November 18, 2019

Tisch Center launches Family Travel Survey 2019

The Family Travel Survey is an annual collaboration between Dr. Lynn Minnaert at the Tisch Center of Hospitality and the Family Travel Association. The study sheds light on decision-making factors of family travel and how this intelligence can be used to develop new products and services in the travel market. The Family Travel Association is a B2B association that brings together suppliers (such as hotels, theme parks and attractions) travel agents and travel media, who all have a focus on family travel. This is the 5th annual study to be conducted, and for the first time, included grandparent as well as parent perspectives on family travel. A total of 1580 parents and 1168 grandparents were surveyed. Dr. Minnaert explains:

What were some of the key findings for this year? 

Compared to previous years’ findings, there has been a decrease of parents who intend to travel with their children. When the survey was first conducted in 2015, 93% of parents said they were planning to travel with family in the coming 1-3 years. Since 2017, that percentage has been decreasing, and this year only 70% of the parent respondents said they intend to travel with their children in the coming years.

This is somewhat worrying news for the travel sector and may be tied to general economic uncertainty. According to the results, 82% of parents say affordability is the main reason for foregoing family vacations.

This sounds like worrying news for the travel industry, but are there certain demographics where there is growth? 

High-income families (with an annual household income of more than 150K) still show a lot of potential. High-income families report spending on average around $8,500 on family travel and are more likely to expect to spend more on travel in the coming year, particularly on international travel.

Asian-American families also emerged as a strong segment for family travel: these families tend to spend more on family travel, and are more likely to expect to increase their spending on both domestic and international travel. It’s an interesting finding since in travel marketing, Asian-American families are not often represented. 

What did the study reveal about grandparents who travel with their grandchildren? 

We researched two types of travel with grandparents: skip-generational travel (grandparents traveling with their grandchildren, without the parents present) and multi-generational travel (travel with grandparents, parents and grandchildren). One of the key findings this year was that skip-generational travel is more common and often takes the form of shorter trips. In contrast, multi-generational travel occurs less often, but the average spending on these types of vacations is usually higher.

In skip-generational travel, there is a stronger focus on activities and attractions, and grandparents tend to worry more about keeping the children safe and healthy. This is likely due to the fact that the grandparents are alone with their grandchildren, and therefore directly responsible for keeping them safe and entertained. Multi-generational travel is more focused on enjoying quality time as a family, and there is less of a focus on activities. Therefore, beach and lake/mountain vacations are more common with accommodations that include kitchen facilities, so that families can prepare and enjoy meals together.

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