Take a bizcation immediately. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Business trips are about to get a whole lot more fun: Enter the bizcation.
What’s a bizcation, you ask? It’s a blending of work and play (and the words business + vacation) — what you get when you take time to see the local sites while traveling for business, or when you tag on vacation days to the beginning or end of a business trip for pure enjoyment. And it’s the new way to travel.
As the lines between our professional and personal lives blur, so do our travel habits (and, apparently, our terms for them). Forty-three percent of international travelers always take their mobile device (phones, tablets, etc.) with them on getaways, according to a Pullman Hotels survey. So it’s no wonder bleisure (business + leisure) travel, as it’s also called, is becoming more and more popular.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of corporate travelers asking to do a business trip extension,” says Jack S. Ezon, president of full-service luxury travel agency Ovation Vacations. “There was a 12 percent increase in 2013 and a huge 28 percent increase so far in 2014.” A whopping seventy-two percent of U.S. business travelers surveyed said that they take extended business trips with a leisure component, according to a 2012 Orbitz trend report; 43 percent take significant others on business trips. And a Hilton Hotels survey showed 67 percent of its frequent customers combined business with leisure.
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Why not? More and more employers are allowing for more flexible travel booking guidelines (rather than restrictive managed travel), which gives business travelers the space to branch out. Popular bizcation spots include Miami, New York City, according to Ezon, and more and more, European destinations and even exotic locations like the Maldives.
Cannes, France isn’t a bad place to spend a few days. (Photo: Thinkstock)
And there are some very real advantages to the bizcation. The most obvious is financial: Your employer is paying for your flights.
“My company doesn’t care where I fly in or out of; they just care about the total cost,” says Christine Reppert, a New York-based entertainment attorney.
Over the last few years, when Reppert has gone to the annual Cannes International Film festival to close movie deals, she’s taken the opportunity to explore the rest of Europe, too.
“Instead of buying a plane ticket from New York to Italy, I would just have to take an EasyJet from France, which is less than 100 euros.” Reppert would just book a return trip from wherever she was visiting.
So far, she’s gone to various places in Italy, France, and Spain in conjunction with her yearly Cannes business trip. She’s also spent leisure time in Cannes post-festival. “It may seem miserable while you’re working, but when you’re done, it’s still a beach town on the Riviera.”
New York City is a convenient jumping-off point to a bizcation for those traveling from the Midwest. (Photo: Getty Images)
Erika Daubman, a senior territory manager for National Research Corporation who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, agrees. “I’ll be in a city like New York or Philadelphia for work, so I can take a cheaper puddle jumper to Miami or Charlotte,” she says. “That way, my company covers my flight to New York and my flight home to Nebraska. Being from the Midwest, I’d never be able to spend so much time in these cities if it weren’t for work trips.” Daubman has hit everywhere from Denver to Houston to Atlantic City, N.J., and even Costa Rica, thanks to bizcations.
It’s also a great way to see friends and family. “I have friends who live all over the country, and my brother lives in Virginia,” Daubman says. “It’s hard for some people to travel to visit for three or four days. But for me, I’m used to living out of a suitcase, so adding a few days is nothing.”
Amsterdam is a fun bizcation stop. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Some use it as motivation. Calvin Ki, a New York graphic designer who took advantage of a work-related trip to Germany by traveling to places like Amsterdam, Paris, and London put it this way: “Being in Europe, I gave myself the green light to go. Just like getting some meatballs when visiting IKEA: Since I am here already….”
At this point, Reppert considers herself a little spoiled by bizcations, and sometimes finds it hard to travel any other way. “If I’m not on top of it, planning a trip gets so expensive, and I have to figure out where to go,” says Reppert. “But if I’m traveling for work anyway, the corporate travel department books the trip, I fly business class, and I know I want to go somewhere that I can get to within an hour. It’s just so easy.”
The hospitality industry has noticed. Many are starting to cater to bizcations, even using it as marketing tool. “Now when we have clients book business trips, we’ll ask if they’re interested in an extension,” says Ezon. And one conference of accountants held in Orlando advertised on the website, “Your Bizcation Awaits,” with enticing information about all the great restaurants and sights in the nearby Walt Disney World Resort. “Enjoy your bizcation,” encourages the Days Inn hotel chain in Canada, even offering a 15 percent discount.
You’re essentially packing for two trips. (Photo: Getty Images)
Of course, there are few downsides.
For one, packing can be a pain in the butt: “Sometimes I’ll pack two bags and send my work clothes home,” says Daubman. “But shoes are kind of a nightmare, so maybe I’ll wear higher heels than usual to meetings so I don’t have to carry extra pairs. In the past, I’ve also just brought the cosmetics I need for work and bought anything else I need for the rest of the trip at a drugstore once I get there.”
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Chris Reppert ran into a more unusual issue. “One year after Cannes, my boyfriend met me and we went to Provence,” she remembers. “We went to see some castle ruins up in the hills, and all of a sudden I hear someone calling my name. I turned around, and there was my boss! He went there on a bizcation from the film festival, too.”
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