SUVA, 20 February 2020 – THERE are trends and improvements in every industry and it is the job of CEOs, GMs and managers to recognise these and adapt their businesses to the ever-changing tide. Transforming technology, shifts in spending-power of the workforce, social change, global factors – new trends appear and entrench themselves every so-often.
Keeping a finger on the pulse of the industry is a must and tourism is no different. Whether in the public or private sector, the push to further or even maintain one’s economic standing is always weighing heavily on those who make decisions. Sometimes trends linger and sometimes trends fade away into oblivion. Being able to recognise these developments early and adjust your businesses accordingly can be challenging.
One such trend of the times is ‘bleisure.’
Bleisure travel is a combination of “business” and “leisure” and was first used in 2009 by the Future Laboratory. It simply means extending ones business trip for personal purposes.
Fiji hosts many regional and international conferences and workshops. Some events are small and intimate whilst some are large and frenetic. The number of overseas attendees from overseas can be sizable, taking into account our industry size. When these conferences are completed, these potential ‘tourists’ often return home without thoroughly enjoying what the country has to offer.
More than one in three business travelers will now add a leisure component to at least one of their business trips this year, says the Global Business Travel Association. “It’s people from all different levels: we thought it might be more entry-level, but we found managerial does it as well, although we did find millennials more likely to partake in bleisure than some of their older colleagues”. According to GBTA, bleisure is opportunistic and depends on if you’re going to a place you like and that you want to spend more time in.
Marketed right, Fiji’s tourism stakeholders could offer extensions on business visas for those interested in remaining in the country for two or three days more after their work or conference has ended. There could also be packages offered on accommodation, meals and activities to entice these bleisure seekers to stay for an extended period.
This is the right time to be looking at other market segments and tap into trending travel patterns, especially now when a destination’s safety is going to be a top priority for people planning to travel in the short or long term.
Whilst the bleisure market is small, it could make economic sense to cast an eye in this direction as these visitors are generally bigger spenders compared to the family market who save up hard to take a much looked forward to break. The bleisure trip saves money for the guest as they wouldn’t necessarily foot their travel costs but could in fact mean that they would then spend that money here on goods and services and taking part in activities that benefit our SME’s and as a flow on effect, the smaller communities they operate from.
Conference and seminar organisers can factor in a few more ‘free days’ into their events where attendees can sample activities close by or even plan travel to some of the smaller islands offering unique products allowing conference attendees to see more of what Fiji has to offer. Add in the aspects of a safe destination that is super kid friendly, has unique cultural diversity and lots of activity options like dive and adventure and we would have a keen competitive edge over many of our regional and even larger neighbours. Great experiences would also encourage return visits.
Tourism Fiji’s brand is built around the happiness that is felt when you set foot in Fiji. So, imagine how happy you would be if, after a hectic work conference, you could spend a few extra days sipping on a cocktail on an island beach, staring out across the ocean that you had a memorable experience diving in, fishing from and jet skiing or parasailing across..
By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA
Published in the Fiji Times on 20 February 2020