Families Planning to Increase Travel Spending: Stats

The Family Travel Association (FTA) has released findings from its "2023 U.S. Family Travel Survey" on family travel trends. Conducted in collaboration with the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality and Edinburgh Napier University, the survey polled over 3,300 parents and grandparents about their travel plans, behaviors and attitudes, and summarizes a variety of travel trends in the industry.

The results show that the family-travel market will continue the growth it has enjoyed since the end of the pandemic—81 percent of parents said they are likely to travel with their children in the next year, and many families are planning to increase (or at minimum, maintain) their level of travel spending. Despite these strong spending forecasts, affordability is said to be a challenge to family travel by 59 percent of parent respondents.

One trend that remains strong is interest in travel advisors for trip planning—38 percent of parents have used a travel advisor to book at least one family trip in the past three years and 71 percent of parents are willing to use a travel advisor in the coming years, which is an increase over 2022 (52 percent).

Large family groups are a big contributor to the market growth, with over 50 percent of parents saying they are planning to travel with grandparents and children. The top choice for “multi-generational” travel (grandparents, parents and children) continues to be beach vacations. Whereas “skip-generational” travel (children and grandparents, without the parents present) lean towards museums and cultural attractions.

In addition, each year, the U.S. Family Travel Survey asks respondents to rate the travel industry on how well it serves the needs of traveling families. This year, they gave the industry at B+ (better than last year) and noted several areas of friction they would like to see addressed:

  • The challenge and added cost of being seated together on flights
  • The scarcity of family rooms or connected rooms in hotels
  • The high cost of family travel and the desire for lower-cost options and discounts
  • The need to improve the quality and level of service across the industry (with regular reference to the labor shortage across the sector)
  • The dislike of hidden fees and charges that make pricing lack transparency (50 percent of parents say they will avoid these hotels and airlines)

Additional Findings

This is the eighth year for the annual survey, and this year’s sample included a larger percentage of respondents in higher income brackets with more advanced educational backgrounds than in prior editions. Other findings from the survey included:

  • International family travel is making a strong comeback post-pandemic
  • Beach vacations (54 percent), visiting family and friends (49 percent) and visiting museums and cultural attractions (41 percent) are the three most common family travel types
  • The most common booking window (33 percent) for booking a family trip is two or three months before departure
  • Summer remains the most popular travel season, followed by spring break
  • Hotels were the most-selected answer (84 percent) when asked which type of accommodations they planned to stay in; resorts come in second at 50 percent and vacation rentals third at 47 percent
  • Domestically, the most popular states for family travel are California, Florida, Hawaii and New York
  • Eighty percent of respondents agree that travel has helped their children see the world from a broader perspective, 67 percent agree that their children have become more interested in other cultures because of their travel experiences, 62 percent agree that travel has helped their children to be more confident, and 61 percent say it helps them with their social skills
  • Eighty-eight percent of parents feel that family travel is helpful to their children in overcoming some of the lingering impacts of the pandemic
  • Over half of the grandparent respondents (54 percent) say that they plan and organize their multi-generational travel experiences
  • Over three quarters of the grandparent respondents (79 percent) say that they plan and organize their skip-generational travel experiences
  • Seventy-six percent of respondents plan to travel internationally with their children in the next two years. Europe is the most popular continent for family vacations (1. Italy; 2. United Kingdom; 3. France), Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean also remain popular.

Source: Family Travel Association

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