'Bleisure' Travel Is on the Rise--and It's Complicated

Companies should revisit their risk exposures and ensure there are proper protections in place for the business as well as employees on trips that combine business and leisure. .

Woman Sitting on Poolside Using Laptop

As the name suggests, "bleisure" travel is a trend where employees combine business travel with leisure trips. It could be a business trip extended to include personal time or business travel where friends and family come along.

Bleisure travel has grown more popular in recent years, especially with younger generations. In fact, Hilton’s 2024 Trends Report found that more than one-third of Gen Z and millennial business travelers globally plan to extend a business trip this year to enjoy leisure time before or after their work obligations. The report also finds that 24% of global business travelers plan to take a friend or family member with them on a trip in 2024.

While bleisure travel isn’t new, a rise in bleisure travel has significantly increased risks for employers. This makes it prudent for companies to revisit their risk exposures and ensure there are proper protections in place for their business as well as their employees. 

A Shifting Landscape and Renewed Focus 

In today's dynamic landscape, business travelers face many evolving risks. Climate change-induced natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and floods lead to travel disruptions and safety concerns. Geopolitical instability introduces additional complexities, with terrorism, regional conflicts and cyber threats all posing a danger to business travelers. As we have learned in recent years, the threat of pandemics and the emergence of new virus variants can also significantly affect business travelers worldwide.

Starting in 2020, business travel had a significant downturn as organizations implemented remote working policies and travel restrictions to prioritize employee safety and adhere to public health guidelines. However, since then, we have seen a gradual rebound in business travel, although not as quickly as personal travel has surged back. 

Industries reliant on face-to-face interactions, such as sales, consulting and client management, have demonstrated a greater willingness to resume travel activities as they rebuild relationships and pursue new opportunities. We expect business travel to grow in the coming years, as video conferencing and telecommuting will never truly replace face-to-face interactions.

See also: New Workers' Comp Laws for 2024

Preparation Makes for Better Protection

When employees go on trips, whether it's domestic or overseas, businesses—of course—want to make sure they're protected. 

This starts with ensuring that employees have the proper resources available to them and that they are well-informed before they leave. Depending on the scope and destination, this could involve several dedicated training sessions or sharing a simple comprehensive resource. Either way, employees must know what to do and who to notify should an issue arise.  

When it comes to international travel, companies also need to think about other risks, like political problems or different cultural customs. Things become more complicated abroad—especially if there is a language barrier or unfamiliar rules, making it harder to get help in an emergency. Businesses should plan ahead, properly train employees before they go and have clear steps to follow if something goes wrong.

Lastly, businesses must stay on top of geopolitical risks. HR departments should prepare written procedures, including an action plan for employees who may experience issues while traveling. Employees traveling internationally should be instructed to follow the Department of State’s website closely to stay on top of any travel alerts. 

Whether employees are traveling domestically or abroad, businesses must have adequate insurance and good plans to help keep employees prepared for anything that could go wrong.

See also: Has the Remote-Work Trend Peaked?

Importance of Risk Mitigation

A well-rounded insurance policy is key to employer preparation for an employee’s business-related travel. Employers should look for a business travel insurance policy that offers employee accident and travel accident coverage, as well as coverage for medical emergencies, evacuations and trip interruptions. It should also give traveling employees access to 24/7 assistance services,  to help navigate through unexpected events. 

Business risk managers and enterprise risk management teams need to consider coverage gaps that may arise with the increasing trend of blending business and leisure travel. When employees combine these types of trips, there's a risk of confusion about coverage in case of incidents like injuries during personal activities. 

For instance, if an employee is injured during a personal scuba-diving excursion while on a business trip to Bermuda, it's crucial to understand how insurance coverage applies, especially if assistance is needed for the return flight home. 

Therefore, it's essential to clarify the scope and limitations of coverage for each type of plan, as business travel accident plans complement but don’t replace workers' compensation or foreign casualty insurance. Clarifying coverage boundaries and educating employees about policy limitations are vital for risk managers to ensure adequate protection during bleisure trips.

By staying attuned to these evolving risks, companies can ensure they have the necessary protection for business travelers navigating this increasingly uncertain world.

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