Bleisure travel is an awful contraction, but if industry experts are to be believed, a growing trend as business travellers add a little personal downtime at the start or end of work-related trips.
The reasons vary, from getting to know the culture in the cities or foreign countries where they do business, to coping with the stress of a connected, always-on world or simply as a reward for being away from home.
“I find that I’m able to concentrate and add more value if I’ve arrived a day before a big meeting or conference and given myself a little time to relax and acclimatise,” says Edward Frost, British Airways’ commercial manager for South and East Africa, who travels internationally at least once a month.Adding a day or two at the end of a trip can also mean that you arrive back at the office feeling refreshed and enthused rather than wrung out and exhausted, he says.
It’s a trend that the hospitality industry has cottoned on to and is increasingly offering work-and-play packages. Many hotels now also offer guests a group meeting rate before and after conferences.
If there isn’t a group deal in place and you’re booking your own travel, using a site such as ba.com to combine an airfare, hotel and car hire deal is a convenient way of making all your bookings at once and avoiding any surprises as it shows you the total amount, including taxes and any other charges you need to pay.
You will also be eligible for any discounts or specials that are often available when booking through a single portal and, if you are a member of a programme such as the Executive Club or On Business, could benefit from the loyalty points you and your company may earn from each of the partners.
Frost says that while bleisure travel probably isn’t as defined a trend in South Africa as it is in the United States, South Africans may increasingly be inclined to mix business and pleasure to make their travel rands stretch further, particularly if they can get a few days relaxation at a corporate rate.
“We’d also expect to see more people who are travelling overseas on business taking their partners or spouses with them, either by making use of accumulated loyalty points or by taking advantage of corporate deals.”
British Airways’ five most popular bleisure destinations for South Africans, based on booking trends and customer feedback are: