“Bleisure” Travel Opens New Doors for Destination Hotels

By Mike Kovensky Director of Sales & Marketing, InterContinental Miami | September 23, 2018

"Business or pleasure?"

That question, once a staple among customs officers and flight attendants, is fast becoming irrelevant. As the lines between work and leisure continue to blur, "bleisure" travel – extending a business trip to include leisure activities – is among the travel industry's fastest growing trends. And it's creating new opportunities for hotels, particularly those in destination cities.

In 2018, 60 percent of U.S. business trips featured an added leisure element, up from 43 percent in 2016, according to a study from Expedia Group.

Less stringent corporate policies may be playing a role. Although 80 percent of business travelers responding to a 2017 National Car Rental survey felt they deserved to take a break from work and make time for themselves during business trips, 38 percent thought "telling your boss about fun times while traveling is a no–go." Meanwhile the same survey found that 92 percent of bosses support their employees taking time for personal activities while traveling for business.

"Bleisure" travel is particularly popular in destination cities. With its year-round temperate climate and sandy beaches, Greater Miami has always enjoyed a reputation as a vacation playground. For many years, tourism was responsible for an outsize chunk of the area's economy. But over the past 15 years, the Magic City has caught the attention of meeting planners and event coordinators, becoming known as a top-tier destination for corporate gatherings and business groups.

InterContinental Miami located in the heart of Downtown – a short walk from Brickell Financial District and the Arts and Entertainment District, had also experienced this shift.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.