76% of business travelers plan to extend a work trip for leisure in 2023, and 28% of travelers plan to take a flexcation, according to Expedia’s Value Index 2023. The numbers don’t lie: “bleisure” travel is more than a trend; it’s a new traveler’s behavior. And the good news is that it unfolds great opportunities for hotel businesses to increase revenue.
With blended travel, target audiences just become broader and less defined. There are no more business trips as opposed to leisure ones. Now it’s a mix, and opportunities to engage new guests are available to properties of all sizes.
Hotels need to get prepared to attract this new demand. And preparation doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. In this article, you’ll find three ways to prepare your hotel for blended travel that do not cost much. But first, let’s understand what “bleisure” travel is and why it is important.
What is “bleisure” travel?
Bleisure travel refers to the new traveler behavior, combining business and leisure in one trip. It is usually defined as a work trip with an extended vacation before, during, or after a work event. In other words, it relates to extending a business trip by taking days off to get to know a destination.
However, its definition should be more comprehensive. Blended travelers also include remote workers to digital nomads, families, workcations, and corporate retreats, requiring diverse accommodation options and amenities.
Professionals from different industries value flexibility. Remote workers are increasingly popular and want to enjoy their stay and explore the destination like tourists do. The line between traveling for business or pleasure is blurred.
What does this mean for the hotel industry?
The trend is transforming travel patterns. Cloudbeds’ State of Independent Lodging Report shows that, in 2022, 3 to 6 nights stays were up 3% over 2019 levels at independent properties. We also saw that extended weekend stays increased in popularity.
The trend created a high demand for accommodations that provide leisure and business facilities. Even if your property caters primarily to leisure travelers, don’t be surprised if more business travelers show up at your door for blended stays and expect business services.
In response, lodging properties are rethinking the design of rooms and public spaces and the services and facilities provided to offer the infrastructure guests need to travel and work seamlessly on property.
3 ways to prepare your property for the blended stays
Today’s travelers expect it to be easy to move from work to fun. Here are three ways hotels can prepare to attract the blended travel demand.
- Adapt spaces and amenities: Repurpose a portion of the restaurant as space for meetings, coworking, or changing the function of public spaces at various times of the day. For rooms, it might mean reconfiguring spaces to appeal to a broader range of guest segments and budgets, including remote workers or the families of business travelers.
- Partner with local companies: Even business travelers want to experience the destination and are willing to spend more on dining, entertainment, and tours since their company pays for their flights. Lodging businesses can partner to create immersive experiences like full-day tours and well-rounded excursions. It’s also a good idea to go beyond standard tours and activities. Find companies that offer other services, such as healthy meal delivery or gym, to fit the needs of the various guest types. This way, hotels can entice business guests with tour packages, pre-planned itineraries, and tailored amenities and services.
- Create discounts: Take advantage of the increased demand for longer stays. For example, you can set discounts on food & beverage and other services, such as laundry and wellness, for stays longer than 28 days. Or you can offer discounts on an additional day on a weekend stay (Mondays or Thursdays). The discount depends on your price strategy, but a minimum of 10% is recommended. This strategy should help increase the occupancy rate during shoulder nights.
A growing group of people can not only work from home but work from anywhere. The telecommuting and virtual classroom trend started to emerge several years ago but has taken on accelerated, widespread adoption due to the onset of the pandemic.
With this new type of traveler, hospitality companies can adjust and tailor their services. Refrain from labeling your property. It’s not a question of business or leisure audiences anymore. Instead, make clear what experiences guests can expect from staying with you. Highlight amenities and room types and list your property on OTA platforms outside your typical distribution mix.
As blended travel gains momentum, it is expected to extend peak seasons and boost occupancy in shoulder and lower seasons too. Understand and embrace this hospitality industry trend and see your occupancy and revenue grow every day of the week.