First-Ever Vacation Commitment Summit

Recently, a new organization——held the first ever Vacation Commitment Summit in NYC.

The Vacation Commitment Summit supports a nationwide effort to improve employee health and efficiency by encouraging Americans to use their paid vacation time. This has become a major topic in our “vacation starved society.”

Each year more and more employees are not using their pre-paid vacation days, or using them to catch up on chores or household repairs. The United States Travel and Tourism Association found that last year, 429 million PTO days went unused.

As numerous studies have shown the health—and productivity—benefits of taking vacations, it is important that Americans are encouraged to use these days for rest and relaxation. At the conference, attendees brainstormed way to influence Americans to use their vacation days.

Conference attendees included academics, corporate leaders, HR executives, work-life balance experts, and media reps. Their goal is reduce the number of unused vacation days by 20% or 80 million days.

Founder of Take Back Your Time, John de Graaf shared, “This issue is a major concern for a variety of reasons. Not just pertaining to work productivity, which is an issue in and of itself, but also to personal happiness and fulfillment, which means that the backbone of the American public is deteriorating because we are not taking regular vacations.”

U.S. Travel executives presented research information correlating this epidemic with internal business communication. Similar research conducted by Project:Time Off found that the majority of managers do not communicate that they support employees taking time off.

The study, titled “The Mind of the Manager: What Your Boss Really Thinks About Vacation,” shows that managers feel vacations improve employee attitudes and productivity, while maintaining team goals and energy levels. Unfortunately, the study also found that most managers do not communicate this to their teams.

Managing director of Project: Time Off, Gary Oster said, “There is a tremendous gap between what managers believe and what they say in words and actions. As a result, employees are erring on the side of caution and not using their earned time off.”

The attendees of the Vacation Commitment Summit hope these finds will influence managers to support their employees in taking time off. Hopefully next year, we will see an increase in used vacation days.

Graaf added, “This conference was a big first step in ultimately changing attitudes around the critical issue of taking time off. To have the best minds in the industry and corporate America gathered in one place shows that this is an important and timely discussion.”

To learn more about Take Back Your Time, visit