Is bleisure here to stay?

At BW HOTELIER’s latest webBlast series, The GM Show, Bleisure: Blending Business & Leisure - Big opportunity Beckons, hospitality industry experts discussed on the concept taking centre-stage during the pandemic

The millennium set a new pace and then the arrival of the new-age generations set in new paradigms that hadn’t hit the pre-millennial generation as in AI, bots, block-chains. As if technology hadn’t made its impact on them and then the pandemic and subsequent lockdown happened. No longer was it necessary to pace up and down to office when better productivity was the case working from home. While this brought in new opportunities as in homestays and staycations, which in many ways is also about mixing business with leisure. Call it, bleisure. Not exactly new, bleisure is now more acceptable and has percolated down the pyramid.

In another episode of BW HOTELIER’s webBLAST series titled Bleisure: Blending Business & Leisure - Big Opportunity Beckons, a group of distinguished panellists from the hospitality industry united to discuss this subject. Industry stalwarts who voiced their opinions in the discussion included Ramandeep Marwah, GM, JW Marriott Chandigarh; Chandrashekhar Joshi, GM, The Leela Palace Jaipur; Anoop Pandey, GM, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa; Jitender Pal Sohal, Cluster GM, North India, RHG and GM, Radisson Blu Hotel Amritsar; Utsa Majumder, GM - Hyatt Regency Dharamshala resort and Shuvendu Banerjee, GM, Crown Plaza Today, Okhla New Delhi. Bhuvanesh Khanna, CEO, BW Communities, Businessworld, hosted and moderated the show. 

The show began with the host-moderator putting up the first question to Jitender Pal Sohal on how has he, being in the business for years and across different geographies, seen plain vanilla business travel evolve to what we have now started seeing it become… an independent category which we call bleisure. To this he replied, “When the pandemic happened, a lot of realisations started happening that you were not to be among the four walls of an office to be productive. And this is when the marriage between business and leisure travel started happening. This has been understood by the millennial better than anyone and they have been driving the business. For millennial, work-life balance is the most important part and connecting business with leisure was perhaps the best thing to follow. I’m sure this segment is here to stay and probably the hotels will have to be suited to the needs of these bleisure traveller.”

On the next question that if bleisure travel is a growing market or is it a short-term phenomenon and what are its advantages, Shuvendu Banerjee shared, “During the pandemic, we, at our hotel, noticed business travellers coming in and then extending their stay for leisure. In and around Delhi-NCR, we have observed that most business is happening due to the checking-in by the business travellers who are then extending their stay, especially during the weekends. As most business travellers now need leisure activities to indulge in, we have adapted to this change.”

Talking whether the cases of bleisure are more formal or informal where the family tags along and if the clients make formal plans in advance, Anoop Pandey said, “Bleisure as a segment is a very unique proposition and at a nascent stage where it is being driven by the millennial. A lot of properties have come up with packages wherein they are trying to lure these travellers to a destination where they can take their business. It is now becoming a more formal affair where a guest reaches out to us in advance but we too approach them to understand their requirements. Millennial prefer experiences around so we are customising and curating experiences but ensuring these are not too heavy on leisure alone. Their work patterns are also kept in mind while designing such experiences.”

The host-moderator next moved to Chandrashekhar Joshi and asked him if the duration of the stay has to be one gain apart from the bigger ticket size and what is the difference between the ticket size and stay duration between business and bleisure stay. To this, Joshi replied, “With the advent of technology, the lines between business and leisure had been thinning over the last few years. While earlier, it was business combined with leisure, it seems to have been reversed during the pandemic. In our market, the length of stay for domestic tourists has gone up by a day, from two to three nights. The ticket size has improved and the spending at the restaurants and wellness services have increased as well.”

Utsa Majumder, when asked for her views on bleisure bookings may not just being the case where a couple or a family travels and that there could be larger groups or a solo traveller who mixes his/ her business with leisure, said, “We experience a mixed clientele at our property. To cope up with the stress-buster or the ever-changing work pattern, people are excited and lapping up this new concept. Though it always had existed, guests are getting to experience it now. It combines having your own ‘me’ time while you are working. While we do get a lot of solo travellers, there are groups coming as well. Then there have been a lot of working couples making bookings as well at the hotel.” She added that people have also become mindful about what they are eating or rejuvenating themselves. “Guests want to balance their work-life schedule by indulging in morning walks, yoga or being amidst Nature,” shared Utsa.

The next question was put to Ramandeep Marwah. The moderator asked him as to which world-class services must a hotel gear up for to be able to attract more business travellers and do loyalty programmes help support bleisure travel as also the gains for the guests and the hotel. “Loyalty needs to be on top of our priority list since it is all about recognition. It helps in the guests getting value upgrades, savings, instant earn and burn… We all know the benefits of loyal guests as it helps continuity of business, due to themselves, their recommendations as also lesser cost on customer acquisition. Guests are increasingly becoming aware so we, as hoteliers, need to be more focussed on localising our service standards to their needs. Bleisure guests needs flexibility like having a flexible breakfast timings to arrangements to work from their room to extra safety measures for hygiene and of course, a very reliable wi-fi network.” Marwah shared that their source market for bleisure guest is mostly Delhi which comprises 80 per cent and a major share from different cities of Punjab.

The show culminated with Bhuvanesh Khanna thanking the esteemed panellists for sharing their thoughts and views on the subject and informing everyone about the next GM Show at 5 pm on February 17 on Toursim in Rajasthan: Challenges & Opportunities for Hospitality Industry.


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