Monday, March 4, 2013

$2.4 Trillion Makes Moms Influential in Travel Industry

Family Travel is no longer a travel niche; findings from the two Family Travel Conferences  held in 2012 prove that this market, overlapping leisure and business travel, is more influential than ever.
  • Moms control 2.4 trillion dollars in spending says Media Post 
  • Teens spend $170 billion in allowance (double the amount in 2001) reports ABC News
With families taking more frequent but shorter vacations -- over 100 million trips a year now include children -- and spending billions of dollars in the process, parents are also more vocal, more demanding and more responsive to what travel businesses can do for them. 

Here’s what Kyle McCarthy and Eileen Ogintz of Family Travel Consulting see on the horizon:

Toddlers Rule the Travel Roost Toddlers are the new key to building generations of repeat customers. Social psychologist Susan Newman, author of Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day, suggests, “Vacations are much like holidays in their importance and in the traditions they create within the family… young children will repeat them with their children.” Theme parks are reaching out to multigenerational families with new family rides and attractions designed for toddlers -- consider Carsland at Disney’s California Adventure and New Fantasyland at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. 
Gold in Multigenerational Travel More than 37% of grandparents are vacationing with grandchildren, says the MMGYGlobal “Portrait of Leisure Travelers,” and suggests many trips spearheaded by grandparents are motivated by a family milestone — a major birthday, anniversary or graduation.  This grand, well-funded and active group travels almost 25% more than the average leisure traveler and by all accounts, is bringing older and adult children along for the ride.  This is the time to attract the new family traveler with multi-room lodging with multiple bathrooms, seamless handicap accessibility, and smart activities for all ages to enjoy together.

Cruising Evolves for the Family Market
 More than 1.5 million children under 18 are now cruising every year, and this number is growing fast. There’s more innovation on cruise ships than in any other segment:  interactive artwork, high tech games, stylish and compact family suites?  Despite the Triumph debacle, or because of it, we see cruise pricing falling because new mega ships mean more inventory, and that means a new generation will be introduced to cruising through cheaper cruises on older ships, and grow up to covet the very best the industry can offer.

Health & Eating = Family Vacation Wellness
The food-obsessed American family has kids who prefer sushi to chicken nuggets, so kids’ menus are undergoing a major transformation -- from Denny’s to Four Seasons, Hyatt to Delta Airlines. Bravo to Disney Parks who use their media clout to reduce the amount of junk food being pushed on kids, and hotels that offer more imaginative menus for children and parents who don’t want a steady diet of pizza (unless it’s artisanal) or mac ‘n’ cheese (unless it’s Bobby Flay’s). 

Mobile Connects Families
Moms are the original road warriors:  they organize, pack, transport and communicate with family members hundreds of times per week via email, texting, social media and smartphone.  The recent 2012 American Media Mom report from Baby Center and Neilsen found that moms are 38% more likely than the general population to own an Internet TV device (why spend good money on cable?), 28% more likely to use a tablet, and 38% more likely to own a smartphone. They use tablets now largely for entertainment, to amuse themselves and plan the next vacation, or to entertain children in the backseat or middle seat who threaten to become bored.  Travel businesses that are not designing mobile and tablet-friendly sites, electronic brochures, and kids’ content will be relegated to talking to the great grandparents.

Moms Listen to Smart Mamas
It started 5 years ago with Snowmamas at Park City Mountain Resort. With pixie dust came the Disney Parks Mom’s Panel, then Vail Resorts’ Epic Moms and most recently, Hilton’s Mom Voyage program. All are branded blogs packed with useful advice for vacationers written by moms for moms. If the travel industry wants to court families, it must offer online content from other traveling families that is real, helpful and honest.
Kardashian sisters play in Dominican Republic, courtesy Celebuzz

Celebrity Enters the Family Marketing Mix
Social media usage amongfamilies is huge; 52 million moms visited the top five social media sites in March 2012. Social’s impact on travel has grown too; 52% of travelers say they’ve changed plans after doing social media research says MediaBistro.  Now, when Justin Timberlake chooses Tanzania for his honeymoon and Kim Kardashian takes her kids to the Dominican Republic, moms – the family vacation planner in 75% of households according to our sites – know about it. They care and they share. Destinations should multiply their free family photo ops to be assured of a place in the hearts, minds and Facebook streams of non-bold-faced family travelers.

Parents Demand Learning & Authenticity
Education is back in fashion, and we don’t have to call it edutainment any more. Crayola funds creativity on Royal Caribbean ships, Fisher-Price supplies developmental toys to Loews Hotels, and the World Wildlife Fund is behind animal-conservation programs at resorts around the world.  31% of teen travelers said "heritage and culture" was the reason they traveled, up from 25% just two years ago according to FamilyTravel Forum’s Teen Travel Trends 2012 report. Many teens are even trading in  coveted springbreaks for service trips or academic seminars. Offer authentic experiences for families, and parents and grandparents will applaud... and come back for more.

Travelers Love the Environment
Farsighted mountain resorts have been trying to become year-round vacation destinations since they acknowledged that climate change was here to stay. We believe that 2013 is the year that families will start taking advantage of low-season discounts to enjoy these destinations in any weather. Traveling greener -- looking for destinations and hotels that conspicuously care about their environment – is also up.

Volunteering is Big Family Activity
Hurricane Katrina, a Pacific tsunami, the Haiti earthquake, Fukushima nuclear meltdown, superstorm Sandy… Each tragedy has spawned its own dark tourism niche, attracting travelers who want to give back in a more tangible way (11% of traveling teens say they travel to help others). Volunteering to work with the disadvantaged, community service in a far flung country, or promoting eco-tourism are all popular reflections of cheap, feel-good vacations.

Family Travel Comes of Age in Travel Industry
Major sponsors such as Disney Parks, Orlando, Norwegian Cruise Lines and dozens of other industry standard bearers came to the TMS Family Travel conferences to deliver their message and – more importantly – to hear what those in the family travel space need. That’s how we know that 2013 is the year family travel comes of age.

1 comment:

  1. That looks like so much fun! I have been looking for the right handbags to be able to carry all the kids stuff on vacation. Thanks so much for posting your lovely pictures.