So many individuals in the corporate world have had to deal with long trips away from friends and family, resulting in missing birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries to go abroad and make an important contribution to the company. This has, over the years, put a lot of stress on these individuals and their families. But what if there were another way? That is where the wonderful world of bleisure trips comes in.
Although the concept is quite old, having been done for centuries, many of us may be unfamiliar with the word. What are bleisure trips? Bleisure trips are the fix to corporate travel that divides families. In this version of corporate travel, instead of leaving your family behind, you take them with you and use your business travel time as a mini family vacation. This is a huge benefit to the family and the individual on assignment. It allows for a much healthier dichotomy of work/life integration instead of just work/life balance.
So how does a bleisure trip work? It can work in many ways. For instance, an individual gets an assignment from the company in an area of the world that sparks some family interest, so they go together and spend an extra day or two in that country. However, as more businesses are seeing corporate benefits to bleisurites, it is becoming an increasingly common practice for some businesses to build in the idea or have it be an option to spend an extra few days. Of course, you need not have a family or significant other to enjoy a bleisure trip. Many individuals do so on their own regularly.
So how does one combine business travel and leisure travel together? Even in the most hectic trips, one has some down time that is often spent personally seeing whatever local items may have been of interest. But a bleisure trip is a bit different; it is where you purposefully set aside time to relax. It is not just sightseeing when you’re not working but setting aside time for your work trip to give yourself a richer experience.
Who are the bleisurites? Who goes on these types of trips? Traveler behavior has changed over the years but it has done so more dramatically in recent years. According to a survey by Bridge Street Global Hospitality, over half of all responders had taken a bleisure trip, but of those, 90% of millennial travelers intended to or had taken a bleisure trip. Millennials are the largest segment of the workforce today so their travel needs, plans, desires, and intentions have huge sway. Why do so many millennials choose to mix corporate travel and leisure travel? What is behind this unusual traveler behavior spike?
There are several factors that help this figure make sense. One is that millennials are less likely to be married. Without responsibilities at home or a spouse to consider, they are freer to take trips that come up unexpectedly. This freedom of choice and movement helps them be more likely than settled individuals to be able to go on trips.
The other factor associated with being married later in life is that many of them are childless as well. With a child, unexpected trips are much more difficult to take. You have to find a babysitter, people to drive him or her to school, and someone to take care of anything at home. If you desire to take your child with you, it can still be complicated with finding someone to be with your child while you are at the business part of your bleisure trip.
The last reason why millennials are very likely to be the ones who go on bleisure trips is with the rise of modern smartphones, Millennials feel freer to go places with less planning. There are apps that can translate written languages for you, GPS and cell phone navigation so you can find right where you are going even in cities you have never been to, online reviews and travel blogs that you can read and follow, and perhaps most importantly – online travel agents who can assist you in finding the best places to eat or locate a richer cultural experience.
Because of this easy access to information and the trust in its proficiency, Millennials are far more like to take a spur of the moment work trips with little planning. This makes them also more available to tack on some leisure travel while on their business trip as well. Most individuals who have flown for 15+ hours to an exotic part of the world desire to do some relaxing and exploring but few have the freedom that millennials do.
How can this bleisure activity help a company though? One of the most obvious reasons is employee satisfaction. Happy employees nearly always perform better than ones who are not. Having high employee satisfaction also enables employees to enjoy their work and find meaning in it, which translates to better quality of work. High employee satisfaction also results in less emotion-related medical issues that cost companies hundreds of thousands of profits every year in lost hours or medical leave.
One of the more direct benefits is that by letting employees take more leisure time at locations where corporate travel happens regularly, they actually become more in tune with the culture, the people, and the area. This kind of culturally-enriching experience adds not only to their enjoyment but also to their knowledge of the people and the area. This means that employees are not just relaxing, they are building important intercultural skills and networking on behalf of the company. They will thus be better skilled and better suited to assist on any other trips to that part of the world in the future, and of course, they will be better suited to give more appropriate insights because they know the local culture and habits.
If you are worried about the stress of travel on you, your family, or your employees, remember that travel can be a bleisure trip that will add to the experience of the individual, your own personal enjoyment, stronger family ties, and an important experience that will benefit the company for years to come.