How travel agents can create angst-free family trips with teens is the focus of Amadeus’ most recent and humorous advisory for agents, including cruises, resort vacations and city visits. Every teen has surely uttered “you don’t understand me!” at some point— but this is one accusation that won’t be levied at the family’s travel agent if he/she plans wisely.
“It’s tough being a teenager. It’s tough being a parent to a teenager. But being a travel agent to the parents of teenager? That’s easy.” Amadeus notes. “In fact, vacation packages aimed at families traveling with the 13-18 year-old set have blossomed in recent years. And the great news is that most of these packages involve non-air, high-commission travel products like tours, cruises and activities.”
Here’s a sampling of what Amadeus views as the best in teen-friendly travel:
Cruising with the Big Kids
Looking for an easy way to appeal to teens traveling with their families? Cruises have something for every age group—including those who will be taking advantage of neither the swim-up bar nor the babysitting camp.
Royal Caribbean’s Voyager- and Freedom-class ships offer teen toga parties, sports tournaments and activities for ‘tweens and teens (so the middle school kids won’t annoy their much more sophisticated high school counterparts). Carnival’s Liberty, Splendor and Freedom lines feature teens-only mixers and disco parties, teen spa services and shore excursions for the 13- to 18 year-old crowd. Meanwhile, a number of Princess ships have teen-dedicated facilities that include video arcades and pools devoid of swim-diapers and baby sisters.
The Sweet Suite Life
Fun times at a hotel don’t have to involve a subsequent grounding for bad behavior. Several hotels now offer teen-centered activities that will keep kids so busy and entertained they won’t even bother trying to use 29-year-old cousin Maggie’s expired driver’s license at the lobby lounge when their parents aren’t looking.
A number of Loews properties offer everything from “Teen Bars” (stocked with delicacies designed with underage palettes in mind) and etiquette classes to teen-focused vacation packages, which vary in price and features according to location. At Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, “My Super Suite Vacation” (starting at $2,000) includes a two-night stay, two spa treatments in the resort’s Teen Spa Room (designed for Loews by Pottery Barn’s PBteen) and private surfing lessons on surfboards that are custom-designed for each teen to take home.
Meanwhile, several Ritz-Carlton properties offer a “teen concierge” and teen-friendly activities including surf lessons, a DJ booth and bike hikes. The Naples property is fully wired with a state-of-the-art entertainment lounge with Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3 systems hooked up to 40-inch TVs. For teens more concerned about the environment than interactive entertainment, the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna-Niguel offers an Ambassador Youth Program with ecological expeditions to Southern California’s kelp beds and other natural wonders led by expert naturalists.
Give It the Old College Try
If your customer has kids in high school, surely the big question of “what happens next” is looming large. Rather than make college tours a rushed, stressful experience, encourage they spend a week touring a region dotted with prospective universities and take in the shopping, restaurants, museums and tours in between. Between Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, Ivy League prospects can delight in everything from Pat’s Cheesesteaks in South Philly to the gorgeous architecture of Providence, R.I. and the natural landscapes of New England.
Seeking a smaller student body? Small liberal arts colleges are often tucked away in quaint little towns with B&Bs, spas and adorable shops (think Vassar College’s Poughkeepsie, NY; Middlebury College’s small-town Vermont; Oberlin College’s little slice of Ohio paradise). Meanwhile, California dreamers can have a blast touring Northern California (surely parents can sneak in a trip to Sonoma after touring Stanford), soaking up the beaches in San Diego or cheering on the Banana Slugs at UC Santa Cruz.
Hot Child in the City
Cities can be the best place for a family traveling with teens. Whether you send families to Manhattan, Chicago, Vancouver—or overseas, to London, Paris or Rome—you can bank on shopping, museums, shows, tours, sport events and other activities offering teenagers plenty of entertainment, stimulation—and even a little education.
“Traveling with teens doesn’t have to mean a lot of eye-rolling and belly-aching. If you steer your customers in the right direction, you can offer a vacation everyone in the family will treasure,” says Betty Balli, manager of travel agency marketing for Amadeus North America. “Your customers will thank you for the positive experience and remember your business the next time they plan to hit the road with the family.”