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America is the only rich country with no mandatory vacation — could that ever change?

Hotels.com is sponsoring a petition drive they're calling the Vacation Equality Project, calling on the White House and Congress to support mandatory paid vacation for Americans — something essentially every other developed country has.

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(Vacation Equality Project)

This is in part a publicity stunt and in part an email list building enterprise, but it's at least a little bit a genuine lobbying endeavor and it's an interesting one at that. Contrary to what people sometimes think, the best research shows that it's not the case that the better-funded side always wins the policy debate in congress. What happens instead is that the side backing the status quo usually wins, because that's how the political system works. But changes do happen sometimes, and they don't require you to outspend the other side.

But they do require you to spend something. Policy reforms that have no deep-pocketed advocate don't get on the agenda and stand no chance of happening. So if you want a reform, you need a champion.

And what better champion for the cause of more vacation than Hotels.com?

An important wrinkle here is that traditional hotel chains don't necessarily have the same level of interest in vacationing. Their most lucrative clients are business travelers, not tourists. But Hotels.com is essentially a price discrimination play. People who don't care that much about the precise location of where they are staying or about racking up points in their favorite hotel loyalty program can gain access through the website to low-priced unsold hotel rooms. That means leisure travelers rather than business ones. And it means that more time off would mean more money for Hotels.com in a way that's not necessarily the case for Hilton or Marriott.