bleisure

How Bleisure Travel Can Increase Team Productivity

Are you traveling for business or pleasure? There is now a third alternative: bleisure. As you may have guessed, the term refers to the idea of blending work and play during a trip – and it’s exploding in popularity. It also works wonders for team productivity.

Why bleisure travel is becoming more popular

A 2018 Expedia study revealed that 60% of business trips end up evolving into bleisure ones, a nearly 40% increase since 2016.

That was before the pandemic, of course, but now that remote and hybrid work models are the norm and travel is making a comeback, organizations are investing in making the time that teams do spend together in person count. Think destination team-building events that combine off-site meetings with fun activities. Companies are also recognizing the need to increase engagement and retention, and bleisure travel can be an employee benefit.

“I believe bleisure travel is becoming more popular because we’re all burnt out. It’s hard to maintain a happy team remotely and keep everyone motivated. But taking the time out to reconnect in person in a beautiful atmosphere really does the soul some good,” says Nellie Akalp, the CEO and co-founder of CorpNet.com, who recently hosted a leadership retreat to bring together her remote workforce. The weekend included a mix of seminars, community meals, yoga sessions, and pool/beach time. Families were welcome.

“We included not just our team members, but those who wanted to bring a spouse as well as their kids. This sat amazingly well with the team and while everyone was grateful, it was equally as rewarding for me to see everyone enjoying their time and each other’s company. Better yet – we were amazingly productive! We brainstormed a ton of ideas while we all relaxed on the beach watching the kids play,” she adds.

This sort of approach is here to stay. A recent report by the American Hotel & Lodging Association predicts an increase in bleisure-related hotel stays. “Some travel experts think that fly-to-the-meeting and fly-back-from-the-meeting day trips will become a thing of the past and that multi-day bleisure trips will ultimately become ‘the new business trip.’ This shift is possible because companies tend to be tolerant of this kind of business travel,” according to the AHLA.

“Bleisure is becoming more popular as the workplace continues to progress towards a more flexible and personalized business model that cultivates a motivational workplace culture. This trend will continue, as Gen Z has been operating in a digital environment throughout their education,” adds Rebecca Ahmed, a speaker, business consultant, and Energy Leadership Index™ Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) who spent over a decade as an HR leader in the hospitality industry.

How bleisure travel boosts team productivity

As Ahmed puts it, bleisure travel is energizing. According to her, it can stimulate innovation and creativity. Akalp agrees: “I found that the main benefit is that everyone thinks better and comes up with great ideas when in low-stress situations. If we call a board meeting in the office, or via Zoom we can be productive but it’s a different tone. Bleisure travel allows your team to unwind so they’re free to be creative when the moment strikes. Not when a meeting is called. It really did wonders for some ideas that are in development now due to that weekend.”

Not to mention the benefits on employee engagement, which translate into greater productivity. For example, if you travel to attend a conference and your company allows you to stay a couple of extra days to explore the area, you’ll not only feel refreshed instead of exhausted, but you’ll also feel grateful for the opportunity to enjoy a destination thanks to your employer.

Offering this flexibility also sends the message that work-life balance matters, a key factor in creating healthy cultures that keep people happy and engaged. As for team retreats, they foster the kind of bonding that being at the office can’t rival.

“Bleisure travel keeps employees more engaged because you get to see everyone on a more personal level. Mingling with kids, meeting spouses and enjoying activities out of the office showcases personalities. You learn about one another so when you’re back at work or in the office, you work better together and are more productive overall,” says Akalp.

If you’re interested in providing your team with bleisure travel opportunities, consider setting up a corporate travel program, hosting a weekend retreat or being more flexible about the amount of time off that people can take around a work trip. Sure, you may spend more of your budget and lose a few work hours to leisure activities, but you’ll make considerable gains in long-term productivity because of the positive impact of bleisure on creativity, engagement and retention.