A new study from Expedia reveals how the trend of bleisure travel—a combination of business and leisure travel—is a rising trend in the United States that the tourism industry should be prioritizing.
The study conducted by Expedia Media Solutions and Luth Research found the length of stay for a business traveler when compared to bleisure traveler increases from two nights to six-plus nights.
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The data also revealed that 43 percent of business trips in the U.S. are bleisure today, with 70 percent of business travelers adding extra days to their trips at least once every two-to-three months.
To help companies within the travel industry utilize these numbers, Expedia’s study broke down how many business travelers book their trips. Typically, they only book their flights, hotels and transportation once dates are set, which means they book quicker than leisure travelers.
Business travelers also value hotel location above all other criteria due to the need to be close to meetings and conferences. Other factors impacting the decision-making process include flexibility, star ratings, quality and comfort.
Location is also very important to bleisure travelers, with 66 percent of survey responders saying the location of the business trip is key to whether they add extra leisure days or not. As a result, cities that attract the most bleisure travelers are common vacation destinations.
To help travel agents and officials within the travel industry, Expedia’s senior director owner services Sue Spinney compiled a list of ways hotels and resorts can attract bleisure travelers:
—Leverage Conferences: 43 percent of bleisure travelers are traveling for conventions/events. Hotels should target travelers coming in for specific corporate events. For example, for CES, the largest global consumer electronics show, in Las Vegas in January, advertise special rates for attendees to extend their stay over the weekend and enjoy the city. Eighty-four percent of bleisure travelers stay in the same hotel that they did for business, but the number one reason for not staying in the same location is cost, so an extended rate can go a long way.
—Offer Specific Bleisure Packages: Offer an “Extend Your Stay” package that includes some type of value adds such as breakfast, parking, food and beverage, or spa/activity credit. Business travelers with Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday trips are most likely to opt in on a weekend (before or after) stay. Also, make sure the convention and visitors bureau (CVB) or whoever is planning the event is aware of any Extend Your Stay or Bleisure-specific offer.
—Reach Out with Post-Booking Deals: For guests that have already booked, reach out using tools like Expedia’s EPC conversations and offer value adds or discounted rates if they extend their stay.
—Appeal to Both Types of Traveler: Understand that the needs of the business versus leisure customer can be different. Reach out and find out what they need in advance to ensure you are meeting their needs for their full trip, not just the business portion. Thirty-four percent of business travelers admit to missing their bed the most when they’re away, which provides the perfect opportunity to showcase your pillow-top mattresses and high thread-count sheets.
—Leverage OTAs and TMCs: Create a custom package offering, through your own website, online travel agencies (OTAs) and travel management companies (TMCs), offering elements that appeal to both business and leisure needs, such as discounts for extending, or discounts on popular activities for booked guests. For your TMC partners like Egencia, which are entirely focused on the business traveler, offer special deals through their business portals for extended stays.