The incidence of family vacations peaks this time of year, so we thought you’d enjoy taking a closer look at the dynamics that characterize this vital segment of demand for the leisure travel industry. "In summary, the family market is alive, well and growing, and one with great potential for most travel service marketers," said Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership in his latest online blog.
Yesawich’s insights come from the just-released Ypartnership/Harrison Group Portrait of American Travelers, a comprehensive examination of the travel habits, preferences and intentions of Americans with an annual household income over $50,000.
"To be clear, we define 'family travel' as any form of leisure travel that includes children," Yesawich said. "Fully 44 percent of all leisure travelers took at least one 'family vacation' last year. And it’s interesting to note that the incidence of family travel is significantly higher than the incidence of households with children (roughly one third). The growth in multi-generational travel as a result of the aging of the population is why."
Here’s his snapshot of today’s family travelers:
* They are equally likely to take both weekend trips (73 percent) of four nights or less including a Saturday, and extended trips (71 percent) of five consecutive nights or more.
* Beach/lake destinations rule, selected by fully one-third (33 percent) of all family travelers last year; fully one out of four (26 percent) took a theme park vacation, and one out of 10 (9 percent) visited an all-inclusive resort.
* Seven out of 10 (69 percent) took a vacation to celebrate a life event last year (a "Celebration Vacation"), with milestone birthdays and anniversaries topping the list.
* One out of five (20 percent) is a grandparent, and two-thirds (67 percent) of those who have reached this life stage took at least one vacation with their grandchildren last year.
* Family travelers are also more likely to have taken a vacation in their local area (less than 50 miles from home) as an alternative to vacationing in a destination that would have required traveling a greater distance (aka a "Staycation").
* Three out of 10 (31 percent) took a "last minute" trip last year, departing an average of just six days after deciding to take the trip.
* All (99 percent) have access to the Internet at home, and practically all have gone online to get information about travel suppliers (89 percent) and make reservations (87 percent).
* Fully nine out of 10 (90 percent) have a page posted on Facebook, and one out of four (23 percent) has visited a blog to seek or preview information about a vacation destination or travel service supplier.
* One out of seven (14 percent) is interested in purchasing a vacation home, with one out of 10 (7 percent) interested in purchasing a timeshare.
* Fully one out of four (24 percent) has stayed in a vacation home or condominium rental as an alternative to conventional hotel/resort lodging on a vacation last year.
* One third (32 percent) are interested in taking a cruise vacation during the next two years.
* Children play an active role in planning vacations in half (48 percent) of all family travel households.
* The destinations they are most interested in visiting on vacation include the Neighbor Islands of Hawaii (73 percent), the national parks (71 percent), Honolulu (69 percent) and Orlando (59 percent).
And although the Great Recession has clearly affected this group of travelers equally, if not more so, than others, fully eight out of 10 (78 percent) say they are happier now than they were ten years ago, and they remain generally optimistic about the future, Yesawich reports.