When it came to travel, the question of ´business or pleasure´ used to have a binary answer. Not anymore. Nowadays two out of three travelers whose primary purpose is business seek to find some space for a bit of pleasure, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
Those outraged by the marketing-influenced invention of new words should turn away now: this new trend is known as “bleisure”. Yes, that’s a Frankenstein version of business+leisure, almost certainly invented by (or for) a millennial.
This trend can be partly explained by the steady increase in urban tourism, as we all want just more than the traditional sun and beach options. As cities become more desirable as destinations it´s only logical that those passing through on business might want to take advantage. The formula is as simple as it is attractive: work by day, then after work see a few sights and enjoy the local culture.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps for this very reason New York, London, Toronto, Paris, Stockholm, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chicago and Tokyo are the preferred cities for business travelers according to the ‘Cities of Opportunity’ study carried out by Price Waterhouse Cooper.
But has the travel industry been able to adapt its product portfolio to this new breed of traveler’s needs? Hotels seem to have quickly understood this new trend: urban hotels are now more focused on offering exclusive and tailor-made experiences, have adapted their menus to more sophisticated palates, and now include sports facilities.
In this sense, ancillary product offerings play a key role. Our Group has also rapidly adapted its ancillary portfolio to help hoteliers to adapt their urban property offerings. The most recent example has been the City Expert partnership agreement, which will allow both companies to offer a specialized concierge service within hotels.
This model for the distribution of tourist products and services comes in addition to those that the Group’s bedbank already offers to the hotel industry: Hotelextras B2B for hotel receptions, along with widgets and white label solutions for hotels working in the direct channel.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Travelport estimate that business travel sector will grow by 3.7% annually to 2027 as new tech fuels take-up rates. This means that the whole travel sector, both hoteliers and distributors but also intermediaries, must adapt its DNA – just as business+leisure travellers morphed into one creature – to respond to the needs of this new traveler segment.
Those who don´t adapt their offering may well find themselves losing their place on the travel map. And if there is one industry in which being on the map (and in the guide!) is essential, it is travel & tourism.