Adding vacation time to a business trip
If you’ve got to be there for work anyway, why not live it up?
That seems to be the sentiment of a growing number of workers who are extending business trips to squeeze in some vacation time, surveys from Orbitz and PhoCusWright suggest.
The trend could be blamed on the soft economy, rising travel costs and busy schedules affording less time to fit in traditional getaways, said Dean Sivley, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Orbitz for Business and Alliance.
“If my plane ticket is already paid for and if it’s not costing my client any additional money for me to stay a few days … it makes sense to me that I might as well use that,” Christina Whitehead, a meeting and event planner based in Atlanta, Georgia, said of the strategy.
Whitehead is “not a Las Vegas fan,” but when business called for her to be there, she decided to take advantage of the luxurious resort where her employer put her up.
Joined by her husband and two friends, Whitehead spent the weekend after her conference enjoying what the city had to offer outside the casinos. And even though she began picking up the cost of the hotel room once the event ended, the hotel continued to apply the pre-established discounted rate to their room. This is a common perk of the meetings and convention industry, she said.
Nearly three-quarters of 450 participants in a recent Orbitz for Business/Business Traveler Magazine said they’ve added a leisure component to a business trip within the last year.
In an unrelated PhoCusWright survey released last year, slightly less than half of 500 participants said they’d extended a business trip for leisure purposes over the previous year.
Generally, resort destinations like Las Vegas are more expensive over the weekend because that’s when their business arrives, business travel expert Joe Brancatelli said via e-mail. On the other hand, “big city and suburban hotels charge more during the week and discount on the weekend because their business is during the week,” added Brancatelli, editor of joesentme.com, a Web site for business travelers.
“The trick to keep prices low is to do the resorts during midweek and the urban destinations on the weekend,” Brancatelli said.
Some companies encourage tacking on leisure stays because they could add up to savings for the business itself, Sivley said.
For instance, if two economy plane tickets cost less than a single business class seat, a company may prefer its employee take the two coach seats and use the extra for a guest, provided that’s within the travel policy, Sivley said. And, many airlines have reintroduced the practice of charging less for minimum stays or Saturday stays. It could work out in companies’ favor, then, for the traveler to stick around through the weekend, Sivley said.
Staying legit with money
It’s important not to press your financial luck on any business trip-turned-vacation, and that means not charging your company for the leisure end of your trip, even though they sent you out there in the first place.
“If you are legitimately traveling on business, a company knows what your business expenses are,” Brancatelli said. “So just keep your personal stuff on a personal card.”