With family travelers making up 30% of U.S. adult leisure travelers, the lucrative family travel market is undergoing significant growth and offering great opportunity to travel sellers.
But these are not yesterday’s families, and suppliers and sellers alike are discovering that a decent swimming pool or some chicken fingers on the kids’ menu aren’t going to cut it anymore.
In recent years, a market once defined by fun-and-sun cruises and all-inclusive resorts has expanded to include enriching visits to far-flung destinations, voluntourism and adventure travel experiences, often shared by grandparents, parents and children alike.
At an inaugural Family Travel Conference in February in New York, the family travel bloggers who hosted the event issued their wish list to suppliers who focus on family travel. It included providing better and healthier food for kids; more activities for tweens and teens at hotels and resorts; offering more enriching programs for kids; and offering more activities for families to do together.
“For me, I need one good belly laugh and one good whole-family experience,” declared Kim Orlando, founder of TravelingMom.com and one of the conference organizers. Orlando and her husband have three children: two sons, ages 16 and 12, and a 14-year-old daughter.
“The kids, they want some adventure,” Orlando said.
This summer, she and her family visited Kauai, where she signed up everyone for a voluntourism program to help the native flora thrive by ridding the island of invasive plants. The family spent the day cutting back blackberry bushes, and she said the kids really enjoyed doing something purposeful and helpful.
“You take the focus off of yourself,” Orlando said. “What you want doesn’t matter right now, because you’re working on this for someone else’s benefit. Most kids want to help.”
The experience was offered by the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, and Orlando said she expects to see an increase in the number of properties offering voluntourism programs in which kids and adults can participate together.
“We need more opportunities to engage as a family,” Orlando said. “It’s really important as a family, and it’s not so easy to make happen. On vacation it’s a chance to reconnect.”
The needs and demands of family travelers are becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated. Families want more and better options so that everyone, from age 7 months to 70 years, has a thoroughly enjoyable and enriching vacation.
Ten years ago, “there were all-inclusive resorts and the cruise lines in this game, and it was all more about fun and sun,” said Tauck President Jennifer Tombaugh, who helped launch the company’s Tauck Bridges family program in 2002. “People weren’t thinking as much about the cultural development for kids, about shared enrichments.”
But all of that is changing.
Sharon Bell, business manager of Tauck Bridges, said, “Family travel has always been important to families, but it’s become even more important. Even when families are together, the kids are texting. Families are taking it into their hands more, saying, ‘Hey, we want to get our family back.’ It’s more than just wanting some R&R.”
No conversation about family travel today is complete without mentioning multigenerational or intergenerational travel. A healthier, wealthier, aging baby boomer population is fueling huge growth in the phenomenon of grandparents traveling with their families.
“Multigenerational travel is on the rise,” said Nancy Schretter, managing editor of the Family Travel Network website. “In some cases, this involves three generations — grandparents, parents and grandchildren — while in other cases it is just grandparents and grandchildren.”
The trend in multigenerational travel further exacerbates the pressure on travel suppliers to create experiences that cater to a wide range of age groups, different generations and a multitude of interests. The challenge for travel suppliers is finding just the right mix of how much time the family wants to be together and how much time they want to be apart.
Find out how… continue reading the full article "Family affair" on the Travel Weekly website