MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Even though Americans
enjoy traveling abroad, many neglect the local customs of other countries
and make common faux pas that can lead to confusion and embarrassment,
according to a new survey conducted by international travel site
vayama.com. To help travelers avoid cultural misunderstandings on future
voyages, vayama has added country specific etiquette guides that cover
everything from dining practices to appropriate attire, available at
Vayama's survey focused on U.S. adults' know-how of appropriate
etiquette in other countries and found that 95% of travelers(1) say they
typically learn about the places they visit outside of the U.S. However,
they don't educate themselves on local customs as much as they could. In
fact, over half of travelers (54%) said they typically stick to U.S.
customs when traveling abroad, and nearly half (47%) said they did
something when traveling outside the U.S. that they later learned was
inappropriate behavior in that country.
"The results of this survey paint a bleak picture of how Americans are
behaving in other countries," said Tony Hanseder, General Manager of
vayama. "To help travelers overcome some of the common obstacles outlined
in the survey, we added country specific do's and don'ts to vayama.com to
help people brush-up on correct protocol before they travel."
Launched today, vayama's etiquette guides provide a quick and easy
snapshot of a country's culture and customs, including tipping practices,
dining etiquette, appropriate attire, how to greet someone, gift-giving,
cultural taboos and more. Vayama currently has guides for more than a dozen
of its most popular destinations and expects to have more than 50 guides
available in the next couple months.
Vayama's survey revealed that, overall, travelers are not very
knowledgeable about the customs of the places they visit. With Europe, over
half of travelers (56%) say they have no or limited knowledge of European
customs even though the same number of travelers (56%) have been to that
region of the world. Nine out of 10 travelers (91%) are somewhat to not at
all knowledgeable about the culture of Africa, and over three-fourths admit
the same lack of knowledge for South America (83%) and Asia (82%).
Vayama's survey found that travelers' lack of knowledge is most
apparent when it comes to table manners in other countries. For example,
about half (48%) think it's appropriate to tip when they travel outside the
U.S. regardless of the local customs, and a quarter of travelers (26%)
learned afterward that it was inappropriate that they tipped a
waiter/waitress. One in five travelers (19%) found out it was inappropriate
that they waited for a waiter/waitress to bring them a check, and one in
four think that forks and knives are used around the world so there's no
need to learn other forms of dining.
Americans are oftentimes misunderstood as disrespectful in other
countries when it comes to greeting locals and other nonverbal
communication. Two in five of travelers (42%) typically shake hands with
someone they meet outside of the U.S. even if it's not that country's
custom to do so, and about one in five travelers (17%) incorrectly think it
is a generally accepted practice outside the U.S. to gesture to someone
with a "thumbs up" sign or the "OK" sign.
"Unfortunately, certain stigmas of Americans abroad ring true. We are
typically too informal in our interactions so we end up being perceived as
rude or uncivilized," said Syndi Seid, etiquette expert to vayama.com.
"When traveling, people need to know that they can't behave in Madrid the
way they would in Miami so vayama has included this type of helpful
information in its etiquette guides."
The survey also compared the habits of those who travel abroad for
business to those who travel for leisure and uncovered that business
travelers surprisingly make more mistakes than their leisure traveling
counterparts. For example, almost a quarter of business travelers (22%)
kept their shoes on in someone's home without knowing it was inappropriate
to do so, compared to just 13% of leisure travelers, and 13% of business
travelers incorrectly addressed someone as Mr./Mrs./Ms. versus just 8% of
When it comes to learning about the places they visit, about four out
of five travelers (84%) learn about the country they visit by reading about
it on the Internet (75%) or in books/magazines (66%), and about two-thirds
(62%) ask someone such as a friend, relative or business associate who has
been there before. Only one third (34%) ask the locals when they arrive.
For more information on the vayama survey and its country etiquette
guides, go to http://www.vayama.com/etiquette.
Vayama (http://www.vayama.com) is a first-of-its kind travel website
that provides North Americans a whole new world of choice for booking
international flights. Using the latest in web technologies, vayama offers
a massive selection of airlines, flights and fares, many never previously
available online, so you can find the lowest prices and best schedule
options for all your international travel. Even though vayama is new, the
company was founded by travel experts with decades of experience, and is
backed by one of the world's largest travel organizations. Vayama is a
subsidiary of BCD Holdings NV, one of the global leaders in the travel
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a
long and rich history in multimodal research that is powered by our science
and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris
Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European
and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For
more information, please visit http://www.harrisinteractive.com.
About the Survey
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris
Interactive on behalf of Airtrade International between March 13 and March
17, 2008, among 2,552 adults (age 18 and older) of whom, 834 travel outside
of the United States at least once per year. Figures for region, age within
gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity were weighted where
necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the
This online survey is not based on a probability sample, and therefore
no theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A full methodology is
(1) For the purposes of this study, we have defined the term
"travelers" to mean U.S. adults ages 18+ who travel outside the
U.S. at least once per year.