Summer days are here, and despite the steady ebbs and flows (of a persistent) pandemic coupled with inflation, these factors aren't stopping people on a quest to explore and travel in the coming months. According to Deloitte's recent summer travel survey, personal travel plans among Americans have heightened, with many planning to take an average of two trips this summer.
In this new wave of travel, business travel is also rebounding from turbulent times, predicted to recover back to pre-COVID numbers by 2024. With a need for personal exploration combined with a work-from-anywhere revolution, mixing work with play is taking on a new meaning.
The bleisure traveler - first coined in 2009 - is reemerging and in high demand, becoming more commonplace than we've ever experienced before for several reasons: the flexibility and autonomy for people to live life more meaningfully, on their terms. Flexible work styles have generated an increase in interest for workcations and bleisure trips by more than 25% compared to previous years.
More often than not, we're seeing business travelers extending their travel plans. They're either arriving a few days before business plans or extending their stay a few days after taking care of business to unwind, de-stress and spend time with loved ones.
For business travel that extends to leisure comforts, what do bleisure travelers desire? How can hotels attract and capture the new essence of today's bleisure demand?
Bleisure travelers are good for business but have high 'digital' standards.
Business travel has historically been a lucrative source of revenue for hospitality, making up a large percentage of hotel stays. Now, with the boom of blended travel taking great shape, the hospitality industry must look for ways to stand out in such a competitive landscape.
Hotels can gain a lot from these types of travelers compared to other guests. The bleisure traveler's typical stay is more extended than the average leisure or business traveler. Expedia found that US travelers who mix business with pleasure spend an average of more than three nights on the business part of their trip and over two nights dedicated to leisure, totaling more than six nights of accommodations.
Even more, hotels at the forefront of this trend are going 'smart,' unleashing an environment designed for the untethered bleisure traveler.
On the other hand, hotels that have been traditionally slow to adopt innovative and savvy technology must think about fresh and inventive ways that appeal to today’s modern globetrotter, especially now living in a world with such high digital expectations. According to a recent report, 82% of travelers overall use digital devices to research and book (77%) their trips, and will also use digital devices for everything from lodging to activities during their stay. Millennial travelers, in particular, who are most likely to extend a business trip for leisure, are among those with high digital standards. They tend to explore hotels and accommodations at the touch of a button from their phones - from booking rooms to exploring entertainment and food options upon arriving at their destination.
A shift in hotel operations that satisfies the bleisure traveler.
For many who desire the ideal work/life balance that bleisure travels offer, convenience and simplicity top their lists of priorities, especially when seeking a preferred hotel that fosters a productive yet relaxing environment. For hoteliers, the acceleration of technology during the pandemic has proven to be a fundamental element in improving the guest experience and expanding loyalty programs for bleisure travelers
Often busy and conscious of making the best use of their time, bleisure travelers appreciate the advantages of digital experiences during their hotel stays because it allows them to focus on prioritizing work commitments and the desire to work efficiently. Furthermore, hoteliers that can provide unique and convenient digital experiences for each guest can improve customer loyalty, return visits and ultimately positively affect company margins.
Hotels are improving how guests experience its amenities more conveniently and stress-free. Bleisure travelers who are perhaps bogged down with work demands can order lunch directly from their phones (no app required) and have it delivered to enjoy in the comfort of their room, saving them time and energy to focus on what's in front of them. When business turns into leisure time, bleisure guests who want to unwind and enjoy a spa day can leverage text-to-pay features to pay for these services - alleviating any strain or duress on hotel staff. If they decide to drift poolside, geolocation-powered ordering allows them to order and pay right from their phones. From text to pay and mobile order features to self-service kiosks and mobile check in/out tech, equipping travelers with digital tools to customize their experience will drive success for the hospitality industry going forward.
In many ways, a digital hotel experience that provides frictionless interactions appeals to the bleisure traveler who will likely spend their time balancing their workload, followed by enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Bleisure travelers expect a customizable, digital-first experience, wherever and whenever. For hotels, survival of the fittest depends on how guest experiences are designed, especially for bleisure travelers who value their time, ease and comfort. While the travel and hospitality industries make their comeback, what's clear is that bleisure travel will account for the sectors' growth as global travelers plan to add some leisure time to their next business trip. As business travel continues to boom and the demand for digital nomads grows further, bleisure travel will become a standard in society for years to come, and hotel technology will be the catalyst to improving how guests combine business with pleasure.
About the Author
Jon Squire is CardFree CEO and Co-Founder. He has more than 20 years of business, marketing, and product development experience in financial services and emerging technologies. Jon founded CardFree in 2012 with the vision of filling a gap in the marketplace for an integrated commerce platform for large merchants. He launched a national mobile P2P offering in partnership with Sprint and PayPal and is well known for his leading-edge work with NFC, barcode, and alternative technologies that integrate with the point of sale.