Stressed-out workers - and their children - are looking for something besides "go-go-go" vacations.
Workers and Vacations
The Families and Work Institute released a study in March titled "Overwork in America: When the Way We Work Becomes Too Much" (www.familiesandwork.org). Some of the results:33%Feel chronically overworked54% Feel overwhelmed by their workload79%Had access to paid vacation time in 200436%Were not planning to use all their vacation time in 200421%Work during vacation, at least sometimes49%Take vacations lasting seven to 13 days37%Take vacations lasting less than seven days14%Take vacations lasting 14 days or more16.6 Average number of vacation days a worker receives annually3
Number of days it takes employees to relax after starting vacation
What Travelers Want
A new survey from AAA in Orlando shows the top 10 things leisure travelers want in a destination:
1. Location93%2. Proximity to a planned activity90%3. Price86%4. AAA discount82%5. AAA diamond rating72%6. Free breakfast60%7. Cleanliness45%8. Eco-friendly programs34%9. Indoor/outdoor pool33%10.?Activities for children20%10. (tie) Pet-friendly policy20%
33%Adults who took at least one vacation with children in 200437%Adults who plan at least one vacation with children in 200570%Kids who feel they need a vacation33%Workers who stay in touch with the office on vacation
Sources: 2005 National Leisure Travel Monitor; YPB&R; Yankelovich Partners
Returning to work after a family vacation, many parents are familiar with the feeling that "I need a vacation to recover from my vacation."
As a result, some vacationers are gravitating toward leisure trips that maximize "down time" and minimize travel-related stress.
What does this mean for theme parks and other destinations whose bottom lines rely on a "go-go-go" mentality?
"The pace of work in America has become so frantic, we have this growing sense of 'we don't spend enough time with each other,' " said Peter Yesawich, CEO of Orlando tourism marketing firm Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell. Yesawich spoke at a recent panel discussion at Walt Disney World before a group of national travel journalists.
Another factor: Kids' schedules are sometimes just as hectic as those of their parents. About 70% of children polled by Yesawich's firm said they felt they needed a vacation. And a shocking finding topped their wish list of leisure-time activities: Sharing a meal with mom and dad. Kids just want some time to hang out with their parents.
That could mean the games you play in the car on the way to your vacation destination are more important to your children than being the first ones in line for the Buzz Lightyear ride at the Magic Kingdom and the last family out the park's gates after the night's fireworks. Kids feel less stressed if their parents are relaxed, said panelist Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Manhattan-based Families and Work Institute.
Don't expect workaholic adults to give up their cell phones, laptops and PDAs completely during vacation, said panelist Amy Ziff, editor-at-large for online travel company Travelocity. But an occasional detour to check e-mail is better than being fully on call for an entire vacation, the panelists said.
The less-stress trend will require a different marketing strategy to appeal to families who want to slow things down. Disney, for instance, is encouraging longer stays by offering discount packages for families who vacation there for seven days or more, said Linda Warren, Walt Disney World's executive vice president of marketing and brand management.
Yesawich's research shows satisfaction levels go way up after four days away from home. And once they relax, what tops the wish list for adults who find themselves with an extra vacation hour to spend?
Taking a nap.
Hurricane Impact Grants
Ten Florida communities will split $475,000 in emergency tourism marketing grants from Visit Florida, the state's official tourism marketing agency, to help them overcome lingering perceptions from the 2004 hurricane season:
Charlotte County Visitor's Bureau: $50,000
Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce: $43,000
Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce: $50,000
Martin County Tourist Development Council: $44,140
Pahokee Chamber of Commerce: $50,000
Polk County Tourism & Sports Marketing: $44,140
Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council: $50,000
Santa Rosa Island Authority: $49,579
Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce: $44,140
St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners: $50,000
After wrapping up its largest-ever show with 32,000 attendees at the Orlando/Orange County Convention Center and a $42-million impact to the local economy, the Coverings 2005 convention donated more than seven tractor-trailers of tile to Habitat for Humanity to use in houses for low-income residents. Other shows this year have donated food to an area homeless shelter, three heart machines to a local hospital and cash to other non-profit operations.
Orlando International Airport, the busiest in Florida with 32 million passengers in the past year, is the test-pilot site of a new national security device that looks into the eyes of employees and vendors, scanning their irises to determine whether they can pass a certain checkpoint. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will test the device through this summer.