17 experts advise on what’s to come this year. Spoiler: Data factors big.
The Innovate Conference for the Advancement of Business Travel offered business travel executives the opportunity to articulate priorities and recommendations.
In the past year, more than a third of North American
business travelers extended a work trip into a leisure trip, according to a February
and March survey by the Global Business Travel Association and Hilton of 675
people over 22 who traveled at least once for business in the past year.
Bleisure travel rose 1 percentage point year over year, but
GBTA expects that to increase as corporate culture changes. As more companies
invest in employee well-being, "employees may have greater flexibility to
take bleisure trips," the report stated.
Of the travelers who extended their work trips, 44 percent
traveled with someone else for the leisure portion. A travel companion joining
the business portion of the trip could increase costs for the traveler's
company. "If this practice is widespread, it can pose challenges for
corporate travel programs," according to GBTA. Travelers could spend more
on meals, flights or hotels to accommodate companions. Additionally, extending
a work trip into the weekend means extending it into more expensive peak travel
"While most companies expect travelers to cover leisure
expenses, it can be difficult to establish reasonable guidelines for enforcing
these expectations," the report noted. "If a leisure component adds
only a small amount—say five percent—to an airfare, is it reasonable to expect
travelers to pay?"
While companies are legally obligated to help travelers
during business trips, safety and security for the employee and his or her
companion gets tricky for the leisure portion of a trip. On their last bleisure
trips, 12 percent of business travelers needed assistance from their companies
or travel arrangers for issues like rebookings, lost baggage and medical
emergencies. "Even though companies routinely provide safety-related
services to their travelers—such as travel insurance, risk intelligence,
concierge services and a 24/7 helpline—they may not automatically provide these
for the leisure portion of the trip," according to GBTA.
there can be upside, as well. Considering 82 percent of bleisure travelers
stayed at the same location for both portions of the trip, bleisure travel
could help companies achieve greater savings if both portions of a trip are
booked through company channels. "They may help their company achieve more
room nights with preferred properties," according to GBTA. "On the
other hand, if these travelers book the leisure component separately through
company channels, their company may face additional TMC fees."
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