Working professionals are increasingly adding leisure days before or after business trips to explore new destinations, see friends and family, or take time to rest and recharge. This trend of combining business and leisure travel, known as bleisure travel, is expected to take off over the next few months as savvy travelers seize opportunities to save time and money on summer vacations.
How did bleisure rise in popularity, and what does this mean for employees and companies? Read on to find out.
Bleisure is a portmanteau of business and leisure. The term describes the combination of both types of travel, typically accomplished by tacking an extra day or more of leisure time onto a business trip.
Bleisure travel is also known as:
Bleisure travel has steadily become more common over recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend. According to Navan data, more than one-third of business travelers already combine personal and business travel. In 2019, 31% of business trips booked on Navan included a weekend, but now that share has grown to 38%—proof that the bleisure trend is quickly accelerating.
The widespread adoption of remote and hybrid working formats during the pandemic paved the way for employees to work from anywhere for extended periods of time. In a recent Deloitte survey, business travelers attributed the ability to work remotely as the reason they planned at least one trip this summer.
Bleisure travel is becoming widely accepted. Sixty-six percent of companies openly allow or plan to allow leisure extensions to business trips. And, as companies aim to promote a people-friendly culture in which employees are encouraged to take personal time, bleisure travel is expected to grow. Many forward-thinking companies even promote bleisure travel as a work perk, which helps to attract and retain talent in this competitive job market.
Employees love bleisure travel, too: In a recent survey by the Global Business Travel Association, 82% of corporate travel managers said their workers were equally or more interested in bleisure travel than they used to be. Industry reports say millennials have led the way in normalizing the trend, which is expected to continue its upward trajectory as that generation climbs the corporate ladder.
The beauty of extending a business trip is a partially subsidized vacation, especially when it comes to employee-paid airfare. Imagine a company footing the bill to get an employee to a conference in San Diego, and then the employee stays for the weekend—or longer—to spend time at the beach. The employee pays their way during the leisure portion of the trip, and they may even bring friends or family along with them.
Another upside to a combined business-leisure trip is that traveling to a destination ahead of time gives business travelers the opportunity to adjust to new time zones ahead of the workweek. There’s a better chance that an employee will be on top of their game if they feel rested and recharged.
Employees who work for companies that use Navan can easily and confidentially add leisure bookings to business trips. Corporate and personal payments are kept separate, and employers do not have visibility into leisure bookings. Best of all, employees have exclusive access to thousands of corporate negotiated hotel rates—specialized pricing typically only available to business travelers—that they can use for personal travel.
Travelers could also rack up points with their favorite loyalty programs. After adding loyalty information in the Navan app, users can browse search results that take these affiliations into account and serves up the best rates that help them earn—allowing them to make a decision based on both points and price. These savings can make it more affordable to book future travel.
For companies, supporting combined business-leisure travel is a win-win. Encouraging the practice can help fix the disconnect between a company’s time-off policies and its culture around using PTO, ultimately leading to better recruitment and retention. Companies can leverage a travel management platform like Navan to promote bleisure travel, since employees can easily and confidentially add leisure days to business trips.
On the other hand, allowing employees to take advantage of leisure time has been shown to create healthier, happier, and more productive employees. Overworked employees are prey to fatigue, poor health, and stress—all of which can lead to an increase in workers' compensation and health care costs for companies.
As more employees blend business and leisure trips, expense reports become harder to complete accurately. The numbers speak volumes: A full 19% of expense reports have errors, and it costs companies an additional $52 and 18 minutes to correct each report. Companies that do not establish clear boundaries risk allowing receipts for personal expenses to get caught up in the mix.
To reduce fraud, errors, and mistakes, an all-in-one corporate travel, cards, and expense management solution helps enforce travel policies at the point of purchase while eliminating the need to track expenses and submit them for approval.
Using smart cards tied to expense management systems reduces rogue spending and eliminates expense reports altogether. For example, after an employee swipes their card for a coffee, the expense will automatically be approved if it falls within the built-in policy parameters. The employee has confidence that they are within policy, and the process of reviewing and approving spend is automated.
On the flipside, when an expense is not within policy—for example, if an employee attempts to charge a coffee on a non-business travel day—it will be automatically declined. With Navan, companies can establish clear boundaries for personal and business expenses, which brings the sometimes-blurry line between work and play into focus.
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