost of accommodations for leisure days are up to them to cover! Add to this their sense of job satisfaction, a better understanding of their city of destination (where the company has clients, investors, or satellite offices) and some good R&R, and bleisure sounds like a very profitable idea indeed.