Travel news and advice

Travel trend that blurs the line between business and pleasure – ‘bleisure’, in which travellers add holidays to their trips for work 

From adding a brief 24-hour getaway onto a work trip to make the most of your weekend, to an additional week spent on the beach, it seems more of us are taking advantage of corporate travel plans to see the world

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 7:17am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 8:32am

You’ve heard of a staycation, but as far as portmanteau words go the newly coined “bleisure” travel is becoming a much-talked-about trend in Asia. A linguistic blend of business and leisure, bleisure refers to a trip that blurs the line between work and a holiday, where a traveller opts to extend their business trip to enjoy some downtime at the end. 

For example, if you are in Beijing for a meeting, why not call it a long weekend and visit the Forbidden City or the Great Wall? Eighty-seven per cent of business travellers in Asia-Pacific are planning or considering a bleisure trip in the next six months, according to research published in March by Expedia-owned travel management company Egencia. That is compared to 74 per cent of North American travellers and 68 per cent of European travellers. 

Flight Centre recently identified the five most frequented destinations by Hongkongers for business, and gave these tack-on trip suggestions: if you’re in Bangkok for work, why not head 200km south of the capital to the beach resort town of Hua Hin? When in Tokyo, see Mount Fuji; for Singapore, visit Bintan Island in Indonesia; and when in Ho Chi Minh, how about the remote archipelago of Con Dao, a short 60-minute flight away?

“We are seeing a growing desire by travellers to add a leisure component to their business trip to experience new destinations beyond their inboxes,” says Callum Brown, general manager for Flight Centre Asia, based in Hong Kong. “More than ever, travellers are looking to maximise the time available to them and cultivate a balance between work fulfilment and guilt-free personal recreation.”

However, research suggests that bleisure travel is more than just an opportunist add-on. In April, travel booking website Expedia published a study with Luth Research that showed that two-thirds of business travellers want to have the ability to extend their trip for leisure. It also showed the possibility of bleisure trips are a major factor in whether someone takes a job or not.

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Booking.com research into business travel, published in January, backs that up. It revealed that almost a third of working people accepted their job fully or in part because of the business travel opportunities it offered. While 38 per cent said they would actively pursue a new job if it meant they could travel even more for business – that figure rose to 46 per cent among 18-to-34-year-olds.

Is a brief chance to enjoy yourself well deserved after the long hours and intensity of a business trip? For some it is irresistible – and part of the deal between employee and employer – yet other workers actively avoid blurring the line between corporate and leisure travel. 

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Egencia reports that a fifth of business travellers have skipped adding leisure time to their trips because of how it might look to their employer. When looking at Asia alone, that number rises to a third of employees steering clear of the added holiday. 

“The insight that many business travellers have skipped bleisure trips due to employer perception reveals an opportunity for differentiation in the race for top talent,” says Wendy White, vice-president of marketing at Egencia. 

She suggests that companies prioritising work-life balance should consider encouraging bleisure to more easily recruit and retain employees.

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Is bleisure reserved just for the wealthy elite? Not according to Booking.com, which found that two-thirds of working people extend a business trip by a few hours or days to enjoy a city, while three quarters make time for leisure activities within a trip. 

Whether it is seen as a perk or a deserved trade-off for a joyless business assignment, the line between business and pleasure has never been so blurred.