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Pairing memorable event experiences with bleisure travel

two people walking in the airport
two people walking in the airport

In the past decade, technology has blurred the boundaries between work and play. Few employees today carry separate mobile devices for work and personal use. Similarly, few distinguish between business and personal travel in the same way they used to.

As a result, more than 60 percent of business trips in the past year included a leisure portion. That number is expected to grow in 2020 as employers encourage the blending of business and leisure travel to appeal to the younger generations that are rising up through the workforce.

Why would employers encourage such a trend? Employers are aware that younger generations are burning out at a faster rate than their older peers. Many are not taking vacation days and others struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Combining leisure with business travel is an easy way to help younger workers take some down time.

According to Wen-Wen Lam, CEO and Founder of NexTravel, “Business travel needs to be viewed as a holistic team building experience that combats burnout, increases productivity, and significantly impacts employee retention in the long run.”

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What is bleisure travel?

Airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies often ask the same question during the check-in process, “Are you travelling for business or leisure?” Today we have a response that addresses both: bleisure. The term was coined from a portmanteau of the words ‘business’ and ‘leisure.’

According to an SAP Concur study, Millennials are the most common bleisure travelers taking 38 percent of trips but Baby Boomers and Gen Xers aren't far behind making up 31 percent of the bleisure market each. Event managers can capitalize on this growing trend to make their event experiences more appealing to business travelers who want a bit of leisure on the side.

How can event managers appeal to the bleisure traveler?

There are many ways to appeal to the bleisure traveler. Here are four of our favorites:

  1. Select attractive destinations

  2. Negotiate extended conference hotel rates

  3. Offer companion or family passes for your event

  4. Use the event app to highlight bleisure information

1. Select attractive destinations

According to Expedia’s Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler, destination is the leading factor influencing the bleisure traveler since 84 percent will stay in the same city for their whole trip. Of those travelers, 85% highly consider a destination if they have great sightseeing locations and 33% are influenced by events going on in that area.

The 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast report by American Express Global Business Travel lists the top conference destinations in North America. The top five destinations on this list have the capacity to host some of the largest conferences in the world:

  1. Orlando, Florida

  2. Las Vegas, Nevada

  3. Chicago, Illinois

  4. Atlanta, Georgia

  5. Dallas, Texas

However, the next five destinations listed in the top ten include attractive cities that appeal particularly to the bleisure traveller:

  1. Nashville, Tennessee, for the music lovers

  2. San Diego, California, for the sun and surf

  3. New York, New York, for the foodies and shoppers

  4. Miami, Florida, for the sun and nightlife

  5. Washington, DC, for the sights and museums

When conferences are held in attractive destinations, attendees are purposefully adding weekends or longer on to work trips to enhance their event experiences.

2. Negotiate extended conference hotel rates

When booking your event, try to negotiate the extension of your conference rates for the weekends that bookend the conference. Most hotels are open to this and are happy to accommodate longer stays for bleisure travelers. Include details of the extended rates in your event communications and event app.

3. Offer companion or family passes for your event

More and more event marketers are incorporating companion or family passes into their ticket sales. For example, SXSW offers a ‘Guest Pass’ option for access to free events during the conference. This demonstrates that your event is bleisure traveler-friendly and encourages attendees to bring guests along. If you have the capacity at your event, companion or family passes are no-brainer and can be a quick-win in enhancing the overall attendee experience.

4. Use the event app to highlight bleisure information

The event app is a great place to include useful information about local sites of interest, sports teams or stadiums, places to eat, and so on. Include tourist guides to local attractions within your event app or go one step further by training your event chatbot to answer questions and provide information about local tourist sites, local traditions and delicacies, and transport options.

To learn more about the rise of the bleisure traveler and for other event trends to watch in the coming year, download our eBook Event Trends 2023.


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