Big Five Tours & Expeditions has been evolving its approach to family travel over several years, with the belief that the creativity and ideas of children combined with the power of travel can transform the world.
We began our first serious steps with a family collection of trips called Precious Journeys®, , and Precious Journeys® College Edition, which feature activities and hands-on learning experiences specifically tailored for children and older teens. But we knew we needed insight into what the next generation of family travelers was thinking about.
So, on March 17 of this year, we gathered six children between the ages of 6 and 19 years of age (all related to our employees) at our headquarters, with two participants joining via Skype. The oldest member of the team served as the moderator.
The objective of this exercise was to get real answers from the children directly, without an adult filter, to discover what is important to children today. We did not focus on just travel specifically but rather on what each child was looking for and valued. Questions ranged from What was the best day you ever had? to What was the grossest food you ever ate?
The only rule was that wherever the conversation went, the adults would not interfere in any way. They weren’t even allowed in the room. We realized this was a bit risky as we did not know what to expect. Would they all sit there mute? Would they run around and talk video games? Would we get any useful data from this experiment?
It wasn’t long before we saw that these kids had a lot to say about the world and what they expect. We learned more in two hours than we could have learned in months. For example, one of the questions we asked was – If you had super powers, what would you change about the world?
Here’s what the kids said:
- Put an end to all bullying
- There should be only one law – no violence
- No killing elephants or any animals and people will not destroy nature
- There should be no more smoking
Not exactly childish answers, right? What we as adults think kids want, and what kids really want are often miles apart. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus; parents must be from Mercury and kids from Pluto! (We produced a short video from the first meeting in March that can be accessed here.)
The group was such a success, that it officially became the Kids Kouncil. We met again in July to talk about the results of our questionnaire. We also appointed the group as Junior Board Members.
Big Five developed the Your Travel DNA website to help travelers choose the best destinations based on their interests. We recently added a DNA FOR KIDs page with the same nine questions. They simply check the questions that apply to them and the result is a list of countries that can be emailed to their parents.
We presented some of the results at recent conference of travel agents to demonstrate some of the differences between the kid answers and the adult answers. The adults were surprised by the level of the children’s answers.
We were impressed by how enthusiastic these children were and how eager they were to do it again. The Kids Kouncil is now a regular part of the Big Five process and will continue to meet two or three times yearly to provide ongoing feedback and ideas. A couple of the children have expressed a serious interest in actually developing programs with us., and we are expanding the group to include children from outside our circle.
It is clear that children of all ages have much to contribute in ideas, enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of solutions. We are going to continue to develop authentic family travel that goes back to one of our fundamental beliefs – that travel today is as much about why and less about where, even with kids.
Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *