Travelers who plan to work at least part of the time while on summer vacation this year are creating increased travel demand, according to a new study by business consultancy Deloitte.
The report examined travelers’ behaviors and preferences, and showed travel concerns over COVID-19 have waned. Those concerns, however, have been replaced by financial worries, with many travelers keeping a close eye on higher costs.
After being decimated by the pandemic over the past two years, business travel is expected to return to pre-COVID numbers by 2024, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
Business travel that is combined with leisure trips or tourism is usually referred to as “blended travel” by the GBTA. Other organizations have begun calling it “bleisure” travel. By whatever name, the trend means business travelers are adding days onto the front or back end of their business plans to relax with family and friends.
The majority of travelers plan to remain in the US, as concerns over international COVID-19 restrictions persist, the survey showed. As a result, US-based properties, carriers, and destinations stand to attract the lion’s share of travel spending, as just 15% of Americans (27% of travelers overall) plan to take an international flight.
High international airfares could be a factor, along with unpredictable entry and exit regulations and the possibility of winding up stranded overseas after testing positive for COVID-19. The US hospitality industry has a busy summer ahead, with 67% of travelers planning hotel stays, and 16% planning rental stays, Deloitte’s survey found.
Since February, business travel has seen a double-digit surge, according to the GBTA’s April Business Travel Recovery Poll. When asked to characterize their company’s spending on travel compared to 2019, on average, respondents expect their company will be back to 59% of their pre-pandemic spending levels by the end of this year, and at reach 79% by the end of 2023.
Deloitte, which surveyed 4,233 Americans March 23-30, revealed workplace flexibility — enabling employees to work remotely from anywhere — continues to increase and has had a marked effect on increased business travel.
One in five surveyed (20%) by Deloitte said they plan to work during their longest summer trip. Those who plan to combine leisure with work also tend to take longer trips and travel with larger groups. Three of four surveyed (75%) indicated their longest trip will last one to three weeks. And four out of five said they expect to extend their summer trip because they can work remotely. One-third plan to extend their trip by a day or two; another third plan to add three to six days.
Deloitte’s findings were backed by GBTA research.
In a survey conducted by the organization late last year, corporate travel managers were asked whether more employees are interested in extending work trips for leisure compared to before the pandemic. Fully 82% said their workers were equally or more interested in blended travel than they used to be.
The majority of travelers who plan on blended travel are generally younger and wealthier, Deloitte’s survey found. Those who identified as 18-to-34-years old are five times more likely to work on vacation, and those who report an income of more than $100,000 a year are twice as likely to do the same.
“To that end, 40% of them say their trip budget this year exceeds pre-pandemic levels…,” Deloitte said.
Those participating in bleisure travel tend to prefer private rentals. While overall 20% of travelers plan to stay in private rentals this summer, bleisure travelers are twice as likely to do so. What’s more, they’re more likely to use private rentals for future trips; Deloitte said extra room to work makes rentals more attractive.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.