Bleisure – Combining Business with Leisure

Frequent business travellers will generally all agree that the average business trip is no fun. Business travel has little, if anything, in common with the typical holiday and, more often than not, business trips leave the traveller feeling exhausted and stressed out. Most corporate folk who regularly travel for work end up not even using all of their vacation days. There is, however, a solution to this predicament: Bleisure travel.

Bleisure Travel

Bleisure Travel (Image from: healthytravelblog.com)

This buzzword was created from the words “business” and “leisure” and refers to a business traveller who fits in some leisure time during a business trip. This is hardly a new thing, but it has only recently become newsworthy. In fact, for long there has been a segment of business travellers who have had the monetary means, as well as the professional flexibility, to include a few extra leisure days in their scheduled business trips. According to Visa’s 2015 Global Travel Intentions Study, 16% of travellers combined leisure with business on their most recent trip. Whether this is a current trend or whether it has been taking place for quite some time, it definitely highlights the integration of people’s professional and personal lives in the modern world.

Still, why mix business with leisure?

Bleisure travellers believe that planning leisure around business is a very effective way to go about it when it comes to time and money spent on tickets, visas and other travel expenses. Taking a short holiday before the business trip commences helps employees to acclimatize before entering a foreign work environment, plus it gives them a unique understanding of the city and culture in which their business meetings will take place. Most bosses understand, and even appreciate, this sort of time and resource optimisation. Some employers even believe that the additional travel time motivates their employees to perform better; especially when it goes hand in hand with a “digital detox” (a day or two with no access or connectivity to any electronic communication devices). These few extra days, taken at the employee’s expense, can be used to recharge and come back re-energized – ready to tackle the next business project or deal. Bleisure travellers tend to be more content and everybody knows a happy employee is more productive. Bleisure travel, therefore, not only increases job satisfaction, but it also nurtures loyalty towards the company.

Why should the travel, tourism and hospitality sector care? Because bleisure travellers tend to spend more money per trip than their strictly-business counterparts. Since the company normally covers the travel costs, travellers now have more spending money for their trip and they generally strive to make the visit worth their while. This provides a very interesting opportunity for hotels, guesthouses and even self-catering destinations to retain travellers once they have completed the business segment of their trip. Travellers could be motivated to prolong their stay through post-stay leisure packages or exclusive discounts for people coming to a specific conference. The aim is to encourage them to linger a little longer. Perhaps they could even fly their families or partners in and turn the primarily business trip into a well-deserved family holiday or romantic breakaway.

A captive audience is an opportunity not to be missed, which is why the travel, tourism and hospitality sector should tap into this fast growing bleisure travel market.

Word of Mouth – Get them to talk about you

Did you know that, according to referralcandy.com, customers attained through word-of-mouth spend 200% more than the typical customer? They also make double the referrals than your usual client.

Mark Zuckerberg, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of Facebook, said:

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

This is why review platforms, like TripAdvisor, are doing so well in the tourism and hospitality industry: People influence people. Before making any purchases, customers search for reviews and referrals related to products and services they are interested in, in order to make a calculated decision on what to purchase.

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth

Customers trust those suggesting certain products and services, as they know that no one will put their name on the line for a brand that won’t live up to the anticipated standards.

Referring customers may dub a hotel’s check-out process one of the most important touch points of the customer’s experience. A restaurant’s work is not necessarily done after the customer has paid the bill. Yes, post-purchase experiences can determine a customer’s brand preference just as much as any other touch point in the customer journey, encouraging or discouraging word-of-mouth marketing.

The question is: What is it that makes customers want to talk about your brand?

Word-of-mouth kicks in…

  • When a customer experiences something way beyond what was expected.
  • When the customer was impressed by a physical, non-verbal statement. It could be a unique architectural feature, a kinetic or educational experience or an act of generosity, like offering free dessert to buying customers. Like entrepreneur.com puts it: “Flour, butter and sugar are cheap advertising.” In comparison to all the other advertising options out there, I agree. Find something within your brand that sets you apart from the rest, even if it costs you a little extra flour, butter and sugar each month. Use it to your advantage.
  • When you prepare and budget to deliver a service that generates word-of-mouth. Sometimes we need to sacrifice one thing in order to gain another, i.e. Expanding your restaurant with a unique children’s playground might just get your customers talking.
  • When you trust and allow your customers to deliver the news about your brand to their friends. They won’t repeat what you say in your advertisements – give them the opportunity to do the marketing for you.
  • When it is something interesting to share with friends. There has to be a reason customers want to talk about your destination, isn’t there?
  • When it is easy. You need to help word-of-mouth along. Make it a simple, easy-to-share message – anything longer than a sentence is too long. Don’t just stick the message to a brochure or your website – make it portable with things like emails and social media.
  • When you make customers happy. Content customers are supreme promoters, so delight them, excite them and make them want to tell a friend.
  • When customers trust and respect you. Always be honourable and entwine ethics into what you do. Be good to your customers and satisfy their needs. Customers won’t talk about a company that might embarrass them by not living up to what others say about the brand.

Whether we like it or not, word-of-mouth is here to stay. As people, we want to have conversations and we want to share in each other’s joy. It’s part of our being. So get your ducks in a row, put on your brainstorming caps and create opportunities for customers to talk about you!

Staycations – A threat or an opportunity for your destination?

Written by: Renate Engelbrecht

There is a lot being written about the word, Staycation, but do we really get what it’s about? Do we realise that Staycations could either be seen as a threat or an opportunity for local businesses?

Staycation

Staycation – Photo taken by Renate Engelbrecht

We often tend to focus all our marketing efforts on guests coming in from abroad – you know, those with the dollars. But then, when last have we really taken a good look at what the customers right under our noses, the locals, are looking for? That family of four driving past your destination every day on their way to school; the couple who just bought a new home around the corner and committed themselves to weekly date nights; the retirees who love to invite their precious grandchildren for a visit, but don’t know where to take them for entertainment…

STAYCATION: A period in which individuals or families stay at home and take part in local leisure activities within driving distance from their homes and sleep in their own beds at night.

What causes guests to revert to Staycations?

  • Economic pressure or recession
  • The rise of fuel prices
  • The increase of tourists who want to reduce the carbon footprint
  • The urge and necessity to save time (travelling could take up to two days, where Staycations require one hour’s travel at most)
  • The larger the family, the less the finances for travel when you take into account the costs of restaurants, transport and accommodation
  • Health concerns may alter travelling plans
  • Work commitments may thwart plans of travelling abroad or even just out of town

How can Staycations be to your destination’s advantage?

  • You can get the locals on your side – the best all year round customers you could wish for!
  • Local businesses can work together, for once, and build a stronger, more steadfast relationship
  • You could wind up with a whole new group of customers, allowing you to broaden customer experiences offered, hence catering for a wider range of clients.
  • It will drive you to get involved in your local community – a must in today’s competitive business environment and economy.
  • It will encourage you to learn more about your immediate and surrounding areas – something we tend to neglect when focusing on foreign tourists.

How can you drive locals, or rather, Staycationers, to your destination?

It so happens that not all towns and cities are ideal for Staycations. This is where you, as a destination, have the obligation to create experiences for Staycationers and keep them from driving to the nearest best town for the day. Yes, you still want to make a buck or two, which is why you need to think clever! You need to find a way to cater for guests who want to relax in a wallet-friendly environment, while still growing your profits:

  • Open your destination’s swimming pool for the public on certain days, offering refreshments and snacks on a budget that might up your sales for the day. Add some water activities, i.e. water aerobics at an hourly fee and increase profits in that way.
  • Put up some alternative activities that may be used by the public at a minimal fee. Think table tennis, volleyball, giant chess, put-put and some facilitated local games like the well-known South African Boeresport. That’ll keep’em busy!
  • Run local tours – not only at your destination, but also in the surrounding areas. Make it interesting and try to educate. Educational tourism is just as much a thing as Staycations. Put together an “Explore your city” package with local businesses like museums, botanical gardens and local breweries, for example, and put a mark-up on it.
  • Host a fun run and have participants enjoy a breakfast buffet at your on-site restaurant afterwards at a discounted rate. Often you will find, if it was a good experience, that these guests stay for longer or they return.

I say, let’s turn Staycations into the best opportunity for destinations yet!

Travelling off the grid – Why a digital detox is necessary

Written by: Esrida Brits

Open your mind, pack lightly and leave the phone at home.

We should all look at our friends and family and earnestly ask – “When was the last time you switched off?” When was the last time that you refrained from using any electronic connecting device for 24 hours? If the answer is “I cannot remember,” a digital detox should be on the cards for them. The world looks a lot better when it is not through a screen!

Digital Detox

Digital Detox

As cell phone towers continue to pop-up, and Wi-Fi spots become commonplace, escaping the digital world becomes harder and harder, even impossible, and ever more exclusive. It is becoming an expression of privilege and of wealth; unattainable for the mere mortal traveller.  This perception is a shame, as off-the-grid travelling is the only way you can still experience the original intended thrill of adventure. The sense of excitement and strangeness; of being in a different, new place. The feeling that travellers once took for granted. Cutting the digital umbilical cord in the form of a digital detox is the first step towards adventure – escaping from the familiar.

A digital detox can be defined as down-time, time spent away from any technological devices like smartphones or computers, and is widely regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress, increase focus and develop social interaction in the physical world. If we don’t allow ourselves the chance to reboot and recharge, we cannot be surprised if we burn out, become inefficient or lose our creative edge. In short, a digital detox is exactly what we need to stay productive and balanced in our wired world.

60% of all travellers confessed that traditional tourism holidays do not leave them rested and relaxed. Luckily, more and more destinations are realising the need for this “digital break-away” and are striving to provide guests with exactly that. Some destinations even have, as part of their rules, a strict “no device” policy where all guests must switch off their mobiles, smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers for the duration of their stay. These destinations use their “digital zero” rule as their defining factor, something that provides a unique selling point that sets them apart from the rest. They attract like-minded travellers who not only want to experience the destination’s uniqueness, the people’s culture and the feel of freedom, but who also want to re-summons focus and clarity into their lives.

These destinations are creating and planning enjoyable activities that guests can engage in during their digitally switched off time. Activities can range from cooking demonstrations and classes to outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming. The lack of constant distraction from a screen tends to allow guests to immerse themselves in the activity, leading to more enjoyment and richer memories to look back on. The disconnectedness also tends to free people’s minds, permitting them to think about the important things in life and can even encourage them to make big changes to relationships, careers, health and fitness.

So what are you waiting for? Switch off. Go and do something amazing – off the grid.