Recently released family travel research and industry trade events forecast a surge in family travel and multigenerational group trips over the next 12 months.
The 2021 U.S. Family Travel Survey conducted by the Family Travel Association (FTA) in collaboration with the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality has recently been published. The survey focuses on travel intent and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family travel behaviors, preferences and attitudes.
According to the survey of 2,365 parents conducted in June and July of this year, 88% of parents are likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months. In comparison, only 44% of respondents took a family trip in 2020, and 80% made changes to their travel plans due to the pandemic.
The study also indicated the value parents place on family vacations and the educational importance of family travel. More than 90% of respondents agreed that family travel expands their children’s education and horizons. In addition, 75% of parents agreed that having to forego travel during the pandemic has made them realize how valuable family vacations are.
Multigenerational family travel intent is strong. More than 50% of parents said they are planning to take a multigenerational trip during the next 12 months. In addition, 45% of respondents indicated that they are planning a trip with family members beyond parents and in-laws.
According to the survey, families are paying more attention to cancellation policies and to health and safety considerations when choosing travel destinations. In fact, 80% of respondents stated they will only book travel with companies that have flexible cancellation policies in place.
“The 2021 U.S. Family Travel Survey shows that while some family travel patterns have remained the same, there have also been significant changes due to the pandemic,” said Dr. Lynn Minnaert, clinical associate professor at the Tisch Center. “Overwhelmingly, U.S. families report they want clear communications from travel businesses: for example, while some families look for reassurance that health protocols are being followed, others want to know in advance if any amenities will be closed or have restricted access.”
The study shows a significant preference for domestic travel versus international trips, as was demonstrated by overall bookings throughout this year. According to the survey, over 80% of respondents plan to take a multi-day family vacation in the United States, and close to 70% plan to take a domestic weekend getaway over the next year.
Only 19% of respondents indicated that they are planning an international trip, but that may have been impacted by vaccine availability for children and international travel advisories at the time of the survey. The study showed families with higher household incomes are more likely to plan international vacations. With regard to air travel, 72% of respondents are willing to fly on a domestic trip and 40% on an international trip.
The research study showed that trips to visit with family and friends and beach vacations are the leading types of family travel. When asked about preferred accommodations, hotels were the most popular answer at close to 75%. Vacation rentals were second at 54%, and resorts were third at 45%. Higher income parents were more likely to indicate that they planned to stay in vacation rentals and resorts than lower income respondents.
In another key finding, 65% of parents surveyed said they would consider using a travel advisor for their family trips in the next two years. Close to a third of those who expressed interest said that they are now more likely to use a travel advisor due to disruptions caused by the pandemic.
These research results are good news for travel agents. They also fit well with findings from the Family Vacations Virtual RoadShow, a recent five-day trade event designed exclusively for travel advisors specializing in family and multi-generational vacations. Produced by Travel Relations LLC, the Family Vacations Virtual RoadShow event brought together family and multi-generational vacation travel advisors with top industry suppliers and regional business development managers for productive one-on-one meetings, specialized educational sessions and an engaging exhibitor showcase.
Jeff Gayduk and I moderated a group of highly informative conference sessions at the Family Vacations Virtual RoadShow. Panelists included executives from various destinations, resorts and family-friendly tour companies. These Family Vacations Virtual RoadShow conference sessions are available online for convenient access. Topics include:
Group Family Travel: This panel session covers destinations and group vacation options that are perfect for multigenerational vacations, family reunions and multi-family vacations.
Great Family Vacations with Kids of All Ages: Focusing on all-inclusive resorts, this session showcases properties offering activities and attractions for all ages and interests, making them appealing to every member of the family.
Family Travel Trends and Future Outlook: Hosted by Family Travel Association founder Rainer Jenss, this conference session highlights the latest family travel trends and what travel advisors think family travel will look like along the road ahead.
Memorable Family Vacations and Outdoor Adventures: This panel features international destinations with strong outdoor appeal offering immersive experiences, exciting family adventures, culture and enrichment, and sustainability initiatives.
Based on the findings of the 2021 U.S. Family Travel Survey and what we learned at the Family Vacations Virtual RoadShow event, it’s clear that the future of family travel is bright indeed.
By Nancy Schretter, Contributing Editor
Header Photo Credit: Woodloch Resort