While bleisure travel isn't growing in a huge way, this study shows nearly half of millennial business travelers add leisure to business trips. Those young travelers could cut back as they get older — or employers might need to better adjust to a rise in bleisure down the road.
Nearly four in 10 business travelers in North America added a leisure leg to their work trip in the past year, according to a new study.
The report, by the education and research branch of the Global Business Travel Association, shows that there hasn’t been much change in the number of workers who mix leisure with business travel. While 37 percent of those surveyed said they took a so-called “bleisure” trip over the past year, a similar report last year indicated that 36 percent of business travelers based in the U.S. had added leisure to at least one work trip in the prior year.
Younger employees are more likely to add vacation to their work travel; 48 percent of millennials said they extended a business trip for that reason. Only 23 percent of baby boomers took a bleisure trip, while 33 percent of those age 36 to 54 did so, the study says.
Of those who didn’t take a bleisure trip, 58 percent said the reason was simple: They didn’t have enough time. Another 18 percent said company policy didn’t allow it.
“For business travelers who have chosen not to take bleisure trips, it is rarely because they cannot afford to or do not want to explore the destination they are visiting for work,” the study says.
At 43 percent, the top reason respondents gave for taking bleisure trips was that they wanted to visit a place where they like to spend time. Nearly as many, 38 percent, said they wanted to visit a new destination. Slightly more than a third said bleisure was a cost-effective way to take a vacation and gave them needed time away from home and work.
Less than half of respondents — 44 percent — traveled with another person during the leisure part of the trip.
The online survey of 675 business travelers from the U.S. and Canada was conducted from late February to early March. The GBTA Foundation did the study in partnership with Hilton Hotels & Resorts, which has a vested interest in the hotel booking behavior of bleisure travelers.
According to the study, 91 percent of people who combined business and leisure stayed in a traditional or extended stay hotel for the business part of their trip and 81 percent stayed at a hotel for the leisure segment. Most did not move when the work ended: 82 percent of business travelers said they stayed at the same place for the entire trip.
“Business travel is a lifestyle for many of our guests,” Kelly Phillips, Hilton’s senior vice president of global engagement and strategic accounts, said in a statement. “And we’re seeing a growing desire by these travelers to add a leisure component to their trip and experience the destination beyond the meeting room.”
The study considers some of the ramifications bleisure travel could have on travel programs: added cost of transportation, the responsibility to take care of employees when they’re on the road, and the way travelers book accommodations.
“This study highlights a variety of ways in which companies can improve the bleisure travel experience for their employees, while also aligning bleisure travel with their own goals,” Monica Sanchez, director of research at GBTA Foundation, said in a statement. “Some of these ways include establishing clear rules for reimbursing expenses incurred by non-employees, helping travelers understand the resources available to them on the leisure portion of their trip and developing a policy regarding preferred suppliers and booking channels.”
Photo credit: Nearly 40 percent of business travelers in North America added a leisure stay to their work trip, a new study says. Shown here is Nashville, a popular destination for both business and leisure travel. Thomas Hawk / Flickr