For many people, the State Fair also signals the ceremonial end to our summer vacation season. Sigh! But those of us involved in destination marketing want to deliver the message that summer is not the only time of year to liquidate your bank of paid time off (PTO). In fact, some of the best travel deals – and smaller crowds – can be found in the off-season of any destination.
I was moved by a recent study, commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association, which concluded American workers left a record number of PTO days on the books. U.S. Travel is a national umbrella, travel and tourism marketing and advocacy organization. Its stated mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. The amount of unused PTO in 2018 was 768 million days, with 236 million of those days being completely lost with a value of $65.5 billion. The study also indicated that more than half of American workers reported not using their complete allocation of PTO. Maybe we should take a lesson from the other half!
Countless reasons exist for why we don’t always take our allotted time. However, as integral as we feel to the success of our companies, I’m quite certain they can make it without us for a few days.
As strange as it may seem, destination marketers are interested in seeing people travel somewhere, even if it’s not to our own destination this time. As Americans look for more and more authentic travel experiences, it stands to reason that a new and unexplored destination will eventually be on that rotation for travelers. Memories of unique travel experiences are now the souvenirs travelers take home with them.
In order to make the impact of the unused vacations days real, I asked Meet Minneapolis board member and Greater Minneapolis Hotel Association president, Rick Bertram how staffing is impacted by the number of rooms occupied in his hotel.
According to Rick, whose hotel has nearly 600 rooms, the Marriott City Center requires about 1 housekeeper for every 15 rooms occupied. It’s easy to calculate how important it is that hotels are full. Citywide, Minneapolis currently has about 9,300 rooms and more in the pipeline.
Frontline team members in hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses are critical to keeping the promises we make to visitors and guests. Yet these workers are the most vulnerable when it comes to employment opportunities. So, travel is good for our mental and physical well-being, and it’s also good for those who make their living in this great industry.
Whether you choose to explore another destination or take advantage of a staycation right here in our backyard, take that PTO!