ASATA: Serving two masters


If you’re reading this column from the discomfort of an airport or on the red-eye bound for your next business meeting, the December holidays must feel like an awful long way away.

Ironically, travellers have been letting their work life permeate their holidays for many years, to the point where they’ve glorified the concept of being always-on.

Why then would it not be acceptable for the opposite to be true and for business travellers to inject a bit of holiday fun into their work life?

You wouldn’t blink an eye whipping out your laptop to clear your inbox before hitting the beach with the family. Yet playing hooky on a Friday afternoon to see the sights after a long week of meetings or a conference in a foreign city simply isn’t an option.

Much has been written about the concept of ‘bleisure’ in recent years – a blend of business and leisure travel which allows well-heeled travellers to top or tail their business trips with a few days off in a new and exciting destination.

Bleisure may be common practice today, but there’s been a well-defined separation of leisure and corporate when it comes to organising travel because the two worlds are so vastly different. Or are they?

With a return to the old values of personalisation, quality over quantity and true consulting, travel agencies are placing the customer at the heart of their business, whether that customer is a business or a leisure traveller.

In leisure travel, it’s adding value to the traveller’s entire journey. In corporate travel, it’s understanding their pain points so that travel can be painless and pleasant. Both require travel agents to be travel experts, to offer a professional service and to build a relationship based on trust and credibility.

In truth, leisure and business travellers do need their own specialists, but as work and life increasingly blur, so too is there an increasing requirement for today’s travel agencies to show that they can serve the demands of both masters seamlessly; to be the agent for the customer, whether they’re travelling for business or leisure.