Tips for Planning Family Gatherings

The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, host hotel for the Family Travel Association, offers family-friendly pool areas, a kids club and more for multigenerational travelers.

The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, host hotel for the Family Travel Association, offers family-friendly pool areas, a kids club and more for multigenerational travelers.

With more than one-third of Americans (35 percent) expected to take a family vacation of 50 miles or more away from home between now and next summer, according to AAA, it’s clear that family/multigenerational travel continues to be a potentially lucrative market to tap. Several organizations are offering new research and workshops to help agents get a better handle on this market.


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Perhaps the most significant development on this front is that the Family Travel Association (FTA) is opening its second annual conference to travel agents, who specialize in family and multigenerational travel. Scheduled for October 23-26 at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ, this year’s gathering will feature over 300 attendees including agents, suppliers, operators, destination representatives, industry experts, and family-travel media and influencers.

“Family travel continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the tourism industry,” says Rainer Jenss, FTA president, in a press release. “Our research indicates that 93 percent of American parents are either ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to travel with their children in the next two years, while Virtuoso reports that it’s the number one trend in travel this year.” In addition, the 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey indicates adults appear more likely now than a year ago to go on vacations with extended family (73 percent in the 2016 survey compared to 67 percent in the 2015 survey).

The annual FTA Summit is a trade-only, conference-style event that brings together family travel experts, industry leaders, and media for three days of inspiring presentations, interactive workshops, enlightening research and a diverse array of networking opportunities. It is becoming one of the leading industry events to:

* Network with family-focused tour operators and media;

Further personal development and knowledge of the trends in family travel; and

* Learn about new family product from travel industry influencers and decision-makers.

For registration and information on the 2016 FTA Summit, visit

Introducing ‘The Brat Pack’

Statistics from MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers are in step with FTA’s research, indicating that almost nine out of 10 travelers who have children in their households said they planned on taking the children on more (18 percent) or the same amount (69 percent) of vacations as they did the year before. In addition, grandparents traveling with grandchildren have risen dramatically over the last three years. The marketing research company’s 2016 Portrait, however, digs a little bit deeper and reveals at least two new categories of interest to agents selling family travel.

One is “The Brat Pack” focusing on families with children aged 12 and under who influence vacation-planning decisions. Three in four Brat Pack members select vacation destinations based on activities available to children, compared to two-thirds of travelers with teenagers. Six in 10 Brat Pack members say their vacations are entirely child-focused, compared to just a quarter of travelers with teenagers.

Messaging to Brat Pack families should be targeted to the needs and preferences of children, whereas travel messaging to families with teens should speak more to their parents and their expectations of a family vacation.

When looking for travel and inspiration for their next vacation, 18 percent of travelers, down six points from 2015, turn to “” sites. However, 21 percent turn to online travel agents during this phase of the purchase path. Likewise, 32 percent of travelers prefer to book directly from travel suppliers, compared to 31 percent who book on online travel agent sites.

Additionally, half of all travelers who flew to their vacation destinations during the past 12 months typically booked their flights through an airline website or app, while only a third used an online travel agent website or app. Forty percent of travelers now typically book accommodations through a hotel website or app, while only a third booked through an online travel agent website or app.

MMGY Global defines members of “GottaGoSOLOs” group as travelers married with children but vacationing alone to reclaim their independence. A full third of all vacations taken by GottaGoSOLO travelers are taken alone, while four in 10 were with their children and a quarter with their significant other and no children. This phenomenon, which appears to be closely correlated to age — almost three-fourths of GottaGoSOLOs are Millennials, while a third are Gen Xers — opens the door for pitching grandparent-grandkids travel. This could potentially mean two vacation bookings from each family: one just for mom and/or dad and the other for their parents and children.

Multigenerational Workshop

Agents attending the 2016 Results! Travel National Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, September 23-25, will have the opportunity to attend a workshop on Multigenerational Groups, a market that the host agency describes as “increasing every year by leaps and bounds.” The session will aim to teach attendees how to effectively plan and market to this group and how best to take advantage of the rise in group travel opportunities, while increasing their client base and adding more revenue to their bottom line.

“Multigenerational Family News

Club Med Offers ‘WOW Sale’ Savings
Eight Club Med properties including Punta Cana, Cancun, Sandpiper Bay, Columbus Isle and Turks & Caicos are participating in the summer “WOW Sale” with up to 50 percent savings plus added incentives such as air credit up to $300 per adult, free stays for children under 4 and waived single supplement. Minimum three-night bookings must be made by August 23 for stays through February 18.

The Santa Monica Pier is right across from Loews Santa Monica Beach.

The Santa Monica Pier is right across from Loews Santa Monica Beach.

Loews Santa Monica Now Has Family Concierge
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
, directly across from the Santa Monica Pier, is introducing its new Family Concierge, who can create customized experiences, including entrance to Los Angeles’ hard-to-get-into attractions. This service is available for families booking premium rooms (and above) at the property and will be arranged prior to arrival.

Some experiences include: Kids’ Beach in a Box (chairs, towels, toys, and more set-up on the shore); an SUV with driver to get around Los Angeles; VIP access to studio tours and theme parks; a personal guide for the La Brea Tar Pits and National History Museum; reservations at Au Fudge, the new restaurant and kid-zone owned by actress Jessica Biel; and audience tickets to shows such as “The Voice” (when filming).

Sunscape Puerto Plata Opens
The family-friendly, all-inclusive Sunscape Puerto Plata Dominican Republic is now open. Everything is included within the Unlimited–Fun vacation concept, starting with the resort’s Explorer’s Club for Kids (ages 3-12) and Core Zone Teens Club (ages 13-17). Signature experiences include a special kid’s check-in with red carpet stairs, welcome treats and resort passports. Guests will also enjoy seven bars, nine reservation-free dining options, live music, local entertainment and more.

Sunscape Puerto Plata is surrounded by an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course and plenty of Atlantic Ocean coastline, offering its guests a wide variety of water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking and scuba diving. For guests feeling a bit more adventurous, excursions can be found near the 27 rivers and falls known as the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua.

Peppa Pig Comes Aboard Costa Ships
Costa Cruises
flagship, Costa Diadema, has new areas dedicated to Peppa Pig. The popular children’s character will welcome kids to her personalized area of the Squok Club (Costa’s club for children), decorated to re-create the environment of Peppa’s stories. Here children will be able to have fun with Peppa-themed games, such as cards, cars, puzzles and play kitchens. At the end of the day, the line will organize a private Peppa party in the ship’s discotheque, decorated in a pirate theme. The themed layout will expand across nine other ships in the Costa fleet this summer.

Gleneagles has family rooms with bunk beds  for the kids.

Gleneagles has family rooms with bunk beds  for the kids.

Gleneagles Offers ‘Passport’ to Summer Fun
Now through September 4, the Children’s Country Sports Passport at Scotland’s Gleneagles lets kids participate in a variety of daily summer adventures. The fee-based program provides sporting schools for children to gain the ultimate educational outdoor experience.

Local experts teach the art of falconry, clay shooting and archery as well as gundog training, fishing and junior off-road driving in mini Land Rovers through hands-on instruction. Under the watchful eye of Gleneagles’ equestrian experts, children can also learn how to properly care for Scotland’s indigenous Shetland ponies. Before a riding lesson, kids six years of age and up can groom, cuddle and tend to the pony’s stable.

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