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Refill the Commuter Coffee Mug: Expedia.com Survey Reveals Americans Will Forfeit 415 Million Vacation Days this Year

All signs point to a banner summer for the travel industry, but because of the nation's "Vacation Deprivation" mindset, millions of working Americans likely will linger at the office instead of lounge by the pool.

According to the fourth annual survey by Expedia.com(R), the world's leading online travel service, at least 30 percent of employed adults give up vacation time they've earned. In the process, Americans who receive annual vacation are handing back 415 million vacation days to their employers. On average, every employed American misses out on three days of vacation, up 50 percent from the two days they each forfeited in 2003(1). Results also suggest that "working vacations" are standard, with a third of respondents (32%) checking office voicemail or email while away on holiday.

But hope lies in the Midwest! Expedia(R)'s survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, reveals Midwesterners outshine the rest of the nation when it comes to maintaining work/life balance. According to the survey results, Midwesterners are the least likely to:

-- Work more than 40 hours per week -- only 46 percent do, compared to 51 percent of national respondents;

-- Forgo vacation -- less than a quarter (24 percent) leave vacation time on the table, compared to 30 percent nationally;

-- Cancel or postpone vacation due to work -- 30 percent would, versus 38 percent of national respondents; and

-- Check voicemail or email on holiday -- 22 percent do, versus 32 percent of national respondents.

"We take our hats off to the heartland for successfully balancing pressures at the office with the realization that leisure time is important, too," said Stuart MacDonald, senior vice president of marketing and packages at Expedia.com. "Expedia has seen a growing trend of Americans leaving more and more vacation on the table. Summer's here and we can't imagine a better time to make vacationing a higher priority on everyone's to-do list."

"Expedia's recent Travel Quotient quiz showed that most Americans consider themselves to be Intrepid Explorer-type travelers, but it seems as if many of them aren't exploring anything but their offices," said Joe Robinson, author of "Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life" (www.worktolive.info). "Our lack of vacationing as a nation has far-reaching implications both economically and socially, and could potentially put the well-being of millions of Americans at risk."

Expedia's research showed that other parts of the country have some vacationing to do to match their Midwest counterparts:

-- Workaholic West: Of those in the West, 43 percent say they would take less vacation than they're given due to "too much work." They also leave behind the most unused vacation (27 percent give up more than a week each year) and work the longest hours (56 percent work more than 40 hours a week).

-- Northeast Negotiators: Workers in the Northeast secure the most vacation time (13.6 days, versus the national average of 12.4 days), and take the most days off (12.5 days on average, versus 11.6 nationally) -- even though they are most likely to say that their boss is not supportive of employees taking all of their vacation time (18 percent, versus 17 percent nationally).

-- Southern Comfort: Southerners might not take all their vacation time, but they are the most likely to value its benefits, with 57 percent agreeing that they return from vacation feeling better about their job and feeling more productive.

No matter how hard it is to get away, most of us agree it's worth it -- 65 percent of respondents say they come back feeling rested, rejuvenated, and reconnected with family and friends after vacation.

"Bosses looking for increased productivity should consider encouraging employees to take vacations, as more than half of Americans (52 percent) say they come back from vacation feeling better about their jobs and are even more productive," MacDonald said.

Expedia makes it easy to plan the whole trip -- from airfare and hotels to sightseeing tours -- no matter how many vacation days Americans are able to take. If you want a little inspiration from those actually taking vacations this Memorial Day, here is a list of the top ten package destinations Expedia.com customers have booked for this weekend:

             1. Las Vegas                  6. New Orleans
             2. San Francisco              7. Chicago
             3. Orlando                    8. Paris
             4. New York                   9. Amsterdam
             5. Miami                      10. San Diego

  About Expedia, Inc.

Expedia, Inc. is the world's leading online travel service and the fourth largest travel agency in the U.S. Expedia's award-winning Expert Searching and Pricing (ESP) technology delivers the most comprehensive flight options available online. ESP also allows customers to dynamically build complete trips that combine flights, Expedia(R) Special Rate hotels and other lodging, ground transportation, and destination services and activities. Expedia's quality and leadership have been recognized in awards such as PC Magazine's "Editors' Choice" and Forbes "Favorite General Travel Site." Expedia, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IAC/InterActiveCorp . CST: 2029030-40

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive (www.harrisinteractive.com) is a worldwide market research and consulting firm best known for The Harris Poll(R), and for pioneering the Internet method to conduct scientifically accurate market research. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, Harris Interactive combines proprietary methodologies and technology with expertise in predictive, custom and strategic research. The Company conducts international research from its U.S. offices and through wholly owned subsidiaries -- London-based HI Europe (www.hieurope.com), Paris-based Novatris and Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan -- as well as through the Harris Interactive Global Network of independent market- and opinion-research firms.

NOTE: Expedia, Expedia.com, and the airplane logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the United States, Canada and/or other countries.

Survey Methodology

Harris Interactive(R) fielded the study from May 7-11, 2004, via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2019 U.S. Adults (18+), of whom 1301 were employed. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 4 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of employed adults had been polled with complete accuracy. This is not a probability sample. Data were propensity-weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, and race/ethnicity.

(1)Expedia survey conducted in April 2003 by Synovate

SOURCE: Expedia, Inc.

CONTACT: press only, Alexa Waltz of Fleishman-Hillard, +1-415-318-4110,
or waltza@fleishman.com, for Expedia