The needs, wants and behaviors of the Millennial generation is influencing just about every industry, including meetings and events. And seeing that travel and events are frequently linked, there's one new Millennial trend that planners should keep their eyes on: bleisure.
The word "bleisure" is portmanteau for "business" and "leisure," and it describes the phenomenon of people planning their personal vacations or trips around their business ones. Whether it's extending their stay in a cool event host city or using it as a layover to their next destination, more Millennials are loving this trend.
According to National Car Rental’s 2019 State of Business Travel Survey, "half of Millennials book vacations around business trips, and 76% say they’re significantly more inclined to take a business trip if an added vacation is an option."
At first glance, the main benefit of bleisure trips appears to be financial, as travelers are taking advantage of their company reimbursing all (or at least part) of their travel and accommodations.
Another reason Millennials may be jumping on the bleisure trend is, simply, planning vacations are time-consuming and stressful, so why not let a business trip or conference determine their next travel destination? In fact, a study by Hotels.com reported that on average, Millennials spend eight hours of research on their vacation, but experience “scroll fatigue” after only 40 minutes.
Based on these factors, there's a lot of valuable lessons planners should take from the rising popularity of bleisure travel that may just lead to more successful meetings and events.
Deciding the Event Location is More Important Than Ever
Millennials may love bleisure, but they're not going to automatically plan a vacation around just any business trip or conference. The location of the event must be exciting and intriguing, and figuring out the right place that will appeal to your audience can be daunting. Take the time to research the top vacation destinations or most popular cities to visit for your demographics and investigate whether or not they'll be a good fit for your event needs. Keep an eye out for up and coming travel destinations as well, as selecting one of those unique, less traveled places could be a key factor in deciding to go to your event.
Make Your Host Location a Key Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Your event programming, speakers, networking opportunities and exhibitors are all great things to promote, but don't forget about your venue and host city or region. Once you select your destination, take a deep dive into that place's history, geography, landmarks, culinary scene, etc. and use what you learn to your advantage. Use that information to create blog posts, event marketing emails, social media photos, graphics, videos and more to remind attendees why your event and its location is worth visiting.
Talk Up Cool Things to Do Outside Your Event
This is similar to making your location a part of your marketing strategy, but it's a little more straightforward. Consider adding a "Things to Do" page to your event website that features specific suggestions, like the top restaurants, museums, historical sites, outdoor activities and more. Also include other non-competing events that happen within the week of yours, such as professional sports games, festivals, concerts, holiday celebrations, etc. The latter may be the extra incentive attendees need to come to your event and turn it into their next vacation.
Overall, the main takeaway from the bleisure trend is to embrace the fact that attendees often look for things to do outside your event and to encourage it! After all, it will not only entice more people to attendee your event, but it will make their time there more memorable as it blends into their personal lives and experiences.