Extending business travel isn’t new by any means, and it’s definitely growing. Bleisure travel refers to business travelers adding days onto the beginning or end of their work trips for leisure purposes. One example is a parent who attends a conference and then stays for extended travel and relaxation, sometimes joined by their partner or family.
According to a Global Business Travel Association study, 89% of business travelers say they are likely or moderately likely to extend a work trip for leisure.
And why not? The traveler has the advantage of at least one round-trip airfare paid for by the company and a few days of lodging and meals for free.
Employers have caught on and recognize the benefits of bleisure travel. If a company wants to attract top talent, work trips to exciting locations can be a distinct draw for new employees. For their existing workforce, bleisure trips can lead to higher employee satisfaction and retention rates by creating and encouraging work-life balance for the traveling employee.
The pandemic affected business travel, and the hospitality industry, in a big way, and it’s unclear if business travel will ever return to ‘normal’ levels. Businesses and workers embraced online meetings and hybrid conferences, and yet bleisure travel looks like a win-win for employers and employees.
If you do get to travel for work, how do you protect your next bleisure trip? Read on to find out.
The core issue a traveling employee needs to understand is what protection they have through their employer.
According to the 2020 Travel Risk Outlook by International SOS, the debate over whether an employer is responsible to cover bleisure travel is undecided. Some companies say employees should be responsible; others argue that the extended trip is part of the business trip.
Even if the employee is covered for events like hurricanes, broken wrists, and car accidents, it’s unlikely that coverage extends to their family. You can be sure that non-family traveling partners are not covered by a corporate policy.
Often, the corporate travel department arranges the flight and hotel for their traveling employee. If there is a flight delay or problem with the hotel, the employee can contact their travel department for assistance.
On the other hand, if the employee arranges the trip, who helps them if their flight is canceled or delayed?
This one is tricky and depends entirely on the corporate culture, so you decide. Some organizations feel a responsibility to protect their employees; others turn a blind eye to travel extensions.
If the organization hasn’t formalized their bleisure travel policy, you may not want to tell them.
As was mentioned earlier, even if the business traveler has protection for accidents, sicknesses, and natural disasters, it’s unlikely to extend to other travelers. If that other traveler is your teenage daughter, and she breaks a leg skiing while you’re on a conference call, you’ll want medical coverage for her.
Ultimately, even if part of the business traveler’s trip is covered by a corporate travel policy, the entire trip should be protected with a separate policy if bleisure is involved. It’s that simple.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.