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Multi-generational TravelMay 21, 2007 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent
I hear from our readers again and again that their multi-generational travel business is increasing steadily. From grandparents to great-grandchildren, clans of all shapes and sizes are stepping out together to enjoy their vacations. If you are hoping to benefit from this trend, it's important that you are able to service this market correctly in order to receive their lucrative repeat business.
For starters, it's not enough to determine that a hotel
simply has a children's program. Some of these are no better than rooms filled
with crayons and coloring books. Is the program an interactive one that will
actually enrich the children's experience while away from their parents?
While we're at it, what are the ages of the children
traveling in the group? It's not safe to assume that the program in question
takes kids of all ages, in fact, many do not take children under the age of
four. If you're sending a weary couple away with their active three-year-old,
you'll want to be sure said child isn't turned away at the door of the kid's center.
Now, for those teenagers: It's safe to assume that they will
get bored on vacation—unless their five favorite friends are joining them. And
they will feel hostile that they're being taken away from their pals, who will
be doing much more interesting things than spending time with their parents.
For this reason, it's vital that the hotel you choose for your clients has
high-speed Internet access so they can e-mail back home to get a constant
update on what's going on in their absence. It might even be worth checking to
see if more than one connection is available, in case their parents also need
to have access to the Internet.
Activities for teenagers must typically be exciting,
enticing and exhausting. The Four Seasons has a teen concierge in some
locations who is completely in the know in terms of what's fun and exciting to
do in a given area. If you're not booking one of these properties, seek out a
destination management company that knows the area well; they have likely
already accommodated the traveling-family trend on their own.
Older Family Members
Great-grandparents of course need to be accommodated
properly as well. In many cases, they are treating the entire family to the
vacation you're planning, so you want to be sure they're pleased with their
leisure time. Hint: If these clients are the self-sacrificing types, they'll
tell you they don't need to be accommodated with special activities "as
long as everyone else is happy." Don't listen to them; ensure that there
is plenty to keep them occupied. If they are truly older, they may have
difficulty getting around, so they may not want to be trekking around all day
with the rest of their kin. Does the hotel they are visiting provide more
restful activities, such as a garden tour? The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in
natural history walking path to its offerings, which could be an ideal
diversion for someone who wants to be outdoors. If the resort has a
full-fledged library or serves an upscale afternoon tea, your client might be
delightfully relieved to be able to take it easy and be entertained at the same
I'm not leaving the parents and the grandparents out of the
picture. If they're active, they'll want to be enriched by their travels.
They'll want to "touch" the destination and be touched by it. If you
can provide them with any insider access to attractions and activities, they'll
be delighted. Sometimes it's not even that difficult to scope out special
activities. Museums often have classes that cater to families. On the third
Sunday of every month, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art serves up
"Family Studio" programs that are included with the price of
admission to the museum.
Family Travel Web Site
By the way, I recently met Amie O'Shaughnessy, a travel
scouts out the best hotels accommodating families with children; she even has
categories that range from properties that are ideal for infants, up to those
that will suit 13- to 18-year-olds. The site's focus is on
which is helpful, as many properties abroad are not branded and so do not offer
standard amenities that can be expected in every destination.
Get into the Niche!
There's no denying it: Families do intend to travel
together. According to the just-released AAA Memorial Day Travel Forecast, 57
percent of households nationwide with children under 18 will bring the kids
along on their Memorial Day vacation this year. If you do your homework, you'll
be able to cash in on this potentially profitable niche!
Ruthanne Terrero, CTC Editorial Director