As the pandemic continues to drive multigenerational and extended family travel, some travel advisors see their 2022 and 2023 bookings surpassing pre-pandemic sales and anticipate an even longer-term boost for the niche.
“My outlook for multigenerational for the next four to five years is that it’s going to boom,” said Nicole Sicard of Paradise Haven Travels in Hampton, GA. Sicard’s business is concentrated heavily in multigenerational travel.
Kristi Emo, owner of Your Dream Escapes in Fresno, CA, also sees a sunny outlook – especially post-pandemic. “It’s going to be huge. I think advisors should be promoting that. Just say [to clients]: ‘Wouldn’t you like to picture your family here altogether?’”
It started last year
Sicard said her requests for multigenerational travel resumed about a year ago, back when hopes still ran high that 2021 would mark the pandemic’s end.
“The biggest thing everybody wanted to do when we thought we’d get out of the pandemic in 2021 was to plan reunion-type travel. Not everybody was keen about traveling out of the country, but they definitely wanted family multigenerational type travel. Being away from their extended family and friends has caused people to really look at and value the time they have with their family,” Sicard said.
She sent one family group travel to the Dominican Republic early this summer and has a number of multigenerational groups booked to travel in November and December to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Florida theme parks.
Even as Covid’s Delta variant has spread, her multigenerational clients continue to book for 2022 and 2023, to destinations all over the world.
For next year, Sicard has groups booked for travel in January, February, March, September, and October, plus about 20 potential bookings for summer that she’s working on quotes for. “And I’m still getting a lot of calls and requests,” she added. She anticipates that her multigenerational bookings for 2022 and 2023 will exceed her 2019 sales.
Sicard’s most promising recent sale was for a 10-day luxury experience to Dubai in 2022. “It’s parents, children, and grandchildren, and it’s still growing – they’ve opened it up to friends. That’s looking like a pretty good booking,” said Sicard, whose multigenerational groups typically range in size from 10 to 20 people, with a total spend of $25,000 to $30,000 per trip.
Trends in multigen
Wendy Chambers of Victory Travel in Westport, CT, also has seen healthy interest in multigenerational and other extended family travel. Inquiries started coming in late last fall, and the demand has “just carried on into ’22,” said Chambers, who recently returned from her own 10-member multigenerational trip to St. Croix.
By early in 2021, Chambers had booked a number of multigenerational groups for the upcoming winter holidays, including to St. Lucia and to a Montana ranch. She’s also seeing growth in two-generation sibling trips. “I have 14 going to Maui for the oldest daughter’s 50th birthday in January – all of the siblings and their children. I’m seeing more of that.”
One shift Chambers noted is an uptick in bucket list requests for multigenerational families. “People are deliberately working to leave a legacy,” she said. The family trips that Chambers is planning for next spring and summer include a Galapagos vacation, an African Safari and a beachfront villa vacation in Croatia. “People are saying, ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen. Let’s do this while we can.’”
That same sentiment may explain why price doesn’t seem to be much of a concern for her multigenerational clients. “I have yet to have any multigenerational family when I’ve presented them with a trip say, ‘too expensive.’ And it is expensive because you’ve got 15 people and usually one payer.”
Closer to home, bigger groups
Emo of Your Dream Escapes said her multigenerational clients have been more restrained, especially when she started hearing from clients this spring. “They were more cautious about when they booked and what they booked. Nobody wanted to go far away. They didn’t want a long flight, and some are still nervous about being on planes for a long period of time.” Others were deterred by unexpectedly high prices.
Cruises have been of little or no interest to her multigenerational clients, both because of lingering Covid concerns and because cruise line vaccination requirements put cruises out of reach for families with children under 12.
Still, Emo said that her multigenerational travel outlook for next year is good, especially for spring break and summer travel.
“Hawaii is my number one specialty, and I have several larger families going next summer – 10, 12, 14 people in multiple rooms and condos. They hope everything will be better by then.”
Overall, beach destinations, including Mexico and Jamaica, have been especially popular with her multigenerational clients during the pandemic, Emo said. “Because of Covid, there has been a focus on going where they can be outside and have fun in the sun.”
One positive trend she’s seeing is bigger groups. “Some are adding more family members than they’ve traveled within the past,” said Emo, whose multigenerational bookings comprised about 40% of her pre-Covid volume.
Because of Covid, multigenerational groups are requesting more villas, house rentals, and condos than is typical, advisors reported. “They want more of a secluded, controlled environment,” Sicard said, noting that Covid considerations are also driving requests for private transfers and private excursions.
Chambers sees other factors spurring requests for villas and adjacent condos. “They just want to be together. It’s not necessarily that they’re afraid of Covid,” That urge for simple togetherness is also why some groups are planning fewer activities than usual, she said. “They’re hanging out. They want to have a pool, be near the ocean. They want to just be together.”
Emo’s clients are also asking for rental houses or smaller condo complexes, but some have the unrealistic expectation that they’ll come with the usual resort amenities. That necessitates a longer conversation. “There’s a lot of back and forth about what type of experiences they want and what type of compromises they can make – where can they just be with their families and not with thousands of other people.”
In Canada, it’s wait and see
Eric Cohen of Infinite Departures in Richmond Hill, Ontario, is also upbeat about the long-term prospects for multigenerational travel, despite the fact that his business is way off right now.
In normal times, multigenerational family travel constitutes at least 60% of Cohen’s business, most of it to the South Pacific. But several factors have conspired to drive down his sales, including Canada’s more conservative stance around travel during Covid, restrictions in Australia and New Zealand, and the unavailability of vaccines for children under 12.
“We do get inquiries for 2022, but it has not translated for us into bookings, partially because Australia and New Zealand are still basically locked up tight. We’re expecting things to change in December [when Qantas plans to resume operations], but it remains to be seen how quickly the kids can be vaccinated,” he said.
Cohen said that while he has resumed marketing, he’s waiting for Covid numbers to start decreasing and for destinations to reopen before he really starts to push.
As for the long-term outlook? “I see huge pent-up demand. I’m definitely still optimistic,” he said.