Bleisure Travel Is Becoming Increasingly Popular

New Study by MMGY Global also Confirms Relevance of Personal Exchange


Sustainability is increasingly becoming the focus of event planners and participants alike. The value of personal encounters at business events remains unbroken - and more and more people are extending business trips for private purposes. These are some of the key findings of the new study "Portrait of European Meeting & Convention Travel" by MMGY Global, for which meeting professionals and participants from Europe were surveyed in early summer 2023. The study - supported by the GCB, among others - also underscores Germany's leading position in the competition among European meeting and convention locations as well as the increasing relevance of well-being and security aspects surrounding meetings and business travel.

The topic of sustainability is playing an increasingly important role when it comes to the planning and execution of business trips, meetings, and events. Not only is the demand for "sustainable meetings" on the part of planners continuing to grow, but participants are also confirming an increasing importance and awareness of corresponding options. While half of the planners surveyed are asked by their clients to select venues that meet sustainability goals, another 50 percent are already proactively checking the relevant sustainability credentials. 24 percent of all planners even join sustainability initiatives. Attendees also confirm the relevance of sustainable event formats, and 65 percent are willing to pay more for sustainable meetings. Overall, participants would like to take fewer business trips in the interests of sustainability. 

Bleisure Travel: Upward Trend

Extending a business trip, either before or after, is known as Bleisure Travel and is growing in popularity. Almost half of all respondents have already used this option in the past and around 60 percent are likely to use it again in the next two years. Around 66 percent of all respondents will even take a companion with them. Younger travelers between the ages of 25 and 45 in particular are more likely than older ones to extend their trips and make use of Bleisure Travel.  A European comparison shows, however, that Germans in the 65+ age group are much more positive about Bleisure Travel than those from neighboring countries such as France, England, and the Netherlands. 

Well-being Is Gaining in Importance

Another key finding of MMGY Global's study is the growing interest in wellness options around events and business travel. 20 percent of planners said wellness options are now part of most requests. Clients are looking for exercise options such as through yoga, walking, stretching, or running. Equally in demand are retreats and the availability of regional food. For 42 percent of attendees, access to quiet spaces and time-out options influenced their decision to attend a meeting or event. 

Face-to-face Formats Most Popular

According to the results of the study, the most popular meeting format in the next two years will be face-to-face meetings at on-site events. This is confirmed by 70 percent of all planners, and participants also see this form of exchange as the most effective. However, there continues to be strong interest in virtual and hybrid formats, as these technologies provide participants with additional capacity for events they are unable or unwilling to travel to for certain reasons. Planners also report that conventions and conferences are the most frequently booked event formats. For attendees, education and networking opportunities in particular are top reasons to attend an event. 

Germany Once Again in Top Position

When it comes to destination choice, Germany - once again - ranks first for past and future meetings, both among planners and attendees. A clear difference to the results of the previous edition of the study from summer 2022 is that unique venues seem to have lost attractiveness, while hotel and hotel conference rooms as well as sports venues show an upward trend. Most important to attendees is the location and accessibility of the venue. Other factors that determine participation are an interesting program, the choice of speakers, and the distance to the venue, closely followed by the attractiveness of the destination. 

Safety and Economy Influence Participation

Accommodation, airfares, and fee increases will most significantly influence future bookings from the perspective of planners in 2023 and beyond. As a result, overall destination attractiveness, accessibility, and safety will become increasingly important booking criteria. 75 percent of participants agree and believe that higher airfares will have the greatest impact on their travel behavior. Almost one-third therefore expect shorter business trips and around one-fifth believe there will be fewer business trips overall. 

Sustainable Platform for Business Events

As a sustainable platform for business events, Germany as a conference location is in an excellent position to further secure and expand its leading international position in view of the developments outlined above. People are increasingly combining several different occasions into a single trip in the form of Bleisure Travel, thus creating sustainable events. The decision to travel - whether originally motivated by business or pleasure - is being made more consciously, and the trip itself tends to be both longer and more substantial. Business events and the diverse destinations of Germany as a conference location thus become a complementary duo that grows together and mutually strengthens positive developments. Beyond the physical journey, digitization creates enormous opportunities to expand the reach of events and to include those who, for various reasons, cannot or do not want to be present on site. At the same time, the results of the survey confirm once again that, from the point of view of planners and participants, there is still no substitute for face-to-face encounters. 

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