Bleisure Travel On The Increase in EMEA

Thanks to a rising trend towards bleisure, how we choose to travel for business is changing. New SAP Concur Travel and Expense data gathered between Jan – Dec 2017 found that bleisure trips jumped 46 per cent across EMEA. For EMEA travellers, the top five destinations for bleisure travellers were Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Dubai and Frankfurt.

For our purposes, we have defined bleisure as a business trip that includes a Saturday night stay. Globally, from 2016-2017, the number of bleisure trips increased year-on-year by 20 per cent. This trend isn’t only being driven by large enterprises; combining business with leisure is also popular with SMBs. Since launching in September, Concur Hipmunk shows world-wide that nearly one in five (16 per cent) SMB business travellers included a Saturday night stay.

Across EMEA, 27 per cent of travellers included a Saturday night stay in their most recent trip, compared with 44 per cent in APAC and 19 per cent in the US.  And it’s a trend that all generations are participating in. Whilst on average, millennials make up the largest share of bleisure travellers, globally accounting for 38 per cent of bleisure trips, Generation X and Baby Boomers at 31 per cent each are not far behind. As of yet, Generation Z is not showing any significant preference when it comes to business travel.

In EMEA, bleisure trips made in 2017 were on an increasing trend compared to 2016 for all months, with March hitting the highest peak at 81 per cent, followed by February and May at 49 per cent and 48 per cent respectively. The top three sectors across EMEA where bleisure is more prevalent are manufacturing, technology and pharma with a steady year-on-year increase.

Bleisure contributes to a good balance between work and private life

"The increase in bleisure does not surprise me, it contributes to a good balance between work and private life. Business travelers also want to relax next to work at the destination. Through organizations like Airbnb, they can easily book price-friendly accommodations in vibrant locations. Our figures also show that; 70 percent of bookings via Airbnb included a Saturday night, compared with 10 percent in regular hotel bookings. The need for bleisure will only increase in the coming years, now it is up to organizations to adjust their policy", says Patrick Klaver, Managing Director of Concur Benelux.

Bleisure in the travel policy

By incorporating bleisure in the travel policy, organizations give their employees a signal that they are listening to them and that they also consider a good balance between work and private life to be important," says Klaver. "A listening ear provides more appreciation, higher job satisfaction, productivity and retention of talent."

This growing group of bleisure travelers is compelling companies to take a closer look at how they address travel and expense policies, while also providing opportunities for fun travel experiences for their employees. Whether you’re a traveler looking to take a bleisure trip, or a company ready to bring your travel policy up to bleisure code, here are some things to consider:


  • Travel Managers:

    • Are you covered? Is blended travel already included in your policy, and is there broader employee awareness of the policy? Make plans to communicate the details sooner than later, since it’s likely travelers are already blending their business and leisure trips without direct knowledge of the policy terms.

    • Do you know where your employees are? Clear traveler safety and duty of care policies become increasingly important during bleisure trips, so determine and clearly define what portion of employee trips will be covered by the company’s travel insurance.

    • Who picks up the tab? Who pays for what – and how? It’s common for companies to cover all costs for the days their travelers are there for business as well as the round-trip flight, while the employee foots the bill for anything associated with their personal time off. Expense reporting can get tricky though, if you don’t define when business ends and leisure begins and establish clear processes to separate the two.

    • Who books what? Decide whether employees will be allowed to book bleisure trips through your company’s OBT. According to a recent SAP Concur GBTA survey, 78% of companies said they sometimes or always allow bleisure travelers to book the leisure component of their trip through company channels, but it’s up to the discretion of the travel managers if this is something that can be offered.

  • Travelers:

    • Know before you go: Get familiar with your company’s travel policy before you go. Some companies have more robust bleisure policies than others, so knowing what’s covered and what’s not as it relates to expenses and traveler safety will make the whole process easier and safer for both you and your travel manager.

Notes to readers: Stats are based on SAP Concur platform data captured during Q1 2016 – Q1 2017.

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