Bleisure travel - our ten top tips!

Emma Knott

'Bleisure' travel is the hot new trend storming the business world.

With the rise in ‘Bleisure’ travel, the TBT Marketing Events Team are always being asked for new destinations which offer the right services to host a business meeting, while also offering interesting options for social programmes. There’s no easy answer and there are endless variables to think through. This is where you need to step in and guide the discussions, especially when there are several stakeholders involved.

Top Tip #1 - don’t get bogged down in the minutiae, focus on a few key areas of your bleisure event and most importantly put yourself in the shoes of the delegates!

It’s all too easy for us to get carried away with a destination that we have considered for our personal holidays and forget about the overall objective and experience we are trying to achieve. Personal holidays and bleisure events are two very different beasts! It’s our job to ensure that you stay on track. Without this, we risk unhappy guests, and negative feedback!

Top Tip #2 – Engage in broader conversations. They can lead to key outputs such as goals, KPIs and unwanted destinations.

Set your objectives – is it a conference to raise awareness and educate or is it an incentive rewarding customers for sales performance? Understanding the overall goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) is key to ensuring that your bleisure event is on track for a successful outcome. As part of this, it’s good to understand your overall target audience (business partners, spouses, gender, age) and what makes them tick. Taking time to understand the bleisure goals, and the people is a crucial part of building robust long-term relationships.

Top Tip #3 - Rather than leading with the ‘hot’ bleisure destination of the moment, start thinking about where your delegates are coming from and find locations that offer a cost effective solution.

Yes, it’s true that budget is always an important overriding factor but with most destinations you can tailor the programme to the budget. What proves trickier is getting there with air fares being notoriously difficult to predict and sometimes cost prohibitive for certain destinations.

Your budget can get swallowed up in unforeseen flight costs. We can all get carried away with trying to find the next best, undiscovered gem but it isn’t always going to create a viable result. There are always good alternatives. You can still propose that ‘one off, exclusive’ feel by offering special experiences on the ground for example dining in a location, unknown to the general public, hosting an activity which explores secret beauty spots. In May 2010, TBT hosted a Study Tour to Dubrovnik, Croatia for 55 x delegates. The itinerary explored the islands on a private wooden galleon ship including snorkelling and a BBQ on the beach. The group enjoyed an evening of fine food on the exquisite terraces stretching along the medieval walls and fortress of St John. Exclusive hire meant we could use the top terrace as a late-night party venue with unprecedented views of the Old Port. This led to an unforgettable trip for our clients’ delegates but was still cost effective.

Top Tip #4 – be transparent with your audience and always think of a backup!

It isn’t just about accessibility for guests getting to the destination but also when they are on the ground. Don’t be fooled in to thinking that new flight routes opening is a guaranteed way to get your delegates to a location. Often these routes are trialled for a period and then dropped or retained, depending upon the demand. That isn’t to say that it couldn’t work, it's just worth being aware, when proposing the option.

Top Tip #5 – ensure your guests check with their local embassy as to their visa requirements for travelling to a destination. Bleisure travel can all end in tears with the wrong documentation!

Also bear in mind that no one wants to be stuck on a lengthy airport transfer to their hotel following a long journey. Keep the delegate experience at the forefront of your mind.

We have over 40 years’ experience of bringing people together from a multitude of destinations, in to one event location and getting them safely home again including a full meet and greet service. Many guests require visas so our knowledge of the process and what pitfalls we may come across is valuable information when advising our clients’ and guests, especially with the short timescales we work to.

Top Tip #6 – Always discuss the time frame you are working to. This will ensure that you can discuss any issues prior to confirming the bleisure event dates and, if necessary, address anything of religious, cultural or political sensitivity in a timely fashion.

A good Destination Management Company (DMC), is a must and offers a fail safe way to ensure that your guests will be met at the airport and get to their destination safely. We can’t all be experts at everything so building a network of robust suppliers around us is the answer. We have a host of global DMC’s that we work with regularly on our bleisure events, who provide our clients top quality service, at a competitive price from the word go! Our suppliers offer our clients relevant venues including some lesser known ‘haunts’, restaurants and activities for a first-class experience.

For example, in Mexico and some other Latin American countries, ‘La Ley Seca’ or ‘Dry Law’ bans the sale of alcohol for 24 hours (and sometimes more) before elections and during election day. Without our local DMCs, this knowledge might have passed us by!

Top Tip #7 – think time of year, then potential locations!

I wouldn’t recommend hosting a bleisure trip to Dubai in June owing to the likelihood of soaring temperatures and an overall unpleasant experience for guests wanting to enjoy the country. Same goes for colder destinations, while you might be taken with the idea of an Arctic Experience in Iceland, gazing upon the Aurora Borealis, this is highly unlikely in the June-August time frame, and even then, it is not guaranteed as with any natural phenomenon. Don’t drag your guests halfway across the world for a few hours in their destination. Frankly, what’s the point? You aren’t likely to get good feedback!

Top Tip #8 - Don’t limit yourself and be scared to ask what your delegates want! Even if the actual request may not be 100% possible, there are always ways to find other effective solutions.

Create an event to be remembered – Cvent reports that 6 in 10 delegates would prefer a more personalised experience. Add some unique touches to make something all the more memorable. It is these seemingly small additions which will make your event stand out from the rest and increase your Return on Experience (ROE), increasingly being used as measure of impact on the end customer. Personalised room drops, a departure gift with a photo of the groups experience or a signed memento from a famous footballing star (Cristiano Ronaldo, from one of our memorable trips!) are just some of the simple little touches which have proved effective for us!

Bleisure Travel Cristiano Ronaldo

On one of our most memorable bleisure trips, we were lucky enough to receive signed photographs of Cristiano Ronaldo

Top Tip #9 – Start thinking about your business content and what will appeal to your audience early in the planning phase. Without decent content, delegates are unlikely to attend, rate the business experience as valuable and you will not gain that invaluable data that is vital in today’s competitive marketplace.

We want our events to be talked about for months and even years to come! Organising an online community before your belisure event, asking questions to build thought provoking discussion during business sessions, and live polling, can all generate key feedback for your customer. It is these golden takeaways which will encourage your audience to come back for more and make you thought leaders in your field. Our partnership with Bizzabo offers our customers an interactive platform which can generate valuable qualitative data. We can also work with our core marketing teams to build tailored communication plans to promote your event, both to your delegates and to the general public, putting you at the forefront of everyone's mind.

Top Tip #10 – think about what cultural experiences & touches you would like to include throughout the delegate journey.

Maximise the destination, immerse the delegates! While there may be a great restaurant offering international cuisine within striking distance, wouldn’t your guest prefer sampling the local fare at a venue, perhaps lesser known to the average traveller? Also think venues with a story – look for ones that are differentiating themselves from their competitors by selling their unique heritage. This makes for a more immersive experience. TBT Events took 85 delegates on 2 of London’s iconic route master buses through the city for a drink's reception followed by dinner on the walkways of the Tower of London, complete with full production lighting in corporate colours, a private tour and a carefully selected menu. An experience not to be forgotten!

Once you have been through this initial thought process, narrowed down the list of destinations and finally got your stakeholder group locked into a final location, then feel free to let your creative juices flow. The key is for everyone to have a wonderful, unforgettable experience while meeting your overall corporate objectives. Events like these provide a unique opportunity for physical engagement, which is quite rare in this world of all things virtual. Improved collaboration, networking and relationships can significantly increase your chances of a positive ROI so be mindful of this along the way.

In need of inspiration for your next event? Take a look at our top 6 incentive trip destinations!

Struggling to get your head around organising an event and need some guidance? What are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call us on +44 (0) 1373 469 270 or email [email protected]. With our wealth of knowledge and experience we want to help you to create the event your guests will always remember.

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