Combining business and leisure trips

A quantitative look at the bleisure phenomenon

July 2016


Recent technological progress has changed the way people work. Mobile and internet devices allow uninterrupted connection to the outside world and employees may switch from work to personal activities and vice versa multiple times during the day. The mix between work and personal time increasingly impacts more areas of business operations. In this paper we study bleisure - the situation in which an employee is adding personal (leisure) days to his or her business trip.


For this research we analyzed a data set of air transactions corresponding to business trips booked by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) worldwide between 2011 and 2015. Most of the results are based on a subset of 7.3 million flights taken by 1.9 million business travelers during 2015.

Our definition of bleisure requires a Saturday night stay at destination either at the beginning or at the end of a trip, or both. Using this definition, we find that every year 20% of business travelers take bleisure trips, and these account for 7% of all business trips. These values have remained largely unchanged since 2011, which indicates that this is not a new phenomenon.

Our analysis shows that for 46% of the bleisure trips the personal days occur at the end of the trip, for 34% at the beginning, while for the remaining 20% leisure occurs at both ends of the trip.

We establish that the percentage of bleisure trips, or bleisure rate, depends on the traveler demographic category:

  • Female business travelers are more likely to take bleisure trips than their male counterparts: we measure an 8.5% rate for women vs 6.8% for men.
  • Younger travelers are significantly more likely to take bleisure trips: for travelers aged 20 to 25, the rate is close to 15%.
  • Frequent travelers are the least likely to take bleisure trips: the rate is below 5% for the most frequent travelers.

We also find that the likelihood of a bleisure trip increases with the distance between the origin and the destination cities: intercontinental trips have rates more than three times higher, on average, than those measured on domestic routes.

These results advance our understanding of the bleisure phenomenon and can be used by travel industry professionals to better anticipate and address the needs of business travelers.


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