Skift Take

Blended travel, workaction, call it what you will. For many U.S. business travelers it’s becoming a crucial part of a productive stay.

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With vacation time at a premium, some executives are extending their business travel to explore their destination or see family and friends. Hotels are listening and offering amenities to accommodate them.

As a senior account executive at a PR agency working with technology companies, Katy Culver hit the road seven times over a seven-week period this summer, traveling to San Francisco and Las Vegas twice, as well as Chicago, South Carolina and North Carolina.

“This gives you a sense of how busy my travel schedule can be,” says Culver, 26. “Whenever I can, I like to extend the trip a few days because my work schedule can be so hectic.”

Often this involves seeing local friends. Culver extended one of her San Francisco trips – a Tuesday to Thursday journey — and stayed the weekend with a friend whose engagement she had not yet been able to celebrate.

In this sense, Culver is like many executives who see great opportunity in turning increasingly frequent time on the road – last year, 468.8 million people traveled for work, or 4.7% more than in 2012, according to the Global Business Travel Association — into a vacation.

In a survey conducted by Skift and American Express in August 2014, 32.7% of respondents said they would do so to explore the destination, while 22.7% said they would tack on a few days to visit family or friends in the area. Slightly less – or 16.2% — said they would do so to use the business expense to help defray overall costs, and 12.2% said limited vacation days would be a factor.

All this makes sense when you take into account how starved U.S. workers are for time off. An August report by the U.S. Travel Association, reported that four in 10 American workers let some of their paid vacation days go unused and expire.

Some road warriors are able to make sure they maximize vacation days by staying on and exploring the destinations to which they have traveled. On her extended San Francisco trip, Culver visited Lombard Street and spent a day on Chrissy Field taking in views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Sausalito.

One strategy for maximizing a business trip lies in the hands of the business traveler. Hotel loyalty points, earned during stays or with a co-branded credit card, allow travelers to accrue points to be put toward free stays. The Hilton HHonors (TM) Surpass (R) Credit Card, for example, earns 12 points at participating Hilton properties, not to mention a sign-up bonus if you meet the spending criteria. After only a couple work trips, that translates into free nights and turning your business trips into vacations.

To capture folks like Culver, hotels are rolling amenities aimed at what little leisure time they have.

Some offer concierges to frequent guests who can tap into them for information on local events and offer dining and entertainment suggestions. Guests at some hotels may find a printout of daily activities and information on pre-planned sightseeing excursions in the area.

Others are making their spas, common spaces like terraces, rooftops and lounges, and restaurants more upscale for those who wish to partake once they’ve left the conference room.

Blended travel, workaction, call it what you will. For many U.S. business travelers it’s becoming a crucial part of a productive stay.

This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor, American Express.

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Photo Credit: rafael-castillo