With global market performance now back in full swing for much of the hospitality industry, it can be easy to assume that business is back to normal with the pandemic now behind us. Although for those who aim to stay on top of industry trends, the more accurate observation is that while guest bookings have returned to the industry in force, traveler preferences, needs and expectations have undoubtedly been impacted by the pandemic and continue to evolve in new and potentially promising directions.
One such trend has been the ongoing rise of bleisure travel. A term that seeks to capture the growing likelihood of encountering guests traveling for both work and leisure purposes, bleisure is sometimes viewed as a trend that simultaneously increased in popularity alongside the pandemic’s introduction of remote-based work. Bleisure travel can be viewed as yet another desire by today’s guests to introduce greater flexibility and personalization in having their unique travel needs met. At the same time and as a relatively new industry focus, bleisure travel also represents a need for hoteliers to re-examine how their current operations and service offerings stack up in catering to and getting the most out of this increasingly widespread and competitive trend.
What Hotel Stay Experiences are Bleisure Travelers Seeking Out?
With as many as 75 percent of business travelers stating that they have extended a work-related trip for leisure purposes, it is evidently in a property’s interest to understand how such motives stand to impact a guest’s overall expectations as well as what opportunities are available to increase revenues, market share and business reputations. Key to identifying what bleisure travel means for modern hotel operations is first determining who bleisure travelers are traveling with and what sort of experiences or services they seek to interact with throughout the course of their stay.
With 36 percent of business travelers currently indicating that they have had leisure plans with friends or family at their travel destination, while 58/48 percent of male/female professional travelers revealed that they often travel with their significant others. This means that in addition to addressing traditional needs such as access to good high-speed WiFi hoteliers now also have an opportunity to promote additional experiences normally reserved for those staying for leisure purposes. This can include but is certainly not limited to promoting tour guide services, room upgrades, dinner or drink packages, fitness classes, amenity or vehicle rentals and more.
Seamless Personalization is essential Business Intelligence
It’s apparent that hoteliers will need to cater to different experience needs at different stages of a guest’s journey. This also means being able to determine what those stages are, what property offerings should be promoted and when they are anticipated to take place. To ensure an uninterrupted and enjoyable experience from start to finish, hoteliers will need robust business intelligence and enhanced communication abilities allowing them to seamlessly determine when a guest’s itinerary plans and priorities change course.
By leveraging more advanced business intelligence solutions that can eliminate data silos and instead provide a comprehensive snapshot of an individual guest, including from CRMS, PMS, IoT and POS systems, hoteliers can more readily determine which offerings or experiences to promote based on a guest’s preferences, overall travel plans and their current status within those plans.
However, the system may also determine that the guest is staying at the property with company- perhaps their spouse or children arriving either at the same time or in the next few days. This would be as clear an indication as any that a guest traveling for work is also staying for leisure purposes. Based on access to the previously mentioned operations and guest data, business intelligence technology can identify which leisure offerings stand to generate the highest level of satisfaction and profitability, with recommendations based on previous purchase history, known preferences and the type of individuals that the guest is ultimately staying with.
Catering to Bleisure Traveler Needs for Enhanced Convenience
As with their colleagues simply traveling for work-related purposes, bleisure travelers likewise value brands that utilize technology to simplify their experience and streamline communications. One such solution that virtually embodies this desire for faster service is digital key technology. A service that guests can leverage the moment they first arrive, digital key solutions continue to gain widespread demand across virtually all types of guest segments.
For bleisure travelers, digital key services can arguably provide even greater benefit as time and speed of service become more valuable in keeping pace with evolving travel plans and responsibilities. This can include sidestepping time otherwise lost to checking-in and ensuring that all individuals traveling within their party have guestroom access regardless of when they arrive. Enhancing convenience for such guests even further are more recent abilities to store and use room keys within digital wallets located on personal devices. By utilizing digital keys with this more recent option, guests whether staying for business or leisure can more readily gain effortless room access without first having to navigate a potentially unfamiliar app- saving valuable time, minimizing the risk of experiencing frustration and ultimately fostering a stronger sense of loyalty in having their needs met.
Where Location-based Technology Fits in
With convenience and custom-tailored service being key to satisfying the expectations of bleisure travelers, another technology gaining considerable industry interest in catering to this segment and others are location-based solutions. Initially introduced to hotel businesses as a means to comply with staff safety mandates using advanced personal alert device technology, solution providers and hoteliers alike are ultimately discovering that such functionality also stands to provide bleisure travelers with the ever faster, yet personalized service that they seek.
For example, more robust location-based staff safety solutions are also engineered to be scalable and able to adopt additional capabilities as trends and guest needs continue to evolve. This includes utilizing such a solution to monitor the real-time location of property assets and amenities. By simply attaching a small reader tag to rental items, equipment and more, virtually any item can be instantly located and made available to the next guest without draining valuable employee time and without subjecting travelers to any service delays.
As bleisure travelers inevitably shift from work to a more leisurely mindset, the onsite locations that they tend to visit will likely change. If a guest decides to opt in, location-based technology could ultimately be able to automatically determine their precise onsite location in real-time, with relevant experience and promo offerings pushed to their personal devices as a result. This may include receiving drink special information when near a hotel’s bar or swimming pool areas, or details on fitness class schedules should an individual venture near to the gym. Ultimately when using such a solution, hotel businesses can sidestep much of the guesswork in determining what stage in their travel plans a guest is currently in, with enhanced business intelligence and automation ensuring that any offerings promoted are always done so at the right time and place in order to surpass guest and business revenue expectations.