If you’re wondering who’s driving the vacation choices of family and multigenerational luxury travelers these days, look no further than the children.
“If I look at our new clients, it’s not the Millennials or Gen Z. It’s the kids ranging from [ages] 6 to 15,” said luxury travel advisor Jenny Graham during a panel on luxury trends at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas this August. “We see the biggest influencers are the children of the families.”
Graham described one client who, for each upcoming vacation, lets one of their three children, in rotation, decide where the family will travel. “So, our itineraries are not based toward the parents. We’re actually creating separate levels of itineraries that go to the kids for helping in their decision-making process,” said Graham, managing director of Quintessentially Travel, in London, England.
Building personal brands at a young age
Anthony Goldman, joint managing director of Goldman Travel Corp., in Biondi Junction, Australia, said he sees the same dynamic both in his own family and among clients. He also noted the influence of social media on the travel preferences of young people, which in turn are guiding family vacation choices.
“I’ve got a 12-year-old son living on Instagram or Facebook. He’ll show me pictures and say, ‘That’s where we’re going.’ We’ve got a lot of clients that do that. Even at some of our consultation meetings, the parents will bring the kids and they’re the ones who’ll go, ‘Yup we’ll do that,’” he said.
Not only that, today’s youth are seeking out experiences and adventures they believe will develop their personal brands, Goldman said. “They’re using travel and Instagram and other social media to build their own personas as they grow up.” And it’s not just the “uber-luxury kids” doing this, he said.
At Zebrano Travel, in Toronto, Ontario, a collaborative trip-planning process with clients typically includes the children, said owner and luxury travel advisor Wendy Davis. “It becomes a fun process to hear their ideas and to create this itinerary that includes experiences that work [for the children],” she said.
What kids want when they travel
Virtuoso’s research into the vacation priorities of the children of its luxury clients found that “they want to be incredibly active,” said Misty Ewing Belles, Virtuoso’s managing director, global public relations. Also, “they don’t necessarily like to go to the same place over and over again. They want to go explore.”
Like their parents, kids also want bragging rights. “They want a good story to tell their friends, a story that’s Instagrammable. They need visual locations,” Belles said. “They like to influence others, again through social media, but also through word-of-mouth. They want to be influential in their own spheres.”
Travel plays a vital role in parenting
As for the parents, 77 percent of those surveyed by Virtuoso agreed that “travel plays a vital role in the way they’re raising their children,” Belles said.
That creates a big opportunity for travel agencies like Zebrano Travel, which in addition to family vacations, gets a lot of requests for father-son and mother-daughter trips. “What I like about it is these families care about and spend time with their kids. And it’s special time. It’s our role to make sure it all goes smoothly and that it’s an incredible experience,” Davis said.
Multigenerational trips continue to be a top trend among Virtuoso’s luxury clients, even outranking travel with the immediate family, Belles said.
And while family clients continue to visit traditionally popular family destinations, like Italy and Orlando, they are also requesting less-visited destinations, including Iceland, the Galapagos, Cuba, Antarctica, Botswana and Mongolia.