As the lines continue to blur between business and leisure travel, hotels are in a prime position to capitalize on the growing “bleisure” segment. Hotwire.com’s 2014 American Travel Behavior Survey shows that 49 percent of employed American adults who travel for business have tacked leisure time onto a work trip.
And with flight ticket prices on the rise, business travelers are even more likely to plan twofer trips. Last month, while in Las Vegas for the Expedia Partner Conference, Hotwire President Henrik Kjellberg extended his stay at the Bellagio to enjoy some family leisure time. “Airfares have gotten so expensive, that once you are in a destination, it really makes sense to see if you can stay,” Kjellberg says.
Owner/operator Destination Hotels and Resorts has noticed the bleisure trend unfolding across its portfolio, from urban locations to resort destinations. “We’re seeing it really blur the lines of the traditional business corporate guest midweek and leisure guest on the weekends,” said Andre Fournier, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “People are booking through different channels today, so there’s less uniformity or compliance than when they used to have to book through a specific travel agent for business.”
Fournier says Destination Hotel employees encourage pre- and post-stays, based on availability, by offering business travelers the same negotiated group rate three days before and three days after an event. Reservations agents also are trained to recommend local leisure activities when qualifying customers. “We want to increase our share of wallet,” Fournier says. “We want you to spend more money and spend more time while you’re coming to visit us.”
The Hotwire survey also revealed that millennials are more likely to mix business with pleasure—56 percent of travelers ages 18 to 34 have done so compared to 37 percent of travelers ages 35 to 44. OTAs can be a useful resource for gaining last-minute bookings from younger, more spontaneous travelers who are hunting for deals, Kjellberg says. “That’s a great way of capturing leisure travelers who may not have planned to do it. If they get a great deal, they’re much more likely to spend money within the hotel and facilities, and that also creates better revenue sources for hoteliers.”