Rob Sigafoos had to give a lecture in Norway for his work with Penn Vet's New Bolton Center, so he and his wife, Susan Hankin, tacked on some time and backpacked. Another lecture the next year took him to Denmark, so the couple went bicycling. And when she was teaching in Portland, Ore., they took a weekend hiking trip to Mount Rainier.
"It's an opportunity to go to a place that we might not have thought about otherwise," said Hankin, 56, a University of Maryland Law School associate professor who lives in Kennett Square. "There's the financial piece that a big part of it's paid for, and the serendipity of where you get to go."
This mixing of work and pleasure is hardly new - business travelers have long tacked a weekend onto their conference to take in the sights - but more people are taking advantage, in part because of the way destinations are marketing themselves. In fact, the "bleisure" trend - business plus leisure - warrants its own statistics.
BridgeStreet Global Hospitality's 2014 Bleisure Report found 60 percent of respondents take bleisure trips, with 54 percent taking along family members or significant others. Most add on two vacation days for sightseeing, dining, or enjoying arts and culture. Six out of 10 respondents said they were more likely to take bleisure trips today than they were five years ago.
The draws, of course, are that your work covers the airfare and a big chunk of hotel and food, and you save on vacation days you'd otherwise use to get to and from a desired destination.
Just as vacationers always seem to be working, business travelers are incorporating more of the fun stuff. But this is about more than rest and relaxation. Bleisure can benefit business.
Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, saw the bleisure trend starting to take shape in 2008, "when the recession hit and people's starvation for time and pressure for money came together."
In response, the visitor website created an ad campaign urging business travelers to add a day or two to explore the city. Working with the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Convention Center, "we do convention conversion," Levitz said, "making sure visitors come early, stay late, and come back."
One such marketing campaign, repeated each year since 2011, splashes almost 300 Visit Philly ads throughout New York's Penn Station, the most recent declaring, "A New York minute goes farther on a Philly dollar."
Deborah Grayson Riegel, 43 - who commutes from her Long Island home to Philadelphia each week to lecture about management communications at Wharton - agrees. She recently enjoyed some mother/son bonding with her 14-year-old, Jacob, who accompanied her to town, explored campus while she worked, then hit the city with his mom.
"We went to Reading Terminal Market and had ice cream for breakfast, then he wanted to get a Sixers hat," she said. They did Barbuzzo for lunch, the Franklin Institute, and hopped on the train back to New York.
She tackles bleisure trips whenever she can, whether it's many days, like the 2011 add-on in Beijing and Tokyo with the whole family, or just a day for herself "to sample the best locally made ice cream." She abides by a few rules, including: When leaving your family behind, "do not show off all of the amazing things you've done in their absence."
For many years, Frank Marandino, chef concierge at the Rittenhouse Hotel, has helped the spouses of business travelers fill their time while their partners worked. But in the last couple of years, he's found himself "doing more intricate itineraries," he said. "It's my responsibility to keep them entertained while the business is going on, with things like a Barnes personal tour, Winterthur and Longwood Gardens, and private cooking classes with local chefs."
Levitz said that mix was a natural for millennials - adept at maneuvering between work and social obligations - and therefore a marketing target.
In fact, the way 18- to 34-year-olds travel is changing the face of hotels. "They've made a formidable statement of how people might want to stay," said Levitz. "A survey of millennials said they'd rather have rapid free WiFi than water."
Taking the cue from Airbnb and VacationRoost, hotels are opening in hip, urban locations beyond city centers and adding amenities like full-service spas, gyms, and modern decor. Some, including Marriott, are replacing carpet with hardwood floors for a homier feel.
Philly's newest hotel, the Logan - an extensive remodeling of the Four Seasons in Logan Square - opened in December, reflecting those sentiments.
Guest-pleasing renovations include a large, grassy courtyard with outdoor seating and fireplaces, a fitness center three times larger than its predecessor, and an expanded spa, relaxation room, and manicure/pedicure area. Rooms are large - 400 square feet - and all are "contemporary but really comfortable," said Sandy Heydt, director of sales and marketing. There is lots of lighting, and a cube filled with assorted cords to charge devices.
Marriott has "reimagined" its standard desks, said Nina Herrera-Davila, the chain's senior director of consumer public relations. Although it removed desks completely from its Charlotte Marriott City Center, she said its hotels elsewhere offer variations - smaller or movable work surfaces - a move driven by technology and how people (read millennials) work: with tablets and laptops on couches or beds.