Is Work Martyr Syndrome a Threat to Tourism Marketing?

October 11, 2016

Decreased Vacation Time Affects Tourism

By Amy Larson, VP: Marketing

Do you take your vacation? All of it? I bet you don’t.

According to Project Time Off, more than half (55%) of U.S. employees leave unused paid vacation days on the table every year. In 2015 alone, Americans wasted 222 million unused days of paid vacation due to what experts have labeled “Work Martyr Syndrome.”

Work Martyr Syndrome is defined by an employee’s reluctance to take his/her earned vacation days due to fear, pressure, responsibility, company culture, or something else.

Believe it or not, this is a new phenomenon. Between the years of 2000 and 2015, Americans decreased their paid vacation usage by 4.1 days—nearly a week. Project Time Off calls this statistic “America’s Lost Week,” and the non-profit is devoted to encouraging workers to reclaim their paid vacation days.

We think it could have a huge impact on tourism marketing.

Are you rolling your eyes? You shouldn’t.

Vacation provides a number of important benefits at the workplace (less burnout, higher productivity, improved mental and physical health, better relationships, to name a few).

Vacation also has an astonishing impact on our economy. Consider Travel & Tourism, one of COHN’s strongest verticals. Citing Project Time Off again: “Had Americans used the vacation time they earned in 2015, it would have meant $223 billion in spending for the U.S.”

It’s time to address the elephant in the room.

For those of us in travel and tourism marketing, Work Martyr Syndrome is a threat we should acknowledge in our tourism campaigns.

Conversely, the opportunity of reclaiming “America’s Lost Week” is worth chasing with campaigns that speak directly to the fears, pressures, and insecurities created by Work Martyr Syndrome. For example:

  • 30% percent of employees fear that “no one else can do the job,” and that’s why they don’t take their vacation. Maybe your next campaign should tackle this subject head-on:

Work will survive without you for a week. But will you survive without a break?

  • 22% percent of employees “want to show complete dedication.” Wouldn’t it be great if a campaign could dispel this myth?

Show dedication to your company by dedicating time to yourself. Go recharge the batteries. Your clients will thank you for it.

  • 19% percent “don’t want to be seen as replaceable.” There’s an opportunity there for smart tourism operators:

Experiences are irreplaceable. Work is not.

I’m obviously not a copywriter, but I think you get the idea. Travel and tourism operators would be wise to partner with a brand agency that specializes in tourism marketing to tackle Work Martyr Syndrome proactively with campaigns that break through the fear.

Pssst. COHN specializes in travel and tourism marketing. We can help!

Remember, it wasn’t long ago that Americans actually used their vacation. With smart brand marketing campaigns, we have the opportunity win back “America’s Lost Week” and convert it into meaningful gains for your travel and tourism brand.

COHN can do it. Not only are we talented brand marketers that actually produce meaningful results, but we love travel. Everything about it.

So here’s what you should do: Call or email me immediately, and we’ll schedule coffee or a call. Let’s create campaigns together that eradicate Work Martyr Syndrome forever, and solve any other tourism challenge your team faces.

What We Watched – October 7, 2016