Opinion

The ‘Bleisure’ trend – mixing business trips with leisure travel – should be top of marketer’s minds

Not limited to a specific time of year or restricted to one country, ‘bleisure’ is fast becoming a trend around the world and it is all year-round so ad dollars show follow it – says Gianluca Armando of Expedia Group, also a speaker at the Mumbrella Asia Travel Marketing Summit in Singapore on May 7

Let’s be honest, our always-on mobile and digital lifestyles are blurring the lines between work and leisure. The growth in ‘bleisure’ – the practice of combining business travel and leisure travel into one trip – is an extension of that trend.

As the number of people traveling for business, including the millennial and Gen Z workforce, increases each year growing numbers are looking to get the more out of those trips by extending them for leisure.

In fact, more than 60 percent of business trips are extended for leisure purposes – according to our Bleisure Travel Trends, research. And more than half of these travellers spend the same amount of money or more on a bleisure trip as they would on a typical vacation.

So bleisure offers exciting opportunities for marketers, but what are some of the best ways to capitalise on it? And, how can marketers strategically target and convert business travellers into bleisure customers?  

Our research highlights the behaviour, influences, resources and preferences of global bleisure travellers and it has uncovered some key actionable insights for marketers.

Travel is global and evergreen

Bleisure isn’t limited to a specific time of year or restricted to one country, it’s a trend we’re seeing around the world and it is all year-round. Most such travellers take a business trip every two to three months, with those trips typically lasting two to three nights.

And there’s a near equal likelihood that a domestic or international business trip will turn into a bleisure trip, creating an opportunity for marketers to attract travellers from near and far. Marketers can boost off-peak travel seasons with special rates and extra incentives to attract bleisure travellers or consider promoting free, or discounted, room nights around conferences and conventions – in order to encourage people to extend their trip for leisure.

Local and unique activities are influential

There are a number of factors that influence bleisure travel, but destination offerings play a significant role – and it’s not all about sandy beaches and sunshine. Destinations with a great culinary scene rise to the top, which isn’t a surprise given the recent influx of food-focused content and entertainment.

But beaches, sightseeing locations and weather are also influential factors. Those on trips also crave unique, authentic experiences, so consider how you can connect your offerings to meet these expectations and promote repeat visitation.

Short on time – but big on saving

The path to purchase for bleisure travellers is condensed, compared to those planning leisure trips, with approximately 80 per cent of bleisure travellers spending just one to five hours on research during both the inspiration and planning phases.

During the consideration phase they conduct research using search engines, travel-related websites, like OTAs, airline and hotel sites and review sites, and destination sites. Consider strategic collaborations and a multi-platform approach to reach and influence customers within the abbreviated research and booking window and use targeted relevant content to spark engagement.

Additionally, bleisure travellers aren’t booking all their travel needs in advance, creating an opportunity for marketers to reach and convert travelers in-trip – especially when it comes to sightseeing activities, unique dining experiences and entertainment.

While these travellers may have less time to plan and book a trip, they’re setting aside budget for bleisure. More than 75 per cent save money specifically for bleisure travel.

Going it alone

More people are traveling solo, especially among younger workers, and this trend appears in bleisure travel as well. Some 65 per cent of bleisure travellers are journeying alone, and more than 60 per cent don’t have family or friends in the destination.

Therefore, when looking to attract the bleisure audience marketers must promote restaurants, activities and tours that are friendly to the solo traveller and avoid calling out group activities with minimum participant numbers.

In summary, bleisure is showing no signs of slowing. On top of that, there’s more good news on the horizon for travel marketers. Over 70 per cent of travellers who combine business and leisure travel said there are destinations they have visited or will visit in the future, for business, where they would like to extend for leisure travel.

This pattern of increased interest will continue to represent major growth and real opportunities for the travel marketing industry. You heard it here first.

Bleisure should be a huge opportunity for marketers, says Armando

Gianluca Armando is Asia-Pacific regional director of Expedia Group Media Solutions – and he will be speaking on the topic of ‘Bleisure’ at the Mumbrella Asia Travel Marketing Summit in Singapore on May 7

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