New research published today by academics at the University of East London (UEL) and commissioned by London City Airport.

University of East London (UEL) research shows the trend for breaking out of the ‘business travel bubble’, to find time for leisure on a work trip, is good for well-being and productivity

New research published today by academics at the University of East London (UEL) and commissioned by London City Airport, has found business travellers feel benefits when they combine business and pleasure while travelling for work – in what’s being called ‘bleisure’ travel.

78% of people questioned at London City Airport for the Bleisure Travel Report agreed that being able to take part in bleisure travel increases their well-being when they return to work, while 61% said that bleisure travel contributes to increased productivity. Over a third (36%) of passengers have extended their business trip to engage in leisure activities – suggesting this could be an increasingly popular travel trend as modern working habits evolve.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer, London City Airport, said;

“We are seeing a generation of people for whom work and leisure are intertwined, and they’re applying that blend of business and pleasure when they travel. The reason? They think it’s good for their health and their wealth, which is backed by this research showing the majority of people feel ‘bleisure’ travel increases their well-being and their productivity. London City Airport routes like Berlin, Lisbon, Antwerp and the recently-added Budapest are examples of destinations where those lines to continue to blur.”

The findings counterbalance previous analysis of the boundaries between work and non-work when travelling, defined as ‘a darker side of hypermobility’, which pointed to negative effects of business travel, for example if employees feel tired or disorientated at their destination, or guilty about asking their employer for leisure time at the place they visit. Instead, this latest research suggests that business travellers are often planning activities that break out of the ‘business traveller bubble’, as part of their work trips, unlocking health benefits.

The main leisure activities were food and drink, sightseeing, culture and history, and visiting friends and relatives. 54% of travellers were joined by family members or significant others during their bleisure trip.

Birte Schmitz, co-author of the report and Lecturer in Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of East London, said:

“There’s a great opportunity here for urban business destinations and London City Airport to promote leisure and tourism activities along passenger’s journeys, to help them unlock the benefits to well-being and productivity fellow passengers say they feel.”

Dr. Nazia Ali, co-author of the report and Senior Lecturer in Event and Leisure Management, University of East London, said;

“The research highlights the importance of bleisure as a contributing factor to productivity and well-being in the work place, thus recognising the benefits of bleisure trips to business travellers. These benefits of bleisure include positive mind-set when returning to work, sharing of positive experiences with colleagues, and contribution to a work-life balance”.

Anthony Eskander, a barrister based in Canary Wharf, and regular traveller through London City Airport, said;

“My job means I’m lucky enough to be able to regularly add to my ‘collection’ of destinations I’ve visited, but without some leisure time at a destination, I don’t feel like I’ve really visited. It’s easier than ever before to work away from a traditional office environment – why not work somewhere new and exciting?”

Although this research suggests bleisure travel is beneficial, 71% of survey respondents noted their employer does not actively promote leisure travel before or after business trips.

Michael Spiers, Chief People Officer, London City Airport, said;

“This research suggests many businesses don’t have formal policies in place about when and how employees can add leisure elements to their business travel. So there’s a ‘quick win’ here for HR departments, by setting out those policies, which in turn can boost ‘bleisure’ travel, promote greater well-being and productivity, and show how much employers value the work-life balance of their employees.”