Tackling Bleisure Travel Trends at ITB Berlin

Originally published to Amadeus Insights

By: Joerg Schuler, Executive Vice President, Hospitality Media & Distribution, Amadeus

Some exciting – and sometimes challenging – trends have emerged from the world’s largest trade show for tourism, ITB Berlin.

Although business travel is back, it has evolved, in some way, as a result of hybrid and remote workers looking to extend business trips into longer bleisure trips and seeking a greater variety of accommodations and services, too. We will need to leverage every opportunity to maximize and unlock true end-to-end experiences for these travelers.

Understanding the needs and evolving behaviors of all travelers – business, leisure and leisure – is critical for travel sellers, who can only meet those changing needs if they understand emerging trends.

Business travel is back, but not as we know it

Workplace flexibility is growing in importance and remote and hybrid work models are developing in response. The once well-defined lines between business and leisure travelers are becoming less clear as the concept of bleisure travel changes the way in which workers blend work and relaxation. And with 8 out of 10 business travelers sometimes including leisure activities on their business trips, it is apparent that the bleisure of travel is here to stay. The idea of ​​’revenge travel,’ or traveling as much as possible following a long period of little to no travel, contributes to this trend, as individuals look forward to getting back out into the world and making up for lost travel time.

Employees today are more motivated to meet customers in person, and companies, intent on improving employee wellbeing and work-life balance, are encouraging their employees to make the most out of their business travel, with down time added before or after a business-related trip to enjoy a destination with friends and family.

Here are some specific 2023 business trends that we are seeing:

  • Our data shows us that group bookings will expand as meetings and events ramp up. 2023 shows 16 million more group room nights for the first half of the year vs. the same time period in 2022, according to Amadeus’ Demand360® data.
  • We expect that “bonding business breaks” for teambuilding, collaboration, and brainstorming, designed to connect teams away from the office and unlock creativity, will evolve in 2023, and may involve booking venues for team meetings or other event spaces.
  • With this new trend of ‘bonding business breaks,’ we will expect to see shorter lead times and few people attending meetings. The process of booking those events and simpler meetings needs to be as easy as booking air travel today. Furthermore, as events nowadays are much more tech-heavy than in the past, those types of meetings need to be bookable online.
  • With more and more digital nomads traveling for work and seeking to combine their business plans with some valuable leisure time, travel sellers that are equipped with the right technology, including data-driven capabilities, and offering the right services, are the ones that will benefit from this growing segment. It will be important for travel sellers not only to cater to the needs of bleisure travelers related to accommodation and airfare, but to unlock an end-to-end experience for these customers by offering Mobility services as well.

How Innovation is Helping Mobility Better Service Bleisure Travelers

I see a future where mobility will take us beyond the traditional car rental and car transfer services into a world of new types of content, new add-on services, and new ways to use data to enable better, faster, and more efficient experiences for travelers. The use of autonomous vehicles, for example, on the ground or even in the air, will be a real possibility.

In particular, I think that two mobility and bleisure trends will emerge:

  • We’ll shift our focus from pre-arranged transfers, car rental, car sharing, micro mobility (lightweight, partially or fully motorized, low speed vehicles), etc. to a more dynamic model of “on-demand” services where state-of-the-art dispatch technology will allow us to match demand with supply, in real time. As one of the bleisure travelers’ key criteria is flexibility, we will be able to “mix and match” services depending on the traveler’s requirements.
  • A fully digitized end-to-end journey for all mobility options will include destination services (restaurants and places to visit, for example) with no counters, no lines, and no drivers!

Built for today, fit for tomorrow

The recovering, post-pandemic travel industry has an opportunity to redefine itself like never before, and to replace out-of-date, inefficient processes with streamlined, customer-centric tools that both engage customers and increase revenue and margin opportunities wherever possible. Amadeus is at the forefront of change, using his years of experience to prepare the industry for the future. We’ve redefined the way travel sellers attract customers, presenting them with the most holistic travel offerings available in order to cater to travelers’ evolving needs and provide a true end-to-end traveler’s journey.

We believe in making it easier for our customers to access every bit of content they need, when they need it, in the most efficient way possible, and in delivering technology that enables people to achieve success both now and in the future. Built for today, fit for tomorrow.

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