There is no getting around it. Family Travel is one of the best investments parents can make in their children’s lives. But as the FTA/NYU Survey has shown five years running, family vacations can require time, effort and money that can sometimes be in short supply.
That’s why Sharlene Earnshaw, FTA Member and Editor in Chief at Trekaroo, recently launched Family Travel Deals and Tips – a public Facebook Group for families, travel media personalities, suppliers and destinations – to collaborate on helping families overcome their challenges.
“Our focus is on value,” Earnshaw said. “Whether your family’s travel tends to be budget or luxury, there isn’t a person out there who doesn’t love a good deal.”
The Family Travel DEALS and Tips Facebook group synergizes perfectly with the Family Travel Association’s #TakeFamilyTime advocacy campaign, because it is actively encouraging families to take vacations “on a daily basis,” Earnshaw said.
“We are trying to tackle the obstacles of affordability, apprehension, and prioritization of family travel. Using social media to make those personal connections with the public and encourage them to #TakeFamilyTime will hopefully have a meaningful and lasting impact.”
Earnshaw and the FTA are encouraging all members of the FTA to not only join this group, but also encourage their friends and family who aren’t in the travel business to join as well. The more non-travel industry people we have in the group, the more opportunity is created for us all to grow our businesses.
Suppliers will be able to directly target families who are interested in travel when their promotions are shared within the group (send your promotions directly to email@example.com).
Travel advisors can offer their expertise and answer questions the general public might have about a particular destination, perhaps earning a new client in the process. Media can share their expertise when members ask questions, link to their relevant content, and gain new readership in the process. “A rising tide can lift all the boats in the FTA,” said Rainer Jenss, FTA Founder and President. “The key to that success is building a strong, engaged community, and we at the FTA are grateful that Trekaroo has taken the initiative.”
Affordability remains a big issue for families looking to travel
When asked what is the greatest impediment to taking a family vacation, 32% of respondents to the 2019 FTA/NYU Family Travel Survey said they could not afford one, 26% said they have other pressing needs on their budgets, while 13% said they had difficulty taking time off.
“Affordability has always been a concern for families,” Earnshaw said. “There are some families that simply can’t afford to take a big trip. For those families, I suggest looking for deals on local attractions or camping in a nearby state park. Travel doesn’t have to be about how far you travel from home or how much money you spend. It can be about spending time with your loved ones in a space that allows you to take a break from everyday life.”
For other families, affordability comes down to prioritization, she said. “They tend to be more impulsive with their spending on ‘things’ or eating out, and don’t save the money needed to book that dream trip. Families need help budgeting. Payment plans can often be a godsend,” she said.
“Family vacation time also needs to be prioritized. Families need to learn to set aside time to travel together and companies need to be encouraging their employees to take that time. Multiple studies have proven that employees are much more productive when they take that time off,” said Earnshaw.
Among respondents to the 2019 FTA/NYU study, of the respondents eligible for paid vacation days, 45% took all their vacation days, 55% did not. “Those of us in the travel industry need to do a better job of educating businesses on the value of encouraging employees to travel,” Earnshaw said.
“Despite the clear and stated benefits of traveling as a family, so many adults still don’t prioritize the financial and time investment,” said Jenss. “We need to elevate this discussion, and we’re hoping FTA members will use Family Travel Deals and Tips as a place for this conversation to grow and lead to more solutions.”
“We also really want to help families broaden their vacation horizons,” Earnshaw added.
“Perhaps they will see a deal on a destination that they may not have considered before and it will spark a family’s interest to try something new,” she said. “Since we have so many family travel experts in our group, there is almost always someone who has covered the destination and can answer any questions a trepidatious family might have before they book.”
Finally, Earnshaw and her peers want the group “to be a safe place to ask a wide variety of travel questions. Whether we have nervous moms attempting to fly for the first time with their infants and are desperate for advice, or dads looking for ideas for an epic road trip with their teens, we are here to help!”
The 2019 Family Travel Survey was conducted by the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, NYU School of Professional Studies, in June 2019. The survey reached 2,748 consumers, 18 years or older, with one or more children 17 years or younger. G Adventures, Travel + Leisure, and Parents magazine are sponsors of this year’s survey.
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