The pandemic may be over, but the work-from-home trend is still going strong. That means bleisure, already a trend pre-pandemic, is now booming as people are able to work remotely from wherever they may be. In fact, according to Stratojets, half of all business trips last year combined business with pleasure, both domestically and internationally. And these trips are longer than they used to be as people add on to travel for conferences, conventions and other business events—almost seven days on average.
Hotels are jumping to accommodate the needs of bleisure travelers, emphasizing comfort, efficiency and flexibility.
As Tammy Routh, sr. VP, global sales, Marriott International, explains, “We continue to hear from our customers that they are blending their trip purpose—for example, adding days pre- and post-conference, looking for ways to include family and friends before or after a meeting, or simply extending their business travel to include a few days of leisure. We have seen ‘shoulder’ days—Sundays and Thursdays—stronger than ever, indicating that ‘bleisure’ or blending of trip purpose shows no signs of slowing down.”
The rise of bleisure travel is changing the hotel giant’s strategy, she says. “What this increase in blending of trip purpose does is impact the way our hotels think about their physical spaces, amenities and programming as the guest makes that transition from the business trip to the leisure trip.”
For example, she says the chain is rethinking what it offers with the fitness center, spa, food and beverage outlet hours, and other offerings. “Our hotels are thinking more creatively about use of indoor and outdoor space, offering various incentives for travelers to take advantage of the destination, and even working with customers to negotiate pre- and post-conference leisure rates.”
She adds that the company is leaning into products that help address this demand for blended trip purpose. “For example, our extended stay brands like Element and Residence Inn thrived during the pandemic and we are continuing to grow these brands.”
At the end of last year, Marriott announced its expansion into apartment-style accommodations with the launch of Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy.
“With this new product, we are really leveraging growing consumer interest in the blending of work and leisure travel,” Routh says. “These travelers are looking for more space during their stays and unique accommodation options that allow them to more seamlessly transition from their work meeting or conference to time with family and friends.”
Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy builds on the chain’s 26 years of experience with Marriott Executive Apartments, its serviced apartment brand in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. The latest offering is designed to bring the serviced concept to Marriott guests in the U.S. and Canada. The apartments, which are designed to reflect the local neighborhood and follow the aesthetics of the company’s Autograph Collection and Tribute Portfolio lodging brands, feature a separate living room and bedroom, full kitchen and in-unit washer and dryer, but are different from Marriott’s existing extended-stay brands by focusing just on offering premium accommodations with home-like amenities without offering services such as F&B, meeting spaces and retail.
“Travelers planning vacations and long business trips today are seeking more choice in accommodations, and the introduction of Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy responds to those trends while offering developers a premium product backed by our trusted name and distribution platform,” says Stephanie Linnartz, president, Marriott International.
The Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy are backed by Marriott’s reservations engines and the company’s 173 million-strong Marriott Bonvoy program. —Sue Pelletier