Opening borders sparks bleisure trend

3 min read

Germany, France, Ireland, and now also the United States. A growing number of countries have started relaxing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated South Africans.

“This is a game-changer for South African business travellers,” says Oz Desai, GM Corporate Traveller. “Lengthy and expensive quarantines are a major deterrent for companies and business travellers alike. The fact that vaccinated South Africans can now travel freely to some of our top business destinations will be a significant boost to business travel in the months to come.”

But the opening of international borders is also sparking the revival of the bleisure trend, seeing employees add a few days’ leisure to their business travels. A similar trend is the flexcation.  Instead of travelling somewhere ‘for work’, employees now travel to a destination of their choice and extend their holidays by working ‘on location’.

Desai cites three reasons why the combination of business and leisure (bleisure) travel is becoming even more appealing in a COVID-19  business environment.

1.         Move your office to the bush or the beach

Thanks to the new ‘flexcation’ trend, employees can travel from anywhere. Hotels across the world are exploring the possibility of offering tempting ‘remote working’ packages with office-ready rooms and fast, secure wi-fi.

Internationally, MGM Resorts has introduced its Viva Las Office programme. Corporates can explore packages that include not only rooms and food and beverage credits but also the use of an executive assistant, VIP pool day passes and poolside massages.

Marriott introduced new long-stay properties across the world — all with kitchens and living spaces. Hyatt has launched The Great Relocate, a series of reduced rates for stays of a minimum 29 days, with boardroom usage and “IT concierges” parts of the package.

2.         Incentivise business travel during uncertain times

The idea of business travel can be daunting during COVID-19 times as people are reluctant to leave their families behind.

The benefits of bleisure can turn the inconvenience and possible fears of a business trip into a perk. Even before COVID, bleisure travel proved to generate more productive meetings and better performance. With personal time on the horizon, employees were motivated to make the most of their time working when on business trips.

The same is true during COVID times. Companies find it easier to convince employees of the benefits of travelling for work if employees can likewise enjoy the benefit of personal time with their loved ones.

3.         Make your budget stretch

Millennials are the most eager and likely to travel in a post-COVID world. They also still largely comprise the most junior segment of employees and their leisure spending is likely to be the most impacted by COVID-19. Bleisure trips will be an attractive way to travel for cash-strapped millennials in the post-COVID-19 world. Desai explains that as the company foots the bill for air travel, travellers prefer to make the most of international trips when they decide to take a bleisure trip.

“Business travellers can be expected to be seeking wellness packages after an unprecedented period of uncertainty in their lives,” concludes Desai. “Bleisure travel allows them to not only resume their professional activities but also enjoy the wellness and relaxation benefits that come with travel.”