Business trips connote boardroom meetings, negotiations, and presentations. And increasingly, they’re also looking more like short family getaways complete with sightseeing and cultural experiences.
However, just as leisure travelers are always working (43% of international travelers always take their professional mobile devices with them on holiday or weekend trips), business travelers are now often extending their stays to include a leisure component.
According to according to new BridgeStreet Global Hospitality report about international business travel leisure habits and preferences (2014), for businessmen and women traveling frequently throughout the year, not losing touch with their families is a concern.
If a business traveler flies from New York to San Francisco, for example, their company likely pays for the flight and saves a family the price of one ticket, making a trip more affordable.
This is about more than rest and relaxation. Bleisure can benefit business. Almost all the business travelers that took part in this survey believed ‘bleisure’ helped them gain cultural experience and knowledge of the cities they were doing business in. Nearly four out of five respondees agreed that adding leisure days to business trips added value to work assignments.
While a desire for ‘bleisure’ is growing amongst employees, the majority of businesses have yet to embrace the concept. Very few have a formal policy in place that addresses bleisure.
Clear and fair guidance around ‘bleisure’ trips will, we believe, help foster trust between companies and their employees as well as motivate them, make them more productive and create a positive attitude to work/life balance. Who knows, ‘bleisure’ may even have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line.
Let's take a look at a real case in real life -- and how we can make it work. 'LiveFamilyTravel, a blog dedicated to sharing experiences, lessons, and tips on how to trully live family travel. Cliff Hsia, the author of the blog, is a father who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. He's currently on a gap year of world travel with his family. He writes about travel, family, love, happiness, faith and everything else that life throws at him. While it is challenging to have your family with you when you need to take care of business, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Here’s Cliff's top 5 reasons why you should mix business and family travel, in descending order:
5. You save a ton of travel costs
Staying in nice hotels in big metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco can be very expensive if you had to personally pay for the bill. When you’re traveling on business, not only is your accommodation taken care of, but also your transportation and meal expenses. The only additional expenses you need to concerned about when traveling with your family on a business trip are their airplane tickets, which normally can be bought with your accumulated airline points, any entertainment costs, and any extra meal costs outside of your per diem.
4. You get rid of the guilt
When your family is with you on business travel, you don’t ever have to miss a day of not seeing your kids. You can continue daily rituals such as story time, bath time, and bed time in your hotel room. You go to bed every night with the peace of mind knowing that you were there for your kids.
3. You share life experiences with your kids
No matter where you travel for business, it will be somewhere different and your kids will appreciate the freshness of their new location. Normally, you’ll have nights free to go out and explore the city and have a nice dinner. And if you pad a couple of open days on the front or tail end of the trip, you can have some great family excursions. We’ve been able to take our children to Disneyland on trips to Los Angeles, do some shopping at Union Square in San Francisco, and visit relatives in China…all while on business trips
2. Your kids grow up quicker by traveling with you
When kids are in different environments on your road trips, soft skills like being organized, responsible, and respectful are easier to acquire. How did we teach our four-year old how to prioritize and be responsible for her own things? We bought her a backpack that she travels with and takes full ownership for. She picks the toys, crayons, coloring books, and whatever she wants to put in her backpack. She packs it, carries it, and takes care of all of its contents.
1. You learn to cherish every moment
When you’re busy with work on the road and come back to your hotel room to play with your kids, you appreciate those moments with your kids more. You are there to be with them, separate of all the distractions of home, which would probably include cooking and cleaning. And by being able to work and travel with your family, you are there in the moment and living it with your family.
Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group, thinks that It’s true – it takes hard work, persistence and long hours to start any new business. How to balance this hard work with family? He shares his vision with us:
"Hard, persistence and long working hours was certainly the case for many Virgin companies, particularly when we were entering highly regulated industries and up against competitors that didn’t want to see us succeed. The only way to get through those long hours is to love what you do. You have to be passionate about what you are creating and believe in the impact it will have on the world. I have always felt this way – even as a 16-year-old starting out my own magazine, Student, with just a few pennies. It didn’t really feel like work to me because it was fun and I truly believed it would have a positive impact on youth culture. When we were working out of a basement, I would always urge the team to join me outside for a walk in the park in the afternoon. We’d often come up with good ideas out in the fresh air — and sometimes end up jumping in the fountains! My advice is that if it feels like stressful, hard work, and your heart just isn’t in it, it may be time to reassess your business plans."
Family is more important than business, Richard Branson says: "My family means the world to me, much more than business or anything else. I know what it’s like when work commitments take you away from family. I have never worked from an office, and worked on our houseboat in Little Venice in London when the kids were young so I could be with them. What’s more, when I travelled — whether for an inaugural flight or a meeting — Holly and Sam would often join me. Being able to spend as much time as possible with your loved ones is absolutely vital, especially early on when you have children — and it’s very promising to see more and more companies recognize this as being central to workplace wellbeing. My advice is to make spending time with your family a priority. Focus upon time management. Schedule dropping your kids at school or family dinnertime in your calendar, just as you would for a meeting."
You can watch this video where Richard Branson shares his vision about work-life balance, and how to live it in real life. Click on the image below.
There is no right answer to this challenge. There are choices. Try to pick yours wisely and evolve from there. And always remember: humor is what makes life more fun. So, never take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.