What the F is “Bleisure”? The Rise of the Business-Pleasure Blurring Millennial Traveler

Hot damn! Did you know by 2020 half of the global workforce will be millennials?! Or, that two years ago their global spending power clocked in at a cool $2.45 trillion dollars?

Millennials, for those who have been hiding under rocks, are the generation defined as being born between 1980 and 2000, and watch out because we’re a tech-savvy, authenticity-seeking, experience-hungry bunch.

And on top of that we looove to do something called “bleisure” travel.

You heard that right. Clearly someone locked in a cubicle decided a good way to punish the travel writing community for the next decade or so was to pen a new word that sounds like what it feels like to be sick on a cruise ship.

So what is “bleisure” travel?

As unpleasant as this abomination to the English language sounds, the fact that millennial business travelers are far more likely to tack on additional just-for-fun travel to their business trips is a great thing for the travel industry.

First of all, millennials are more likely than other generations to travel for work, according to GBTA, and, as any savvy hospitality person knows, when the company’s paying the money flows a lot more freely. What’s that? A seven dollar bottle of water? Don’t mind if I do!

Studies find that millennials don’t shy away from taking full advantage of their company’s expense policy, but, at the same time, are wary of putting business-related travel expenses on their personal cards and are savings-savvy when it comes to those personal trips tacked onto the end of a business trip (hello bleisure!).

Second, the millennial business traveler poses a unique cross-sell opportunity. Perhaps for work a guest stays in your chain’s midtown Manhattan property. Knowing the millennial business traveler is far more likely to extend for pleasure, you can then offer a promotion for one of your brand’s boutique, experience-heavy properties up state.

Experience is key

To cater to millennial bleisure-ers your brand must understand the importance this group of consumers puts on experience above all else.

Millennials are much more interested in experiential travel than previous generations, and they rely heavily on social networks and online recommendations to inform what they should do and where they should go when visiting a new location. This is another reason it’s imperative for small and large hospitality brands alike to get really good at storytelling, not just through a blog, but by embracing an omni-channel approach that evolves alongside changing social tools and trends.

  • 85% of millennials check multiple sites before booking their travel to get the best deal possible
  • 46% book travel through a smartphone or tablet
  • 60% will upgrade their travel experience by purchasing in-flight wi-fi, early deplaning, etc.
  • 97% of millennials will post their experiences to social media, with a whopping 75% posting at least once a day
  • 68% will remain loyal to a program that offers them the most rewards *source

Bleisure and the bottom line

What this growing trend means for your hospitality brand is multi-pronged, but, whatever you do, it’s too large of a trend to be ignored.

The great part is considering the millennial business traveler’s heavy use of online research and social media referrals, you can scrap a lot of traditional advertising and instead deploy more organic, grassroot campaigns through involving real-life travelers. This, paired with the millennial business traveler’s constant use of social media, can have far-reaching impact for your brand beyond what a traditional media campaign could ever hope for.

The potentially worrisome news, depending on how you think about quality and service, is that increasingly every aspect of your guest experience will be on show for the world. This means as a brand you must step up your experience, from the moment a guest checks in, to the off-property recommendations your concierge makes, to the way you engage after the fact with your guests.

If you’re interested in learning more, request a Millennial Traveler Audit and see how your hospitality brand can optimize the online and offline experience to attract and retain these valuable travelers.

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