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Blending Business with Leisure Gives Rise to New Travel Opportunities

by Aoife O’Riordan

May 20, 2024

© Nadezhda1906 | Dreamstime.com

Leisure Lifestyle 2024

In short, bleisure travel is on the rise. A blend of business and leisure travel, this modern mode of travel transforms how people explore the world, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. From tacking on a few days before or after a business trip to requesting to work remotely for an allocated amount of time, bleisure is flexible, dynamic and exciting.

According to the Global Business Travel Association, 62 percent of business travelers say they are doing more bleisure travel in 2024 than in 2019, with 42 percent of business travelers adding extra personal days to business trips. A recent Allied Market Research study estimates global bleisure travel will explode from $315.3 billion in 2022 to $731.4 billion globally by 2032, a compound annual growth rate of a whopping 8.9 percent.

And there’s much to gain from bleisure travel, both for travelers and those in the travel industry. Hotels and airlines will only benefit from the growing trend. According to GBTA, “Findings show that travelers’ primary motivation for extending a trip is location, location, location. Forty- three percent said their reason for staying is that their trip was in a place they liked to spend their time, while 38 percent said it was a new destination that they wanted to see. Other reasons included having a desire to take time away from home and work, wanting to visit friends and family, and the fact that it’s a less expensive way to take a vacation. One thing is clear, however. Once you start taking bleisure trips, it’s hard to stop!”

As most bleisure travelers stay at the same place for both the work and leisure parts of their trip, hotels enjoy a new way of highlighting amenities and more leisure-focused experiences business travelers otherwise might not have used. This includes pre-planned itineraries crafted by the hotel for bleisure travelers extending a trip into the weekend. Hotels are also able to adapt loyalty programs and public spaces to market specifically to bleisure travel, combining the best of both worlds and offering bleisure travelers better perks that might not have been available to them otherwise.

In 2022 American Airlines emphasized the importance of bleisure travel, with CCO Vasu Raja seeing potential for great growth in this sector. Raja pointed to destinations like Bozeman, Montana, as places seeing a rise in blended trips. United Airlines also cites bleisure travel as a trend from COVID-19 that is here to stay, driving air travel demand. The beauty of bleisure for the actual traveler and employee? It boosts the work-life balance for employees and can happen absolutely anywhere. According to Visit Anaheim and hospitality.net, 73 percent of business travelers think bleisure opportunities benefit them as employees, with 78 percent agreeing that adding leisure days to business trips adds value to work assignments. Many bleisure travelers also enjoy the added benefit of meeting family and friends in cities they otherwise would not have had time to visit if not for a business trip. In adding extra days to a business trip to prioritize time with loved ones, business travelers enjoy a more fulfilling experience. So, where are bleisure travelers looking for these trips?

Large cities like Los Angeles, New York, Austin, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego and Miami prove guaranteed hits. But who is to say bleisure travel must be restricted to the United States? Marriott highlights destinations like Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Panamá City, Panamá, as emerging Latin America destinations for bleisure travelers.

Luxury luggage brand Carl Friedrik looked at the best luxury bleisure cities in the world in 2022, finding Lisbon, Portugal, as the top-ranking bleisure city, thanks to its wealth of co-working spaces, restaurants, spas and wellness centers, landmarks, WiFi, and safety. London, England; Rome, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and Nice, France, also rank high as popular bleisure destinations.

Other cities drawing bleisure travelers include Chicago, Illinois; Berlin, Germany; Boston, Massachusetts; and Dublin, Ireland. The benefits of bleisure travel vastly outweigh the negatives. Happier employees, better work-life balance, a further boost in the hospitality and air travel economies, and greater exposure to more places in the world are just some of the positives. While we shouldn’t necessarily thank COVID-19 for this trend, it definitely sparked its expansion, inspiring travelers to focus on what’s important in life: making memories, spending quality time with family and friends, and having a good time.

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