As 2015 draws to a close and 2016 lies ahead it is a time of reflection for us here at Vacationkids. Serving and helping our clients is always our top priority. We are always searching for insights to help us improve and exceed our client's expecations. As the year ends it gives us a moment to count our blessings and look for ways our team can improve.
The Family Travel Association and the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYUSPS) Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism recently published a study suggesting family travel is one of the fastest-growing segments of the tourism industry, accounting for over one-third of all leisure trips.
Many of the findings here reflect a blog post I published back in 2012 that talks about "Travel Personalities". It's great to have the credibility of this report to support general observations and hunchs.
The new FTA/NYU study divides families and their travel styles into 3 distinct groups....
- Hassle Free Travelers - as the name implies, these families prefers travel options that require little effort and research. Guided tours, All inclusive resorts and cruise vacations make travel easy for them to enjoy.
- Cautious Travelers - Need more time to plan because they worry about safety, hygiene, food options, finding appropriate activities for their children, and getting value for their money. They are looking for a "safe bet", tend to be repeaters, stick with trusted hospitality brands and theme parks.
- Intrepid Travelers - These are the adventure seekers. They perfer exploration over material possessions.
Family travelers certainly do fall into these three major categories but I would suggest it's not all that neat and tidy. Most families we serve at Vacationkids come to us as a Hassle Free Dad and a Caustious Mom who are parents of an Intrepid kid. I have yet to meet any Multi-generational group that shares one common group...PLEASE!!! that would make my life SO easy! Most of the families we serve are a "combo platter" when it comes to their travel planning and decision styles. Perhaps this is where theory and research collide with life in the real world.
There are two most important priorities where family fravelers, researchers and travel agents can all agree. Parents consider budget and safety the two most important factors when it comes to their final travel purchases. Affordability is often the final determining factor when it comes to destination or type of vacation. It is also the biggest roadblock and reason for "staycations". Of course parents crave safety for their children at all times. Exploration and discovery are a big part of the fun of travel. That said, any time we venture out of our comfort zones and natural habitats there is always trepidation and concern. This worry is amplified when parents travel with their children. Hopefully this study will have some impact on the hospitality industry as a whole. Hoteliers and cruise lines will offer more inclusive packages with "honest" family friendly pricing. Perhaps the press will stop sensationalizing and fear mongering. A girl can hope!
One very interesting point that REALLY struck and saddened me with this study is that...
- 71% of people stated Search engines are the most important information source for many families, but do not always provide information that is seen to be reliable and trustworthy.
- Only 15% said they would use a travel agent as an information source they are likely to use when planning a trip or making travel decisions.
Most people do not realize that just about every major travel website out there draws it's data and prices from only two major sources - Expedia and Priceline. These corporations have basically gobbled up all of their competitors. It's a monopoly. Information is presented to make "deals" appear cheap and enticing. Consumers are being taken for a ride without realizing it.
Families simply do not understand How A Travel Agent Works and the many benefits we offer our clients. We have geniune insight, experience and knowledge to serve all three types of travelers. We offer lower travel industry rates never found on any major travel search engines. We can help you create an affordable and realistic budget and help with vacation payment plans . We utlize local contacts and industry information sources to insure your family travels safely.
As a travel agent, my resolution for 2016 is to do a much better job explaining our benefits and teaching parents who to be wise travelers in an effort to help more families get out and explore the world with their kids.