Oct 03 2023
‘Bleisure’ Travel: Mixing Work and Play
The Pandemic changed the way many people travel.
Before the pandemic, business travel generated more than half of airline industry revenue.
Now, according to Vasu Raja, chief commercial officer for American Airlines, almost half of American Airlines revenue comes from blended trips. “People aren’t flying for what we historically called business, or historically leisure. The (bleisure) figure has almost doubled.”
Raja says the pandemic taught people a lot of things. Among them, “You can replace going out with eating in. You can work from the office, or work from home. But you can’t replace other people. And the beauty of travel is that travel is about connecting with other people.”
Dip Your Toes in Bleisure’s Waters
Bleisure travel requires a different mindset. It’s not just a matter of booking airfare, hotel and boom, you’re done. Bleisure tends to get complicated.
Here are things to consider:
1) What are your company’s travel policies? What part of the trip will your employer pay for?
- Airfare. They will almost certainly pay for your airfare, but what about your travel companion?
- Lodging. Suppose you want to stay two days beyond the business trip. Will your employer pay for two nights lodging, while you pick up the rest?
- Transportation. If you add vacation days to the business trip, will your employer pay for the rental car during those extra days?
3) You probably won’t have a say on where the business trip takes you, but you might have a say on where you can stay. Pick lodging in an interesting neighborhood; research the food and entertainment options. Add personal days to a business trip that’s in a place you want to explore.
4) Do friends and family live in, or near, your destination? Plan accordingly.
5) Travel days have changed somewhat. Before the pandemic, many business travelers left home on Sunday, or Monday, and returned home on Wednesday. That meant that Tuesday was the slowest weekday at most airports. That’s not necessarily the case anymore. Many bleisure travelers leave home on Tuesday and return on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
6) That brings us to the old “Saturday night stay” rule. To qualify for a low-fare trip, some airlines required leisure customers to spend Saturday night at their destination. This rule seems to go in and out of vogue. So, bottom line, you may not find a Saturday night fare. It’s easy to imagine that bleisure growth would make airlines consider dropping it.
It’s too early to know if bleisure travel will continue growing, or where the trip will take us. What is clear is that the pandemic created wanderlust and that we’re now reconnecting with the world and other people.