Targeting Bleisure Travelers

Every year, more travelers are fusing business and leisure travel and becoming aware that they can and should get more from their business travel.

It’s a travel trend that keeps growing and a market that travel companies should pay attention to and develop products for.

The business and leisure (Bleisure) customer profile is diverse, ranging from convention attendees to family vacationers to independent digital tech workers who dream of a re-energizing experience while getting their work done. And with the increase in short-term accommodation, they sense there might be an opportunity. It’s a great time to reach them and establish your brand/offer is the only one they should consider.

Those who often work remotely are most likely to take a “Bleisure” style trip — extending a work trip for leisure, or vice versa. They’re already doing it, or may feel they’re more able to book such a trip, or see that type of experience as an essential part of their lifestyle.

A report from Navan travel management software reports that Bleisure travel will grow a phenomenal 8.9% annually to 2032 where it will reach $731 billion. Currently it is $315 billion. They found that 89% of business travelers want to add leisure time to their trip. Of course for your travel business, that’s a big opportunity.

Who wouldn’t want to travel to Thailand or Mexico enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, soaking in some of their culture and history while still getting work done? It’s something more people will consider as packaged services meet their needs.

Phi Phi Thailand
Phi Phi Thailand courtesy of Jonny Clow Unsplash

Chained to the Desk

Americans must work, perhaps excessively, so it’s not often possible to get away from their work roles and responsibilities.  Instead, they take their work with them. And this turns a regular vacation, perhaps with family, into a Bleisure trip.

I try to turn every business trip into a Bleisure trip. It’s a chance to relax, enjoy amenities, explore cities and tourist venues, and unwind and re-envision what I do. It improves my work greatly. Only travel offers those benefits. We do need to escape our overly familiar surroundings and routines in order to rejuvenate and grow.

I know I may never visit that country or city again, and it would be a shame to not at least do a little exploring. I’ve done that in California, Nevada, Florida, Texas and British Columbia, Canada.

And when I do, it makes me feel smart that I could create that itinerary and get the most value for my business travel money.

Of course I look for any opportunity to travel to interesting places where affordable. When I visit Switzerland at some point, I’ll arrange a business meeting and then spend time with my camera, tennis racket, mountain bike, and hiking shoes. That’s a hint that some Bleisure travelers have unique wants and complex trips in mind.  That will need coordination and management, especially on International trips.  Travel management software and services will be a big part of it.

More Reasons for the Growth in Bleisure Travelers.

  • Younger Travelers: who are freer to travel and are able to be digital nomads, take extended vacations where they work and experience the local culture and lifestyles. They can travel as students with special visas or discounts.
  • Business Trip Extensions:  since travel is expensive and rare, business travelers may want to add some personal leisure vacation time. They’re looking to get more for their money and might see this as a business perk, something that will keep them working with their current employer.
  • Writing off the trip as a business expense: easing of total travel costs is a top challenge.  In a sense, the airfare or gas mileage, and travel insurance premiums are written off as a business expense.
  • More accommodations are available today: from Airbnb to resorts to hotels and towns/villages have improved their attractions, amenities and tours to attract more vacationers and business travelers.
  • Travel is simpler, safer, and more flexible: complex itineraries are better managed via travel management software.

For hotels, travel agencies, tour operators, resort owners and local municipalities, a Bleisure trip extends profitability and gives travelers more reasons to do business with you. Those who offer Bleisure travel packages and services will be prefered.

And tourist cities and towns stand to gain a lot when they collaborate on supporting Bleisure travel to build travel packages to satisfy this group’s unique needs.

Expedia on Bleisure Travel

In the Expedia Partner Solutions Traveler, Value Index, Ariane Gorin, President of Expedia for Business said “Travel is about to experience a year unlike ever before as people plan purpose-driven trips, value vacation time more, and up their investment in unique experiences.”

Purpose-driven trips would be normal business trips which corporate travel managers might arrange. Generated purpose-driven trips would be independent digital workers who can and would like to work and visit destinations. This segment is more open-ended with a far greater potential, given corporate travel has declined significantly.

Popular Bleisure destinations including Portugal, Mexico, Thailand, and Spain are very popular, drawing plenty of digital nomads who might stay for months or years. These types of travelers are important to the tourism industries in those countries. So there’s more opportunity here than just getting corporate travelers to stay a few extra days.

How Can You Attract More Bleisure Travelers?

The power of travel marketing strategy can help you access and even dominate this sector.  A hotel can promote a service package for Bleisure travelers, whether individually or in groups. The best way to do that is via your travel marketing website and social media pages.

You can build out content with blogs with images, stories and videos on how to do Bleisure right with resources they might find useful. And this is where advanced SEO and content strategy capture their interest, make impact, focus their intent, and make your services/location the most significant to them on the planet.  Google is the key channel, and this content also improves social media engagement so it’s wise to dig in to create real experiences you can share on your travel website.

It’s important to reach travelers and remind them about how rare travel experiences are along with how valuable they are for them, or their families, and work quality. Travel can be a personal investment or a business investment.  Travelers need to know they will get older and will look back at these opportunities when they’re older and lack the funds to travel.  The idea that they’ll have time and money when they retire is now considered unlikely.

The Power of Travel Packages

Packages in this context are more than airfare+hotel+rental car. If you can you might want to be an add on to an Expedia package. The package acts to focus their interest, reduce uncertainty and work, and present a best value offering.  But you need more of course.

Give travelers a specific reason to stay where you are (the destination: Thailand, Las Vegas, Portugal, Hawaii, San Diego, Switzerland, Colorado etc.), and offer special rates for staying and playing.  Business people are open to a persuasive offer.  Travelers love discounts whether real or just to make them believe they’re saving. Offer additional incentives such as tour discounts, car rental discounts, free breakfast, and loyalty points. Discounts can be offered if the traveler extends their stay.

Flexibility in the service package is central to maximizing Bleisure traveler acquisition and spend and your travel management software is the epicenter of delivery.

Offering special Bleisure packages is a good way to draw them into the mindset and experience so they see Bleisure travel experiences as a must-have.  Promoting is important because it makes them feel you want them and are standing behind your value offer. Promotions get attention, get shared online, and create a buzz.  Without creative promotion, your marketing may fall flat even if your Bleisure package is the best available.

To position your travel agency, hotel, entertainment venue, tour business, winery, or restaurant, you’ll want to build value with a package they can’t resist. Take your time developing it, because it has to be special.

Working with travel partners is a frequent strategy however if it’s just the usual offering, it may not differentiate your business.  Create something special with travel partners that highlights your particular business. Your content marketing has to make your brand and Bleisure experience the core of the partnership deal.  It will take some rethinking and rejigging to get it perfected and that might mean negotiation with your travel partners.

Build out your Targeted Traveler Profile

Your business, experience or value offer should be personalized and be the most significant one for your targeted traveler. It’s best to review your traveler profile to build Bleisure packages that speak directly to what they are currently yearning for whether cuisine, ecotours, adventure experiences, museums, or just leisure in a hot tub or swimming pool.

In your content marketing, they should be fused together as special experiences that travelers feel are peak experiences, even if they actually prefer something customized. Your customization offer then gives you an upsell opportunity.

Business travelers often feel disappointed, guilty and let down when they can’t stay a few extra days on a business trip. It’s good to promote the mental health benefits of Bleisure travel experiences and position your offer in terms of happiness and health.

After all, travelers today are more health conscious, yet they’re more stressed than ever about time and business activities. It goes without saying that most people need a break and that extra vacation time provides a way to clear their minds, decompress and rejuvenate.

Use Your Travel Management Software Well

You should use your travel management software to survey travelers and get their feedback on what they’d like in a Bleisure trip.

Travel management software.
Travel management software. Screenshot courtesy of Traveljoy.com

Don’t forget that your travel management software will play a role in that great vacation experience. They want to feel in control, have your fast responsiveness in a dedicated communication channel, and transparency about everything. Using the right SaaS travel management platform, you can deliver the ultimate Bleisure experience.

Whether it’s a company-mandated trip to Las Vegas, NV, or a client meeting in Charlotte NC, or a work trip to Switzerland, Bleisure Travel is full of possibilities and growth for travel management companies.

Are you looking for a creative SEO/Content strategist to help you become more competitive and compelling? My traffic building and customer engagement services are a cost-effective and profitable resource. Call me at 416 998 6246.

Read more on travel marketing and the power of using digital platforms to grow services, and service quality and elevate your profitability.

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