When business meets leisure

Bleisure, a portmanteau of business and leisure travel, is an increasingly popular trend catching up fast amongst business travellers. Tourism industry stakeholders elaborate on the dynamics and trends under this new emerging segment of travel.

After completing business meetings or attending seminars, a phenomenon is being observed where travellers are adding up a few extra days and tourist spots to their itinerary. Shekhar Chatterjee, Manager-Operations (Leisure and MICE), Global Connect Travels, informs that according to Visa’s 2015 Global Travel Intentions Study, which surveyed the travel habits of over 13,000 travellers worldwide, 16 per cent of travellers combined business and leisure on their most recent trip. The majority of these bleisure travellers are young executives. Saurabh Sanghavi, Director, Next Tourism, adds that according to a Bridge Street Global Hospitality report, 60 per cent of travellers were reported to have taken bleisure trips, with 30 per cent adding at least two additional days to their trip.

Duration of trips
Zelam Chaubal, Director, Kesari MICE, says, “If a business traveller is alone, the trip is extended by a maximum of 1-2 days whereas if the trip is taken along with family then the average extension period is approximately three days to about a week, depending on the destination.” Rohan Grover, Managing Director, YourTravelSecretary, adds, “A typical business traveller spends 5-6 days on an average for international business work; however for those who add leisure activities, the duration extends to up to 10-12 days abroad with spouse or family. On 65 per cent of bleisure trips with our company, a weekend was added at the end of the trip while the others had a start with weekends and a few groups of bleisure kept business sandwiched between two weekends.”

Average spend
Bleisure travel also owes its popularity to the marginal increase in cost as compared to a separate leisure trip. Sanghavi points out that the average spend of bleisure travellers is `50,000-1,00,000 while Chatterjee says that for a 2-3 night bleisure trip the average spends of an Indian traveller is around $200-300 per person. “If the vacations are taken separately by a business traveller, he has to spend 3-4 times the cost compared to what it would cost if he extends the business travel. Around 30 per cent of bleisure travellers with us added one or more destinations, especially travellers to Europe, where the average spend increased by $500-600 per person,” says Grover.

Popular activities
With various exhibitions and trade meets being hosted nearby leisure destinations, a twin-fold purpose of increasing footfall to a destination along with business networking is achieved. Chaubal points out that European and American cities; Bali; the Philippines; Phuket; Maldives, Dubai and Singapore. Chatterjee elaborates that the US is the first stop for a bleisure traveller, according a report published by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). In 2014 alone, $288.4 billion was spent on business travel in the US. Percentage share for various activities is sightseeing at 77.2 per cent; dining 66.3 per cent; art and culture 66 per cent; outdoor activities 33.9 per cent; nightlife 34.8 per cent; others 8.3 per cent.

“Bleisure travellers are almost evenly split between male and female, with most falling into the 45-54 year-old age group. More importantly, the second largest group was 25-35 year-olds, representing millennials accustomed to a blurred, digital lifestyle,” says Sanghavi. Chaubal says that the new trend is to explore the unexplored where travellers want to travel to offbeat places in Europe and the Americas. She adds, “The ease of visa, smooth airline connections are primarily checked upon. Also business travellers want to explore at least one adventure activity while on bleisure tour.” Grover says, bleisure travel has a strong potential to grow into a mainstream, profitable product for travel agencies especially for those who are already catering to corporate and individual business travels.

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