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More than 40 percent of business trips are extended for leisure purposes

New study from Expedia Media Solutions and Luth Research reveals how to reach the untapped bleisure travel market.

LAS VEGAS – A new study from Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of Expedia, Inc., and Luth Research uncovers the booking habits for bleisure travelers, or business travelers who extend their trip with leisure travel and activities. Unveiled at the annual Expedia Partner Conference, the Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler study provides a view of the bleisure traveler and offers actionable insights that will help travel marketers understand and influence this desirable segment of the travel market. Overall, the study found that 43 percent of all business trips, across domestic and international destinations, are bleisure trips. In general bleisure travelers often have compressed and complex purchase patterns and are influenced by a variety of factors, including trip location, sightseeing and activities in destination, and trip proximity to the weekend.

The research found that bleisure travelers tend to be frequent business travelers, as 32 percent travel for work once or twice a month, and 71 percent of business trips are two to three nights in duration. When looking at international business travel, the prevalence of bleisure increases to 52 percent, which shows that trips abroad may impact the likelihood of bleisure travel bookings. Bleisure trips are also a good opportunity to save on travel expenses, as 66 percent of bleisure travelers agreed that they tend to spend more money on leisure activities because of the money they saved on travel.

Breakdown of a Bleisure Trip

  • Thirty-seven percent said the leisure portion of a trip typically equals the length of the business portion of the trip, while 21 percent said they travel more days for leisure than business.
  • A longer business trip can make a bleisure trip more likely; business travelers with trips lasting three or more days are 30 percent more likely to add leisure elements.
  • Business trips for conferences or conventions are more likely to turn into bleisure trips (43 percent) than a team offsite (24 percent) or sales trips (nine percent).
  • The majority of bleisure trips are spent in the same city or area as the business trip (84 percent), but as the length of the business trip increases, so does the likelihood the traveler will visit multiple cities. Those who travel at least three days for business are more likely to visit three or more cities (20 percent).

Converting to Bleisure

  • More than 80 percent of bleisure travelers said they tend to stay at the hotel where they stayed on their business trip, while more than 30 percent said they are likely to stay at a different hotel or with friends or family.
  • Of those who said they don’t typically stay at the same hotel, the biggest factors includes the hotel price (72 percent) and whether they have family or friends in the area (58 percent).
  • Most bleisure travelers personally research or book elements for the leisure portion of their trip, including hotel (70 percent), airfare (52 percent) and restaurants (50 percent).
  • At 66 percent, destination is the leading factor in turning business travel into bleisure, followed by the additional costs required to extend the trip (59 percent) and how close the trip is to the weekend (51 percent).

Dynamic Destinations

  • Of those who consider destination a factor in bleisure travel decisions, 85 percent said they are more likely to consider locations with great sightseeing, followed by beaches (63 percent) and food and restaurants (57 percent). Nearly 50 percent said the museum or art scene is a factor, while 42 percent are more likely to consider bleisure travel in locations with outdoor exploration.
  • One-third of respondents said their decision to extend their business trip for leisure was influenced by whether or not there is an event going on in the area; 86 percent said they have attended a festival or cultural event while on a bleisure trip, while 76 percent and 64 percent have attended a sporting event or concert, respectively.
  • More than 60 percent rated major cities like New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. as leading destinations for bleisure travel. Additional destinations touted for their bleisure appeal include Denver, Boston, Nashville and San Antonio.

Research Roundup

  • Once someone has considered taking a bleisure trip, the path to booking is typically one to four weeks; more than 80 percent said they would book all or most of their leisure activities or extended hotel stay within this time period.
  • When conducting research for bleisure trips, hotel or accommodations are typically researched first (35 percent), followed by sightseeing locations (18 percent) and airfare or travel reservations (15 percent).
  • Bleisure travelers typically visit event sites the most (47 percent) followed next by OTA sites (41 percent).

The Search for Bleisure Travel

  • PCs tend to be the device of choice for bleisure research across travel site categories, but home rental sites like HomeAway (61 percent) and OTAs (42 percent) dominate mobile-only research.
  • Travel site visitation is heaviest earlier in the week; one-third of bleisure travelers visited a travel site on Mondays. On Thursdays, site visitation dipped to its lowest point (17 percent), and saw a slight uptick to 23 percent on Fridays.
  • Travel sites are most often visited during the workday, with a secondary spike in the evening; 39 percent of bleisure travelers visited a travel site between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 25 percent visited a travel site between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

“Bleisure trip research and planning happens in such a short window of time, so it’s important for marketers to understand the factors that influence the decision making process for business travelers,” said Monya Mandich, senior director of global marketing at Expedia Media Solutions. “The findings show that the destination, local activities and travel costs are leading factors in whether or not a business trip is extended for leisure, giving destination marketing organizations and hoteliers a powerful opportunity to target business travelers with deals and information that will help inspire bleisure travel and drive incremental revenue.” 

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.