Travel for pleasure can take a lot out of us, but we do it because we love to see and experience new places. Travel for business also takes a lot out of us and, since the demands of business often mean missing out on the pleasures of a location, it often happens without any kind of compensatory cultural experience or leisure time.
Enter the new trend in business travel: Bleisure.
Definition of Bleisure Travel
What does bleisure mean? The word is a simple combination of the words ‘business’ and ‘leisure’ and it’s pretty much what it says on the tin: the combination of business and leisure travel. This entails adding a day or two before or after a trip, or stretching out the middle, and filling that time with something enjoyable or relaxing. Most often the employee pays for these extra days, but since extending a hotel stay is often at a discounted rate, and plane tickets have already been taken care of, it amounts to a very good deal for the employee.
Usually this is done alone, but in some cases business people have arranged for family members to travel with them, or meet them at the destination for a little holiday alongside the work. It’s a great way to keep family close, even when home is far away. Sure, you aren’t likely to bring your family with you on all of business trips, but why not bring them along on the odd one?
Whether it’s on your own, as a couple, with colleagues, or family, bleisure travel will change the way you feel when you open that email that tells of an impending business trip.
Before or after?
Some bleisure travellers prefer to put a few days onto the front end of a trip. This has some excellent advantages, but may conflict with some business situation.
For example, if you are leaving the UK for a business trip in Los Angeles, having a few days to adjust to the new time zone, rest up from travel, and familiarise yourself with the area can be a strong advantage. The most common problem with preloading your leisure days, is that it can take away from your ability to put together presentations and other preparation. As we all know, getting ready for a big presentation often comes right up to the last minute.
Adding days to the end of your trip also has its pros and cons. A strong pro is that you can really relax. Your pitch is over, or the contracts are signed, and your trip’s purpose has been completed. All of that done, you can truly relax and get the most benefit from your days off.
The main drawback to the aft-loaded leisure time is that it may delay jobs that need to be done as a result of the meetings themselves. Contracts may need to be signed by people back home, orders may need to be written up, payments sent, production arranged… if the successful meeting triggers a bunch of other jobs, you or your employer may not want to delay a few days while you lounge on the beach.
Either of these schedule types is possible, but will require a bit of extra preparation to make sure the cons don’t cause issues.
Another option is to schedule a few days off in the middle of your trip. You can plan right up to the time you leave. You can complete your initial meetings and then have time to process what happened, do a few small jobs to prep for another meeting, or liaise with the office back home to get the ball rolling on new business. Best of all, if there are concerns raised at the first meeting, they can be addressed and perhaps solved by the next one.
Of course, if you are seeing contacts from more than one business while on the trip, you can schedule a few days between meetings more easily. You can choose which meeting happens first, and which last, depending on the probable needs of each one are.
It doesn’t have to be clearly before, after, or even complete days during. Leisure can occur for part-days during a trip, allowing for shorter working hours combined with daily fun.
Benefits for the employer
The benefits to the employee are obvious: save time and money on travel. The benefits to the employer may be less obvious, but they can have a big impact on the company.
Helping employees to save money doesn’t cost the company anything, and is seen as a perk. This improves employee morale. Instead of business trips dropping morale – time away from family and friends, often with no additional pay or compensation – business trips become happy occasions. It is seen as a way to promote work-life balance.
The company can also benefit from the employee being better-rested for the meeting (if the holiday time is before the meetings) or full of the energy of anticipation (if after). Either way, the energy the other party sees is more positive.
What does bleisure mean to your company? Better interactions with employees, clients and partners… and it won’t cost your company anything.