Firms should encourage them
ACCENTURE, advertorial, jeggings. The competition for ugliest portmanteau is fierce. Few constructions, though, can match “bleisure” for barbarousness. For the uninitiated, the word is a blend of business and leisure. But ugly as it is, it exists for a reason: the practice of adding a few days of pleasure to a work trip is becoming increasingly popular.
The latest research to bear this out was released this week by the Global Business Travel Association. Its survey of North American business travellers found that 37% had extended a work trip to include some leisure within the past year. This, typically, might mean stetching a break in a city into the weekend, possibly shipping in the family to join the fun. Often, such travellers will stay in the same hotel for the duration, making up the extra cost themselves.
Interestingly, the older the travellers the less likely they are to do this. While 48% of 18-34-year-olds in the GBTA survey said they had taken a bleisure trip, only 33% of travellers aged 35-54 and 23% of over 55s did. The researchers could not be sure why the discrepancies occur, but a few reasons suggest themselves. First, younger worker are probably more likely to still see business travel as exotic and exciting. So while grizzled road warriors just want to get a trip over and done with and return to the family, twenty-somethings are a bit more wide-eyed and want to extend it (and are less likely to have a family to consider). Second, older travellers tend to have more money to decide where they want to go on holiday; they do not need to take advantage of an opportunity for a cheap holiday that work might throw up.
Companies should embrace the idea of “bleisure”. At the least it might save some money. Extending a stay can mean that an expensive Friday morning flight is substituted for a cheaper weekend one, or a cheaper day-rate on a longer hotel booking can be negotiated. At its best, it might help keep employees’ enthusiasm for a life on the road kindled. If millennials are true to their type, and value non-monetary benefits such as work-life balance, then encouraging the practice is a simple way to help retain them.
Still, there is a darker art to bleisure that is not often talked about in these surveys: working a business trip around a pre-planned leisure one. Gulliver caught wind of an acquaintance who suddenly had to attend a very important meeting in a far-flung sunny nation that, as luck would have it, coincided with a wedding invite. It saved her a bundle on the airfare. Such serendipity needs its own portmanteau. A flout-of-office?