Families catching up post-Covid. What motivates them to travel today?: Travel Weekly

Family travel habits are evolving post-Covid as pandemic-induced trends begin to wane and new ones begin to crystallize.

Making up for lost time has been a big motivator for travel since the pandemic, but is no longer the primary reason for travel for many people, including families, according to industry surveys.

Instead, simply making time to spend with family through more meaningful travel and in smaller groups has become more prevalent in family bookings this year, with suppliers expecting this behavior to grow in 2024.

Personalized travel specialist Audley Travel said 72% of its customers cited ticking long-awaited experiences off their bucket list as the main reason they wanted to travel in 2022. That figure dropped to 36% in 2023.

According to Deloitte’s 2023 Holiday Travel Survey, travel motivated by lost time during the pandemic dropped seven points between the summer and the start of the Thanksgiving holiday travel season, from 19% of respondents to 12% .

Meanwhile, a 2023 study by the Family Travel Association found that among grandparents surveyed, the top motivation for taking a multigenerational trip was that it’s a great way to bond as a family (76%), followed by the pleasure of spending extended time with grandchildren (63 %). And 82% of respondents overall say travel brings their family closer together.

New reasons for family travel

As these motivators take hold, new patterns of family travel emerge.

“I see a lot of kids who graduate high school, their parents are about to be empty handed, and so a family of four, a family of six they want a small, privatized group because they think this is their last chance to have these experiences,” said Christina Turini, a counselor of Frosch Travel based in Larkspur, California. “They want to make those memories last before the kids go to college.”

Time with loved ones was the top motivator for travel in the Deloitte survey, rising from 47% in the summer to 58% by the end of September, while celebrating personal milestones was the reason for 24% of Audley Travel trips this year .

Celebration trips – trips related to birthdays, graduations and other important events – are on the rise among Tauck’s customers.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of families using our trips to Tauck Bridges to mark important moments and celebrations, such as big birthdays and school graduations,” said Julia O’Brien, Tauck’s vice president of marketing. “For many grandparents, it has become a tradition to take each grandchild on a trip across the Bridges when they reach the same milestone.”

Reduce the groups, increase the fun

Smaller group travel with immediate family members is more common in 2023 bookings, advisers say, providing more intimate family experiences than large family groups can offer.

Trips between a parent or grandparent and their child or children, young or old, are also becoming increasingly popular.

“What I’m seeing is a lot of mother-son trips, which is really nice,” said Lawrence Pinckney, CEO of ZenBiz Travel & Events in New York. “I’ve got two or three of those trips at the moment – a son taking his partner and mum on a trip at Christmas.”

Luxury yacht and custom travel specialist Pelorus has noticed that children’s interests are at the fore when it comes to planning family trips, more so than in previous years.

As a result, education, adventure and more conscious travel experiences are at the center of these trips.

“I’ve completed the first in a three-year series of planned trips where child-led considerations are based on the subjects they’re studying, including foreign languages,” said Jimmy Carroll, co-founder of Pelorus.

The company is also seeing growth in families looking to learn new skills — or improve skills — while traveling, through experiences like karate with a martial arts master in Japan.

Pinckney also sees more in multi-generational safari bookings.

“This year we have three or four families traveling to South Africa for Christmas and New Years, which is exciting because I usually book adults on these trips,” Pinckney said. “With kids, it’s a whole different curated experience. Family-friendly safaris are much more sensitive to how the kids are, there’s more control over where you take them, like petting zoos and more cultural experiences.”

Hyper-personalization for large groups

Despite greater interest in smaller family trips, the large multi-generational family groups that flourished after Covid-related travel restrictions were lifted last year remain popular.

And these larger groups give rise to the more recent trend of group hyperpersonalization.

Pelorus co-founder Jordi Mackay-Lewis predicts that in 2024 more efforts will be made to meet the needs and interests of everyone on large family group travel, from the youngest to the oldest.

“We think 2024 is the year that family travel becomes all about hyper-personalization, really getting to know the customers and their intent to the ultimate level to plan something that no other family will experience, and it’s completely bespoke.” Mackay-Lewis said. “Vacation time is precious and should be spent on experiences and memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.”

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