Lately, we’ve been noticing an interesting trend: more and more, companies are changing their travel policies to include bleisure (business travel that includes leisure). Companies are allowing their employees to bring their families along on business trips or extend their trips for a few vacation days. Employees pay for the additional airfare, meals, and the leisure portion of the trip (for instance, the cost of hotel nights and meals that are incurred after business is concluded).
According to the 2015 GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index, 67 percent of travelers say it’s important to be able to extend their business trips for leisure—and 36 percent of those surveyed did so within the last three months. About half of those who have done so brought their spouses and/or family members along on the trip.
BridgeStreet Global Hospitality’s 2014 Bleisure study delved more deeply into the topic, finding that adding leisure days to business travel adds value to work assignments. Two-thirds of those surveyed have taken bleisure trips, many of them by adding a couple vacation days to the beginning or end of their trip. One quarter of those who haven’t done so cited lack of time as the reason, rather than a lack of desire.
Three-quarters of BridgeStreet respondents said the opportunity to add leisure benefits them as an employee, helping them alleviate stress, recover from jet lag and gain cultural knowledge, which can be helpful when breaking into a new city or country. To employees, it can feel like a perk—which can help boost employee satisfaction and productivity. The opportunity for bleisure as a part of a corporate travel program appeals to job candidates as well.
Now, how do you make it work in your travel policy? Here are a few best practices for you:
- Make your bleisure guidelines part of your travel policy, and announce the change to your staff.
- Establish clear guidelines for what is leisure and what isn’t—and who pays for what.
- Clearly define the limits of business-associated leisure travel. For example, are there any activities that should be off-limits for your business travelers, even in the leisure portion of their trip?
- Establish clear processes and tools to separate business expenses from leisure expenses.
- Consult with your travel management company (TMC), if you have one, to seek their advice regarding managing bleisure travel.
- Offer some best practices that help both your travelers and your organization, like letting them know they can use the corporate booking tool to book leisure travel and take advantage of corporate rates for the leisure portion of their trip
- Consider adding cost-saving tricks like buying a local SIM card when traveling internationally so that they can use their phones and get data without running up a big phone bill.
How does your company manage bleisure travel? Do you work at a TMC and have tips to offer? Share your thoughts with us on bleisure travel on LinkedIn.