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Navigating the Minefield of Bleisure Travel

Navigating the Minefield of Bleisure Travel

There is a time-honored rule to never mix business with pleasure. However, like most rules, they are meant to be broken, and these days more and more travelers are combining business and pleasure on the same trip. In what has become popularly known as a ‘bleisure’ trip, travelers have been taking advantage of the traditionally expense-paid business trip to add a bit of fun, relaxation or adventure. A recent survey shows that 81% of business travelers have stayed extra days at a location they have travelled to for business for leisure purposes. In fact, according to Travel Weekly, the number of bleisure trips are on the rise, jumping to 17% in 2016, up from 11% in 2012 and 14% in 2015.

There are a number of reasons for this rise in bleisure travel.

Affordability:  Average ticket costs have decreased over the past three years. Not only does this translate into more people traveling for business, but travelers can now afford to bring along a companion and spend free time together during the business trip.

Company preference: Companies seeking to cut their travel costs may prefer for a business traveler to stay over on a Saturday night, a factor that often drives down the cost of the airline ticket significantly.

Destination: If the trip is to a far-off destination, such as to Asia and beyond, remaining at the destination for only a day or two for meetings may not be feasible. In addition, if the destination is an exciting one – either for culture, natural beauty or fabulous weather – that may play a big part in the decision to extend the visit.

Generational shift: The increased number of millennials in the workforce is further driving the bleisure trip phenomenon. They see the bleisure trip as a guilt-free opportunity to find the balance between working hard and playing hard.

Lax corporate travel policies: The likelihood that an employee might mix business with pleasure hinges on the rules and regulations of corporate travel policies, or lack thereof. If the policies are unclear or management is overly laid-back about enforcement, many will take advantage.

Regardless of the reason, taking a business trip to a choice travel destination is certainly quite appealing.

Bleisure travel: To expense or not to expense?

Business travelers who do choose to add some leisure activities to their trip must then determine the best way to expense them, or whether to expense them at all. Where exactly is the cut-off between business and pleasure? Generally speaking, the primary reason for taking the trip is the determining factor when it comes to deciding which travel expenses are eligible for business-related tax deductions. H&R Block defines eligible business travel expenses as “ordinary and necessary costs of traveling away from the taxpayer’s tax home for a business, profession or job.”

If the primary purpose of the trip is for business purposes, the following expenses can be classified as eligible travel expenses.

  • Transportation expenses to and from the worksite
  • Shipping costs
  • Accommodations
  • Meal expenses
  • Entertainment
  • Other travel-related expenses – related tips, dry cleaning, communications services.

Note these expenses are relevant only for the employee working on the trip – expenses for an accompanying spouse or friend would be considered fraud.

Complexities drive need for compliance

The growing popularity of bleisure travel makes the need to enforce travel policy compliance more important than ever. With the continuing globalization of business, and the corresponding increase in T&E to facilitate this growth, the risk of fraud and abuse in these areas must be monitored and addressed. Travel managers must retain full visibility into all T&E spend for control over out-of-compliance expenses.

To gain visibility and control of your company’s T&E expenses, VATBox can help. VATBox has been revolutionizing the automated VAT recovery marketplace with its cloud-based solution that can be deployed in 30 minutes without any additional budget or IT resources. VATBox’s out-of-the-box solution handles reports, data collection, aggregation, qualification, submissions and the complexities that accompany these processes using a fully automated approach. VATBox implements the highest level of data security and compliance with all international rules and regulations of the various jurisdictions, and offers companies 360⁰ visibility into their VAT spend and recovery.

 

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