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Travel Management

 May 18, 2010
Survey: China Outpaces Europe, U.S. On Economic Optimism

 Chinese businesspeople are more than twice as optimistic about their national economy and their jobs as Americans and Europeans, according to a global business poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

A first-of-its-kind poll of business travelers from four major economies commissioned by Marriott Hotels & Resorts indicates that 2010 may be shaping up as a year of transition from economic pessimism to greater confidence.

"Global Business Trends in the Third Millennium" examined trends in the economy, business travel, career and personal goals, generational and cultural differences.

It found, for example, that the Millennial Generation, despite its high rate of unemployment, is more optimistic about the future of the economy than Generation X and the Baby Boomers.

About one-third of those polled in the U.S. and Europe are worried they will lose their jobs in the next year while only about 10 percent of those in China shared this concern.

When the economy improves, 40% of those polled in the U.S. and Germany and 50% of those in the United Kingdom said they will look for new jobs.

More than 60% of 1,207 respondents in China, U.S., U.K., and Germany agree that business travel is essential; 75% of Chinese plan to travel more. At the same time, business travelers predict more travel next year: U.S. (22%), U.K. (20%), Germany (20%), and China (63%).

Approximately one-third of business travelers polled in the U.S. (35%), UK (33%), and Germany (33%) think their economies will improve. Another third -- U.S. (36%), U.K. (37%), and Germany (35%) -- believe things have leveled off economically and will "stay the same." About three in 10 -- U.S. (29%), U.K. (30%), and Germany (33%) -- forecast their national economy will get worse. China is the exception, with 81% of responders saying their economy will improve.

In China, only 13% fear job loss in the coming year, versus 39% in the U.K., 34% in Germany, and 29% in the U.S. Once their economies improve, 66% of business travelers in China, 51% in the U.K., 40% in the U.S., and 39% in Germany plan to seek new jobs.

Although affected by a lack of jobs, Millennials (referred to in the survey as Generation Y), ages 21-29, in the U.S. and U.K. express greater optimism about the economy than their older colleagues. Millennials in the U.S., U.K., and Germany also foresee more business trips in the coming year than their Baby Boomer counterparts.

Most responders in all four countries say business travel gives their companies and their careers a competitive edge. More than nine in 10 agree business travel is important to achieve business goals, reaching a high of 96% among the Chinese. U.S. responders are most likely to say (82%), travel provides critical face-to-face time with clients and customers, followed by 77% in Germany, 74% in China, and 72% in the U.K.

Commenting on the survey, Don Semmler, executive vice president, global full-service brands for Marriott International, said: "The findings mirror indications of the economic recovery in our hotels across the globe, where we are seeing improvement in corporate travel reflecting pent-up demand after two years of cutbacks. The findings also speak to the importance of work-life balance on the road, which Marriott is addressing with new "great room" lobby designs that facilitate work and social interaction, 24-hour fitness centers, and newly designed guest rooms that are functional yet provide a calming retreat."