The Rise of Bleisure Travel and the Apps that are Driving It




 

For millennial professionals, bleisure is the new reality of vacation travel.

 

Like the similar portmanteau staycation before it, where the financially fraught binge Netflix at home or organize activities nearby instead of traveling afar, business travelers are now combining business trips with leisure time—or bleisure.  

 

Enabled by always-on smartphones, shrinking vacation days, and the blurry, always-on world employers and employees cohabitate, bleisure is the latest blend of work and regular life that millennials have accepted as the new normal, a natural extension of modern, sometimes-remote work expectations (You must always be on, even when you’re off) and the fact millennial professionals may not be able to afford a normal vacation. We may lack the money or time for a work-free vacation, but at least we can make the most of our business travel by throwing some fun in the mix—and get flexible employers to subsidize part of it.  

 

And in case you think “bleisure” is a made-up word, a fad term for a fad idea, remember: All words are made up, and bleisure has been popping up as an accepted concept for some time now.

  • Earlier this year, a new clothing line called Par en Par launched for bleisure travelers who want outerwear fit for the boardroom as well as the boardwalk.  

  • Expedia Group Media Solutions says 60 percent of current business travel in the U.S. transforms into bleisure travel. That number is expected to rise as more millennials (and Gen Zers) join the workforce.  

  • American Express Global Business Travel has advice for human resource managers on how to set up effective bleisure policies so priorities and receipts never get mixed up.

  • And the word bleisure has been added to the Cambridge Dictionary back in January. Sounds fairly official.

 

Of course, the idea of combining business with pleasure has been around before millennials showed up, but unlike the Gordon Gekkos and Bret Easton Ellis protagonists of the past, wholesome young professionals are avoiding professional (and hopefully, personal!) pitfalls by actively involving HR and travel managers in the bleisure planning process. Who pays for what, and when, is decided by both parties, and by adding transparent vacation days to business trips, both employees and employers benefit from a win-win scenario. Well-rested employees come back from dining at nice restaurants and exploring new cities to work with refreshed attitudes, less likely to experience burnout and more likely to get the job done with renewed interest and verve. Employers enjoy happier employees with a a stronger work ethic, and everyone gets to save money on travel.   

 

Interesting new technology benefits both the boss and bleisure-seeking worker, too, thanks to a whole cottage industry of networking apps on smartphones dedicated to combining business with pleasure. Want to go out for dinner, but don’t want to go alone? Got a new business idea you want to bounce off with a prospective new partner? Eager to form new networking connections while exploring local cuisine? The soon-to-be-an-adage is true: There’s an app for that.

 

One of the latest bleisure apps, Invitly, allows professionals to connect and network with each other through simple invites for dinner, coffee, or happy hour drinks. Travelers can scroll through profiles authenticated by LinkedIn and invite up to six nearby like-minded individuals (found via geolocation) out to a business meal at their chosen vacation-dining spot, all with a few quick taps. It’s a one-stop solution that combines the satisfaction of a networking opportunity with the pleasure of exploring a new city. And because it’s so efficient, it’s the perfect tool for travelers short on downtime.

 

An app that allows travelers to discover contacts, set a time and location, and arrange for everyone to meet, eat, drink, and form lasting new professional relationships? Sounds like the epitome of “bleisure” to us. It also sounds like a great argument for why undecided bosses not sold on the idea should send workers on more bleisure trips. Besides, what good is work if you can’t take some time off on now and then—even when work pays for part of it?