BLEISURE TRAVEL – or adding a leisure portion of travel to a business trip – is a highly popular way to make the most out of business travel, according to research by International SOS and CAPA Centre for Aviation.
A regional survey of 106 organisations based in Australia and New Zealand, regarding their views on business-leisure (bleisure) travel found about with 68 percentof business travellers globally took at least one bleisure trip per year.
The Bleisure Travel Trends 2018 report by International SOS and CAPA found that nine out of 10 people believe the responsibility for the leisure portion of business travel falls to the traveller.
One in four organisations have not considered bleisure in their travel policy and of the six in 10 organisations that allow bleisure, only two looked into the risk rating of the leisure travel destination before approving.
The report also found that one in four bleisure trips included an aspect of adventure or exploration – and senior executives and managers were most likely to add leisure travel to a business trip.
The big question raised by the report is, who holds the responsibility for bleisure travel?
“Bleisure is something that many companies allow, and perhaps feel they have to do in return for the long hours and intensity business travel can often incur,” CAPA executive chairman Peter Harbison said.
“Quite frequently there is much less consideration given to the issues of duty of care, the extent to which that applies, and what companies are doing to mitigate the risks that come with bleisure.
“The fact is, this is a legal and insurance minefield.”
Despite the overwhelming majority (91%) of people believing the responsibility for the leisure portion of business travel falls to the traveller, organisations need to understand the potential risks they face regarding bleisure travel, Mr Harbison said.
“While there is a duty of care during employment, often there is not a clear line on when that duty of care is no longer applicable,” HWL Ebsworth Lawyers partner Tim Ainsworth said.
“You might think that when someone has gone on the holiday portion of their trip that they are no longer in the course of their employment. However, due to corporate policies or a sense that there might be an inducement or encouragement from the employer to engage in the leisure activity, it’s not quite so black and white.”
An organisation’s encouragement and travel policy needs to align in a way that clearly states when and how they are willing to support bleisure travel, according to the report.
For companies which have not determined their stance on bleisure travel, it’s important to understand the decision is not a simple yes or no statement, Mr Harbison warned. Many stakeholders need to be involved in the decision process, including HR, insurance, risk management and legal departments, he said.
“In our experience, many companies’ current travel policies talk from a financial or insurance perspective,” International SOS regional security director for Australasia, Sally Napper said.
“What we like to see is a strong inclusion of a risk-based approach as well. This enables travellers and managers to make a risk-based decision about where and when they’re sending people overseas.”
Understanding destination and activity risks is an often overlooked aspect of bleisure travel approval. Only 37 percent of organisations that allow bleisure travel look into the risk rating of the leisure travel destination before approving the leisure portion, according to the report.
Along with the wide variety of global destination risks, activities vary on the risk spectrum as well. A quarter of bleisure trips include an aspect of adventure or exploration, which most likely changes the risk accepted in the business portion of the trip.
“A new location or activity can dramatically change the risk exposure in a trip,” International SOS group senior manager for risnk management and insuirance, Kelvin Wu said.
“Companies need to clearly communicate that these risks picked up by the employee on their own accord during the leisure portion of their travel might not be covered in the Group Business Travel arrangement in terms of the insurance coverage.”
Supporting bleisure travel is one way employers can attract and attain talent, the report noted. Updating travel policies to reflect this trend includes not only duty of care responsibilities but also creates a culture of care.
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