This post was sponsored by National Car Rental. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of National Car Rental.

I’m a big fan of the “Workation”. This is when you combine a business trip with some personal time.

I didn’t think it was a trend.  I just thought it was logical, economical and efficient way to combine a little business with pleasure either with my husband, Tony…

or with my friend and marketing automation expert, Rhonda Wall…

Or my friend Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends.

Combining Business and Personal Travel is Good for You

If you’re prone to mixing business and pleasure, then consider yourself part of the “Bleisure” trend.

In 2017 there were 2.2 million bleisure trips.  That’s about 10% of all business travel as measured by any trip that includes a Saturday night stay. A 2019 National Rental Car study explored the bleisure travel trend and found that it was a critical aspect of work and life satisfaction.

The National Car Rental 2019 State of Business Travel Survey

Use Your Travel Perks to Enjoy The #EntrepreneurLife

Recently a friend asked me what my perfect life looked like. After a few minutes, it dawned on me that my perfect life would include a quarterly “workation” to visit clients and business partners. As entrepreneurs our personal lives are intertwined with our business, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sure, we can talk about using frequent flyer miles or credit card points, but how do you put a price on experience?

When it comes to the perks of business travel, I like to focus on the priceless elements, such as relationships and experience.

My first priority is getting face-to-face with people.  Something magical happens when you sit across from someone and share a meal or even coffee.  I’ve found that even if I’m in regular conversation with a client or a partner, we come up with ideas, opportunities for collaboration or even referrals for each other that haven’t come up in previous conversations.

Go and See How They Live

Another benefit to hitting the road on a business trip comes from spending time in the city where your contacts live and experiencing their food and culture. It really gives you a depth and breadth of understanding of the people you work with.

For example, I had been “internet” friends with Vivek Bhaskaran, CEO of QuestionPro for more than five years before we met face-to-face.

He invited my husband and me to visit him in San Francisco. It was a unique opportunity to meet his family and really see what mattered to him.  We reciprocated a few years later when he and his family came to visit us in Cleveland.

Now, Cleveland is NOT San Francisco, but his request for the visit was “To see how you live.”  I thought this was a brilliant way to express our underlying need to understand the people we work with. With this as inspiration, I created an itinerary that included all the things that made Northeast Ohio unique.  This included a visit to Amish Country, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and even what we lovingly call “The Islands” off the coast of Lake Erie.
(The Bhaskaran family enjoying the golf carts at Put-In-Bay, OH)

But I think the winning experience for the Bhaskaran family was sitting around our fire pit roasting marshmallows and making “hobo pies” in our backyard.

It’s these kinds of reciprocal trips between business colleagues is what transforms a two-dimensional business relationship into a real friendship that lasts for years.

How I Use Loyalty Programs to Build Loyal Relationships

While some people are great at saving their points, I like to use as many perks as soon as possible.  For example, National Rental Car’s Emerald Club benefits totally work for my business travel style.

By far, my favorite perk is getting free rental days — all the more reason to extend my trip.  Second to that is the ability to choose any car in the Emerald Aisle. Any perk that doesn’t require me to jump through hoops is appreciated.

All of these perks are much easier to take advantage of via the National Car Rental mobile app.  The alerts are lifesavers when you’re in a strange airport because they tell you exactly where to go and what to do.

One of the great things about being a small business traveler is the ability to leverage your business travel for personal use.  I have this habit of becoming friends with many of my clients and partners, so business trips often feel like personal visits. And having access to loyalty rewards just makes it easier to strengthen those relationships.