The size of the bleisure market proves hard to define as it emerges almost two-thirds of travellers are secretly extending business trips for pleasure

A new survey from La Quinta by Wyndham has found that the northern hemisphere summer is proving a popular time for bleisure travel, the activity of mixing business and leisure time. With busy work schedules it can be a struggle to squeeze in a much-needed down time, the ‘La Quinta Means Business’ national survey has discovered road warriors are making the most of their summer business trips, with the addition of a few days personal time.

Bleisure travel is an emerging trend, backed by both employees and employers alike with its introduction into the corporate schedule seen as one of the most effective solutions to overcome the fatigue, monotony and stress of work travel and enhance health and well-being among staff. This is of particular interest in the current environment where staff welfare is among the big talking points within the corporate traveller community.

In its 2018 Bleisure Trends Report, travel management company Egencia noted that more than two thirds (68%) of travellers already mix business with pleasure between one and three times a year. That study also reported that almost three quarters (74%) of North American business travellers were either planning or considering a bleisure trip in the next six months.

But it appears that we are all still concerned about being spotted in our swimwear at the end of a conference, or being caught on camera at a sporting event when we are supposed to be away ‘working’. The context of bleisure travel certainly hasn’t gone mainstream quite yet and the La Quinta survey highlights this perfectly.

It found that from the employees perspective bleisure travel remains under the radar with nearly two-thirds (64%) of business travellers who have extended a trip for personal leisure time have done so secretly without telling someone, including their co-workers (32%), boss (26%) and even their own partner (22%).

The findings also provide some insights into the mindset of the bleisure traveller –  more than half (51%) business travellers extended their business trips to explore the destination; 56% described summer as the best time to extend a business trip for a personal vacation; and on average trips are being extended for three days, with just under half (42%) extending three to five days.

Always seen as a perk, the pressure of travel on staff wellbeing has often been overlooked, but businesses are now seeking to improve awareness, education and support for the millions of business travellers across the world.

The La Quinta survey reveals that more than one in four business travellers (29%) have skipped out on a meeting or work event to take a nap or do something restful while on a business trip. It also found that just under three in four business travellers (74%) have skipped a work event while on a business trip, almost a third of which (31%) did something social with friends instead such as go to a bar or restaurant.

It is clear that the bleisure market has been around for some time, but increasingly employees and employers are becoming more understanding to the benefits associated with combining business and leisure activity. The concern these survey findings raise is that it still appears to be something many business travellers still feel uncomfortable about being transparent about and as such it is hard to prove just how big an opportunity bleisure is for the travel and hospitality sectors.

Oh, and on the matter of being spotted in your swimwear, the survey shows that around two thirds of business travellers (65%) say that being stuck in a conference room with no air conditioning during a summer business trip would be worse than having to wear a swimsuit in front of colleagues (35%).