Extending business trips for leisure purposes is catching on. Photo: Shutterstock

Thursday 7th July 2016

At your bleisure

Are you adding cheeky days onto your business trips?

As you may know, business travel is not in the best of places. In an age of globalisation, business in one place often looks depressingly similar to business in another place. Without the romance, what’s left? Bags under your eyes and a mild but persistent phobia of deep vein thrombosis?

They won’t even let you have peanuts on the plane because there are walking time bombs who could drop dead with even a whiff of a bag of brazils.

Don't take the opportunity lying down.
Don’t take the opportunity lying down.

What can save business travel? Enter the wombo-combo of business holidays. A “Bizzcation”, some have pronounced them. Most, less boldly, have termed the whole concept “Bleisure”.

“Bleisure”, I hear you say. “Really?” We agree. When “Leisiness” was staring at them in the face the whole time? Sometimes we wonder why the National Portmanteau Office gets any government funding at all, we really do.

Perhaps the appeal comes from how it brings to mind a congested Frenchman attempting to pronounce pleasure.

And as we all know, business and pleasure are two clear-cut and strictly delineated concepts in our lives. When popped the question at US Immigration Control, you don’t say “bleisure” unless you have a serious interest in blue latex gloves and no concern whatsoever for your own personal space.

Hey — here at HRville, we don’t judge.

Blurry definition

It is said everywhere and about everything that the lines are blurring.

The fate of business travel is, apparently, no exception. While the definition of “bleisure” is in itself a little blurry, most people seem happy to define it as adding days set aside purely for leisure on your business travels.

Too good to miss?
Too good to miss?

Thus hitting the spas or bars after meetings does not particularly qualify, while taking a few extra days afterwards/before/during to see the sights, sounds and local colours of your destination on your own dime presumably would. You might even be bringing along your SO or some family.

The company pushing the name, Bridge Street Global, provides short-term rental accommodation. Exactly the kind of things a budding bleisure traveller might be looking for.

According to their statistics, 6/10 business travellers are more likely to add leisure days onto their business travel than they were five years ago, and nearly half already do. However, 60% of companies had no policy in place to manage this.

Is having a policy even really necessary? Perhaps not, although we’d keep our eyes on the expenses.

Overall though, turning business trips into hybrid holidays seems efficient for both sides. It may even be to proactively encourage it, given bleisure has some obvious upsides.

It’s time people won’t need to spend planning their next holiday, booking flights, schlepping all their belongings to Heathrow at 4am. According to research by Expedia, we visit 38 different sites and spend 45 days planning our holidays. Spoiler Alert: A lot of that time and stress is cashed in during office hours.

It’s cost efficient too, in that the flights are already paid for and accommodation sorted out.

Re-evaluation required

Perhaps it takes a silly portmanteau to wake things up and revitalise business travel. Has it really always been the case that travelling for business and pleasure were so separate?

Consider business class itself. Cushy airport lounge, champagne, reclining seats worthy of any degenerate Roman emperor. It’s pretty much the antithesis of business.

Businesslike? Hardly.
Businesslike? Hardly.

If you wanted to travel in a true business-like fashion, you might as well be packed in the cargo hold in stackable (but WiFi-enabled) boxes.

Not every organisation can or will fork over the cash for business class, but consider this: a business class return to Hong Kong on BA costs over £4k, ten times the price of an economy seat. For what is essentially a better meal and some perks, it really is just a luxury.

If you could trade seats from business to economy for a couple of days extra in Hong Kong itself to see the sights, would you? Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our leisure priorities.

We do live in a world of deadlines of course, and not everybody can blithely add extra holiday to their business travelling commitments. But perhaps employees and organisations alike should be more open to the idea of spending a little extra time in the places they cross hundreds or thousands of miles to visit.

Even from a business perspective, an extra day to acclimatise, get grounded, and show some interest in the local culture could yield benefits for the meetings or negotiations they flew out for.

There’s no wonder the glamour of business travel rubbed off with the frenetic pace of business today. At some point during your 36 hour, 6,000 mile round trip to give a single fifteen minute speech at a conference you have to question your sanity. It could be time to stop and smell the roses (or appropriate local flora).




About the author

Jerome Langford

Jerome is a graduate in Philosophy from St Andrews, who alternately spends time writing about HR and staring wistfully out of windows, thinking about life’s bigger questions: Why are we here? How much lunch is too much lunch? What do you mean exactly by ‘final warning’?