Hotel Guest Experience – What is “Bleisure” Travel?
If ever there was a single principle to help define our era, then perhaps fluidity is it. A trend in the hospitality and travel industries that’s been dubbed “bleisure” – a combination of business and leisure – is a great example.
Growing with the emergence of millennials as a significant driver of cultural and economic values, this phenomenon continues to have impact on the hospitality and travel industries. According to Business Traveler Magazine who quoted a study conducted by hotel group Great Hotels of the World, 75% of respondents stated that they had extended business trips for leisure purposes. They also quoted a 2016 study that saw 81% of millennial travelers doing the same, compared to 56% of Gen X and 46% of boomers.
But, what does this really mean in practical terms? Why should hotel organizations care, and if they do, what does support of a “bleisure” guest experience really look like? Here are 3 areas of focus that hotels might consider to help address this emerging trend.
Create a home (office) away from home (office)
The “home away from home” concept is common for hospitality context. It’s all a part of what it means to making sure that guests always feel comfortable. But the activities that happen at home have shifted to include home offices. Serving that re-definition from a business standpoint, reliable WiFi is essential, of course. But so are factors like desk placement, conveniently placed power outlets, lighting controls, sound insulation between rooms, and any other factors that affect how conducive it will be to get work done in a guest room.
All of this may also have a bearing on how housekeeping services are centrally managed to make sure essential tasks are done while also not distracting the guest who may be hard at work in their rooms. The same goes for food and beverage services, striking a balance between being both available and non-intrusive. When the guest is productive during the business portion of their stay, it helps to enhance the leisure portion once business is done. Good communications enabled by integrated technology solutions and processes can make a vital contribution to ensuring a great guest experience all around.
Create tighter connections between guest rooms and event spaces
Event facilities in hotels like banquet halls and other large function spaces are adding greater dimension to how hotel properties serve guests and bring in revenue. In a way, that principle of fluidity is at work here as much as it is between a business portion of a stay and one dedicated to leisure.
Using sales & catering and event space solutions, along with integrated revenue management platforms, attracting bleisure travelers and making hotel locations more conducive to business events can become a powerful lever in achieving greater competitive traction. After all, what business traveler would not appreciate attending a conference that’s in the same building as the room in which they’re staying? Planning and investing in a technology platform that helps create spaces for great business events and supports a great extended stay for the individual attendees even after the event is over can be a winning strategy.
Create flexibility around folios, charges, rates, and packages
With this kind of fluidity outlined, flexible offerings from hotels make a lot of sense in attracting and impressing the bleisure guest. For instance, a common feature in booking room blocks for conferences is a corporate rate. Leading hotels who recognize the fluidity of business to leisure travel extend that same rate to the guest, encouraging extended stays after business is concluded. This can turn a 3-day conference into a full week’s stay, and all of the extra revenues that this entails.
Being flexible on the payments side is also an important aspect of the bleisure stay, as the company pays for the conference, while the individual guest pays the rest. This has an impact on the folio, too, with that split often being a lot less fluid when it comes to the guest’s accounts payable departments at their companies! Industry leaders looking to serve the bleisure traveler and win their ongoing business will make this as easy as possible with zero confusion about presenting the charges that a guest will expense against a corporate account, and those that the guest will pay themselves. To accomplish that, a hotel’s technology platform has to be ready to serve both.
The changing nature of the modern hotel stay
The traditional divisions between business and leisure are no longer as rigid as they once were. Hotel organizations that serve this emerging trend are competitively positioned in an era when the guest experience is continuing to evolve.
In what other ways is the modern hotel stay changing? What role does hospitality technology play as it relates to new definitions of a great guest experience? We created a useful and more detailed resource that helps to address that question.