PHOTO: Cancun remains a highly popular destination for families.
When booking families, there are some obvious choices – anything Disney, for example, for younger kids and those who just love the Mouse. But some families want something different, especially when the kids are older and the grandparents are coming along.
So how do you figure out where to recommend that your family and multigenerational clients go for spring, summer and holiday breaks? You ask many qualifying questions, of course.
That’s what Jack Fingerman did when a couple in their 80s asked about a vacation. He determined that the trip was about entertaining their grandson. “We mentioned Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas sailing from Bayonne, N.J. On this ship, you have a SeaPlex that features bumper cars, basketball play, some high trapeze training, the unique iFLY experience and more,” said Fingerman of N.J.-based Cruises Inc. “Giving their grandson a fantastic experience was more important to them than where the ship was going.”
His customers frequently want to sail from close-to-home ports to maximize their time. “Our clients with children and grandchildren are booking cruises from the Northeast to avoid the expense of flying to Florida for a cruise. The ship itself is the destination for them,” Fingerman said.
Yet, tried-and-true vacation destinations remain popular with many families, especially those escaping the cold. “Our families are doing the typical spring break destinations of Mexico and the Caribbean,” said Alicia Geiger of Dream Vacations in Sinking Spring, Pa. “Cruises have also been doing well for spring break.”
Geiger’s clients, however, are heading farther afield during summer vacations. “Summer is a different story, as we have seen an uptick in exotic destinations like Japan and Asia in general, with Europe still very strong from summer into fall,” she said.
To help you decide what’s hot for family travel this year, we looked at surveys that gauged what is booking and where interest is highest.
For travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance, Orlando and Cancun topped the list of 2017’s most popular destinations for spring break. Allianz reviewed more than 4 million trips planned by its customers during the spring break season.
“The review showed a good mix of beach, skiing and well-known destinations attracting Americans for spring break this year,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Allianz Global Assistance USA. “Our statistics showed that most people are traveling mid to late in the week. To avoid long lines at the airport and other inconveniences, we recommend booking travel for a Monday or Tuesday. With the surplus of travelers, it’s also important to check the box for travel insurance.”
A CheapTickets.com survey found that the number of families traveling for spring break dipped, but those who did travel spent an average of $1,436, a 2 percent increase over the same time period in 2016. Nearly 80 percent of families responding said they avoid spring break destinations known to attract college-age crowds. And 55 percent planned to drive to their destinations.
Here are CheapTicket.com’s favorite family beach, city and mountain destinations for spring break.
Among upscale clientele, multigenerational travel is the No. 1 industry trend, according to Virtuoso’s 2017 Luxe Report, which surveyed 772 luxury agents worldwide. They report that many upscale travelers are booking as far out as one or two years in advance for bigger trips. Where are these wellheeled families going?
Meanwhile, a February AAA survey found that 35 percent of Americans are planning to take a vacation 50 miles or more away from home with two or more immediate family members this year. While most family travelers (70 percent) are planning to take one or two vacations, AAA found that 28 percent plan to take three or more trips this year, an increase of 13 percentage points over last year. “Families continue to see the value of traveling as a way to bond and reconnect in today’s busy world,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of travel and publishing.
The most popular types of family vacations in 2017 are the old-school road trip (79 percent), visits to national parks (51 percent) and theme parks (40 percent). Also popular with families are trips to international destinations (33 percent), guided or escorted tours (22 percent) and ocean cruises (20 percent).
Families are also increasingly booking villas for their vacations. Villas of Distinction, a luxury villa rental company, said the top five places for villa rentals in 2017 are Italy, Hawaii, Jamaica, St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida.
“Many of these destinations are trending as a result of increased bookings from families – in particular, multigenerational families who are choosing a villa over a resort stay,” said Steve Lassman, vice president of villa product and agency relations for Villas of Distinction. “As multigenerational family travel continues to explode, we see Orlando, Fla., as an up-and-coming destination in 2017 as families are looking for the space, privacy and value that a villa provides.”