Adapting hotel design for bleisure travel
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
One the biggest trends in the hospitality industry today, bleisure travel has hotels vying with one another to lure travelers to their properties as destination locations suitable for combined business and relaxation activities. As is often the case in hospitality, they are adapting a hotel’s design as well as its operations to provide the atmosphere and amenities bleisure travelers are seeking.
With demanding travel and work schedules, more and more of today’s business travelers, seeking to adjust their work-life balance, are extending their stays to engage in leisure and wellness activities.
According to National Car Rental’s 2019 State of the Business Travel Industry Survey, business travelers across all generations engage in bleisure travel, with millennials leading at 90%, followed by Gen Xers at 81% and boomers at 80%.
Many employees are reluctant to take long vacations due to workplace pressures and obligations. Tacking on an extra day or two to a business trip allows them to have some downtime without being conspicuously absent from the office. It’s also a way to economize.
In the National Car Rental survey, nearly half of millennials said they had engaged in bleisure travel to save costs on vacation stays.
Because hotel rates and airfares can be more favorable when employees travel on particular days or remain in one location for a certain period of time, employers often are willing to approve extended stays.
After all, much of their work can be done remotely, and they sometimes use the time to call on current or prospective clients or to network with local professionals or providers.
Plus, alleviating burnout benefits both the employer and the employee. Employers may even pick up some of the cost of the extended stay, although usually employees are responsible for their own personal expenses.
To attract this new breed of traveler, hotels are redesigning and upgrading their properties with spaces and amenities to suit both their work and leisure needs. For example, some have replaced the traditional podlike business center with open, day-lit co-working spaces outfitted with coffee bars where guests can attend to work tasks and socialize with one another.
For guests who prefer a more private, quiet space, they can lounge in a spacious library, complete with fireplace and comfy reading chairs, where the old, sparsely furnished lobby used to be.
Health and wellness are primary concerns of bleisure travelers. Some hotels have redesigned guest rooms to provide more space and, in some cases, fitness equipment for exercising. Others have expanded their fitness center to include yoga spaces, on-site classes, and recreational spaces outfitted with tabletop and electronic console game equipment.
Since many of these travelers are younger, hotels are revamping the aesthetic of their interiors to appeal to more contemporary tastes — light, open spaces for work and fitness; darker, plusher spaces for socializing. As a way to establish the hotel as a destination location, the designs often draw on local art, history, culture and natural scenery to link guests to their surroundings and highlight what is unique about the locale.
In addition, given the habits and values of today’s younger travelers, the properties are eco-conscious and tech-friendly with universal Wi-Fi access and app-operated access, controls and services. Increasingly, the new or updated designs are using natural and recycled building materials, incorporating solar panels and LED lighting, and providing more green spaces and views to nature.
With the industry struggling to compete with home-sharing and managed-apartment bookings readily available via an app or online, hotels perceive bleisure travel as a great opportunity to recapture market share by holding onto business travelers’ patronage for a few extra days. Great design is key to that strategy, providing guests a high-quality experience they are not likely to find in a private individual’s apartment or home.
- Interior Design, Furnishings & Fixtures
- Recreation & Leisure
- Travel, Hospitality & Event Management
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