Despite the growing practice of business travelers combining business and leisure travel and bringing their families on business trips, hotels and resorts still aren't widely marketing these kinds of experiences, instead largely showing travelers the business and leisure aspects of a property and letting them put two and two together.
Resorts both all-inclusive and otherwise attract families and couples seeking nearby entertainment and activities for everyone, and perhaps a business meeting or two.
With many U.S. travelers taking minimal vacation time, the thought of a business trip involving family members is the only soft spot some people can find. 54% of business travelers who take business trips involving leisure bring their family members along, according to data from a BridgeStreet survey, which included respondents from all corners of the world. And it’s resorts like Great Wolf Lodge that are understanding this trend as it grows.
Great Wolf Lodge, a chain of 14 resorts in the U.S. and Canada catering first and foremost to short, leisure travel stays for families, estimates 13% of its business now comes from corporate meetings and events at its properties. The resort expects to at least double that percentage within five years.
“Long before [bleisure] was even a trend I feel like we had this figured out,” said Rhonda Khabir, a spokesperson for the resort. “After the Recession the growing trend with everyone was that you had to do more with less. If you have to work, it’s a bonus if you can bring your family along with you to a place that takes care of kids’ needs and lets them have a great time in ways that wouldn’t be possible at a traditional hotel.”
All guest rooms at the resorts are 500-square foot suites large enough to balance the dynamic of kids who want to play or need to get to bed early with the business traveler and their spouse who need to do work or want to stay up later. The check-in areas for meetings are completely segregated from those for leisure travelers and Khabir said about 60% of business travelers bring their families when the stay at the resorts for meetings and events.
“Our conference centers compete with any like-minded hotel company,” said Khabir. “We do business with specific fortune 500 companies with specific objectives that they must meet when they host their events with us. We host large financial institutions and car rental companies, for example.”
All-Inclusive Resorts Touting Bleisure Trips
Combining business and leisure travel, or “bleisure” travel as it has become to be known, has always been a part of Club Med’s brand, an all-inclusive resort that has more than 1,500 meetings and events at its properties each year.
The resort said it hasn’t observed a significant uptick in this these trips but nonetheless acknowledges it’s an increasingly popular way to travel. It also doesn’t run specific campaigns dedicated to marketing the bleisure experience families can have at its properties, insisting it’s simply part of the brand’s DNA and guests know this.
As it doesn’t codify its bookings into either business or leisure categories it’s unable to analyze the growth of these trips at its resorts.
“When you introduce a family into a meeting setting it is very important to create the right environment,” said Jacqueline Manuel, a spokesperson for Club Med. “At Club Med we have our kids programs and activities but also our staff are trained to engage and assist the family and business participant to enjoy all aspects of the resort both with and without one another.”
Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas also counts itself among resorts seeing a rise in business travelers bringing their families on trips. Like Club Med, Atlantis doesn’t break down which families include a business traveler and which ones don’t. Rather, during the past five years the resort said it’s observed this growth through a “significant increase in pre- and post-stay requests from members of our group segments” to include their families.
Atlantis recently announced an all-inclusive package for groups attending meetings, albeit, there’s no mention of families anywhere on the description page outlining package options.
“[The all-inclusive packages] are marketed towards groups but as our team handles all group bookings personally, we work very closely with all persons involved to express that it is encouraged [to book this package to] experience all of the various amenities with your family,” said John Washko, a spokesperson for the resort. “Most business travelers come to the resort and share their room with their family, but they can also work directly with a meetings and group planner on discounted special rates for additional rooms for their families.”
The other consideration is BridgeStreet’s finding that some 43% of business travelers still don’t bring their families along for the fun, for reasons that include they’re unsure if this is acceptable etiquette with their companies.
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Photo credit: The pool at Atlantis Paradise Island. Manoel Lemos / Flickr