Family Travel Association Newsletter

We're Finding Family Travel's True Center of Gravity

Week of May 4, 2015

This is the newsletter of the Family Travel Association, a new coalition of leading family travel experts, media and companies coming together to create an industry voice that will transform the way families travel — charting a path for future generations of travelers.

Family Travel Association News

The FTA has assembled a remarkable family-travel brain trust to guide our development – advisors on our board and other councillors, members and partners with many years of travel thought-leadership. Over the coming weeks and months, we will share a bounty of wisdom from their decades of advocacy for and hands-on practice in family travel.

FTA Board Member and Multiple Award-Winning Journalist Heather Greenwood Davis Tackles Skipping School for Travel (as Education)

Following our inaugural pieces by Keith Bellows, Emeritus Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic Travel; by Kyle McCarthy, Editor of Family Travel Forum; and by Matt Villano, a senior editor of the Expedia Viewfinder travel blog, this week the spotlight turns to Heather Greenwood Davis, a board member of the FTA and multiple award-winning journalist and feature writer. She reacts to the recently rekindled debate about whether skipping school should be allowed in order to take advantage of travel as a form of education, something her kids did (see picture below) during their around-the-world family trip.

Heather Greenwood Davis and her family on an around-the-world trip

Disney Guru Randy A. Garfield Joins the Family Travel Association and Its September Summit

Randy Garfield
Randy A. Garfield, the recently retired (after 20+ years) President of Walt Disney Travel Company and Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Travel Operations for Disney Destinations, has agreed both to join the FTA Board of Advisors and to anchor its upcoming Summit as its keynote speaker. Much accoladed, he brings to the association broad and deep knowledge of the tourism industry, fed by his experience at Disney as well at Universal Studios and by his time as chair and longest-serving executive committee member for the U.S. Travel Association, and member of the Board of Directors of Brand USA. Over the years, Garfield has also held chairmanship and other leadership roles with Visit Orlando, Visit Florida, the California Travel & Tourism Commission and other civic and tourism organizations.

Family Travel Association Weighs in on Group Travel

FTA Board Member Nancy Schretter published an excellent article in Leisure Group Travel spotlighting the trend in learning-oriented vacations for family groups. Not only did she quote FTA Founder Reiner Jenss, but she also folded in comments from FTA Members Costa Rica and Abercrombie & Kent. The conclusion: "Families have discovered that… educational group travel options create stronger family bonds, memorable experiences and transformational learning opportunities that last a lifetime." Amen to that.

Let the world be your family's classroom

Family Travel Association Membership

The Family Travel Association membership base continues to expand, drawing in new associations, media outlets, destinations, tour operators, corporate entities, cruise lines, lodgings and travel specialists.

Who Are Our Newest Members?

Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International
"Royal Caribbean is proud to partner with the Family Travel Association. As one of the top cruise lines for families, we have always believed in travel as a valuable opportunity to learn, grow and explore together. That’s something that has been at the core of our vacations from day one and with this partnership we hope to bring that to more families in the New York area and beyond.."
– Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International
NYC & Company
NYC & Company
"From the parks, zoos and beaches to kid-friendly museums and attractions, New York City’s five boroughs provide the perfect backdrop for a family vacation. The family travel segment has grown nearly 25 percent since 2009, when we launched the Official NYC Family Ambassador program, a multilayered marketing initiative to promote New York City as a family-friendly vacation destination. We look forward to welcoming even more families in the months and years to come as they discover the endless engaging, educational and family-friendly activities throughout the five boroughs."
– Fred Dixon, President and CEO, NYC & Company
"HomeAway is dedicated to providing the best possible travel accommodation experience for whole families, which aligns with the Family Travel Association’s mission. We’re thrilled to be part of the team and continue educating families on the benefits of vacation rentals, which offer twice the space at half the cost of a hotel room, not to mention kitchens, private pools and gathering spaces for everyone to come together and make memories to last a lifetime."
– Brian Sharples, Co-Founder and CEO, HomeAway
Bound Round
Bound Round
"Bound Round is committed to forming positive interactions with younger travelers, working to ensure they are more engaged in the travel planning process and excited to share their learnings and positive experiences with their peers and family. Often overlooked, the tween segment is one of the key influencers in family travel. We develop content specifically created by, and for, kids in this demographic. Traditionally a very hard group to reach and engage with in a meaningful way."
– Natasha Keller, Community & Communications Manager, Bound Round
Piggyback Rider
Piggyback Rider
"When we learned of the FTA, we immediately felt connected and wanted to participate as we have common interest in getting families outdoors and traveling, together!"
– Bryan Lifshitz, Dad Inventor, Piggyback Rider

Family Travel Industry News

How Doing Nothing Became the Ultimate Family Vacation

In a recent essay in The New York Times, author Reif Larson laments how even for hardcore travels (like him), the "concept of an ideal vacation" completely transforms as soon as there's a child in the mix. "I think there’s… something more fundamental than just the inevitable weariness brought on by constantly being covered in fluids shot out of a small being," he writes. "I think part of the reason parents across the country are fleeing to these anesthetized retreats is because of America’s failure to acknowledge that children actually exist." Do you agree?

"This article sheds an interesting light on what makes vacationing with kids so uniquely different than almost all other forms of travel. Here’s a self-proclaimed experienced TRUE traveler who'd never be caught dead at an all-inclusive beach resort actually enjoying one. Here’s a journalist who doesn’t hesitate to point out that Americans (broadly speaking) just don’t place the same priority on traveling with kids as, say, Europeans do. For better or worse, these are some of the reasons why we created the Family Travel Association: To encourage families to travel together by highlighting the wide variety of options available to them — from the recreational to the transformational. We are also organizing ourselves as an industry so that parents and their children receive the services they deserve."
– Rainer Jenss, Founder & President, Family Travel Association

The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things

Need proof that travel enriches our lives? Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades. He has synthesized his learnings into the Easterling paradox, which found that money buys happiness, but only up to a point. Over time, people's satisfaction with things the buy goes down, whereas their satisfaction with experiences they spend money on goes up. If society takes this research to heart, it could mean an emphasis on employers giving more paid vacation (perfect for families!) and governments taking care of recreational spaces.

Budget Travel & Go RVing Launch 'Get AWAY to Get Closer' Contest

Budget Travel and Go RVing have teamed up to celebrate family travel and the joy of the open road with their 'Get Away to Get Closer' contest based on the quintessentially American experience of exploring the country in a recreational vehicle. To enter the contest, contestants must submit a video of two minutes or less about a great American RV road trip adventure and why the contestant and family deserve to win one.

TravelChannel Names the Top 10 Best Amusement and Water Parks for 2015 enlisted a panel of experts to help determine the 10 best amusement and water parks for 2015, including FTA Member Lissa Poirot (Editor-in-Chief of Family Vacation Critic) and good friend Erin Gifford (Founder of Kidventurous). Other experts included Robb Alvey (Founder of Theme Park Review), Bert Kreischer (host of “Trip Flip”) and Arthur Levine (theme park expert for About[dot]com).

USA Today's 10 Best Readers' Choice Winners in Family Travel Announced

With the end of the school year fast approaching, it's high time to start planning the summer family vacation. USA TODAY 10Best recruited a panel of family travel experts to scour the country for the best destinations, hotels, cruise ships, travel gear and attractions to help make next summer's trip with the kids the best one yet. For four weeks, readers voted once per day for their favorites in a field of 20 nominees for each category, and the results are in for best family resort, best kid-friendly destination, best zoo exhibit, best family travel essentials and best cruise ship for families!

Family Getaways

Other Industry Stories Through Travel Age West

As part of a collaboration with Travel Age West, we are sharing selected items of interest from their family travel news desk.

6 Family Travel Blogs to Follow Now
Hunt for destination insights and travel tips on these blogs by family travel experts that will inspire a vacation that's memorable for the entire family.

Volunteer in Costa Rica with Global Vision International
Global Vision International’s Volunteer With Children in Costa Rica project was named a top trip by National Geographic Traveler.

The Truth About Traveling with Toddlers
Experienced family travel blogger Keryn Means shares her tips for international travel with young children.
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