Mystery Buyer: Widening the bandwidth

I’ve been tasked with building a ‘bleisure’ policy – what have I missed?

Many of my travel industry colleagues don’t like the term “bleisure travel” and are trying to think of another name.

But the name is not the point; the fact is that company travellers are increasingly loving the idea of tacking on a holiday to their business trips.

We all know that when you travel to a new destination for a long, boring business meeting, it’s very rare that we see much of the “outside world”.

I remember well my first-ever travel conference. I was new to the industry and had been a travel manager for one month!

The venue was Marbella, and the nice five-star hotel was on the beach with various events being held in rooms overlooking the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, we never made it to the beach. What was this travel industry all about, I wondered at the time; we were in a great location, but saw none of it.

Well, that was 20 years ago, and times are changing with travel managers today frequently being asked for “add-on holidays”.

There are many advantages to this type of request and activity, not least from a sustainable travel angle. Bleisure ticks the green box as extra holiday flights are combined with the business trip.

However, while my organisation embraces bleisure as a concept, we obviously need a framework around it.

It’s very rare that we see much of the outside world

Combining business and personal travel
My guidelines so far have included the points below being added to our travel policy:

  • All travel activities shall be conducted in a manner that gives priority to business purposes.
  • Any request that combines business and personal travel shall not lead to additional cost for the company, for example, a later return from the destination due to personal reasons is not permitted. However, a change of location (origin/destination/stopover) may be permitted for personal reasons, but must remain exceptional and requires upfront agreement by the line manager.
  • In a combination of business and private travel, the travel agency must be contacted before booking.
  • The price difference at the time of booking must be documented by the traveller and the line manager.
  • In case of private extensions to a trip, only the business-related part can be booked through the company tools and processes and be claimed for reimbursement.
  • A combination of business and personal travel within a country where the general risk is classified as medium, high, or extreme by company security is forbidden.
  • Combining business and personal travel may have tax and social security implications. Such impact has to be checked by the traveller with the entity tax department before booking the trip.
  • The “personal part” of the business travel is not covered by the company’s insurance. The traveller must contract with their own personal insurance provider to ensure coverage for the bleisure portion of the trip.

We are happy for employees to mix business with pleasure but there must be rules and guidelines on bleisure travel – hopefully our travel policy won’t dampen their spirits.

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