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 June 23, 2010
Survey: China Outpaces Europe & U.S. On Economic Optimism

 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. More than 60% of 1,207 respondents in four countries agree that business travel is essential; 75% of Chinese plan to travel more.

Key survey findings:

- 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.

- Business travelers predicting more travel next year: U.S. (22%), U.K. (20%), Germany (20%) and China (63%).

These are findings from "Global Business Trends in the Third Millennium," a far-reaching Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll of 1,207 business travelers in the U.S., China, Germany and the U.K. The study examines trends in the economy, business travel, career and personal goals, and generational and cultural differences.

"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," said Don Semmler, executive vice president, global full-service brands for Marriott International. ""With nearly 500 hotels in 60 countries, Marriott Hotels & Resorts has tremendous insight and 50 years' experience serving business travelers. This survey spots cultural and generational trends that endorse our continued efforts to address work-life balance on the road; spaces that facilitate work, social interaction and relaxation; and to lead in the area of environmental stewardship."

Additional survey highlights were broken into five categories.

Economic Outlook:
- Chinese business travelers are more than twice as optimistic (81%) about their national economy as their counterparts in the U.S. (35%), Germany (33%), and the U.K. (33%).
- About two-thirds of Chinese responders, 51% in the U.K., 40% in the U.S., and 39% of Germans expect to look for new job opportunities when their respective economies improve.
- Companies have reduced some spending on business travel in all four countries. More than four in 10 responders in the U.S. (44%) and U.K. (43%), and about three in 10 in China (31%), and Germany (29%) report their companies have cut back on spending for business travel in the past year.

Generation Gaps:
- Younger business travelers have a brighter outlook: Although affected by a lack of jobs, the Millennial generation 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: China (92%0, U.S. (76%), Germany (72%), and U.K. (71%).
- A plurality of respondents in the U.S. and U.K. describe colleagues one generation younger than themselves as "allies" and "frustrating," while in China and Germany, younger colleagues are "motivating" and "inspiring." Business travelers in general have a positive view of older colleagues, calling them "motivating," "allies" and "inspiring."
- Technology complements business travel: Adapting to emerging technology remains a challenge for today's business travelers irrespective of their country of origin. - Generation Y is just as likely to value business travel; but in the U.S. and Europe, this group is more inclined to think technological advances can replace some business trips.

Work-Career Imperatives:
- About six in 10 U.S. and European business travelers are satisfied with a good effort, even if they don't beat out the competition. But in China, 62% think second best is not enough.
- Work-related travel creates an edge in business: Nearly all business travelers -- more than nine in 10 -- agree travel is important to achieve their business goals, reaching a high of 96% among the Chinese. U.S. responders are the most positive -- 82% -- about the critical value of face-to-face client contacts; 77% of German responders, 74% of Chinese business travelers, and 72% in the U.K. agree.
- When asked to describe themselves at work, 50% of U.S. responders say they are "resourceful," while Germans are most likely (67%) to consider themselves team players. Being a "team player" and "loyal" are considered defining terms for nearly half the Chinese responders, while in the U.K., although 46% also describe themselves as team players, nearly four in 10 define themselves as "loyal," "confident," "resourceful," and "determined."

Business and Leisure Travel:
- On a personal satisfaction level, the term "glamorous" is used by strong majorities in all countries to characterize business travel. Many in China (68%) and the U.S. (54%) also describe it as relaxing.
- The benefits of business travel: Business trips help respondents to: better understand clients (89% in the U.S. and U.K., 96% in China, 87% in Germany), exploring new places (88% in the U.S., 82% in the U.K., 91 % in China,72% in Germany), learning global values and perspectives (74% in the U.S., 79% in the U.K., 91% in China, 77% in Germany), competitive edge (80% in the U.S., 78% in the U.K., 87% in China, 75 % in Germany). More than 60% of business travelers in all four countries agree that work-related trips and destinations give them status among friends and colleagues. China has the largest percentage -- 75% -- who feel this way.
- Business travelers predicting more travel next year: U.S.(22%), U.K. (26%), Germany (20%) and China (63%); staying the same U.S.(54%), U.K. (45%), Germany (52%) and China (29%); less travel U.S.(25%), U.K. (29%), Germany (28%) and China (8%).
- Time Out: Respondents describing leisure travel as a necessity vs. a luxury: U.S. (50%), U.K. (52%), China (56%) and Germany (45%); as a time to de-stress: U.S. (38%), U.K. (38%), China (42%) and Germany (42%); as a time to spend with family, friends and loved ones: U.S. (38%), U.K. (37%), China (49%) and Germany (27%); to be adventurous, let loose: U.S. (20%), U.K. (20%), China (6%) and Germany (23%); something I do for others, I'd rather stay home: U.S. (4%), U.K. (5%), China (3%) and Germany (8%)
- A majority of business travelers report they are able to balance work and leisure activities successfully while on company trips.
- Top etiquette priorities vary across the cultures polled: 28% of U.S. business travelers name proper cell-phone etiquette as their highest priority; 29% of responders from the U.K. identify respect toward flight or hotel staff; 33% of Chinese responders list how to sense when it is a good or bad time to make small talk with fellow travelers; and for Germans, the top priority, at 28%, is reducing the sound of a television or conversation carrying from a hotel room.

Green Travel:
- Eco-friendly accommodations are considered a necessity by a majority of respondents across all four cultures, but especially in China, where 83% of business travelers indicate a hotel's sustainability efforts are important. This consideration is important to 51% of those polled from the U.S., 61% from the U.K., and 75% from Germany.