travel trends 2023
Cityscape on the shore of Gardalake in Italy © YKD

It’s 2023 and if you haven’t heard about bleisure, you’re missing out big time!

Female tourist taking a photo of Vernazza © Cinque Terre

What Exactly Is ‘Bleisure’?

Airlines (like other industries) struggled to keep their business afloat when the pandemic started. With all the restrictions, the “work-from-home” method was quickly implemented. Now, as the pandemic eases out, people can finally travel, but the remote work policy is still in use for many companies – and this is when ‘bleisure’ starts to bud and bloom.

Bleisure trip 2023
Young woman working and enjoying the sunset © Olezzo

Bleisure is a combination of business and leisure. It refers to a trip one takes whenever one wants as long as their work is done remotely. It also covers adding personal vacation time to business trips. This idea of blended work and leisure is not exactly new; what’s new is the behaviour of the people who adopt it.

Back in the pre-pandemic era, a business trip meant a few days (on average: three days) of conferences or workshops in a different city, and leisure travel was limited to only holidays and weekends. But because of the pandemic, we learned that ‘workspace’ is flexible and you can work even when you are away. Steve Hafner, CEO of Kayak, one of the most trusted travel search engines, sums it up perfectly; “Now you know you can work from anywhere. Why make it a day trip? Go more days.”

Bleisure Traveler
A view of Paris from the balcony © Eva-Katalin

The blend of work and leisure used to be something that only freelancers and students could enjoy. Now, everyone from corporate executives to startup employees can get in on it.

This Travel Trend Is Here To Stay

According to Stratosjets, half of all business trips in 2022- international and domestic – turn into bleisure trips; with one trip lasting almost 7 days on average. The trend combined with the lifted COVID-19 restrictions results in a surge in travel demands, especially for vacation destinations.

This work-leisure blend has been a game-changer for the air travel industry. American Airlines, for example, is pleased with it. In October 2022, the airline announced that its overall revenue, at $13.46 billion with 45% coming from blended trips, was the highest in its history.

bleisure travel trend 2023
Overhead view of Flagship Suite © American Airlines

Additionally, to ride the wave even higher, the airline will introduce new seat configurations to its long-haul flights; starting in 2024, all new Airbus A321XLR and Boeing 787-9 aircraft will have zero first-class seats but premium cabins or Flagship Suites instead. And this is simply because customers are willing to pay for business-class seats than for first-class ones.

Many airlines decide to revamp their travel schedule since booking patterns have changed. Travellers now tend to fly on workdays and have an extended stay through the weekend. And others introduce changes to their loyalty programs. One of the best economy airlines, Southwest Airlines has shifted its focus to bleisure travellers by introducing the Southwest Status Match promotion, which offers discounts that match a passenger’s status.

How Hotels Handle Bleisure

what is bleisure
Sheraton Ningbo Xiangshan Resort © Marriott

Comfort, efficiency, and flexibility are the essentials. On top of areas to relax and activities to unwind, travellers also demand quiet workspaces with reliable internet connections where they can work. Hotel chains all over the globe recognise the need and adapt to it post-haste. Marriott, for example, has come up with a new room design that can be either a bedroom or an office, instead of being both at once. The idea behind it is to help customers separate their work and personal time. The chain also takes one step further by launching the newest apartment division Marriott Bonvoy, which caters to the rising work-leisure trip demand.

bleisure traveller
A standard room in IHG’s Hotel Indigo Warsaw © Hotel Indigo

IHG taps into the trend with a new and improved IHG One Reward program that offers more personalised deals to customers. IHG wants to make it easier and simpler for anyone to enjoy its loyalty benefits. And mostly importantly, IHG knows that its customer profiles are expanding, and this reward program is designed to be more inclusive and accessible.

Have you been on any work-related trips lately? What’s your thought on mixing business and leisure travel?