Tourists are generally divided up into neat categories for hoteliers to market to and for tourism bodies to collect statistics on. Some of the main segments of travellers are leisure travellers, business travellers, and people visiting friends and relatives.
However, the lines between these groups are not distinct, and there is a growing contingent of business travellers who choose to combine work and play when they go away. Visa’s 2015 Global Travel Intentions Study found that “16 percent of travellers combined business and leisure on their most recent trip.”
This traveller type has become known as the “bleisure” traveller, and attracting bleisure travellers to your hotel can help keep up occupancy during slower months. So, who are these bleisure travellers, what do they look for in a hotel, and how can you win their custom?
Who are bleisure travellers?
Bleisure travellers are those people who mix or combine travelling for business and pleasure – some do both at the same time and some go places for business and then stay on a few days afterwards for fun or whatever. They are a growing and specific (although diverse) market segment.
Bleisure travellers are not limited to any particular age or nationality. Sometimes they bring their families along or have them join them at some point during the trip, sometimes they end up having a solo leisure getaway mixed with some business responsibilities. According to a 2015 Skift report, “more than half (54%) of travelers that take bleisure trips bring their family members or significant other with them”.
Bleisure travel also offers younger people without as much accumulated wealth and disposable income the chance to have a little holiday, as their company is footing some of the bill – according to the same report, 94% of younger travellers are “more than” or “equally” likely to take a bleisure trip in the next five years.
What do they want in a hotel?
When it comes to what they want in a hotel, business and leisure travellers share some likes and dislikes, and also have some of their own unique requirements. When aiming to satisfy bleisure travellers, you need to make sure that your hotel offers a bit of everything, and that you aren’t skimping in areas where needs overlap.
Technology related items are at the top of the wish-list for business travellers – whether that is offering means of faster check-in/out, easier methods of in-stay communication while they are out working, or USB ports in their rooms or main areas. But leisure travellers won't turn their noses up at some technological treats either.
For example, Wi-Fi is vital to business travellers, but leisure travellers expect to be able to stay connected as well. Having charger cables and adapters in-room or on loan at the front desk will be a big win with business travellers, but you can bet that leisure travellers don’t want their phones going flat while they are tweeting their holiday snaps either.
Having charger cables and adapters in-room or on loan at the front desk will be a big win with business travellers
Free breakfasts are also a win among business and leisure travellers alike, as they allow you to either get down to the business of sightseeing and vacationing or the business of business, without worrying about where your first meal of the day is coming from.
How can you get their attention (and custom)?
Offer special weekend rates for guests who have stayed with you for the whole week, or offer a “stay for five nights get your sixth free” in off-peak and shoulder seasons. You could even get together with local tour or activity providers to offer guests at your hotel special deals. After all, Skift found that 83% of travellers on business trips also spend a bit of time exploring the cities they visit.
Advocate for bleisure
If you already find yourself catering to a lot of business guests, try to market bleisure travel, even to those who hadn’t considered it yet. Many people travelling for business might decide to stay a few extra days if they are reminded of the benefits. A little break in your business travel for some holidaying is great for recharging batteries, especially the creative ones – business travel can be physically and mentally demanding.
Highlight your local assets
Entice business travellers to also spend some time exploring the area by highlighting the attractions near your hotel, focussing on the popular bleisure interests of sightseeing, dining and the arts and culture.
Help them de-stress
Research by booking.com found that (unsurprisingly) 93% of business travellers feel stressed at some point on their journey. Having offerings that promise to alleviate this stress can make them much more likely to decide that you are the right accommodation provider to help them slip from business to leisure mode. Offering in-room massages (or striking up a deal with a local spa to give your guests special rates) is one way of doing it, but there are plenty of ways to help business travellers leave their stress in their suitcase.
Of the top 12 concerns for business travellers identified by the booking.com survey, two were related to navigating an unfamiliar environment. As a hotelier, and a local, make sure that you put some effort into ameliorating this stress. You can stock maps at reception, offer shuttles to popular points of interest, and help guests plan their routes around town.
Missing a flight or a train was also a big worry for businesspeople in the survey – offer your knowledge of the traffic patterns in your own city and to help them plan their timing, and check if they would like reminder phone calls when they are cutting things fine.