Millennials are well known for their sense of adventure and exploration, so they have become crafty at creating "bleisure" trips, or combining business travel with leisure travel.
According to a Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card Survey, 78% of millennials intentionally carved out personal time on a business trip. Further, 60% of millennials said that vacation time benefits their business by helping them think big picture, as opposed to 49% of boomers.
While this is not a new way of conducting business, it is more prevalent with millennials than older generations. One of the reasons for this is because millennials have delayed marriage and having children, allowing them to have fewer commitments to rush home to after business travel.
Millennials are perfecting the "bleisure" trip.
"Millennials are most likely to ask about combining leisure with business travel, work-life balance or bringing family on trips," said Evan Konwiser, Vice President Digital Traveler at American Express Global Business Travel, a business travel company. "Companies are, therefore, developing progressive travel policies that encourage both personal and professional growth for business travelers. According to recent statistics, 57% of companies have a policy in place for employees aged 20-30 to extend business trips with vacation time."
The ability to explore new places ranks high among millennials, as well as with other generations. According to research by Booking.com for Business, 30% of business travelers would accept a lower paying job if it meant they could travel more for work.
If this is such a high demand job perk, companies must be prepared to offer flexibility and freedom to create work-life balance while on the road. For many travelers, work travel can be exhausting, but with just a few adjustments, employees may start asking for travel assignments to hit the refresh button with a couple extra days of personal time tacked on at the end or beginning.
What Companies Need To Know About Bleisure
The Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler reported that employees who've taken bleisure trips report that adding leisure days to business travel adds value to their work assignments and benefits them as an employee, while giving them the opportunity to gain cultural experience and knowledge.
"Our [Mezi] survey found that 74 percent of frequent business travelers wish their corporate travel policy included a budget for extracurriculars and personal entertainment ," said Swapnil Shinde, Co-Founder and CEO of Mezi, an artificial intelligence powered personal travel assistant. "Encouraging employees to take time for themselves, whether it's a workout class or grabbing dinner at a cool local spot, and supporting those activities with a small personal entertainment budget makes a big difference."
"Every company's culture is different, so businesses exploring adding a Bleisure element to its corporate travel policy should ask themselves certain questions," continued Shinde. "Things like - which elements of our current company culture are best suited to extend on the road? What do employees value most in the 'perks' and culture we offer? Is there a maximum number of vacation days we'll allow an employee to tack onto a business trip? Are there certain types of trips where we'd not be able to accommodate an added Bleisure element? Which trips, and why?"
Companies that win with millennials are those with clear guidelines about travel flexibility. Maybe your company can't offer high salaries or deep benefit packages, but you can make it possible for employees to explore a new city with a day off.
It's 'A Must' For Millennials
"Of course more freedom and choice are preferable when you're traveling for work as being away from your commitments at home and your own free time is cut into," said Emily Sheehan, Partner Engineer at Twitter Inc., a social media company. "Incorporating a personal event or interest into a business trip makes the whole trip feel more balanced and makes it more memorable too."
In some cases, millennials see bleisure as an added benefit. In others, they see it as a requirement. While many millennials do not have the commitment of a partner or children at home, they still see being away from home as a sacrifice that needs to be balanced. In this case, being able to sight see or step outside the office while away allows them to return home recharged, rather than exhausted.
"Travel is a privilege, but it can be such a grind," said Aviva Legatt, College Application Coach and Owner of VivED Consulting LLC, an elite college admission coaching company. "It's taxing on the body and on the mind. You're off your routine, you're away from home; you're eating strange food, you're not sleeping in your own bed. Therefore, a day of vacation while on business travel is a must for me. It can be rejuvenating and provides a great memory for you to take home from the visit."
Being courteous of time commitments for work makes it easy for an employer to say yes to extending trips. Further, there are expenses to consider when thinking about a bleisure trip.
"I also keep work and personal expenses completely separate," continued Green. "If I want to stay longer than my colleagues, I will find a flight that's the same price as theirs, even if it's a different day or time. If nothing similar is available, then I would pay the difference out of pocket. If I'm staying extra night and already in a reasonably priced hotel, I'll only request reimbursement for the nights I would have had to stay for business."
The last item to consider as a millennial bleisure traveler is one most do not consider. If anything were to happen to you while you were traveling, would you be covered by insurance?
"It's important that people be aware that if traveling for vacation as an extension to a work trip, then they will likely only be covered under insurance for the business-related days," said Jennifer McDermott, Consumer Advocate at Finder.com, a personal finance comparison site. "For additional travel you need to be covered under your own travel insurance."
Millennials who wish to remain in good standing with their employers and continue enjoying their bleisure benefits should make sure to consider time off requirements, managing expenses, and covering insurance where needed.
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