By Robert McGarvey
New research from Expedia owned business travel management shop Egencia says that we like bleisure add ons to business trips – kind of, sort of, maybe.
We’ve lately been bombarded with trend reporting – paid for by hotel interests? – that has insisted that bleisure has been cresting, especially with Millennials, and for some years I’ve wondered just how accurate this reporting is.
I’ve also wondered if any of this is at all new.
The Egencia research throws light on this.
Understand, I have long personally added leisure in connection with trips to cities that especially interested me in that moment such as New Orleans (and its long recovery from Katrina) and Chicago (where I made a tour of deep dish pie purveyors and grew to like them, but not as alternatives to thin crust pie, just as something different) and Washington DC (which I have liked as a town since I lived there 45 years ago).
I also strongly believe that a little “bleisure” is just the right touch to just about every business trip. See below. But what I’m talking about doesn’t involve extending stays and adding room nights.
That’s from where I sit. What’s the actual fact?
Egencia waded into this to find the statistical realities. It surveyed 9000 business travelers. And it has some real insights into bleisure.
One finding resonated with my experiences: “Destination location is by far the biggest factor in determining whether or not to take a bleisure trip, with 30 percent of North America business travelers prioritizing location.”
A fun location, the company said, is the #1 reason to extend a business trip.
Agreed. There are towns I have been to a lot on business and have never spent a second more. Las Vegas, for instance. Houston is another example. I’ve traveled to both, a lot, in the past decade and like them fine but haven’t seen any reason to prolong the trip.
My point: bleisure always has to be seen as a contextual choice.
Egencia has still other, rich data. A key finding: “Twenty percent of business travelers have foregone adding leisure portions to their trips because of how it may look to their employer. ”
That is, will your bosses think you’re a slacker if you add on a few days to a Phoenix trip to enjoy spa treatments at some of the country’s best? If you think your boss will see you as a mooch, you’ll go straight home, suggested Egencia.
Egencia offered a qualifier: “Proximity to the weekend may minimize that perception, with nearly one-quarter of respondents saying this impacts their decision.” Sure. When a meeting ends Friday midday – quite common with many conferences (although most attendees evacuate Thursday evening, in my experience) – what’s the harm in extending and returning home Sunday night?
When the meeting is a Tuesday-Wednesday affair, we have problems.
Another issue in my experience – not explored in the Egencia data – is the role of an at home spouse or partner. Do you really want to go out on the town in the French Quarter while your partner sits at home watching PBS re-runs?
Proximity to family, by the way, was cited as important by 16% of Egencia respondents in making bleisure stay decisions.
Either way, we are doing a lot of bleisure, said Egencia: “68 percent [of respondents] take at least one bleisure trip per year.”
74% of us are planning or considering a bleisure trip in the next six months, said Egencia.
20% made adding in bleisure a resolution for the year.
Is this a generational thing? Naw. The reality is that Millennials, increasingly, carry a bigger share of the business travel can. But that age group has done so, certainly since the 1970s. Nothing has changed. Baby Boomers had such decisions to make in the 1970s and 1980s, it’s just that the word “bleisure” didn’t exist.
The choices did
Last advice which is my own bleisure prescription: always build in at least one personally important thing on every business trip. That can be a muffuletta at Central Grocery, a visit to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, a walk through Central Park in Manhattan, a noon Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown in Phoenix – whatever catches your interest. I have not always done that (let me count the trips to Las Vegas) and I regret at least some of those missed opportunities (not so much involving Las Vegas).
But I firmly believe that doing one personally important thing on every business trip makes those trips that much more satisfying. It doesn’t require adding on a weekend, just making a half hour for a noon Mass or a similar amount of time for some gumbo and a beer at Emeril’s. And you don’t need a poll to know this is the right thing to do to add a dash of pleasure your life.