Business travelers are not all the same. Road warriors sleep in hotels more than they do their own bed, some travel solo, others only in groups. Then there are those who mix business and pleasure.

It’s these “bleisure” travelers (business + leisure) who are beginning to make a stronger impact on the bottom line at hotels and ancillary businesses.

People are finding a way to combine work and leisure. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The pandemic led to the increase in this type of traveler with the ability to work from nearly anywhere. Add on the bottled-up desire for travel, and even more people are tacking on extra days after official business obligations are finished.

“The pandemic helped spawn a new wave of travelers called bleisure travelers. In a recent Morning Consult survey for AHLA, 56% of business travelers said they have extended a work trip for leisure purposes in the past year, and 86% of business travelers said they are interested in bleisure travel,“ said Chip Rogers, American Hotel & Lodging Association president and CEO.

Rogers added, “Bleisure travelers have different needs and expectations than traditional business travelers, and hotels are adapting to meet those needs. Perhaps the most important amenity for doing so is robust and secure internet services. This is key to accommodating telework. Other offerings vary from property to property, and examples might include more experience packages, changes in food offerings, or shuttle service to popular destinations.”

Mike Lennon, general manager of Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, said, “The question I get most is, ‘Can I trust your Wi-Fi?’”

His “yes” means that person can work and play at his Calistoga property. The Wi-Fi was upgraded during the pandemic specifically to cater to the bleisure traveler.

“We just had a Silicon Valley executive who took the opportunity to bring his family up while he could work. He was appreciative we could help him with that,” Lennon said.

Help comes by letting people use the conference room for a video call or other private business matter.

“We do see people traveling with family still doing business because we see them with laptops open and it looks like they are having conference calls,” Lennon said.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa’s sales team reports “approximately 70% of the resort’s meeting groups take advantage of either pre- or post-bleisure stays.”

“I think it’s a combination of a couple things. There is a lot of pent-up demand for travel. If a company is hosting a trip and you can work remotely or take time off or if you are only required to be in the office two or three days a week, you can easily work at a resort, especially if the company already paid to get you to and from the destination,” said Fairmont spokeswoman Michelle Heston.

While leisure travel was the quickest to rebound since the pandemic, business travel is inconsistent at properties.

Group business travel is changing in that massive meetings in huge ballrooms are no longer the norm. Companies are planning group bike rides, wine tasting and other experiential events.

This gives attendees a broader sample of what an area is all about, thus planting the idea to stay and explore when the work part of the trip is over.

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the North Bay Business Journal.

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