Bleisure Travelby Juan José Herranz | April 22, 2020
With employee benefits growing in recent years and talent retention becoming one of the greatest challenges of the decade, combining business trips with leisure becomes a concept that needs to be included in companies' policies. Referring to the combination of business activities and pleasure during a business trip, “Bleisure” is an idea that poses clear benefits for employees and new challenges for companies.
Contrary to what many would hope, bleisure travel is a trend that has come to stay and, as an employee, it is key to know how to approach the topic with your manager or boss if you’re considering extending your business trip to discover the city where you at.
Bleisure takes many forms. It can mean a night out after an important meeting or extending your stay in a city for a few days or even a week after or before a business visit. Here are some basic steps to get your manager onboard with your bleisure trip request:
Understand your manager
Be aware of what your manager’s concerns might be regarding bleisure travel. Bleisure poses challenges for companies, it’s a fact. Although industries are changing faster and faster and adapting to new trends, that doesn’t mean that your manager will be willing to accept your request.
Understand why your manager might think that a bleisure trip is not necessary and try to imagine what their main arguments against it may be. Try to make things easier for them by breaking down each issue and providing solutions.
Office drinks and blurred lines
Try to understand your company’s risks: the lines between business and leisure blur into unexplored territory for most companies. It’s unclear who is responsible for the employee’s safety during the fun part of a business trip.
While it seems clear that while on a night out with business partners, the employee is under his or her own responsibility, in certain situations they could feel pressured by business partners to, for instance, go out and spend the night drinking at a bar with them.
Many cultures have a strong drinking culture around deals, meaning that a business deal is usually closed with food and drinks. While that may not come as a problem to many, there could be employees who aren't comfortable drinking would consider such activities as work related duties, placing their safety responsibility on the company.
Turn a challenge into an opportunity
Your company’s travel policy might not contemplate bleisure. Established policies could be reticent to change. Your manager might not be 100% responsible for approving your bleisure trip or they might not be sure what the process is for them to approve it because it hasn’t been done before. If business travel itself is something uncommon in your company, these will most likely be the issues you’ll face.
Find out who is responsible for approving requests that have never been suggested before, understand the process and what the requirements are for a policy to be tailored to new business needs. Go to your manager with the answers to the key questions, but avoid sounding condescending.
Bring up the positives of a bleisure trip
If you can genuinely convince your manager that a bleisure trip is actually a great idea and that it has many benefits, they will be onboard and move it up on their list of priorities. Some benefits of a bleisure trip you could mention are:
- Having an extra couple of days to relax after the business trip would make you much more productive once you get back to the office. Going on a business trip can be very tiring. Not only because it usually involves flying overseas, but also because pressure could be placed on the employee to close new deals, expand the company’s client portfolio or meet with business partners.
- A bleisure trip could save the company money. With most business trips ending on a Friday or starting on a Monday, flying on different dates could potentially save the company a substantial amount of money on airfares.
What's work and what’s pleasure?
As mentioned above, the line between pleasure and business is blurry and that creates issues for your manager when it comes to reporting expenses.
Show your manager that you are very aware of these concerns and that you have a clear understanding of what is and what is not considered a business expense. When breaking down your bleisure plans, make sure your “pleasure days” are all grouped before or after the business trip to make it easier.
Don’t push it, be resourceful
You may lose this battle, but the war is still on. If your manager does not want to get onboard with your bleisure request, don’t push it. If you keep insisting you might get on their nerves and everyone else in the company might suffer the consequences.
Instead, find out other ways you could reach your goal. Is there an HR department you can talk to? Is there an employee committee that can help you put together a plan to move a request for a bleisure travel policy across the whole company? Be resourceful. Don’t forget to keep doing an amazing work while all this is happening, the quality of your work is your personal trademark and the biggest asset when requesting a bleisure trip.