Travel Agents

The lucrative market you’re missing out on

Hannah Edensor

Travelling with kids is a major part of life, and travel agents need to be able to cater to their very specific needs.

And with new innovations cropping up all the time, it’s important to stay ahead of the game.

Bound Round, the world’s only travel app created by kids and for kids, allows the younger travellers to share their opinions and experiences, photos, reviews, ratings and stories about any destination around the world.

Kids can sign up to Bound Round and upload photos and share reviews of anywhere they have visited – whether it’s their favourite local café or the Great Wall of China.

So we spoke to founder and CEO Janeece Keller for some of the best ways to sell to families.

How important is the overall family travel market?

In 2013, the family travel market was valued at $140 billion

How can agents better sell to families? What are families looking for when they holiday?

Income determines in many ways HOW families travel, but from new research commissioned by the Family Travel Association & carried out by NYU, there are three psychograpic groups of family travellers, & it’s an understanding of this that will help an agent sell better to families. Those three groups are: Hassle free travellers; Cautious travellers; Intrepid travellers.

Psychograpic groupings determines what products a family will prefer, and plays a role in destination decisions & levels of flexibility over timing (and therefore willingness to take kids out of school to get off-peak fares/rates)

Hassle Free: families who see travel as time for relaxation and indulgence. See comfort and don’t want to spend too much time planning. Tend to stick to trips traditionally seen as ‘family friendly’ e.g. theme parks, hotels and resorts and book all inclusive so it’s very easy

Cautious Traveller (most prominent group): value travel and put effort into researching and planning family trips. They want to make sure they make the right choice for their family at that point in time.

They want to provide children with experiences that are iconic and worry about children being bored. They feel that travel strengthens family bonds and makes children better global citizens.

Intrepid Travellers: greatly value travel, are confident & independent. They prefer new destinations every time they travel & want to experience new cultures.

This group is the one most likely to take kids out of school to travel. They are likely to travel to off-the-beaten track destinations and often want all inclusive packages & products to make those destinations accessible.

What are the hottest destinations for family travel right now?

Based on feedback from our Bound Round families (who tend to be more intrepid travellers), destinations that offer authentic experiences you can’t get at home and that appeal to a range of ages, are what’s hot right now… think exploring the Daintree Rainforest or coral reef restoration in Malaysia.

New Zealand is a hot destination for Aussie cautious travellers  – not only for all the activities there are to do there, but also for proximity and the relative price compared to Europe and the USA at the moment.

For Hassle-free travellers, cruising is a hot option because it offers something for everyone with the minimum of fuss regarding transport, accommodation and activities.

Research from the USA has also shown that cruising is a great way to kids to learn about other cultures, simply by being in on-board activity programs with peers from other countries.  Based on the NYU research 33% of people who haven’t yet taken a cruise, are planning on doing so in the future.

Where do you think will be the next place on the list for families?

My tip is that we’ll see more families travelling to lesser-known destinations both domestically and internationally, as people look for something a bit more ‘off the beaten track’.

For the intrepid travellers, I’m tipping places with lots of wildlife experiences or national parks – internationally Galapagos is getting more and more popular, and domestically so is the northern WA coast (Monkey Mia, Ningaloo, Broome).

For the Hassle-Free travellers, destinations like Phillip Island (Victoria) or Townsville (Queensland) that offer natural experiences with strong tourism infrastructure are also likely to see more family travellers looking for something different to the Gold Coast.

What are the future trends in family travel? How can brands, hotels and tour operators keep both parents and kids entertained?

As kids start to become more involved in the destination decision, I think we’ll see more families choosing products that have, until now been seen as fairly niche.

The NYU research showed that volunteer trips, caravanning, ski & snowboard trips, safaris and cruises are the products most likely to be chosen by families.

When packaging & selling these products, operators and brands need to be conscious of catering to the different faces of family travel (it’s no longer safe to assume that a family is Mum, Dad & 2.4 kids)… multi-generational holidays, PANKS/PUNKS and mixed family groups are more common than ever before

Key to keeping the kids engaged is good wifi access, age appropriate activities     (don’t baby the tweens), and be honest about the impact the activity has on the surrounding environment and community.

We’ve seen the great lengths cruise lines go to to target the family market, but is this the best way for a family to travel?

I’m an intrepid traveller rather than a hassle free traveller, so I’m probably not the best person to answer this question directly.

That being said, for people who want convenience, economy and an opportunity for families to experience destinations they otherwise might not be able to, then yes I do think that a cruise is a great family holiday option.

For the cautious and intrepid travellers amongst us, small ship cruising could be a great option (think the Alaskan fjords or the Croatian coast), but for these groups the larger, more mainstream cruise offerings are likely to be less appealing given the structure and convenience offered by the big cruise lines.

How is technology and other disruptors changing the way families are travelling?

The biggest issue in family travel is affordability and creating an itinerary that everyone in the group will enjoy.  With technology such as Bound Round (where kids can research & help with the planning) as well as the increased accessibility of information (and pre-bookings) for activities means that families can be better prepared than ever for a trip.

I think the ease of search and booking with non-traditional accommodation providers (homeexchange.com, stayz.com.au, airbnb.com etc) will continue to disrupt the traditional resort and hotel model for families as they look for something where they can access some of the comforts of home while experiencing a new location.

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