A keynote address drew everyone’s attention at the start of day 2 of the 2016 FTA Summit.
Caroline Shin (pictured below), CEO and Co-founder of Vacatia (and her family’s Chief Vacation Officer) introduced the value of alternative vacation lodging for families, especially resort residences that promise larger accommodation for comparatively less than an equivalent hotel. This keynote was presented by South Dakota Department of Tourism.
“Families don’t have to choose one or the other with these. They offer the best of both worlds – the space of a home and the services of a hotel.”
— Caroline Shin, Vacatia
Later in the morning, just before lunch, a second keynote took to the stage, this time a panel to discuss the modern experience of travel agents. (Both keynotes are covered in a bit more detail in our Day 2 Summary.)
The panel was composed of Kenneth Shapiro, Editor-in-Chief of TravelAge West, a publication that serves the travel agent set, and three travel agents: Cari Gray, Nancy Damieneas and Sally Black (all pictured below).
Among the points this quartet made:
- Despite the rise in OTAs, families are still seeking help from travel agents at a consistent clip.
- Travel agent customers take longer trips and spend twice as much.
- Booking through travel agents is a great way to connect with trusted tour operators.
- Family traveler interest in resort kids’ clubs is on the rise.
“We have to convince customers to pay and upgrade to avoid hassles. A lot of it has to do with training and education and expectation for our clients.”
— Sally Black, Vacation Kids
Between the two keynotes were two more rounds of breakout sessions — those small-group theme-specific workshops with featured participants and a heavy emphasis on engaging conversation.
The first round included four breakouts:
* Understanding Millennial Parents acknowledged that the millennial generation presents unique challenges for the travel industry, especially now that they have begun to raise families. In this session, a robust discussion revolved around how the interests, motivations and hunger for novelty of this generation can be tapped into as suppliers pitch for millennial’s family travel business. This session was presented by South Dakota Department of Tourism.
* The Continuing Evolution of the Sharing Economy evoked websites like HomeExchange and CouchSurfing that have forever changed how we travel. For families, it means that the number of accommodation options is growing rapidly. According to HomeAway, the percentage of U.S. travelers who used a vacation rental has tripled since 2010 to 146 million. Furthermore, the number of travelers who have rented an entire home has doubled in the last three years. With all this growth, local brands like The Clear Creek Group and large consumer brands like Wyndham have gotten into the game too. This session was presented by Vacatia.
Breakout featured participants (two pictured above):
Melanie Fish, HomeAway – click here to download her presentation (Powerpoint file)
Jesse Larson, Wyndham Vacation Rentals
Morgan Bruemmer, The Clear Creek Group – click here to download his presentation (Powerpoint file)
* Curing Nature Deficit Disorder examined the critical importance of celebrating nature through family travel. Too often these days, kids’ joy at playing in mud is forgotten, swept aside by attention to health, safety and hygiene. The latter three can still be preserved without sacrificing the former! And what kids learn about the environment and themselves far outweighs any worries.
Breakout featured participants (pictured above) – click here to download all three presentations in one slideshow (Keynote file):
Sarah Scoltock, UnCruise
Steve Markle, OARS
Erin Kirkland, AK on the Go
Gina Vercesi, Kids Unplugged
* Family Travel: A Global Perspective brought together subject-matter experts to speak about trends in family travel in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Australasia. Presenters discussed how to work with families of various nationalities, product development in these regions, and other industry developments. There was, perhaps not surprisingly, particular interest in China as an outbound market.
Breakout featured participants:
Janeece Keller, Bound Round – click here to download her presentation (Keynote file)
Warren Green, Warren Green & Associates) – click here to download his presentation (Keynote file)
Jorge Perez – click here to download his presentation (Powerpoint file)
Bonnie Levengood, MSC Cruises – click here to download her presentation (Powerpoint file)
There were three breakouts in the second and last set:
* The Changing Faces of Family Travel saw great opportunity and real room for growth in a wider cast of net when it comes to family. Accepting and marketing directly to a broader cross-section of families, not just what we usually see in pictures, is key. Statistical evidence from KOA bears this out. Awareness of the many new strategies used by families to provide an education for the children is also important. This session was presented by South Dakota Department of Tourism.
Breakout featured participants (Mike Gast is pictured above):
Mike Gast, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) – click here to download his presentation (Powerpoint file)
Cliff Hsia, Live Family Travel – click here to download his presentation (Powerpoint file)
Mickey Revenaugh, Connections Academy
* What Dude Ranchers Can Teach the Travel Industry agreed that the dude ranch experience goes well beyond what we see in City Slickers. Nearly 80% of dude ranch guests appeal to families because they’ve found a way to offer guests ages 8 to 80 something they will enjoy. That, combined with an emphasis on outstanding personalized customer service is what keeps so many of these families coming back year-after-year. And like so many resorts and cruise lines that appeal to parents who don’t want to plan much while on vacation, these ranches are all-inclusive. This session was presented by Vacatia.
Breakout featured participants (pictured above):
Colleen Hodson, The Dude Ranchers’ Association
Russell True, White Stallion Ranch
Jason St. Clair, Flathead Lake Lodge
* TOUR is Not a Four-Letter Word began with acceptance that the world of tours has changed dramatically from the days of packaged bus tours hitting the major landmarks in Europe. This session then explored how modern tours offer more variety and can be an effective solution to the demands of family travel in unfamiliar locations. Discussions covered the range of products from updated packaged tours to customized adventures.
Breakout featured participants (John Spence is pictured above):
Melanie Gravdal, Globus Family of Brands – click here to download her presentation (Powerpoint file)
Moo Bishop, Thomson Family Adventures
John Spence, Scott Dunn
After a very full morning, the final presenter of the day was Bonnie Levengood, speaking on behalf of and about MSC Cruises, a major sponsor of the Summit. Bonnie and her team also segued into the lunchtime networking activity: the MSC Lego Contest.
After lunch, summit attendees split into groups to enjoy activities around the Tucson area: hiking at Sabino Canyon in Saguaro National Park East; riding horses through the saguaros at White Stallion Ranch; and visiting the Mini Time Machine Museum, a museum of miniatures. Other activities included a cooking class with the Westin executive chef and SCUBA instruction (hosted by Planet Scuba located in Tucson and Margo Peyton of Kids Sea Camp) in the Westin pool.
Dinner was a Dine Around Night in downtown Tucson, made possible by Visit Tucson with the participation of numerous restaurants. It was a fantastic opportunity for Summit attendees to taste some of what UNESCO recognized when it declared Tucson a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.