Bleisure travel is a portmanteau of “business” and “leisure”, and, it refers to “the activity of combining business travel with leisure time”.
The term bleisure was first published in 2009 by the Future Laboratory as part of their biannual Trend Briefing written by writer Jacob Strand, then a future forecaster working for The Future Laboratory, and journalist and futurologist Miriam Rayman.
In corporate business travel, extending a business trip for personal purposes is also known as “bizcation”
This phenomenon has been studied since 2011, and from this year on, a report shows that bleisure travel has been maintaining a constant growth, accounting for 7% of all business trips.
Technology has blurred the boundaries between work and play, professional and personal, career and down time. A creative agency might bat around ideas over the ping-pong table; an architectural firm might be at its most productive on retreat.
And as the lines between work and life blur, so do the distinctions between business and personal travel. It’s a trend that goes way beyond the tried-and-tested formula of bringing your partner to a conference. Where destinations appeal, professionals around the globe are increasingly adding weekends, or even weeks, to work trips, whether solo, with a partner or as a family. So established is this hybrid of business and leisure travel that it’s acquired a portmanteau moniker – “bleisure travel”.
Worldwide, more than one in three business travelers will add a leisure component to at least one of their business trips this year, Travel wellbeing relates to job satisfaction, which means people stay productive and stay longer in their jobs.
Australians, who typically work longer hours and face higher travel costs and longer journey times than their peers in Europe, are becoming increasingly receptive to bleisure. Brent Howard and Ann Crowhurst relocated from Melbourne to operate Quest St Leonards, a business-oriented apartment hotel in a vibrant Sydney suburb replete with cafes and art. Crowhurst feels that guests seem more open to bleisure travel than when she first worked in hospitality. “We’re probably starting to see more of a trend where the wife might fly up from Melbourne to spend the weekend here rather than the husband doing a quick trip home for the weekend,” she said. “One guy stayed with us from Brisbane on a project for a year and his wife came down every month for three to five days.”
Richard Tonkin, general manager of an environmental protection company, and regular guest of Quest Bundoora in suburban Melbourne, agrees. Tonkin is based in Newcastle but travels frequently both interstate and internationally. A keen photographer, he makes time wherever possible to explore a new destination and will always add at least a weekend to any long-distance work trip.
Tonkin researches cities thoroughly to ensure his leisure time isn’t wasted. “One of the things I always do before I get to a big city or a new town is book a bike tour,” he said. “It’s a really great way to see a city quickly, and get you out of bed on your first day after a long flight. You get to see a lot more than you would on a walking tour, and you discover things to go back to in the following days.”
Tonkin’s wife, Enza, who works part-time and flexibly, recently joined him on a work trip to Chicago and Illinois. “She came with me to a little town in the Midwest where a key supplier is based and roamed the streets, then we had a long weekend in Chicago before a colleague and I went to a trade show, while she did her own thing, mainly shopping,” he said. “Then she and I had a whole bunch of days: we did a cycling tour, hired a car and drove out into the country, went to the art gallery and tried out the local restaurants.”
According to Howard and Crowhurst, the modern bleisure traveller tends to be culturally curious, not to mention interested in food. So the couple make sure their front office staff stay abreast of not only on what’s new in the local area, but exhibitions and shows around town, and use information sources that go beyond Google.
“When we’ve got longer-stay guests, we always buy them a Sydney guide, but one that’s got stuff that’s a little off the beaten track,” said Crowhurst. “For a middle-aged couple from Canada, we bought a Sydney suburbs guide with the cafes and the quirky shops and the boutiques; one guest in his early 20s has just come in from Italy, so I’ve bought him one that’s more about the bars and cafes you can find in Sydney.”
For most business travellers, Liu’s research found, there’s only one element deterring them from bleisure: time. It seems ironic that for many individuals the same technology that frees them up to work while they play, and play while they work, also limits their leisure time.