the world's smartest travel social network
by Kyle McCarthy (Family Travel Forum) and Kaleel Sakakeeny
Forty-four per cent of adults bring children (and grandchildren) along on leisure travels. Taken as a group, they take more trips per year (4.5) than business travelers (3.9), Gen Y (3.9) or Gen X travelers (3.5), according to the 2012 Portrait of American Travelers (MMGY Global/Harrison Group).
Parents, fueled by social media, are becoming more vocal, more demanding and more interested in what travel businesses can do for them and their kids, especially in areas like health, education and how to entertain the grandparents.
And their Social Media Clout/Klout is impressive.
At a recent Family Travel conference, family travel professionals were tweeting and posting on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Organizers claimed an aggregate 1.6 million unique visitors to attendees’ sites, 326,000 Twitter followers and 250,000 Facebook friends during the last two to three years.
Celebrity travels are given clout by social media. Didn’t @kimkardashian take the kids to DR?
Families are among the 52% of travelers who admit that social media has influenced vacation plans.
And Moms are mobile; they are 28% more likely than the general public to have a tablet in their diaper bag. The industry must provide apps and mobile trip-planning tools to keep them sane.
With mothers controlling $2.4 trillion in spending power and families taking more than 100 million trips a year, what travel company wouldn’t cater to family vacation fantasies?
After hosting two Family Travel Conferences and checking the crystal ball, here’s what we see on the horizon:
• Toddlers are key to building generations of repeat customers, especially since 37% of traveling grandparents have kids in tow.
• Multigenerational travel takes the lead in the family market; well-funded, active seniors travel almost 25% more than the average leisure traveler.
• The Cruise industry gets it. More than 1.5 million children cruise every year, and new ships are innovating faster than any other segment. Expect to sail with above-deck thrill rides, vegan menus, private villas and interactive gaming.
• The appetite for healthy dining is unquenchable. Today’s American family has kids who prefer sushi to chicken nuggets, and kids’ menus are undergoing a major transformation -- from Disney to Denny’s and beyond.
Moms are smart and listen to other moms. Empowered and in control, moms want to hear from other moms who travel through online content that is real, savvy and honest.
• Helicopter parents want educational value as well as bargains. Heritage and culture are cited by 31% of teen travelers as the prime motivator of their travels.
• Travelers want a healthy environment and, after the weather-related environmental destruction of the past year, more families see value in traveling greener and paying for it.
• Volunteering is all in the family. With 11% of travelers saying they “travel to help others” and many more cheap voluntourism opportunities, helping others is about to take off.
As families travel more, and engage in social media to share information and ask for what they need, the family travel market may well lead the industry in growth and innovation.