The hotel industry first came up with the idea of “Bleisure” in 2002 – when hotels tried to highlight their ability to cater for a mix of business and leisure travelers.
But that was talking about being able to cater for a mix of two different types of traveler. The term didn’t really become a “thing” describing the combination of reasons why one person was traveling until 2009 when Nick Rich from IHG said it had been a” thing” in 2007/2008. Now it might have been in his world but I struggle to discover enough density for it to be described as anything other than a word he thought he had made up. Still the concept was sound if not the actual facts.
The problem with trends is that they only become trends when they are measured and, in this case, it wasn’t so much that there was a trend, in adding leisure travel activity to business activity, as that this practice was now measured – or even, became measurable!
The fact is that bleisure travel has been going on since the Vikings came across the North Sea looking for decent land to farm and added a couple of extra nights of R’n’P before heading home!
Right up to the heady 1980s – a rather carefree decade when it came to “business expenses” – business travellers were taking wives, girlfirends, family and friends on business trips to get what they could from “the man”.
Nowadays the traveler has to be a little more careful (accounting-wise) about adding leisure costs to business trips or trying to disguise a family holiday as a business trip and maybe these complications have, in fact, restricted the practice to lower levels than in previous centuries.
But whether bleisure travel has become more or less attractive is not really important. There is still a whole raft of opportunities for business travelers to add more meaning to their trips by adding an extra night, or bringing their family to enjoy the sun or the city, or both, whilst they work, joining them for the evenings and the odd daytime tour. It doesn’t mean they are not commited to the business trip and, if they are not feeling guilty at having to leave the family for long periods, they will feel happier going awat and consequently be more effective!
There is of course another type of bleisure traveler, the type that will just make the most of his or her stay. Refusing to stay in the hotel bar all night, or getting up early to explore the city before that 11am meeting, or just making sure that they eat at a local restaurant instead of the one in the hotel.
These are the bleisure travelers who will take in a show when at a conference in London (See Sara Benn’s article about London stopovers to see how easy it is to transform a dull night stuck in a global hotel into a celebration of cultural London on a Bleisure Break!), hire a bike for a cycle around Amsterdam, stroll round the ruins of Roman Rome or take a soak in the baths of Budapest.
You don’t have to impinge on your business trip or your home life to turn work into play, just use the time well.