One of the emerging travel trends in 2016 involves mixing business travel with leisure. Also known as ‘Bleisure’ this trend is seeing more business travellers taking some time out to play the role of tourist when visiting a global city.
In a trend that reminds me of the 1988 film ‘The Accidental Tourist’, business travel is going mainstream with many businesses turning to the world’s most popular travel sites to book accommodation for their employees. The reason for this is simple – it’s cheaper and these travel platforms offer a much wider range of accommodation options for the business traveller.
While the concept of mixing business and leisure isn’t new, up until quite recently, it’s traditionally been handled by business travel specialists. By moving into the mainstream, Bleisure is becoming more widely available, more accepted by companies who do business globally, and more affordable for small and medium sizes businesses. In short, Bleisure is fast becoming the preferred way to travel for business.
According to a recent study commissioned by Airbnb, companies are saving on average 30 percent over traditional business travel accommodation¹. Business travellers also stay twice as long at accommodation they book via Airbnb. Bleisure isn’t just for the solo business traveller either, with over 35 percent of bookings for two or more people.
After noticing an increase in the number of business travellers booking accommodation on the platform, Airbnb launched Airbnb for Business in July 2015. The dashboard allows companies to coordinate the booking process more easily by streamlining the payment system and giving travel managers the ability to offer a wider range of accommodation options.
“Since introducing Airbnb for Business, we’ve seen the number of companies using it grow tenfold,” said Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb. “Businesses have clearly been longing for a better way to manage their employees’ travel needs and business travellers seem eager for change from the traditional business travel accommodations.”
In the first six months, more than 5,000 businesses completed bookings for more than 50,000 employees. San Francisco (the home of Silicon Valley) tops the list as the most heavily travelled city for business on Airbnb, followed by London, New York City, Los Angeles, Milan, Austin, Seattle, Tokyo and Munich.
Another emerging trend according to Airbnb, is that business travellers are more frequently using their platform to explore new cities before relocating for work. The longest single Airbnb for Business Travel booking was over 290 days.
But Bleisure isn’t just about where you stay when you’re in a foreign city, it’s also about what you do with your down time, with many taking time out to enjoy some of what a city has to offer the ‘accidental tourist’.
Bleisure is also about businesses supporting their employees need for a better work-life balance, by sending them to health and wellness retreats that offer business facilities.
1. According to a study commissioned by Airbnb with CWT Solutions group looking at travel patterns of employees from two 10,000+ enterprises enrolled in the Airbnb for Business program over Q1 & Q2 2015.