When Bleisure & Sustainability Collide

When Bleisure & Sustainability Collide

When Bleisure & Sustainability Collide

Which is more important? Your people, or the planet?

Which is more important? Your people, or the planet? That's the question companies are grappling with as they strive to balance keeping their travellers happy, while meeting their sustainability goals in order to gain a competitive edge and meet their corporate responsibilities.

Employers know that offering bleisure travel as an employee perk is good for employee wellbeing and helps attract and retain top talent. According to the Future Marketing Insights Report, the bleisure travel market now accounts for 30-35% of the global business travel market.

Sustainability is also becoming increasingly important for businesses, with companies integrating environmental goals, carbon budgets and carbon reporting into their travel programmes.

And this is where things get interesting … with the devil in the data (to coin a phrase).

According to a Business Travel Network survey, about 70% of companies plan to use their travel management company or booking tool for sustainability reporting. That means business travellers could increasingly face "carbon per trip" limits. The problem is that the addition of bleisure blurs the boundaries, and employers will need to think about how they report on bleisure trips – and specifically, the carbon impact of such trips, going forward.

“It’s a grey area,” says Bodil Mansson, Managing Director FCM Nordics. “Obviously, companies won’t want to remove the option of bleisure travel, especially if it fits with their culture and ethos. By reducing stress and increasing morale, bleisure travellers are more likely to be productive employees. In addition, businesses may find that more employees are willing to travel for business when they have the option to extend their trip for leisure – and explore a destination in their own time.”

If a company is really committed to reducing carbon emissions, they need to look at the bigger picture too, says Mansson. 

“Flights account for about 90% of business travel emissions. So, if it's necessary to fly to a business meeting or event anyway, it's possible to save two additional holiday flights by extending a business trip. Once there, travellers can be encouraged to make better choices too, like staying in eco-friendly hotels and travelling by bus or train.”

Of course, companies can report on the ‘business’ element of the trip – and shift the carbon burden of the ‘leisure’ portion directly onto the traveller.

Mansson says we will see more and more corporate travel programmes working closely with their TMCs to find solutions. "These are new – and nuanced – challenges. It makes sense to work with your travel partners to update your travel policy, look at your reporting, and find ways to maximise your sustainability efforts while still supporting your travellers' leisure travel requests."

Mansson explains that there are many ways to reduce the carbon impact of your business travel, which may give you some wriggle room to accommodate bleisure trips.

“Start by working with your TMC to measure and understand your current emissions, then implement strategies to reduce them. These might include replacing some face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings; greening your supplier base; rewarding responsible travel behaviour; or implementing stricter policies around economy class, direct routes, and local transport providers." Mansson says.

There are a number of ways which travellers can reduce their personal footprint while out on the road. These include:

  • Using public transport, for example, trains, busses and ferries
  • Opting for a la carte service over buffets (a huge culprit when it comes to food waste)
  • Being aware of one’s water and energy consumption
  • Avoiding single-use plastics
  • Supporting local (ensuring your tourism spend directly benefits the destination)

While organisations and TMCs explore different strategies to measure, report and embed sustainability into travel programmes, travellers cannot ignore their own responsibility – or let things slide – as they relax and enjoy some hard-earned downtime.

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