Family travel is one of the most sought-after segments in the industry, but just as children grow and change, so does this key market.
At the third annual Travel Media Showcase Family Travel Summit, held last month at the Iberostar Playa Mita Resort on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, trend analysts and media explored the issues that concern today’s family travelers as they contemplate international travel.
The summit was co-hosted by Iberostar Playa Mita and Family Travel Consulting partners Eileen Ogintz of Taking the Kids, a family travel website, and Kyle McCarthy, editor of the Family Travel Forum.
Turning to agents
According to the 2015 MMGY Global Portrait of American Travelers, 23% of international family travelers responding to a survey said they had used a travel agent in the past 12 months, and 25% planned to do so in the next two years.
That said, international family travelers look to social media during the travel decision-making cycle, according to Steve Cohen, vice president of research and insights for MMGY Global. Facebook ranked at the top, followed by Twitter and YouTube.
According to the 2014 Traveler’s Road to Decision study by Google/IpsosMediaCT, two-thirds of leisure travelers research online before they decide where or how to go. Marketers that have a strong presence across channels will be best positioned to engage new and existing travelers, according to the study.
Top destinations for international family travelers are Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Bahamas and India, according to Jeffrey Eslinger, director of account services at D.K. Shifflet & Associates, a tourism research firm. And while much has been made of the rise in paid nonhotel accommodations, more than one-third of families traveling internationally stay in hotels, he said.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents to Shifflet’s Travel Performance/Monitor who said they traveled with children identified themselves as Caucasian, with Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin being the next largest group at 35%.
Theme parks, especially Disney and Six Flags, are popular with the Hispanic family travel market, said Angela Lang, a travel editor for Ser Padres and Siempre Mujer magazines, who stressed the importance of offering Spanish-speaking agents and Spanish-language websites.
Brand partnerships are all the rage these days, but the best ones make a connection between generations, said Ogintz.
Partnerships she cited as being particularly effective included the Norwegian Breakaway’s efforts with Nickelodeon, Azul with Fisher-Price, New York’s Plaza Hotel with Eloise and Disney’s “Frozen” with Norway.