Preferred Hotel Group has released a new study aimed at identifying emerging trends in multigenerational travel.
"While the growth of multigenerational travel has been a buzz in the hospitality industry for several years, shifts in the economy, new technology, and even contemporary parenting have had a measurable impact on how multigenerational travel is packaged, planned, taken and paid for," said Lindsey Ueberroth, president and CEO of Preferred Hotel Group. "This is multigenerational travel '2.0.' And these days, children are calling the shots, grandparents are increasingly funding the cost of the trip, and an overwhelming percentage of Millennials – 91 percent of those surveyed – say a multigenerational trip is something they try to take every year."
Encompassing an examination of multiple variables including the attitudes, behaviors, preferences, social values, lifestyles, and media habits of multigenerational travelers, the Preferred Hotel Group study confirmed a continued desire to "spend more time with family on vacation" – a trend that first emerged as a primary motivation for leisure travel in the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11. According to the study, this same motivation is now amplified by the frenetic pace of contemporary life and corresponding sense of guilt many parents feel about not having enough time to spend with their children. As a result, travelers who have taken a multigenerational trip previously are "likely" or "very likely" to plan another domestic (86%) or international (48%) multigenerational vacation during the next two years.
Among the key findings:
Children relish planning — Fully 40 percent of both grandparents and parents say their children "actively participate in or influence vacation planning," specifically with respect to daily activities (77%) and deciding which destinations to visit (62%). Almost half (49%) of all multigenerational travelers agree their grandchildren influence the selection of the hotel or resort.
Grandparents pay to play — Grandparents, more so than parents (35% vs. 25%), are inclined to pay for multigenerational trips to "help family members enjoy a vacation they otherwise could not afford."
Classic destinations are hot — Orlando (25%) and the National Parks (17%) top the list of domestic destinations multigenerational travelers would like to visit during the next two years, while the Caribbean (29%) and Western Europe (28%) top the list of international "dream destinations." The destinations of greatest interest within Europe are Italy (17%), England (16%) and France (16%).
Facebook matters — Facebook is the most popular social site for multigenerational travelers, with 73% acknowledging they have a page posted on this site. And posts in social media exert more influence than ever on this segment's decision-making, with 40% saying they have "selected a destination based at least partially on the information, photos, or videos they viewed on social media websites" and 25% agreeing they have "selected a travel service supplier based on exposure to the same content."
An expanded definition of "family" — Multigenerational vacations now represent half of all vacations taken by both grandparents and parents. While these parties consisted of grandparents, parents, and their children on 44% of such trips, the makeup of the multigenerational travel group has expanded beyond immediate family to include siblings (31%), nephews/nieces (20%), and non-relative friends (20%) on one or more of the multigenerational vacations taken by the other 56 percent.
Traditional travel agents make it work — Multigenerational travelers use the services of traditional travel agents much more often than other leisure travelers. During the past year, 38 percent used the services of a traditional travel agent to plan a multigenerational vacation, and 41% intend to do so during the next two years – both percentages are twice as high as the incidence of traditional travel agent usage observed among all other leisure travelers.
Same time next year — Among travelers who took a multigenerational vacation last year, 77 percent agreed that taking such a vacation "is something they try to do every year" – a sentiment that is particularly true for Millennials (91%) and Gen Xers (80%).
Familiar favorites, or the road less traveled? — Multigenerational travelers display great loyalty to the destinations they visit, with 35% intending to visit the same destination on their next multigenerational trip. Perhaps not surprisingly, beach vacations (35%) and theme park vacations (28%) are the most popular types of multigenerational vacations.
As the number of grandparents continues to increase — this demographic segment is growing at twice the overall population growth rate — multigenerational travel will also continue to grow in size and influence.. According to the U.S. Census, there will be 80 million grandparents by 2020, accounting for nearly one-in-three adults. In addition, these grandparents are widely expected to work longer, have higher incomes, and spend more on discretionary products and services than their predecessors.
This demographic shift is reflected in the composition of active U.S. travelers. Specifically, the number of American travelers who have reached the life stage of "grandparent" (25%) has also risen to the highest level recorded in contemporary travel marketing research. Within this demographic group, 35% took at least one vacation with their grandchildren during the previous year (41% for affluent grandparents living in households with an annual income over $250,000).