Are bleisure trips the next big thing for MICE groups?

Road warriors are back on the road, and it looks like they aren't quite ready to go home so quickly too.

Choice Hotels CEO Trent Fraser observes that corporate travel habits are changing.
Choice Hotels CEO Trent Fraser observes that corporate travel habits are changing. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Chinnapong

The rise of ‘connected trips’ and blurred lines between business and leisure travel — so-called ‘bleisure’ — has been identified as a trend in several business travel overviews this year.

Sabre research from May this year, collated from respondents across 20 countries around the world, pointed to the growth of bleisure as a catalyst for potential corporate travel recovery.

Future Markets Insights’ report, released in April, highlighted how ‘a combination of work and leisure or personal activities contributes to a better work/life balance’. 

Bleisure trips, according to the report, are offering opportunities for travellers to learn more about the location and its culture. This, in turn, is helping to improve the quality of work done while also allowing for the formation of more meaningful business relationships.

“Corporate bookings are currently averaging five days in comparison to four days in 2019, which indicates that travel habits are changing."
“Corporate bookings are currently averaging five days in comparison to four days in 2019, which indicates that travel habits are changing."
Trent Fraser, CEO, Choice Hotels Asia-Pac

For Choice Hotels, which operates properties across Australia and New Zealand, corporate travel has returned to a new normal, with guests seeking value for money as work trips merge into leisure.

“Corporate bookings are currently averaging five days in comparison to four days in 2019, which indicates that travel habits are changing,” said Trent Fraser, CEO, Choice Hotels Asia-Pac. “[Workers] are tacking on leisure trips to their business trip, including a weekend with friends or family away with their weekly work commitments.

Petrina Goh, director, Singapore, CWT Meetings & Events, says she wouldn’t be surprised to find event attendees keen to add on a few leisure days to make up for all the travel they missed out on during the pandemic – especially if their meeting or event is in an exciting destination.

"With airfares on many routes soaring at the moment, the prospect of tacking a short holiday onto a work trip has become even more attractive."
"With airfares on many routes soaring at the moment, the prospect of tacking a short holiday onto a work trip has become even more attractive."
Petrina Goh, Singapore director, CWT Meetings & Events

“Furthermore, with airfares on many routes soaring at the moment, the prospect of tacking a short holiday onto a work trip has become even more attractive,” she says.

However, Goh hasn’t really seen bleisure take off as a trend among CWT’s meeting and event clients.

“Organisations might still be hesitant to permit this, considering the blurred lines on personal versus corporate liability and insurance, should employees fall ill during a work trip that is extended for personal reasons,” she says. 

“Companies now feel a much greater sense of responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of their people, especially when they're travelling for work. They need to be able to support an employee who becomes unwell while travelling or who gets stranded overseas due to travel disruptions.”

That said, Goh adds that as things continue returning to normal post-pandemic, companies might begin to allow bleisure travel around meetings and events, as this could be viewed as a perk to help attract and retain talent.



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