For business or pleasure? Is a question rarely asked in 2019, for who hasn’t taken a business trip and made the most out of it by squeezing a little fun into the itinerary, especially since your employer has already picked up the tab to get you there?
One such destination for me in Bloomington, home to the University of Indiana, the flagship campus of eight, and not much else. A college town, there are plenty of bars and restaurants, but when work and life bring you to the same dreaded place, twice, it would’ve been nice to make it one trip.
Instead, there was one wedding weekend and another three-day stint that included a lonely hotel room, business meetings and uncomfortable travel (do not look for food, drink or entertainment at the Indianapolis Airport).
Road warriors are starting to see work-related travel as an opportunity and avoid these trappings. They take advantage of new and sometimes unusual destinations to learn about the local culture or extend the stay into a vacation.
According to Robyn Domber, vice president of research at Development Counsellors International (DCI), a marketing firm specializing in economic development and travel, there has been a 40-percent increase in American bleisure travel since 2016.
“By all indicators, this trend is projected to continue to particularly in light of certain demographic and economic trends,” she said.
Driven largely by millennials (it’s estimated 48-percent of bleisure travelers are millennials, according to Domber) due to their value of work-life balance more than any other generation before them, and given the incredibly tight labor market across the United States.
Due to these factors, employers are recognizing that official bleisure policies can be a benefit that can help attract and retain employees.
“A bleisure policy has very few downsides and in fact can actually help an employer’s bottom line, but adding a Saturday night stay, the cost of a flight may actually be lower,” Domber said. “The employee, by default of having the experience, returns more knowledge both about the place and the people that reside there.”
DCI estimates that nearly 80-percent of their “traveling” staff actually extended a business trip in the past year for leisure purposes.
“As an employer that encourages bleisure travel, DCI has seen the benefits of this policy first hand, and employees are more than willing to take advantage of this perk,” Domber said.
Taking a plus one or the entire family on a business trip can be distracting, could also be another reason why bleisure travel is most common among millennials – it’s just the carefree stage of life therein.