Adding Fun to Business Travel

Globally, work and play trips are increasing as hotels entice travellers to stay longer after a conference or check in earlier. PHOTO | FILE
Globally, work and play trips are increasing as hotels entice travellers to stay longer after a conference or check in earlier. PHOTO | FILE 

Nasra Awadh, a Tanzanian, and her five-year-old son are on a work trip with her husband in Mombasa.

Her husband, a frequent business traveller, let his family tag along to a conference at Pride Inn Hotel in Shanzu, Mombasa so as to spend more time with them and make hotel stay bearable.

The couple is among a growing number of travellers mixing business trips with leisure, a new travel trend known as bleisure.

Globally, work and play trips are increasing as hotels entice travellers to stay longer after a conference or check in earlier.

Airlines are also wooing bleisure travellers. Two weeks ago, Qatar Airways launched customisable private suite, set to redefine business travel.


Double Bed

The QSuite has hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold furnished double bed in business class which has taken the airline two years to refine and patent.

Couples will be able to conjoin their suites to create an expanded space, making it more comfortable and fun for business travellers on work trips with their spouses.

In addition, they get to enjoy food served in elegant new chinaware and sleep on luxurious bed linens.

Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the QSuite is a world first in many ways and challenges industry norms by offering passengers more privacy, more choice and more personalisation.

‘‘Business class travellers can enjoy a first class experience in business class,’’ he said.

The new QSuite will be available on the Boeing 777 and the upcoming Airbus A350-1000, and a custom version will be made for their A380 and Dreamliner aircraft.

‘‘It will debut as soon as July, on one of our three daily London flights,’’ he said.

For hotels wooing bleisure travellers, they are selling conference facilities in addition to exotic spas, sight-seeing tours, fitness centres and even live music or dance performances.

Bleisure is seen as beneficial to frequent travellers, according to BridgeStreetSurvey, a global travel report.

It notes that it helps frequent travellers to work efficiently, takes stress out of business travel and strengthens marriages.

Some companies pay for spouses and children in the work trips while some business travellers extend for one or two days to have fun with their families.

‘‘For the first time the company that my husband works for had a training and allowed its staff to come with a spouse and children,” said Nasra who lives in Tanzania.

“I couldn’t pass on this opportunity because out of all the business trips he has made, this is the first one that he has taken us to.’’

Initially, Nasra said she thought she would be bored staying in the hotel room as her husband worked.

‘‘But since we arrived, I have been doing different things with my son, as his dad attends the conferences, and besides he is mostly done by the afternoon so we get to spend time together at the beach or the aqua park,’’ she said.

Pride Inn Hotel has tailored itself as a bleisure destination ideal for families with its themed family rooms. The children rooms are cartoon-themed from Madagascar, Tom and Jerry to Finding Nemo.

It has a nanny centre where the children are taken care of as their mothers enjoy beauty lessons at the spa and fathers work in conference rooms.

Hasnain Noorani, the managing director of Pride Inn Hotel said between last year and this year they have seen an increase in number of bleisure travellers.

Over 50 per cent of the bookings are from people who come for executive trips and enjoy the opulent hotel living with their spouses and children.
“We have guests who are here on business but come with the family and usually extend one or two days to spend with the family after they conclude their work,” said Hasnain.
‘‘Also there are those who come alone for the business conference and are later joined by the families after they conclude. And this sees them staying all through the weekend,” he said.
The hotel has a 2,500-capacity convention centre, an aqua safari water theme park, a jungle cinema and a wing set aside for women only. It also has special rooms for the disabled.

Women Wing

“Women are becoming leaders and CEOs managing successful companies. We want to be among the first to offer them a unique accommodation facility that caters to all their needs,” Hasnain said.

Marketing the region as a bleisure destination will boost tourist numbers through conferencing, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) says.

Betty Radier, the KTB chief executive said Nairobi alone has attracted a huge number in hotel-conferencing. Other towns with conference facilities include Naivasha, Mombasa and Kisumu and they also have attractions for tourists taking short breaks when on conferences.

This presents an opportunity to sell conference facilities together with sight-seeing, spa and live music and drama performances and night life.

“Nairobi is ideal for short breaks in between conferences or soon after or before the beginning of a conference. Within few hours, a tourist can sample a game drive or game viewing at the only world’s national park in the city,” the KTB boss said.