Why are Australians so keen on “bleisure” travel?

Andrew Munro 26 June 2017 NEWS

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No one does business travel like Australians.

You can't cross a border without being asked whether you're travelling for business or leisure. The answer to that question is increasingly becoming "both," with 71% of people around the world saying their employer lets them add personal travel time onto business trips, for "bleisure" travel as it's being called.

This info, from a global Flight Centre trends report, also shows that Australians and New Zealanders are far more into it than most, with 88% of respondents across both countries saying their employers let them add personal days onto business trips.

But what makes Australians so big on bleisure travel? It might have simply started with proximity. Being a long way from the next-nearest neighbours, there's no sense in letting a good business flight go to waste.

A closer look, however, shows some more obscure reasons why bleisure travel is such an Australian thing.

Why take a bleisure trip? Other than the obvious.

Aussies are particularly keen on big, long multi-destination holidays, compared to many other countries, so combining business and pleasure can really help give Aussies the exact kind of holiday they're most into, without draining the bank account or holiday leave budget.

Bleisure travel is also most common among those who fly more than 11 times a year for business purposes, and employees are increasingly using corporate travel agents to help plan their trips, business and personal alike.

There are also some uniquely Australian reasons for employers to facilitate business travel.

Why businesses want their employees to do bleisure travel

Employers need to offer the same number of holiday days anyway. There's no real downside, but there are some clear benefits.

89% of millennials consider bleisure travel a major work perk, so offering it simply makes good sense. More obscurely, it also goes a very long way towards reducing a business' liability obligations, especially in Australia.

This is because Australian workers compensation is explicitly required to cover business travel (although the exact way varies between states). By having employees spend a larger proportion of their travel time off the clock, businesses simply reduce their own risk for an easy way to come out ahead of the curve.

And then there are the ever-growing airline corporate programs which reward business travel. For example, both the Qantas corporate travel program and the Virgin corporate travel program can deliver certain loyalty and spending bonuses, motivating businesses to pay for more employee travel.

How travel industries are adapting

While the word "bleisure" could probably use a bit of revision, it's clear that bleisure travel itself certainly isn't going to disappear, and will only keep growing as the travel industry keeps embracing it as its own unique type of travel.

  • Business travel agents are facilitating it: With the mutual benefits for all, business travel agents are getting a lot better at facilitating bleisure travel as part of their typical services.
  • Businesses are leveraging the rewards: Airline rewards programs can be considerable, and it can be helpful to earn more rewards sooner. Paying for employee bleisure travel is an easy way of doing so.
  • Business travel insurance is adapting: Professionals Travel Cover, for example, is largely built around bleisure travel with features like up to 6 weeks of personal travel cover per year, as well as travel insurance for the family members of employees, and built-in ski cover and sports cover. These kinds of policies may be designed to work alongside Australia's workers compensation travel insurance obligations, which can make them surprisingly cost-effective.

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