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Designing Events for Business Leisure

Women at resort on a laptop

With the surge of the WFH lifestyle due to COVID and the rise of the social media influencer, the lines between personal and work life have blurred. In response, buzzwords like “quiet quitting” and “burnout” have gained notice as society is doing all it can to protect personal time. From this duality has emerged “bleisure travel”, the hybrid of business and leisure travel. Traveling professionals are no longer booking flights to get in and get out. A survey from Hilton Hotel & Resorts found that seven out of 10 business travelers between ages 25-30 want to extend work trips for mini vacations.

This is a trend that the travel industry is looking to cash in on and businesses love the morale boost that increases the productivity of their employees. Bring this sentiment into your events by structuring your programming to give attendees a chance to explore and enjoy their travel.    

Business man by pool

So how can you play into the bleisure trend when planning your annual conferences and events

  1. Plan your conference in a fun destination! A study from Expedia Group and Luth Research found that the top factor that encourages bleisure travel is how exciting the destination is. Choose a city with sightseeing, great food, and easy to get around in. These cities also tend to have the infrastructure to support large events.
  2. Accessibility is key! Hosting your event outside the city or where ride sharing, or public transportation is not reliable is going to make it more challenging to get out of the conference space into the city. Look for event spaces near other attractions so your attendees can pop over to a local spot for a meal etc. Alternatively, you can provide planned itineraries or make shuttles available to help attendees easily access the city outside of your venue.
  3. With that said, try to incorporate the destination into your programming by hosting receptions off-property in unique venues to get people out of the hotel and explore. Host your awards at a local museum or organize a tour of a local facility as it’s related to your industry. Also, consider adding local flavor and talent by featuring local dishes or entertainment. This will allow your attendees to feel like they are enjoying the city even if they aren’t able to get away from convention programming.
  4. According to the Expedia Group and Luth Research study, 51% of travelers are likely to extend their travel into a bleisure trip if the work obligation is close to a weekend. So structure your programming schedule thoughtfully to allow vacation opportunities. Consider hosting your events near the weekend but not overlapping with those precious days off. Try starting your general session programming in the afternoon so attendees can sleep in or spend the morning touring the city.
  5. On your conference registration website, provide a list of suggested local points of interest at your destination. Take the work out of your guests’ hands and help plan their “bizcation.” This is also a great marketing tactic to increase attendance by showcasing your chosen event destination and all it has to offer. To elevate this further, ask your hotel concierge to put you in touch with these local attractions and negotiate discounts that you could provide to your attendees!
  6. Work with your hotel to build an extended stay option into your hotel room block, offering discounted rates for guests who would like to stay through the weekend.
  7. In mixing business with pleasure, create spaces that can accommodate both. Meeting planners have become experts in making sure there are quiet locations for attendees to take meetings or meet deadlines that conflict with the conference programming. The keys are efficient wifi and accessible charging ports. Take this a step further by transforming these work spaces into relaxing and enjoyable settings. Utilize the great coffee shop or endearing lounge space at your venue that can make working feel fun.

      Women sitting by window looking out at city

Encourage families or extra guests to join for a vacation and feel involved in their loved one’s career. According to the Global Business Traveler Association 44% of business travelers traveled with someone else for the leisure portion of their last business trip so invite them to join in on conference events. Spousal programming can feel outdated, but there are ways to accommodate families more organically. Make sure family badges are available to allow them to check out your interactive exhibit halls to learn more about the industry. Invite attendees to bring guests to receptions with live entertainment and activities. Encourage families to be present at award shows to celebrate with the honorees.

The future of work is changing drastically, and although not a new concept, the business leisure travel experience is gaining more attention. Use these suggestions to tap into the trend and increase your event attendance.


LAI Live Can Help You Plan Your Bleisure at Your Next Event

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