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The Business Of Pleasure: Can you turn a conference into a bleisure trip?

Blog post   •   Jun 14, 2018 09:30 GMT

You’ve heard the buzzword, you’ve seen the articles — but is “bleisure travel” really catching on? Yep, and we say: embrace it.

Travelers are increasingly taking advantage of bleisure travel (a portmanteau of 'leisure' and 'business') — and why not? A trip to a travel industry conference — like the upcoming GBTA Convention in San Diego, from 11 - 15 August — is a great excuse to explore a new city, meet new people and even have yourself an adventure.

A recent GBTA study found over one-third of North American travelers have extended a work trip for leisure. Research from CWT Solutions Group found that women, young people and infrequent business travelers are the most likely to take bleisure trips — but why shouldn’t everyone? Taking more vacation can actually improve your productivity and make you more likely to receive a raise or bonus, according to Harvard Business Review.

To help convert your conference into a full-fledged bleisure trip, we’ve compiled a few tips:

1. First Things First: Extend Your Stay

The first step in upgrading your trip from business to bleisure is to extend your stay. We'll use the GBTA conference as an example.  if you’re going to be in San Diego for a few days anyway, why not stay through the weekend and explore everything Southern California has to offer? Giving yourself a few extra days means you can take in the city while still getting the most of out of your conference.

But, we should note: If you are going to extend your trip, it’s probably a good idea to run it past your boss first and check if your company includes leisure time in its travel policy.

2. Business or Pleasure? How About Both?

When planning for the perfect bleisure getaway, we recommend making a well-thought-out itinerary for both work and play. Try balancing both by picking four expert panelists you want to see, and four can’t-miss local sights.

At the GBTA conference in August, catch some CWT panelists, including:

  • Scott Brennan, President of CWT’s Hotel Americas, discussing how loyalty programs can improve your travel program (Monday, August 13)
  • Katie Raddatz, CWT’s Senior Director of Solutions Group Americas, will be sharing the 2019 Global Travel Price Forecast covering global air, hotel and ground prices (Monday, August 13)
  • Barbara Barnard, Senior Vice President, Americas, examining the benefits of industry collaboration (Tuesday, August 14)
  • Kurt Ekert, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, moderating a panel of senior buyers (Tuesday, August 14)

For the 'leisure' part, try something quintessentially San Diego like exploring Balboa Park, home to more than 16 museums and the San Diego Zoo, relax at La Jolla Cove, a cliff-filled beach, or lunch on burritos at Nico's.

3. Forget Tradition: Get Creative with Networking

Industry events, trade shows and conferences are fantastic locales for networking with folks across the travel world — from competitors to prospective customers. To get truly unique when meeting new faces at an industry event, break outside the traditional dinner and drinks.

Take clients to an escape room, visit a local craft brewery or rent bikes and see the town on two wheels. Using RoomIt by CWT, it’s easy to find preferred hotels (and apartments) right in the heart of the city.

4. Break Out Your Bucket List

A work trip is a perfect time to start crossing items off your bucket list. All too often, we spend our work trips trapped in client offices and hotel ballrooms. Instead, step outside your normal routine and try something the local culture has to offer, such as skydiving over the ocean or surfing. A bleisure trip is the perfect opportunity to wade into new waters.

5. Say Yes!

If someone at the conference asks you to dinner ­— say yes! If a panelist opens themselves up to questions, go introduce yourself and ask them out for coffee. The more you say “yes” to new opportunities, the more chances you have to create memorable experiences.

To have yourself a bleisurely weekend in San Diego, don’t forget to register for GBTA Convention, add CWT exhibitors to your convention planner and tack a few extra days on to your itinerary when booking.

Blog author: Melissa Jose, Senior Manager, Marketing Communications - Americas 

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