Why “bleisure” is much more than a bad portmanteau. It’s a wasted opportunity for the travel industry.

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by: Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

For as many efforts as there have been to try and get people to stop saying “bleisure” (thanks for trying Economist, click here for article!) there have been about a billion other articles lazily tossing this term into headlines to grab eyeballs. The problem I have with bleisure is not that it’s an awful portmanteau (it is) it’s that the travel industry is in danger of allowing this misnomer dictate what they should do about it.

What really is being coined as “that awful word” is much, much more than just adding a couple of days on the beach to the end of a business trip. It’s actually about business travellers wanting to get as much personally out of their journeys as they do professionally.

Sure, the idea of hopping over to Phuket after a week of meetings in Singapore is great, but let’s face it – how many times have you really been able to do something like that? More often, you’ve finished up your meetings in Singapore at noon on Friday, your flight is at 11pm, so the real question is how do I enjoy 8 hours in a city I’ve never been in?

Thisis where the real opportunity for our industry is: helping to service people who want to fulfil not only professional objectives on their business trip, but find personal meaning and perhaps some time to unwind after the work is done. For leisure-oriented travel providers, this means how do you service, support and sell experiences, tours, packages, itineraries that include that much-sought-after “me time” to a business traveller? For corporate travel agencies that service business travellers, are you actually equipped to offer them advice on what to do, where to eat, what to experience on that Friday afternoon in Singapore? And for corporate travel managers, have you thought about what a great benefit it could be to current and prospective employees if your company has a structured approach and policy around how to maximise personal time during a business trip?

These are but just a few opportunities for our industry to try and think well beyond this mashed-up terminology which inevitably always ends up with an article featuring a picture of someone on a beach with a laptop and an umbrella cocktail. Come on travel industry, we can do better than this! And no – you’re not going to get me to invent a better portmanteau for it, as “better portmanteau” in my mind is just an oxymoron.

Kurt Knackstedt, President, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

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