My mother is turning 80 this Spring. She has six children, 16 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Pretty impressive resume and she is every bit the trooper that she sounds like on paper. She is the matriarch of our brood, the glue that holds us all together, even if we aren’t physically alongside one another on a daily basis.
So, when we asked her what she wanted to do for her milestone birthday, it was no surprise her answer revolved around family. Family is what fuels her — it’s what drives her to get out of bed each day and it is the fundamental essence of her happiness. And while parties are fun, she realizes they are fleeting. What she wanted for her milestone was what she always wants — to interact with her loved ones. And so, the decision to take a multigenerational vacation together was born.
My mother’s story is not unique. Rather, it is every bit the reason why this trend is growing exponentially. According to recent findings of a family travel study conducted last year by the Family Travel Association, almost half of the respondents (46 percent) said their motivation for traveling was to spend quality time with multigenerational or extended family.
On the agency side, the same survey found that 80 percent of those selling family travel saw robust or moderate growth last year and 50 percent of them are earning half of their overall revenue from family travel sales.
Meaningful multigenerational experiences
Having meaningful experiences through connecting with family is the driving force behind the multigenerational movement. Several agents that TMR spoke to, who specialize in selling to this market, said it is undoubtedly tied to creating lifelong memories.
“I think grandparents and parents realize they need to leave a legacy, and they want to have great memories with their grandkids, just like they have of their own grandparents. I think it brings joy to give the gift of travel to kids and grandkids, and leaving a legacy with great memories is much better than buying toys or material things that have no meaning,” said Ralph Iantosca, owner of Iantosca Travel in Irving, Texas.
Iantosca has been selling family travel since 1993 and said 50 percent of his business is the family market and it’s only growing. He recently rebranded his company to specialize in expedition cruising for families to places like Antarctica, Africa and the Galapagos.
Iantosca is not alone in his decision to focus on the adventure cruise market. While land destinations like Orlando, Europe, Italy, Mexico and Hawaii top the list of tried-and-true multigenerational favorites, travel agents are seeing a definite shift as of late to more exotic locales like the Galapagos Islands, Iceland and Alaska for these travelers — destinations that can offer everyone the immersive adventures and momentous experiences they seek.
Well suited for all
Adventure cruising meets the needs of this diverse group, which can include seniors traveling alongside infants, and baby boomers looking to find common ground with Millennials— mainly because it provides adventure and experiences that cater to both the young and “not so young” at their individual mobility levels and regardless of their age.
“I think the new trend is to expect the unexpected,” said Iantosca. “Having something to look forward to that isn’t pre-fabricated and is real is what is exciting. Whether it comes down to weather, wildlife, scenery, activities like kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, it’s all so rewarding."
Education doesn’t hurt either
Education is another factor parents and grandparents are considering when booking multigenerational trips — and one that sort of subliminally occurs without the younger crowd taking notice. “Being one with nature, taking in the landscape and interacting with the wildlife brings the family together,” said Cindy Spivack, owner of Cindy Spivack Luxury Travel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “The grandparents really enjoy being a part of the education of these children and seeing the delight in their eyes.”
Spivack has been an agent for over 40 years and she prides herself in being able to give her clients the vacation experiences of their dreams. She also relies heavily on her favorite suppliers to help market for her, participating in cooperative initiatives with them and allowing them to put her agency’s name on brochures they send out.
Another way Spivack has found success with the group market, whether they are families or affinity groups, is to find a “pied piper” who will serve as her liaison. “I send them the materials and videos and they have a dinner party with a theme of the trip and show it to their friends. It’s an excellent source of business for me. I take over when they are ready to go.”
And just to dispel any misconceptions, while places like Alaska, the Galapagos, Iceland and Africa may sound far off and remote, the agents we talked to pointed out that they are, in fact, fairly easy to get to, with most only requiring direct flights — a plus for those traveling with children and the physically challenged alike.
Since time is not a luxury that is up for sale, the family decision to spend it on an adventure cruise is proving not only practical, but adventurous, educational, and most of all, fun!
FROM THE SPONSOR: As a family-owned and operated luxury cruise line, by the Lefebvre family of Rome, Silversea’s passion for travel carries down through the generations. And when it comes to adventure cruising, our Silversea Expeditions voyages appeal to every adventure-seeker in the family.
Our fleet of four purpose-built expedition ships transports your multigenerational clients to off-the-map locales, in the most seamless way imaginable. We sail to over 590 destinations across all 7 continents, and our immersive shore excursions come tailored to every age and interest. Our expert Expedition Team enriches your clients’ family cruise even further, leading onboard lectures, Zodiac cruises and guided hikes that illuminate all they see. #ThisIsSilversea