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Is Bleisure the New Holy Grail for Revenue Generation in Hospitality?

4 Key Takeaways

  • The blend of business and leisure travel is rapidly gaining popularity, reshaping the hospitality industry's approach to revenue generation.
  • Millennials and Gen X are the driving forces behind the bleisure trend, merging work commitments with leisure pursuits and significantly influencing travel patterns.
  • Hotels can leverage the bleisure trend by offering extended stay options and amenities that cater to both business and leisure requirements, potentially boosting both room bookings and ancillary service revenue.
  • Enhancing the guest experience through digital advancements is crucial for attracting bleisure travelers. Seamless connectivity and personalized services powered by technology play a pivotal role in maximizing revenue in this evolving travel landscape.

 

In recent years, the hospitality landscape has undergone a significant transformation, driven by evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements. One emerging trend reshaping the industry is "bleisure" – a blend of business and leisure travel - a survey by the Global Business Travel Association asked travel managers if they thought employees were more interested in blended travel post-pandemic. 82% of respondents answered that their teams were now equally or more interested in adding leisure time to their business trips (GBTA).
This concept has rapidly been gaining traction, becoming a focal point for sales, revenue, and marketing teams within the hospitality sector. 

Understanding and adapting to the bleisure phenomenon is now crucial for managers and decision-makers especially those with multi-property organizations and a focus on meetings and events. This article delves into the intricacies of bleisure, examining its market dynamics, impacts on hospitality, and strategies for capitalizing on this growing trend especially when Allied Market Research estimates the global bleisure market was at $315.3 billion globally in 2022, and expects it to more than double to reach $731.4 billion globally by 2032.

 

Understanding bleisure: a market overview

Bleisure encapsulates a flourishing segment in the travel industry. It's a trend where travelers blend their business commitments with leisure pursuits. This trend is predominantly driven by millennials and Gen X, who are increasingly viewing business trips not just as work obligations but as opportunities for leisure experiences. A notable shift in this trend has been further propelled by the widespread adoption of hybrid and remote working models post-pandemic. The ability to work from anywhere has fundamentally changed the landscape, allowing people to seamlessly integrate work and vacation.

Statistical data highlights that a considerable proportion of business travelers, particularly within the younger demographic, are inclined to extend their business trips for leisure. This inclination can be partly attributed to the flexibility afforded by remote work policies, which have diminished the rigid boundaries between office and personal life. Consequently, the average duration of bleisure trips has seen an adjustment, with travelers often prolonging their stay to explore destinations or engage in leisure activities.

Understanding the preferences and behaviors of these bleisure travelers is crucial for tailoring services and experiences to their unique needs. The flexibility to work remotely means these travelers are likely looking for destinations that offer both professional amenities, like high-speed internet and workspaces, as well as leisure attractions. Hotels and venues that can provide a harmonious blend of these elements are more likely to attract this growing segment.

 

The impact of bleisure on hotel and event venues 

This paradigm shift in the hospitality industry, significantly impacts how hotels and event venues approach guest services and facilities. As business travelers increasingly seek to incorporate leisure into their trips, the demand for amenities and experiences that cater to both professional and personal needs is on the rise. This trend presents an opportunity for hospitality establishments to unlock additional revenue streams, not only through extended room bookings but also by capitalizing on ancillary services tailored to the bleisure traveler.

For hotels and event venues, adapting to the bleisure trend necessitates a strategic reevaluation of their offerings. This evolution involves creating spaces that are not just functional for business purposes but are also comfortable and engaging for leisure activities.
Flexibility is key; venues are now looking at ways to transform traditional business facilities, such as conference rooms, into spaces that can also host social events or leisure activities. For instance, a meeting room during the day can be converted into a common working area where travelers can work remotely and meet others, a yoga studio, or an entertainment space in the evening, providing guests with a multifaceted experience under one roof.

The integration of technology is becoming increasingly important. Bleisure travelers, especially those from younger generations, expect seamless connectivity and digital services. Hotels and event venues are, therefore, investing in high-speed Wi-Fi, digital concierge services, and tech-enhanced meeting and leisure spaces to meet these expectations.

Another crucial aspect is the aesthetic and comfort of the environments created. Bleisure travelers are looking for spaces that are not only functional but also inspiring and comfortable - does the space encourage your guest to post about their experience and show it on their social channels? This could mean incorporating design elements that reflect the local culture and environment, thereby offering guests a unique and immersive experience and giving you a viral opportunity to share your guests' memorable moments. From the choice of furnishings to the layout of communal areas, every detail plays a role in creating an ambiance that resonates with the bleisure traveler's desire for a blend of productivity and relaxation.

 

Maximizing revenue from meetings and events 

The rise of bleisure travel offers a significant opportunity for hotels and event venues to enhance their revenue streams. Understanding the nuances of bleisure travelers' preferences and habits is key to tapping into this lucrative market.

A significant portion of bleisure trips originate from conferences, with 67%* of such trips beginning as itineraries to attend a conference. This is followed by trips for external meetings (46%) and sales opportunities (42%). The average bleisure trip lasts around 2-4 nights, with 17% extending to 4 nights or more. Interestingly, 32% of these trips are taken by frequent travelers who embark on one or two business trips each month. Moreover, top destinations for bleisure trips include major cities like New York, Paris, and London. With bleisure, the lines between business and leisure travel blur, as 35% of travelers are accompanied by family or friends during their trips. 

The recovery of global business travel post-pandemic presents an excellent opportunity for hotels. The combination of business and leisure travel allows hotels to optimize occupancy rates, as business travelers typically demand more rooms during weekdays, while leisure travelers fill in during weekends. This not only maximizes occupancy but also extends the length of stay, as bleisure travelers often extend their stays to enjoy leisure activities. Additionally, bleisure travelers are more inclined to spend on ancillary services, such as dining and spa facilities, contributing to the hotel's revenue. This trend also opens avenues for building customer loyalty, as satisfied travelers are likely to return to the same hotel for future trips​.

Groups360 has found that 28% of event attendees are likely to book additional nights, potentially adding significant room nights per annum for a typical hotel. However, the process of booking these additional nights can be complex, often leading to issues such as commission payments to online travel agencies (OTAs) and inconvenience for guests. Is there a way for you to plug this gap and make it easy for your guests to add these extra nights and services to their stay, for example implementing a room block management solution can simplify this process, allowing hotels to capture additional revenue from bleisure travelers efficiently. 

 

The role of technology for bleisure

The integration of technology is crucial in enhancing the bleisure experience for both guests and within the back office teams of the hotel. Advanced data analytics play a significant role in personalizing marketing efforts and customizing services to meet the unique needs of bleisure travelers.

  • Personalized marketing and service customization
    Utilizing data analytics, hotels, and travel companies can gain insights into traveler preferences and behaviors, allowing for tailored marketing strategies. This can include personalized recommendations for accommodations, dining, and leisure activities based on previous travel patterns and preferences. For example, platforms like Thynk use integrated CRM systems to offer personalized experiences by leveraging data from both business and leisure segments. This approach enables hotels to adapt their messaging and services to suit the specific needs of bleisure travelers, enhancing their overall experience​​.

  • Travel planning platforms
    Technology platforms that aid in bleisure travel planning and execution have become indispensable. These platforms often combine elements of business travel management with leisure travel features, offering a seamless experience for the traveler. For instance, platforms like TravelPerk provide tools for managing travel itineraries, booking flights and accommodations, and accessing 24/7 support, all while keeping an eye on compliance with corporate travel policies. This makes it easier for travelers to extend their business trips for leisure purposes without hassle​​.

  • Enhanced experience through digital solutions
    The adoption of digital solutions in everyday travel planning tasks such as destination selection, itinerary creation, and accommodation booking is on the rise. The Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI) of the World Economic Forum estimates that the travel, tourism, and aviation sectors will invest up to $305 billion in digitization procedures between 2016 and 2025. This investment is expected to bring about $700 billion in benefits to society and customers, indicating the significant impact of digital transformation on enhancing the travel experience, including for bleisure travelers​.

By leveraging data analytics for personalized marketing, offering convenient travel planning platforms, and enhancing the overall travel experience through digital solutions, the hospitality industry can better serve bleisure travelers and capitalize on this growing trend.

 

Future trends and opportunities in bleisure 

The demand for bleisure travel is expected to continue rising. This is evidenced by the fact that 79% of bleisure travelers state they volunteer more frequently for business trips where they can extend and enjoy some vacation time. Additionally, 67% of bleisure trips begin as itineraries to attend conferences, indicating a substantial overlap between business events and leisure extensions. These statistics underscore the growing popularity of bleisure travel and suggest that this trend will only continue to expand. Other areas for growth opportunities are:

1. Technological advancements

As technology continues to evolve, its role in facilitating and enhancing bleisure travel will become even more prominent. The integration of digital solutions in travel planning is expected to grow, with significant investments anticipated in the digitization of the travel and tourism sectors. This digital transformation will likely bring substantial benefits to travelers, making the process of blending business and leisure travel smoother and more efficient​​.

2. Customized and flexible travel packages

The hospitality industry is likely to see an increased demand for customized travel packages that cater specifically to the needs of bleisure travelers. This could include flexible booking options, tailored experiences, and packages that combine elements of both business and leisure travel.

3. Focus on wellness and work-life balance

The trend towards prioritizing work-life balance and wellness will influence bleisure travel significantly. Hotels and travel companies might focus more on offering experiences that promote relaxation and well-being, such as wellness retreats or adventure activities, catering to the needs of business travelers looking to de-stress and enjoy their leisure time.

4. Sustainable and responsible travel

As awareness and concern for sustainability grow, bleisure travelers are likely to seek out more sustainable travel options. This could include eco-friendly accommodations, low-impact activities, and experiences that contribute positively to the local community and environment.

How are you preparing and evolving your business to accommodate and capitalize on these trends and travel pattern shifts? Do you have the right technology in place ready to fulfill these new requirements?

 

Conclusion

The emergence of bleisure as a powerful trend in the hospitality industry represents a pivotal shift in the travel landscape. It's more than just a merging of business and leisure; it's a reflection of changing lifestyles, work cultures, and traveler priorities post-pandemic. The significant interest shown by a majority of travelers in extending business trips for leisure, as indicated by the 82% of respondents in the GBTA survey who are now more interested in bleisure travel, highlights the growing importance of this segment.

For the hospitality industry, this presents an array of opportunities. From adapting facilities to meet the dual needs of business and leisure to leveraging technology for personalized guest experiences, the potential for revenue growth and market expansion is immense. The inclination of travelers, especially millennials, to blend business with leisure opens up new avenues for hotels and event venues to innovate and redefine their offerings.

The future of bleisure is bright, underscored by the expected continued rise in demand and the integration of advanced technologies. The increasing focus on wellness, work-life balance, and sustainable travel are shaping new traveler preferences, which the hospitality industry can tap into.

 

As we look ahead, the key for hospitality businesses lies in their ability to adapt, innovate, and respond to the evolving needs of bleisure travelers. Embracing this trend is not just about tapping into a new revenue stream; it's about being part of a transformative movement in the world of travel and hospitality. Bleisure, indeed, stands as a new frontier for revenue generation, customer satisfaction, and industry growth.

 

References

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