The Case for Bleisure: Three Things to Consider in a Work Travel Policy

02 Sep 2019

“Bleisure” is the latest catchphrase for the growing number of professionals who blend leisure time into business trips. If your company is already doing lots of work travel, you might consider formalising bleisure to attract and retain talent, reward people and create a happier place to work.

Research by the Global Business Travel Association found that bleisure travel accounts for 7% of all business trips. Newer research by Expedia found global bleisure travel is up 40% since 2016 – a sure sign that the trend of corporate travellers who indulge in the places they travel to for work, is not slowing down.

Let’s discuss three things to ponder before you make bleisure part of your company’s work travel policy.

1.   Defining bleisure

How you define bleisure internally will depend on what you want to achieve by building it into a work travel policy. Whether you define bleisure as a company incentive, reward or perk, policy should offer clarity on the organisation’s oversight in several areas such as: who qualifies for bleisure opportunities? Who doesn’t? To what extent does the company support bleisure from a budget and leave days perspective? How do you reward office-bound staff? What activities and add-ons fall under the bleisure umbrella? Most importantly, the message employees receive should provide a clear understanding. Avoid language that will make it sound like you are doing individuals a favour; rather, position bleisure opportunities as a token of appreciation for people who travel long distances, often outside of office hours and spend time away from family in the name of the company.

2.   What to offer in a bleisure policy?

If your team spends a lot of time on the road then round-trip transport, hotels and sundries most likely form a large slice of your travel spend. Even though bleisure add-ons don’t need to be extravagant, an extra night of accommodation or a unique activity funded by the company can go a long way in making globetrotting workers feel valued.

To ensure bleisure encourages wholesome and responsible uptake, you may consider offering a cultural or tourist experience of the employees’ choice. Other incentives could include a pre-determined number of additional bed nights to assist those who extend their stay when business is concluded. An audit of existing company loyalty programmes and what they offer can help you ease the financial demands of bleisure-related accommodation, experiences and activities.

3.   Setting expectations

To what extent are employees permitted to live it up in the places they travel to for work? In the broadest sense, relaxation and recreation shouldn’t outweigh the duties of corporate travel and policy must address these details. If you decide bleisure is a good fit, then you’ll need to determine if it is offered to business travellers on a request or default basis. To extract additional value and communicate benefits transparently, it is not unreasonable to invite bleisure staff to share post-trip stories in an informal company gathering when they return.

From increased productivity and job satisfaction, the advantages of bleisure are only beginning to be unlocked by companies who prioritise calls for a better work-life balance. In addition to these benefits, bleisure offers HR practitioners a chance to get creative in how they implement policy as there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

In the information age, technology represents a solution for remote managerial supervision, and it is realistic for employees to keep in touch with work while taking in the sights and lifestyle of a destination at the same time. For those who don’t get to travel in their personal capacity, mixing some down time into business trips can add a lot of value. It’s up to companies to make bleisure a viable and rewarding opportunity for the people they hire.