Earlier this year, Airbnb announced a remote first policy, under which employees could work anywhere in the country without reporting to an office, whilst maintaining the same remuneration. In fact, they went a step further by allowing employees to work abroad for a portion of the year.
The chance to spend a month or two in Mexico City or Mallorca may have felt like a pipe dream or a far-off retirement plan for most of us, but thanks to remote work, it is now a reality.
Remote work has opened up the concept of 'bleisure', traditionally a form of travel that meant dedicated business trips extended with some light sightseeing and entertainment added on. Whilst bleisure may have started as adding on a show to your trip one evening or extending your trip over the weekend, it now encompasses so much more.
Bleisure may now be the very purpose of the trip.
Who are the bleisure travellers?
A study conducted by the Global Business Travel Association concluded that millennials are the most likely cohort to extend a business trip for leisure purposes, with 48% of millennial respondents saying they have done so in the last year. Similarly, 33% of Gen Xers and 23% of Baby Boomers extended their trips to encompass leisure activities during the same timeframe.
Millennials are driving the trend of bleisure, with 48% reporting to have done so in the last year. We imagine this will extend to those planning trips around the very concept of bleisure, rather than simply adding a leisure element onto a planned business trip.
Bleisure travellers should not be confused with so-called ‘digital nomads’, a group of largely digital workers who choose to live permanently in various locations, working via the internet. A bleisure traveller is on a trip, whether for a week or a month and will still maintain a base to which they will return.
What do bleisure travellers want and what does it mean for the travel industry?
A traveller who is taking advantage of remote work and adopting to base a trip around it is going to pick a destination where they can get work done, perhaps gain some business value through meetings and/or events and of course, soak up the local culture.
According to a recent report by Future Market Insights (FMI), the bleisure tourism market is expected to reach a valuation of US$ 497.5 Bn in 2022, with sales growing at an impressive 19.5% CAGR over the assessment period.
Travellers seek to break away from the monotony of the daily commute, nine to five, same desk, same building, day in and day out. Variety is what they want, combined with the opportunity to do good work and return feeling refreshed with new creative energy.
Bleisure travellers are an ideal market for hotels and serviced apartments, given they are going to stay for longer and likely spend more money.
How can hosts cater for this distinct group of travellers?
First and foremost, like any traveller, you must recognise their reason for travel, who they are with and their interests. There are of course two elements to cater to this group; business and leisure.
When it comes to business, guests are going to want a suitable workspace. The guest's priority is their work and they will require amenities to get it done efficiently and comfortably. Fast and reliable WiFi is a must to stay connected with HQ and in this day and age, they won’t want to give their date of birth and a credit card to access it. A desk and a decent chair in their room are ideal, though a communal working area can be a nice opportunity to get out of the room.
If a guest who loves wine and architecture is recommended a historic wine cellar bar, they will tell all of their friends about it and build a sense of loyalty to their host.
For leisure, they need to be plugged into the community. A good host will provide local recommendations, personalised to their trip. A business traveller has very different needs from a family or a couple and their experience will be shaped very differently.
Hotels and serviced apartments using Obvlo can provide tailored recommendations for things to do and places to go during a stay. When a historic wine cellar bar is recommended to a visitor who enjoys both wine and architecture, they will tell all of their friends about it. It is that simple.