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Bleisure: Potentially corporate risk. International SOS-CAPA webinar

Bleisure has become a popular form of business related holidays. It is also now big business for creative travel organisations.

At the same time, there are potential minefields of liability for corporate employers that are not being effectively monitored.

From an Asia Pacific survey of corporate buyers conducted in Jan/Feb-2018 by International SOS and CAPA – Centre for Aviation, it appears the enthusiasm for granting employees access to bleisure trips may be outweighing serious assessment of the risks inherent in these side trips.

Some key points from the bleisure survey

  • Bleisure has become an almost essential part of an employment package, where business travel is involved;
  • Little thought has been given to the potential liability of the employer (or even TMC) about where the duty of care begins and ends;
  • Overall there appears to be a lack of awareness of some of the legal pitfalls for employers with their bleisure travelling employees;
  • There are potentially significant risks, both for validity of insurance coverage and in terms of the employer’s liability for injury or damage suffered by employees (and even potentially their partners).

International SOS is the world's leading medical & travel security assistance company

CAPA is the leading aviation data, analysis and news producer and event convenor on strategic aviation issues, including corporate travel.

Introduction: Bleisure Travel, Mixing Business with Pleasure:
International SOS–CAPA – Centre for Aviation webinar, 27-Mar-2018

The word “bleisure” is a wicked assault on the English language, especially as it represents an activity that is basically pleasurable – and is even a prerequisite for any corporate employment regime today. Combining a leisure trip with business travel is becoming ubiquitous, and the word easily captures the concept.

Air travel itself becomes less and less attractive for road warriors who at one time might have sat comfortably in the business end of the aircraft, but are now relegated to knees-in-the-chest seating. So, grabbing a couple of days of side trip while travelling on business is not just seen as a welcome side benefit of a job, but almost a compensation for undergoing the turmoil of airports and economy seats.

As business travel takes the employee away from family and friends for sometimes extended periods, it is not uncommon for the bleisure segment to involve relatives or friends, permitting short breaks which help compensate for those lost times.  

And for the adventurous millennials, supposedly an upfront question from interviewees is often “do I get travel privileges?” Whether it’s a deal breaker is another matter, but it can be an important barometer of a firm’s overall employee friendliness.

Corporate employers are certainly increasingly conscious that the carrot of bleisure travel is an important consideration in employment contracts.

Against this background, a panel of experts led by International SOS and CAPA – Centre for Aviation (CAPA), will conduct a Bleisure webinar on 27-Mar-2018.
For details and to register please see“Bleisure Travel, Mixing Business with Pleasure"

Whether or not there has been an explosion in bleisure travel is uncertain – but it is substantial

A study in Jul-2016 by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) found that over the period from 2011-2015, the number of such side trips had hardly varied.[1]

However it did find, from analysis of over seven million journeys, that more than 20% of business travellers included a bleisure trip, and this involved over 7% of all business trips.

And a recent Barclaycard survey of 250 travel buyers found that ‘bleisure’ travel is becoming accepted by employees, with 94% of decision makers revealing that their company allows employees to extend their business trips with a few additional days of leisure – this averages about four days, with approximately two thirds of employers believing it makes staff feel more valued.[2]

Significantly, too, there is the potential for bleisure travel to become big business for creative operators

As Travelport points out in a Feb-2018 study [3], “Travel brands around the world would be well advised to keep a closer eye on and foster this trend towards ‘bleisure’”.

Referring in turn to a 2017 Expedia report, it noted that “offering bleisure packages that highlight sight-seeing opportunities, special events and activities and offering small incentives like free breakfast, and discounts on spa services can encourage many travellers to extend their stay. Working with MICE and visitors bureaus to call attention to these packages in event literature can help encourage more meetings and exhibitions attendees to stay on after the special sessions end”.

This can be big business.

But some of the inevitable complexities can also creep in

The Travelport report goes on to say that “27% of millennial business travellers, however, say that they now book business travel online through their smartphone and 23% use tablet devices. That is more than twice the number of Gen X business travellers who use their smartphone (11%) or tablet (12%) for booking.”

Where the booking and reporting for business travel begins and ends can be a challenge for reporting systems. These are far from insurmountable, but they do highlight yet another area where flexibility in travel programmes is necessary.

And there are potential minefields of liability that are not being effectively monitored

An Asia Pacific survey of corporate buyers conducted in Jan/Feb-2018 by International SOS and CAPA – Centre for Aviation, suggests the enthusiasm for granting bleisure may be outweighing serious assessment of the risks inherent in these side trips.

Every employer has a duty of care towards its employees, one which necessarily extends to times when the employee is at work and on business travel. In many cases, while in the course of his or her employment, the circumstances will be covered by some form of workers compensation legislation. There are also cases which can extend beyond what would normally be considered to be "during" the employment. Extreme cases can even include the situation where an employee is on holiday, but is “expected” to be available to respond to email correspondence with clients.

In other words, highly subjective assessments of the employer’s liability are possible, making predictable outcomes difficult. In simple terms, the line between when the employer owes that duty of care and when the employee is outside the shelter of the corporate umbrella, is critical in deciding who is liable for any injury or loss suffered.

These can extend to how relevant travel bookings are made, and by whom; also to the timing of when bleisure actually begins and ends – for example the timing of when the employee commences a return journey on the way back to the home office and is therefore again presumably resuming a workplace regime. There are many shades of bleisure.

For example too, Travel Management Companies may well seek to access some of the marketing opportunities that attach to their corporate bleisure travellers as this element grows in value. This can create another area of uncertainty when it comes to defining where the business trip and bleisure segment begin and end.

The purpose of this introductory report and of the International SOS–CAPA – Centre for Aviation webinar is to highlight some of the issues involved and to review some temporary conclusions from the over 100 responses received.

The Webinar

The 27-Mar-208 webinar (at 1400h Australian Eastern Daylight time) will announce the results of the survey. A panel of experts will also discuss:

  • Challenges of incorporating bleisure into travel policies
  • Legal and insurance perspectives
  • Example of implementing and allowing for bleisure travel in an organisation

For details and to register please see“Bleisure Travel, Mixing Business with Pleasure"

The Survey Questions

  • What type of employee is most likely to add leisure travel to a business trip?
  • What type of leisure trip are they most likely to take?
  • Who is responsible for the leisure portion of business travel?
  • Does your travel policy cover/allow for leisure travel attached to business?
  • How long would it take for you to make contact with a traveller once the business portion of their trip was over?
  • If yes, is the risk rating of the leisure travel destination a factor in the approval of adding leisure travel to a business trip?
  • Does your insurance policy cover leisure travel?
  • Do you require staff members to take out their own private insurance if they add a leisure component?

The Speaker panel

  • Tim Ainsworth – Partner at HWL Ebsworth Lawyers
  • Tracey Moore – Group Category Manager – Travel, Expense & Events, Group Procurement, Group Operations and Services at ANZ Bank
  • Sally Napper – Regional Security Director at International SOS
  • Kelvin Wu – Group Senior Manager,  Risk Management & Insurance at International SOS
  • Peter Harbison (moderator) – Executive Chairman at CAPA  - Centre for Aviation


[1] CWT’s “definition of bleisure required a Saturday night stay at destination either at the beginning or at the end of a trip, or both.”

[2] https://blueswandaily.com/as-business-travellers-blur-lines-between-personal-and-professional-lives-barclaycard-sees-increasing-call-for-mobile-wallets-and-virtual-cards/

[3] https://www.travelport.com/de-de/company/media-center/press-releases/2018-02-22/wanted-247-digital-support-and-bleisure

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