One in Three Travelers Say a Free Hotel Room Makes for a Happy Vacation

One in Three Travelers Say a Free Hotel Room Makes for a Happy Vacation

Howard Johnson agrees, randomly surprising tonight’s guests with free stays.

June 20, 2012 // // PARSIPPANY, N.J. – In celebration of the first day of summer—arguably one of the happiest days of the year—the Howard Johnson® hotel brand is surprising randomly selected guests across the U.S. and Canada with a free hotel stay tonight at more than 50 of its hotels.

The promotion comes on the heels of a recent survey commissioned by the iconic hotel chain to find out what makes consumers happiest when they travel. According to the results, close to one in three travelers said that when given a choice, being surprised with a free hotel night is the number one way to make them happy, ahead of choices like a welcome gift at check-in, tickets to a local show, or a free meal at a nearby restaurant.

“It’s always our goal to keep guests smiling and in good spirits whenever they’re able to stay with us—after all, that’s what vacation is all about,” said Kevin McCabe, senior director, marketing, Howard Johnson. “But on this, the happiest day of the year, we wanted to do something extra special. Travelers told us they want free rooms, so that’s what they’ll get!”

Among just a few of the properties surprising guests with free stays are the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel Anaheim Resort in California, the Howard Johnson Plaza Portland in Maine and the Howard Johnson Plaza Tampa-Downtown in Florida. A full list can be found on the Howard Johnson website under deals and discounts. One guest will be randomly selected to receive tonight’s stay for free at each property. To be eligible, guests must have booked on and have a standing reservation for tonight at one of the participating hotels.

In addition to giving away free nights, all travelers can save on hotel accommodations this summer when they book a room with a Howard Johnson hotel. Current discounts include 15 percent off for stays of two consecutive nights or more, 20 percent off for stays of three consecutive nights and more and 25 percent off for stays of four consecutive nights or more. For full terms and conditions or to book, visit

Other Happy Findings

  • For a truly happy vacation, the majority of Americans (64 percent) want their vacation to last seven days or more, while the majority of Canadians (62 percent) want their vacation to last 10 days or more.
  • The majority of respondents (55 percent of Americans, 57 percent of Canadians) agree that having friends and family with them on vacation is most important to ensuring their vacation is a happy one. Second most important is being able to disconnect from the office (23 percent of Americans, 22 percent of Canadians).
  • Travelers’ biggest fears while on vacation are getting sick, followed by bad weather, a bad hotel and then travel delays. Despite a strong desire to disconnect, of least concern is getting a call from the office.
  • With regard to indulgences, 44 percent of respondents from both countries said spending more money on food and other activities is the one luxury they allow themselves on vacation. Meanwhile, 16 percent of Americans and 17 percent of Canadians put sleeping in and breaking their diet at the top of the list, while just a few (2 percent of Americans, 4 percent of Canadians) admitted to enjoying a good romance novel.
  • Asked when a vacation truly starts, arriving at their destination topped respondents’ lists (51 percent of Americans, 43 percent of Canadians). Approximately one in five (22 percent of Americans, 18 percent of Canadians) said it’s when they pull out of the driveway, while about one in ten (9 percent of Americans, 10 percent of Canadians) said it’s when they start to pack.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents (68 percent of Americans, 73 percent of Canadians) said ice cream is the summer treat that makes them happiest. Coming in last was cotton candy, at just 4 percent for both Americans and Canadians. Other choices included funnel cakes (12 percent of Americans, 8 percent of Canadians), snow cones (12 percent of Americans, 8 percent of Canadians) and s’mores (4 percent of Americans, 7 percent of Canadians).

About the Survey

The Howard Johnson Happiest Day of the Year survey was conducted by Redshift Research ( in June 2012. For this research, 1,500 interviews were fielded among nationally representative adults, ages 18 years and older, in the U.S. and Canada. All interviews were conducted online.

About Howard Johnson

The Howard Johnson hotel brand, a member of the Wyndham Hotel Group family of lodging brands, is the official hotel sponsor of the Harlem Globetrotter’s 2012 North American Tour. Most properties offer free wireless Internet access and complimentary Rise & Dine® continental breakfast while select properties allow pets.

Reservations and information are available by calling (800) 446-4656 or by visiting All Howard Johnson hotels are independently owned and operated. Howard Johnson International is an indirect subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN). For more information about hotel franchising opportunities visit

The Howard Johnson Plaza Portland in Maine is one of more than 50 Howard Johnson hotels surprising guests with a free hotel night.To be eligible, guests must have booked on the Howard Johnson website and have a standing reservation for tonight.

Media Contact:

Rob Myers
Public Relations Manager
Wyndham Hotel Group
22 Sylvan Way
Parsippany, NJ 07054
+1 (973) 753-6590

Editors: A high-resolution version of the above image may be downloaded by clicking here. Additional photos and logos can be downloaded from the Wyndham Worldwide Media Center, available here. For more information about Wyndham Worldwide Corporation and its businesses, go to



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