by Anne-Fleur Andrle, co-founder and CEO of Jack and Ferdi
When you think of flying around the world three times, do you think of dining in wonderful restaurants, seeing great works of art, or relaxing by a stunning pool? I did too before I started traveling for business.
From 2015 to 2017, I flew 80,000 miles. That’s three times around the globe. I even traveled to beautiful places. I just never saw them. I flew in, checked into my hotel, and was off. I made my scheduled meetings, grabbed a bite with a client or colleague, got a hefty 5 hours of sleep, and flew out again, just in time for a lunch meeting back home. Even when I had a little time to myself, I knew nothing about the area, so I either walked around aimlessly, hoping to find a place with some local charm, or gave up, went back to my room and took a nap. I’m a big fan of naps, but I wanted something more.
Despite occasional naps, the lack of sleep and time zone shuffle made me irritable and the lack of exercise made me gain weight. I was still getting my job done and getting glowing reports from my bosses, but something was missing.
As a child growing up in France, traveling with my parents was fun and special. I met new people; saw fascinating things; and came home with more appreciation for art, culture, and my family. As an adult business traveler, I spent most of my time in hotel shuttles and rental car kiosks. After commiserating with my business partner, Romain Aubanel, who was my boss at the time, we discovered we both thought business travel could and should be better.
Since that conversation, I’ve been a big fan of the concept of bleisure travel. Bleisure, according to Wikipedia, is a term that combines business and leisure and is becoming more popular, especially among millennials, who have been more demanding when it comes to work/life balance. They’re not the only ones though. Seasoned business travelers are also taking an extra day or two before or after the conference to spend some time in a new place and away from fluorescent lights. They’re even bringing their families. According to the Global Business Travel Alliance, 67% of business travelers value adding leisure time to their business trips.
Our experiences, combined with those of our business traveling friends and colleagues, prompted Romain and I to start Jack and Ferdi, a company that has created an app full of information about locations around the world. Built with business travelers in mind, the app recommends local restaurants, museums, indigenous music and art, and locally-inspired souvenirs, saving them from the indignity of the airport gift shop while taking into account the time constraints of a business traveler. With data curated by locals, Jack and Ferdi’s app delves more deeply into the local scene, enabling explorers to learn about the area and even donate to local causes and artisans. We do the research, so you can get the most out of your trip.
These days, many businesses, to retain valuable employees, are building more flexibility into employee business trips. Since Booking.com for Business reported that 30% of the respondents to their survey said they’d take less pay in exchange for more work travel, that decision makes sense. Allowing employees to stay longer after a conference ends or arrive early before it begins lets them relax, enjoy the local color, and recharge their batteries.
Of course, it helps to have a policy in place. According to Forbes, 57% of companies have instituted policies that cover employees taking vacation time in conjunction with business trips. It’s important to find out if your company allows bleisure travel and if it does, to keep your business and personal expenses separate. You also want to be sure that your extra few days doesn’t inconvenience anyone else at your company.
Increased connectivity and the competitive nature of business has changed many jobs from forty hours a week to practically 24/7. Business travelers need a break. Sometimes, a few days spent learning about local art or hiking a historic trail after a working trip can remind people why they’re working so hard.
A native of Brittany France, Anne-Fleur Andrle is the co-founder of Jack and Ferdi, the first mobile app for bleisure travelers. A lifelong travel enthusiast, Anne-Fleur once traveled over 80,000 miles (the equivalent of traveling three times around the globe) in just two years, prompting her to create the app to help business travelers make the most of their downtime. She was recently nominated “Woman Engineer of the Year” in France.