Veteran travel advisors provide tips and strategies on how to tap into this thriving market.
TRAVEL AGENT CLAUDETTE COVEY
Multi-generational family group playing in the surf. (Photo via iStock / Getty Images Plus / Wavebreakmedia) The multigenerational family market is – without a doubt – thriving, and in large part thanks to the pandemic.
“Multigenerational family travel was popular before the pandemic, and now it is booming,” said JoAnne Weeks, vacation division manager at Acendas Travel. “Families who are stretched all over the country haven’t seen one another much in the last two years, and this is evident with the flooding of new travel requests.”
“I am seeing demand starting to increase as families want and need to get away after the last two years,” said Chris Caulfield, owner of a CruiseOne franchise. “As protocols are eliminated, it will make travel easier, and the demand for multigenerational family groups will skyrocket.”
“The crazy thing we are experiencing is an availability issue,” said VIP Vacations President Jennifer Doncsecz. “Many resorts and hotels are full or approaching being sold out. If there is availability, we are finding that rates are higher than most expect.”
Here are some tips to help you boost your multigenerational family group business.
Targeting Decision Makers
“Always make sure you are working with the person in charge,” Weeks said. “You may think you are, but be sure, and don’t be afraid to ask. This will be a time saver and will hopefully help avoid a lot of confusion.”
In some cases, it’s one of the adult children who begins the research process, “but you need to find out who is the driving force, and who is paying for everything,” Weeks said.
“It’s usually Grandma or Grandpa. They are the ones you need to be qualifying,” she added. “Then find out how much they are funding, and what else is left ‘a la carte’ for the kids to pay for.”
“While these groups are quite lucrative, they are also a lot of work,” Weeks said. “I usually require a flat custom service fee based on how many travelers, and how in-depth their itinerary is. Collect it towards the end of your initial consultation once you have established your knowledge and expertise, and definitely before any information is given out freely.”
Doncsecz begins the qualifying process by ascertaining how many rooms the group believes it needs and what price point they are aiming for.
“Many tour operators offer promotions for rooms that are linked together so we share the type of perks certain hotels/resorts will provide if they have ‘x’ amount of rooms booked and explain how this is a great way to link people together and earn fun perks,” she said.
“I ask my clients what types of experiences they want on their cruise,” Caulfield said. “Destination is also key in selecting options.”
He recommended that advisors keep up to date on promotions like Kids Sail Free, which are advantageous to multigenerational groups. “In addition, whether cruise or land, make sure you are familiar with the options that cater to families.”
“I am on a mission to get rid of the perception that ‘deals’ are out there. Deals were out there in January of 2021, but consumers should not be on the hunt for them,” Doncsecz said. “As travel advisors, we should be setting the expectation of pricing upfront before a quote is even prepared.
“Demand plus supply chain issues plus higher gas prices equals higher costs to travel!
“After setting the tone for costs and going over their budget requests, I ask if everyone traveling has a passport, reminding adults that childrens’ passports are only valid for five years.
“I ask about the makeup of each family and the room configurations – families of five many times need to split into two rooms, which can be pricey,” she said.
“I also ask for the contact information for each of the families that have expressed interest so that the lead person doesn’t have to be the go-between.
“Finally, I include travel insurance with each quote so they can travel with peace of mind!”
Knowing Your Stuff
“Familiarize yourself with the more mainstream family-friendly destinations, resorts and or cruise lines,” Weeks said. “You need to know more than the consumer does going into it.”
She added, “Think outside the box. Don’t forget there are river cruise lines out there promoting to families now. There are villas in Costa Rica, African safaris and luxury small-group family tours offered all over the globe.”
Multigenerational family groups are setting their sights on cruise vacations, all-inclusive resorts and such destinations as Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Hawaii.
“Families want a trip where there is something for everyone to do individually and as a group,” said Chris Caulfield of CruiseOne. “Ships today have so many activities and features that are ideal for multigenerational vacations.”
JoAnne Weeks of Acendas Travel is also finding that multigenerational groups are interested in cruise vacations, with Alaska sailings and cruise tours gaining in popularity.
“There are families that still want to stay closer to home but are finding out once they figure in hotel cost, resort fees, rental cars, gas pricing, parking fees, food and activities, it’s a better value to head to Mexico,” she said, adding that all-inclusive resorts and Hawaii are also proving popular.
“Disney is a big seller and Florida in general is hot,” said VIP Vacations’ Doncsecz. “Cancun and Punta Cana are also destinations that we are booking for families.”
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