Research: Bleisure Travel Is Booming

BELLEVUE, WA— Domestic and international bleisure travel is booming, and business travelers are invested in making the most of their time away from home, according to new insights from Expedia Group Media Solutions, the advertising arm of Expedia Group.

The findings, from a multinational study commissioned by Expedia Group Media Solutions and conducted by Luth Research, spotlight the behaviors, influences, resources and preferences of American, British, Chinese, German and Indian bleisure travelers—or business travelers who extend their trip for leisure.

Unveiled at Phocuswright Europe, “Unpacking Bleisure Traveler Trends” shows that on average, across the five countries, bleisure travelers take more than six business trips per year, and more than 60% of business trips during the last year were extended for leisure purposes. In the U.S., bleisure travel conversion is consistent with the multinational average of 60%, revealing a nearly 40% increase in American bleisure travel since 2016.

On average, 72% of bleisure travelers said there are destinations they have visited or will visit in the future for business that they would like to extend for bleisure, but what makes a destination appealing for bleisure travel? Fifty-six percent said they are more likely to consider a bleisure trip in a destination with great food and restaurants, closely followed by approximately 50% influenced by beaches, weather, nature, historical monuments or sightseeing. This further validates the importance of experiences and activities for all travelers, and illustrates an opportunity for marketers to attract bleisure travelers from around the world.

“The study provides a deeper look at the influences and motivations of the growing and valuable bleisure audience, and the actionable insights will empower marketers to strategically target and convert these travelers within the condensed research and booking window,” said Andrew van der Feltz, senior director, EMEA & APAC for Expedia Group Media Solutions. “By showcasing unique experiences and activities, which are influential factors during the decision-making process, every destination, hotel, restaurant, attraction, airline and more can entice business travelers to extend their trip for leisure.”

Converting to Bleisure

  • Business trips lasting 2-3 nights are most likely to result in bleisure trips (50%), as are trips where the business destination is far away, or more than 400 miles from home (49%).
  • Leading factors that influence bleisure travel decisions include traveling to a destination with great entertainment (48%) and visiting an iconic or bucket list destination (43%); easy-to-navigate destinations, proximity to the weekend and additional personal costs required to extend the trip for leisure are also influential factors.

Bleisure Research & Booking Resources

  • Approximately 80% of bleisure travelers spend 1-5 hours on research during both the inspiration and planning phases, which is more condensed than more traditional leisure booking windows.
  • Before deciding to bleisure, 68% of travelers conduct research using a search engine, 47% use travel-related websites—including OTAs, airline and hotel sites, and review sites—and 44% use destination websites.
  • Most bleisure travelers personally research and book accommodations (61%), airfare (42%) and dining (38%) for the leisure portion of their trip.

Willingness to Travel for Bleisure 

  • Two-thirds of past bleisure trips were in the same city as the business trip, but more than 80% of bleisure travelers are willing to travel from the business destination for leisure.
  • On domestic and international trips, more than 50% of bleisure travelers are willing to travel 1-2 hours via car from the business destination for the leisure portion of their trip, and more than 28% would travel 1-2 hours via plane.
  • When traveling domestically between the business and leisure destinations, 38% of bleisure travelers are unwilling to travel via bus and 25% are unwilling to travel via plane.

Bleisure Budgets & Payment Preferences

  • Compared to a typical vacation, 57% of bleisure travelers spend the same amount of money or more on a bleisure trip, and more than 75% save money specifically for bleisure travel.
  • When on a bleisure trip, credit cards are the leading preferred payment method (69%), followed by cash (47%) and debit or ATM cards (44%).
  • More than two-thirds of bleisure spend is allocated to hotel, airfare and dining for the leisure portion of the trip.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

  • Bleisure Travel Is Booming: Sixty percent of business trips convert to bleisure, and with travelers taking more than six business trips per year, on average, there’s a profound opportunity to reach and entice this valuable audience.
  • Bleisure Knows No Boundaries: There is nearly equal likelihood of bleisure travel for both domestic and international business trips, and travelers are willing to travel away from the business destination for leisure.
  • Destination To-Do’s: With nearly 70% of business trips being for conferences, there is an opportunity for destinations to encourage extending for leisure by highlighting activities and experiences to drive repeat visitation.
  • Condensed Path to Purchase: Most bleisure travelers spend less time on research than they would on a leisure trip, so marketers have a shorter window to strategically target and influence behavior and purchases with call-to-action messaging.
  • In Market Targeting: Bleisure travelers may not book everything in advance, highlighting opportunities for marketers to reach and convert travelers in-trip—especially for ancillary products like dining, tours and activities, entertainment and transportation.