Hotels.com Reveals Bashful Brits Get Tongue-Tied Overseas

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Hotels.com has found in its latest report that the majority of bashful British holiday-makers admit they don't try to speak the local language when travelling abroad for fear of embarrassing themselves.

According to new findings from Hotels.com, 61% of British holiday-makers admit they don't try to speak the local language when travelling abroad for fear of embarrassing themselves.

The research reveals that even though popular holiday destinations are becoming more exotic, Brits are still not learning basic foreign words or phrases before they go away. Happy to rely on English and hand gestures to get by, 35% of respondents said that while they often intend to try the local lingo, when it comes down to it they are just too embarrassed. 28% of those surveyed admitted to having no desire or intention to learn any local language at all.

The trusty phrase 'Do you speak English?' proved to be one of the most important travel language staples with 20% of Brits defaulting to their own native tongue whenever possible.

When asked to look at given phrases in languages ranging from Thai and Greek to Arabic and Indonesian, the majority of respondents were unable to identify words for 'hello' and 'goodbye', while asking for directions to the beach or ordering a glass of wine proved difficult.

But while the languages of newer holiday hotspots may be too challenging, over half of Brits are more comfortable dusting off GCSE and O-Level language skills to chat in French or Spanish.

Alison Couper, Communications Director, Hotels.com, said "People have become more adventurous in where they travel in recent years, but it seems the language skills have yet to catch up. Our survey shows that while we're prepared to travel to more exotic destinations, we're not so comfortable trying less familiar languages".

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • 74% of Brits believe 'hello' and 'thank you' to be the most essential phrases to know when abroad 
  • Londoners are least likely to try to speak the local lingo as 62% claim to have no intention of learning any foreign words
  • Holidaymakers from the South West are most likely to try with 52% saying they'd attempt to learn some vocabulary
  • 61% of Brits would feel more comfortable navigating themselves when driving abroad, rather than admitting to being lost and asking a local for directions
  • Those aged between 18 and 21 are the least likely to try a foreign language when on holiday with 20% of those polled believing they can rely on English abroad

Notes to editors:
UK research conducted online between 5 July and 19 July 2010. The total sample was 1,246 respondents.

About Hotels.com
As part of the Expedia group which operates in all major markets, Hotels.com offers more than 120,000 quality hotels, B&Bs and serviced apartments worldwide, including hotels in LA (http://www.hotels.com/de1439028/hotels-los-angeles-california/ ), London hotels (http://www.hotels.com/de549499/hotels-london-united-kingdom/ ), San Francisco hotels (http://www.hotels.com/de1493604/hotels-san-francisco-california/ ) and hotels in Boston (http://www.hotels.com/de1401516/hotels-boston-massachusetts/ ). If a customer can find the same deal for less on a prepaid hotel, Hotels.com will match it. Hotels.com benefits from one of the largest hotel contracting teams in the industry negotiating the best rates for its customers, plus there are 1.8m reviews from users who have actually stayed in the hotels to ensure customers make an informed choice when booking. Hotels.com has recently launched its Welcome Rewards customer loyalty programme in the UK, where customers can earn a free night for every ten nights stayed (subject to Welcome Rewards terms and conditions). Hotels.com won the Gold Award for best hotel booking site in Webuser magazine in February 2009.

For more information or to request interviews, please call:
Kate Hopcraft
Expedia.com Ltd
42 Earlham Street
London
WC2H 9LA
020 7019 2165

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