November 30, 2011 07:00 ET

Canadians Can't Let Go of Work Even When on Vacation

Most of Us Check Office Email or Voicemail While Taking a Holiday, Expedia.ca's Latest Vacation Deprivation™ Survey Finds

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2011) -

Editors Note: There is a graphic associated with this press release.

Attention business, lifestyle, travel, and career editors:

Picture it: you're on vacation, taking a well-deserved rest. But be honest: do you still see your smartphone or laptop in the picture, close at hand?

If you answered yes, you're not alone: most employed Canadians (62 per cent) say they regularly or at least sometimes check in with the office by email or voicemail when they're on holidays, according to the 2011 Vacation Deprivation® survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia.ca. The study is an annual analysis of vacation habits across multiple countries and continents. Twenty countries are represented in the 2011 survey, spanning North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.

Interestingly, Canadians were actually toward the bottom of the "I frequently check-in" list of the global study, ranking 14 out of 20 nations surveyed. Respondents in India were most likely to touch base with the office while on vacation (89 per cent) followed closely by Italy (88 per cent) and France and Japan, which tied for third place at 87 per cent. Danes were least likely to check their work email or voicemail with more than 50 per cent saying they never do it. In Canada specifically, British Columbia tops the charts with 68 per cent either regularly or sometimes checking into work. Quebecers, conversely, are at the bottom of the list at 58 per cent.

"This year's survey has highlighted the continuing trend of workers struggling to 'power off' from work and instead focus on enjoying their vacation," said Sean Shannon, Managing Director, Expedia Canada. "For some, it's hard to not bring technology like smartphones with them to ensure projects are running smoothly back at the office, but we shouldn't underestimate the benefits of a vacation on our physical and mental well-being - both at home and at work."

Workers Continue to Give up Vacation Days - But We're Getting Better

While the majority of Canadians can't seem to disconnect entirely from work, the good news is that according to the survey, a growing number are taking nearly all the vacation time allotted by their employers. This year, respondents stated they planned on taking 15 of the their 16 allotted vacation days - an improvement over last year's survey which indicated Canadians left an average of five vacation days unused. Nevertheless, while one untaken day may seem like a nominal figure, multiplied by the size of our workforce, this translates into approximately 17 million(1) unused days overall in Canada.

Though Canadian workers get less vacation than many other countries world-wide, the good news is that we also don't give up as many vacation days as our global counterparts. In Italy, workers left seven of 28 days untaken, followed by Japan where six out of 11 vacation days go unused. India took the third spot with workers giving back five of 25 vacation days to their employer.

What's Keeping Us at Work?

So why work when there's vacation time in the bank? Globally, and for the majority of Canadian employees, not being able to afford a getaway and insufficient planning time were the major deterrents from going on vacation, as cited by 26 and 14 per cent of Canadians, respectively. Being viewed negatively by the boss and overall lack of managerial support for taking vacation were other top 'vacation roadblocks'.

Nationally, these figures were highest in Ontario, where nine per cent cited that taking time off would be viewed negatively by their superiors, compared to the national average of six per cent. While the majority of Canadians cited their boss supports taking all vacation days, this number is significantly softest in Quebec, where only 68 per cent felt their boss would be supportive.

"Canadian workers should never let time or money get in the way of a much-needed vacation. Would-be travellers should plan their vacation as far in advance as possible as the best rates are most often found 60 days out from the departure date; not to mention, it gives employers enough advance notice to plan ahead," said Shannon. "Vacation costs could also be reduced if travellers bundle flight and hotel together, which saves the average Expedia.ca customer more than $300 per trip on some of the best deals already available to our customers."

What happens when work really gets in the way of a vacation? Thirty-eight per cent of Canadians say they have had to cancel or postpone vacation plans because of work. Koreans fared the worst in this regard, with two thirds having nixed or delayed a vacation because of work demands - and they only take an average of seven vacation days a year to begin with. Nationally, one in two Albertans have cited cancelling a vacation because of work, whereas 67 per cent of Quebecers have never done so.

The 2011 Vacation Deprivation study was commissioned by Expedia and conducted by Harris Interactive. More details on the survey results can be found at www.expedia.ca/vacationdeprivation2011.

Vacation Deprivation in Canada - More Regional Revelations:

Who's Not Taking Vacation?

  • Albertans get an average of about 20 vacation days a year but only take 15, the region with the highest number of unused holidays.
  • Atlantic Canada follows suit with residents leaving four of their 20 vacation days unused while Quebec closes out the top three with an average of three untaken days out of their allotted 20.
  • On the flip side, Ontarians and British Columbians both receive and take their 15 vacation days, a trend similar to those in the Prairies who report taking all 20 of their allotted vacation days.

Where would you find a Canadian on Holiday?

  • The beach rules! A relaxing beach vacation is the number one choice of Canadians in every province.
  • Outdoorsy, exercise-oriented vacations at 18 per cent were the strong second choice for both British Columbians and Albertans.
  • Atlantic Canadians at 12 per cent were most fond of holidaying at a theme park compared to the national average of 7 per cent.

With whom?

  • Canadians vacation most often with their immediate family, including the kids (47 per cent) with Prairie residents most likely to do so (60 per cent).
  • Getting away with just your spouse or partner was the second most popular choice nationally (42 per cent) and Atlantic Canadians led the regions with 52 per cent taking a vacation just for two in the past year.

Why can't we get away?

  • British Columbians were most likely to say they can't afford to take holidays (34 per cent), versus the national average of 26 per cent.
  • Albertans were the most likely to state "not having enough time in advance to plan" as the major reason for not using all their vacation time (23 per cent versus the national average of 14 per cent).
  • Nine per cent of Ontarians fear that using all their vacation time "will be negatively perceived" by their employer - the highest among all regions.

Expedia.ca's Tips for the Vacation Deprived

With 2011 coming to an end and those vacation audits due, start planning ahead for 2012 with vacation planning tips from Expedia.ca:

Think about your vacation as a well-earned part of your career, not a professional luxury. Team up with others in your workplace to promote the benefits of taking time off to ensure wide-spread support for when people do go on vacation.

Advance holiday planning not only helps secure the best possible deal, but it also gets people ready for your eventual departure. Leaving detailed notes about work in progress and assigning a designated replacement in your absence helps ensure vacations remain work-free.

If you do feel the need to check in with work, set limits on yourself and your colleagues. Let people know you won't be 'on-call' or in touch frequently and set aside the minimum amount of time needed to check in. Don't break your own rules and resist the temptation to follow-up with the office throughout your vacation.

Promotions can mean huge savings. Expedia.ca's annual Escape Winter promotion, which launches this month, offers discounts on package vacations to several southern destinations all backed by the Escape Winter Best Price Guarantee. For those who like to take advantage of daily online deals, Expedia.ca has teamed with Groupon to deliver deals that offer more than 50 per cent off hotels, flights and cars, all redeemable whenever you are ready to take your hard earned vacation days.

About Expedia, Inc.

Expedia, Inc. operates Canada's most visited full-service online travel service, Expedia.ca. To help Canadians plan and purchase travel, Expedia, Inc. provides the best combination of scheduled and charter flights, car and hotel reservations, vacation packages, destination activities, cruises, trip insurance and traveller-authored content. Expedia customers are supported by customer support agents available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via a toll-free number and email response.

Expedia and Vacation Deprivation are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners. © 2011 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved. CST: 2029030-50

Methodology Statement

This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia.com from September 19-October 9, 2011 among 7,803 employed adults 18 and older in the following countries: The United States (520), Canada (1080), Mexico (411), Argentina (301), Brazil (308), United Kingdom (440), Germany (402), France (409), Italy (400), Spain (428), Norway (300), Sweden (300), Denmark (301), Ireland (301), Netherlands (300), Japan (300), India (302), South Korea (300), Singapore (300) and Australia (400). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Emily Vear at Veritas Communications.

To view the graphic associated with this release, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/vacadeprivation_info_eng.jpg.

(1) Statistics Canada - Labour Force Survey 2011

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