The business press loves a new buzz phrase. The latest is ‘bleisure travel’, adapted from a trend that originally referred to men’s fashion (linen shirts and loafers, anyone?) to explain the increasingly blurred line between our business and leisure time. Although few of us are likely to use the term, most of us have been profoundly affected by this shift, and it has affected the business and leisure travel industries substantially.
Technology has been one of the main driving forces. As anyone whose partner has taken a smart phone on holiday will attest, the ubiquity of internet access has made it harder to separate our private lives from work, particularly as more and more businesses are offering remote working or flexible hours. Technology has given business travellers more input into how they travel, as we observed in a recent article, allowing them to pick the flights and accommodation they prefer, or even extend their stay.
The growth of ‘bleisure travel’ is also a product of our increasingly hectic lives. A recent survey conducted by Westin Hotels & Resorts showed that at a time of decreased job security, some people are trying to prove their worth by working longer hours or failing to take all their holiday entitlement. The increase in dual career families has also meant that it’s harder for people to find time to spend with friends and family. For many, combining a holiday with a business trip is the only way to get a holiday at all, and this has been facilitated by the growth of low-cost airlines, which make it cheaper for family or friends to visit business travellers while they’re away.
Some may argue that combining business with leisure travel means that you never really get to relax; that we’re all in danger of becoming information-hungry drones attached to our computer screens. But if you make sure you achieve the right balance between business and leisure, this needn’t be the case. Business travel can be lonely and isolating, not to mention exhausting if you hurry to rush back home as soon as the business is done. But it can provide unforgettable experiences if you see it as a holiday too. OK, few of us are going to get sent to work near a Caribbean beach or a Swiss ski resort. But many of the top business destinations are also top city break destinations, packed full of museums, parks and tourist attractions. By extending your break to include a weekend with friends and family, or simply by exploring the city in the evenings, you can ensure your business trip isn’t all hard work.
The recent growth of the serviced apartment industry is intricately connected with these new approaches to business travel. Serviced apartments make for a different kind of business trip, allowing you to create a homely environment where you can really take advantage of your leisure time. Because they all come with a kitchen (or kitchenette) and a living area, there’s much more freedom to spend your free time how you want to spend it, from watching films on the sofa in the evenings to cooking brunch after a Sunday morning lie-in. You can book an apartment with an extra bedroom if you want to take friends or family with you, and many apartments come with a sofa bed in the living area for occasional visitors to use. All this means that business can be carefully balanced with leisure time – just resist the temptation to check your emails 100 times a day.