Dubai: If you’ve lately been hearing a lot more of the word ‘bleisure’, it’s because the travel concept, where you combine business trips with leisure travel, is again proving itself to be increasingly popular and cost effective.
According to travel planners worldwide, ‘bleisure’ trips, that is extending your work trips by ending them with a short leisurely vacation break, are now not only popular among the working community, it can help save money as opposed to when you fund the entire trip on your own.
So, whether you're looking to save money or simply want to make the most of your time, is ‘bleisure’ travel – also referred to as ‘workcations’ – worth considering? Let’s find out.
The concept of ‘bleisure’ is where employees add two or three extra days of leisure time to their business trip. Sometimes employees invite family or friends with them and pay for the extra capacity.
‘Revenge travel’ fuels ‘bleisure’ travel in 2023
“‘Bleisure’ travelers are driven by the main goal of their trip: business. Regardless, workers have more reasons to extend their trips, be it the current ‘revenge travel’ trend or wanting to adopt a flexible work style,” noted Richa Dev, a Dubai-based travel industry research consultant.
(What is ‘revenge travel’? Also referred to as ‘revenge tourism’, it is a global phenomenon of people spending more on leisure trips following a period of being unable to travel. The term refers to the rebound in travel and tourism as a way of making up for lost time.)
Canadian luxury tour operator Travel Edge Network recently saw a spike in interest for ‘bleisure’ by over 25 per cent. A recent study by global consultancy Simon-Kucher and Partners saw business trips rise by 36 per cent this year, with 60 per cent of those trips including at least one day of leisure time.
As the corporate travel industry currently witnesses a rebound, ‘bleisure’ tourism, which comprises 30-35 per cent of the worldwide business tourism market, was worth $500 billion (Dh2 trillion) in 2022 and set to grow at the rate of 20 per cent over the subsequent decade, multiple statistics show.
Spend more on leisure as work costs covered
According to a report by US-based online travel operator Expedia, 66 per cent of ‘bleisure’ travelers will spend more money on leisure activities thanks to saving money on travel expenses during the work portion of their stay.
That same report stated that more than 40 per cent of business trips are extended for leisure purposes, with more than 80 per cent of those travelers staying at the hotel where they stayed for the business portion of their trip.
“Given that surveys widely indicate that more than one in three business travellers worldwide will add a leisure component to at least one of their business trips this year, with many more employers increasingly supportive of ‘bleisure’ travel, prospects grow brighter for the industry,” added Dev.
'Bleisure’ travelers are driven by the main goal of their trip: business; but workers have more reasons to extend their trips, be it the current ‘revenge travel’ trend or wanting to adopt a flexible work style
Growing popularity of ‘bleisure’ among UAE residents
Bangladesh national Rafique Khadir is a resident based in Abu Dhabi but travels frequently within UAE and internationally. A keen photographer, he makes time wherever possible to explore a new destination and will always add at least a weekend to any long-distance work trip.
Khadir researches cities thoroughly to ensure his leisure time isn’t wasted. “One of the things I always do before I get to a big city or a new town is book a bike tour,” he said. “It’s a really great way to see a city quickly, and get you out of bed on your first day after a long flight.”
Dubai-based Indian expat Siju Sam, who is in the UK currently, said his wife, Susan, a self-employed licensed physiotherapist, often accompanies him on his work trips, both within the country and abroad, so they can go sightseeing after his working hours.
“It’s certainly cost-effective as opposed to taking these trips alone, or funding them by myself, as most of my work trips most likely permit one extra family member or spouse. I’ve been able to take advantage of these mini-adventures and cross these new places off my bucket list.”
Bottom line: Are ‘bleisure’ trips truly cost-effective?
Expenses incurred by employees in the course of business and business travel is usually clearly defined in a company’s Travel Policy, however when a business trip extends into leisure time, what, if anything, is still considered a business expense and who picks up the tab?
“Some businesses may choose to pay for selected leisure costs, like meals, on the ground transport or extra days off as a reward or to compensate the employee for lost personal time due to travel,” explained Sophia Sanchez, travel planning manager at a UAE-based European tour operator.
“However, other businesses may only agree to pay for a return flight at a later date that is of equal or lessor value than the original return flight cost. Again, the decision around expenses is made by the company and communicated to the employee prior to travel to avoid disputes post-travel.”
Both Sanchez and Dev agree that from both the perspective of the employer and the employee, ‘bleisure’ trips can result in both cost-wise and work-life benefits. “Nonetheless, all indications point to ‘bleisure’ continuing to be a corporate buzzword in the coming year,” added Sanchez.