Bleisure on the rise with business travellers turning trips into workations, says expert

Business travellers are adding leisure to their travel itineraries when exploring destinations. Picture: Supplied

Business travellers are adding leisure to their travel itineraries when exploring destinations. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 22, 2023


Business travel with leisure is on the rise. Well, that’s according to Dr Erika Zeelie, tourism expert and Deputy Head of Faculty: Commerce at The Independent Institute of Education in South Africa.

Dr Zeelie said that due to the ability of most knowledge workers now being able to operate remotely, there is an ongoing increase in “Bleisure travel”, where business travellers add an additional day or three to their itinerary, with the aim of adding some leisure or personal growth opportunities into the mix.

She said that while some companies might not yet be on board with this idea, it makes perfect sense for them to consider the idea in pursuit of ensuring employee wellness and productivity.

“Spending long days in meetings, waiting at airports, dealing with delays and transfers, dodging jet-lag, and eating hotel food alone can take a toll on even the most seasoned business traveller,” said Dr Zeelie.

She said that as a result, frequent fliers are increasingly turning their business travel into a workation, with the blessing and support of their employers, and bleisure has become much more prevalent as workspaces became more flexible.

“Although the idea of blending work and leisure is not exactly new, the way people adapt to it, and their behaviour, is new.

“By adding a few extra days to your itinerary and exploring your destination beyond your work obligations, people are turning their business trips into opportunities for relaxation, adventure, and personal growth,” added Dr Zeelie.

However, according to the business travel expert, bleisure doesn’t equate to a holiday on the company’s time and dime.

“Adding leisure activities into the equation means employees are more positive about work trips, and that they can return to the office refreshed rather than exhausted, which positively impacts on company culture, the work environment, productivity and the bottom line,” she said.

Dr Zeelie said that when considering how to make the most of their bleisure time, employees must be sure to do their research while also ensuring their company is fully on board with the idea, and everyone is on the same page with regards to expectations.

“Before you leave, look up popular tourist destinations, museums, restaurants or other attractions in the area that would interest you.

“If the destination is completely foreign to you, you may want to consider booking a tour or hiring a local guide to show you around, which, in turn, will not only save you time but also release you from additional stress in planning such activities.

“Figure out when you’ll have some downtime during your business trip and book your activities for these times,” she advised.

Another way to make the most of one’s bleisure time is to use it for personal growth and development, advised the travel expert.

She said look out for talks or demonstrations on something that personally interests you or consider signing up for a cooking workshop featuring local cuisine or exploring a local market, as these activities not only offer a break from your work obligations but can also help you develop new skills, build relationships, and gain insights into the local culture – which, of course, can only be positive for business relationships.

And finally, Dr Zeelie said that mixing business with leisure can be a game-changer for business travellers and their employers.

“It’s a bit of a mind shift, yes, but by taking advantage of the unique opportunities afforded by your business trip, you can explore new destinations, develop new skills, and take care of yourself so that you return to the office energised, not resentful and depleted,” said Dr Zeelie.