The number of families willing to use a travel advisor to plan family vacations is growing according to the U.S. Family Travel Survey, conducted by the Family Travel Association, NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, and Edinburgh Napier University.
The survey, which polled 3,300 parents and grandparents about their travel plans, behaviors, and attitudes found that 71% of parents indicated they are willing to use a travel advisor in the next two years, which is an increase over 2022, when only 52% of respondents said the same.
However, only 38% of parents actually used an advisor to book at least one family trip in the past three years. This, too, is an increase over 2022, when only 25% of respondents reported having used a travel advisor.
Despite less than 40% having used an advisor in the past three years, the family market provides a lot of opportunity for advisors. Some 81% of parents said they are likely to travel with their children in the next year and many families are planning to increase (or at minimum, maintain) their level of travel spending.
"Our survey shows that parents plant to maintain or increase their spending on family travel in the coming year," said Lynn Minnaert, professor and head of subject, tourism and languages at Edinburgh Napier University.
Additionally, 76% of families plan to travel internationally with their children in the next two years, with Europe (Italy, U.K., France) the most popular, though Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are also in high demand.
Confirming what TMR often hears from travel advisors, the survey also found a strong interest in multi-generational travel, with over 50% of parents saying they are planning to travel with grandparents and children. The top choice for multi-generational travel is a beach vacation (54%).
Speaking of multigenerational travel, 54% of grandparent respondents said that they plan and organize their multi-generational travel experiences, while 79% said they plan and organize their skip-generational travels.
As for where families want to stay, hotels (84%) are the most common type of accommodation booked, followed by resorts (50%) and vacation rentals (47%). Interestingly, those numbers change for multi-generational travel, with 53% preferring hotels, 43% preferring vacation rentals, and 31% preferring resorts.
The most common booking window (33%) for booking a family trip is two to three months before departure.
Travel challenges that families highlighted
Despite the fact that most family said they plan to increase or maintain their spending on family travel, Minnaert noted that families are "starting to express concerns about affordability and the rising cost of travel…"
As a result, 50% of respondents said they plan to avoid hotels and airlines that charge extra fees, and 49% said they plan to pay closer attention to cancellation and refund policies. Additionally, 36% said they will choose more affordable accommodations than they did in the past.
Families also pointed to issues such as the challenge and added cost of being seated together on flights, as well as the scarcity of family or connecting rooms in hotels.