Bleisure (‘business + leisure’) visitors are people who add extra days to their conference or business trip for leisure activities such as sightseeing, sports, entertainment, or simply relaxation, turning their business visit into a holiday experience. Since the widespread relaxation of travel restrictions linked to the Covid pandemic, Bleisure has been growing fast in Europe and beyond. According to a recent report from consultants EHL Insights, ‘The 10 trends that are shaping the hospitality industry in 2022’, one of the top trends for this year is Bleisure travellers.
But are European convention bureaus taking full advantage of this trend and the clear benefits that it offers for the hospitality and tourism businesses in their destinations?
Only 17 of the convention bureaus participating in the survey had done any research on the impacts of Bleisure tourism in their destinations, meaning that most of them have never attempted to measure the economic benefits from conference participants who spend extra days in their destinations.
And while 21 of the convention bureaus had run special marketing campaigns to encourage business visitors to prolong their stays, the vast majority had never promoted their destinations in this way.
However, the report ‘European Convention Bureaus’ Strategies to Promote Bleisure’ gives details of many positive actions that are being taken by convention bureaus in all parts of Europe to increase the numbers of conference participants who spend extra time and extra money in their cities. There are some outstanding examples of good practice in measuring, promoting, and encouraging Bleisure, from bureaus representing: Belfast, Copenhagen, Florence, Glasgow, Ireland, Ljubljana, and Wrocław.
Rachael McGuickin, Director of Business Development, Sustainability and Transformation, at Visit Belfast, said: “It is clear to us that we need to work harder to get more benefits from the visitors we have. One way to do that is to increase the length of stay and the spending of incoming business visitors. It also makes financial sense for conference participants to turn their business trip into a holiday, saving expenditure on additional flights. And by making their journey by air serve two different purposes, business and leisure, they may reduce the number of flights they take over the year, therefore reducing their footprint on the natural environment.”
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