Challenge: Vacation is essential for strong bonds with family and friends, a productive workforce and a fulfilled life. Unfortunately, in 2014, the U.S. Travel Association uncovered an alarming trend: over the last 40 years, American vacation usage has declined dramatically. This decline is represented in the more than 700 million unused vacation days and $255 billion in economic impact left on the table.
Solution: I established and managed the team responsible for launching Project: Time Off, U.S. Travel’s industry campaign aimed at growing the domestic leisure segment and moving Americans to understand the value and necessity of taking vacation to travel. Through thoughtful research, strategic communications and innovative partnerships, Project: Time Off set out with an audacious goal: win back America’s Lost Week of vacation in 10 years, creating a lasting cultural shift in how Americans view and behave around time off.
This goal required broad in-kind and financial support. Never afraid of a challenge, I spearheaded the creation of the Project: Time Off Coalition, a broad-based group of more than 50 member organizations, generating a million dollars in annual funding and sponsorship.
Results: In four years, we have seen a reversal in vacation's downward trend, reclaiming 1.2 days toward America’s Lost Week and generating $81 billion in economic impact for the travel and related industries. Highlights include:
· Extensively researched American vacation behavior and attitudes, producing more than 15 original reports in five years with GfK and Oxford Economics on how vacation impacts our economy, relationships, generations and more.
· Responsible for nearly one billion media impressions in four years and helped launched Project: Time Off-themed campaigns with MasterCard, Expedia, Alamo Rent A Car and Travel Channel, among others.
· Recognized in 2018 with the American Society of Association Executives' Gold Circle Award in Media/Public Relations category and selected by judges for the prestigious ASAE Excellence Award, given to the overall winner of all categories.
· Established National Plan for Vacation Day, an industry activation event and call-to-action for Americans to plan their vacation days at the start of the year, which saw more than 7,000 participants in 2019 and 100 million media impressions.
"Gary was an incredible partner in our joint efforts to make Project: Time Off a success. His leadership and vision were the heart and soul of the program and encouraged countless Americans to take more vacation time. All of this was accomplished with a very limited budget and a small staff."
Andrew Eisner, VP-Discovery Channel Corporate Sales