Did you know that more than half of South African Public Holidays in 2020 will fall on a Friday or a Monday? This coincidence creates the ideal opportunity for corporates to take a few bleisure holidays in the year to come.
A popular buzzword, bleisure is the conscious decision by business travellers to add days of leisure travel onto a business trip. The concept has proven to be more than just a fad, as the vast majority of all business trips include some leisure components, according to the latest research.
The second annual ‘State of Business Travel Survey’ by National Car Rental shows that 90% of millennials have engaged in bleisure travel in the past year compared with 81% of Generation Xers and 80% of baby boomers.
According to SAP Concur travel and expense data, bleisure trips increased by 20% from 2016 to 2017. During this time, more than 2.2 million bleisure trips were taken by business travellers around the globe, making up 10% of total business trips.
“For the modern corporate who has seen the boundaries of work and personal life increasingly erode over the years, bleisure travel offers the possibility to build a little personal time into their business travel,” says Andrew Grunewald, Brand Leader Flight Centre Business Travel.
Grunewald adds that also for companies, bleisure travel has its advantages. If the traveller decides to arrive a few days early to explore the destination ahead of their meeting, they will be better rested and be able to make a better impression on the client. Meanwhile, if the business traveller chooses to prolong their stay, they will be incentivised to work more productively and efficiently.
According to the latest research, bleisure travellers report significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their quality of life compared to non-bleisure travellers (93 percent vs. 75 percent) as well as their work/life balance (87 percent vs. 64 percent).
FCBT has compiled a few best practices for South African bleisure travellers, so that they can make the most of their business travels in the year to come:
Despite the vast majority of companies allowing a bleisure component to employee travel, almost a third (31%) do not extend the protection of their corporate travel risk policy to extra days or leisure time, according to the latest research.
A recent survey conducted by International SOS and CAPA (Centre for Aviation) revealed that nine out of ten people believe the responsibility for the leisure portion of business travel falls to the traveller. What’s more is that one in four organisations have not even considered bleisure in their travel policy.
“Speak to your Travel Management Company (TMC) for help on how to include bleisure travel into the travel policy and ensure your duty of care programme is a part of that,” says Grunewald. “It is important to be clear about whether the traveller is covered under the company policy ahead of their travels.”
Leverage Public Holidays and Weekends
Try schedule meetings on a Monday or Friday so that you don’t need to take up too many leave days. Better still is if you can schedule your meeting ahead or after a public holiday. 2020 is the best year for this, as a great number of South African Public Holidays will fall on Monday or Friday.
If you can squeeze your business trip in ahead of a public holiday and weekend, you can easily get three days of traveling in a foreign country without losing a single paid holiday. Keep in mind that public holidays are usually associated with inflated flight and hotel costs, so be sure to book early and get a fair price that complies with your company’s travel policy.
Here’s a quick overview of next year’s calendar:
New Year’s Day (01 January) is on a Wednesday. You could schedule your business trip on 02 or 03 January, but it’s probably not the most productive time of the year for business deals.
Schedule your business trip ahead or after the Easter weekend, and you could enjoy a lovely 4-day holiday at your destination.
Friday 10 April – Good Friday
Monday 13 April – Family Day
Friday 01 May – Worker’s Day
A meeting on 30 April or 02 May could see you spending a three-day weekend with your family or friends exploring a new destination ahead or after your business obligations.
Tuesday 16 June – Youth Day
If you’re lucky enough to be able to schedule your meetings on 15 June, you could enjoy three days in an exciting destination without having to take any holiday days. If you just take one day off and schedule meetings on Friday, 12 June or Wednesday 17 June, you’ll enjoy four days’ at leisure to explore the destination.
Monday 10 August – Women’s Day
Plan your meeting on Friday, 07 August or on Tuesday, 11 August, to enjoy the long weekend.
Thursday 24 September – Heritage Day
If you’re travelling internationally, try and plan your meetings on Friday 25 September so that you can enjoy three full days at leisure on destination.
If you’re travelling domestically, you might need to schedule your meeting on Wednesday 23 September, or Monday 28 September, as a lot of people will be taking advantage of the long weekend.
Wednesday 16 December – Reconciliation Day
Friday 25 December – Christmas Day
December is probably not the most popular or productive month for meetings in South Africa. However, if you are planning on meeting up with clients across the country, or the world, try and schedule your meeting on 14 or 15 December ahead of Reconciliation Day so that you can make the most of a very long weekend.
Look beyond the horizon
A quarter of bleisure travellers say they will add another city to their business trip for leisure purposes.
If you’re on business in Brussels, for example, you can easily spend the weekend away in Amsterdam or Paris. Especially if your company is footing the bill for the long-distance flight, you can splurge on a train ride to visit another country.
Take along your family or friends
Although not always possible, taking your family or friends along is a great way to truly enjoy your bleisure trip. When dealing with FCBT who has the global backing of the Flight Centre Travel Group, you will benefit from having a range of ‘bleisure’ options available that can be added seamlessly into your booking.
Keep tabs on your expenses
Can you charge that extra cocktail to your business expenses? Do you have a clear idea where the cut-off is between business and pleasure?
According to SAP Concur, it’s common for companies to cover all costs for the days their travellers are there for business as well as the round-trip flight, while the employee foots the bill for anything associated with their personal time off.
“Expense reporting can get difficult if you don’t define when business ends and leisure begins,” says Grunewald. “Turn to your TMC for guidelines on how to clearly separate the two in your company travel policy.”
Don’t neglect your business obligations
Bleisure trips are great, but it can never come at the expense of your professional obligations. Remember that business is the reason you’re on this trip in the first place. Make sure you’re honest with your colleagues and boss if you’re planning to tack on some personal days.
The bleisure trend is definitely here to stay. With the increasing globalisation of business, the line between business and leisure travel will continue to blur. Chat to your Travel Management Company if you want to make the most of this trend in the year to come.
This article first appeared on www.iafrica.com.