“Bleisure travel” is a growing trend in the travel and hospitality industries where business travelers extend their trips so they can further enjoy a destination. This is good news for independent brands, as most travelers typically secure other lodging and amenities for the “bleisure” portion of the trip so they don’t have to spend tons of money to stay in the corporate hotel. In addition, “bleisure” travelers often schedule at least two extra days and will usually bring an additional guest, whether it’s a friend, their spouse, or their kids.
Already 49% of business travelers engage in the “bleisure” lifestyle, and 67% of travelers say it’s important to be able to extend their business trips for leisure. The trend is expected to boom in the coming years since millennials, the fastest growing portion of the workforce, are significantly more likely to “bleisure”. In fact, in an effort to retain millennials, many companies are allowing them to extend their trips as long as they pay for the leisure portion of the trip.
With that said, “bleisure” does require a considerable amount of planning, which is leading to a resurgence in travel agents and direct providers. Only 2% of travelers do NOT check a hotel’s website. But because many of them are difficult to use, users find other avenues to book with. In fact, travel marketing firm MMGY Global found that in the past year 32% of travelers now use direct provider websites when making reservations, a 6% increase from the previous year.
What this means, is that as complicated bookings which require extensive planning become more common, it will be important to facilitate easy communication. Consumers are willing to give up some control of the booking process they have with OTAs for the sake of convenience, as long as the deal is still fair to their wallet. Many independent hospitality brands have started to use live chat with direct booking, along with other forms of social messaging, so they can more easily answer questions and address any concerns travelers may have.
Independent hospitality and travel brands are in a new age where more people than ever want to travel, but the way they want it is vastly different than industry conventions. Consumers want what only independent brands can deliver, but for the relationship to begin and last, we must make communication easier.