Study sheds light on decision-making factors of family travel and how this intelligence can be used to develop new products and services in this growing and evolving industry sector
NEW YORK, September 28, 2015 – Family travel is one of the fastest-growing segments of the tourism industry, accounting for over one-third of all leisure trips. A new study by the Family Travel Association (FTA) (familytravel.org) and the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYUSPS) Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism (sps.nyu.edu/tisch) examines this sector and provides insight into how US families make travel decisions, as well as the considerations they take into account when doing so.
The results of this exploratory study, which focused on the influence of demographic (income, age, number of children) and psychographic factors (attitudes toward travel and life) on how families make travel decisions, were released today at the FTA Summit, held at the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Emigrant, Montana.
“We were very excited to work with the Family Travel Association on this study,” said Dr. Lynn Minnaert, academic co-chair and clinical assistant professor at the NYUSPS Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. “This is an under-researched area in the tourism field, and we hope that the study will help the travel industry to provide better products and services for families in the future. Many of our students were involved in this invaluable research project.”
The findings reveal that affordability is the greatest factor in determining how families choose to travel. Not surprisingly, a family’s higher household income positively correlates with higher travel spending, a lower likelihood that affordability is a major challenge, a higher likelihood to travel internationally, a higher preference for resorts, and a higher preference for air travel when children are involved.
However, the research also points to the fact that income does not tell the whole story. While it determines in many ways HOW families travel, it does not always show clearly the relationships as to WHY they do. To learn more about this, the research team carefully combed through the more than 2,600 responses they received to a survey, which was deployed nationwide to families that travel. After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded families that travel fall into three distinct groups.
The first group, the Hassle-Free Travelers, prefers travel options that require little effort and research. While they are not averse to international travel, they are likely to book an all-inclusive resort or to choose an organized tour, where the travel planning is done for them. They are least likely to take their children out of school for travel.
The second and most dominant group, the Cautious Travelers, is more willing to spend time researching and preparing for travel and to try a wider variety of travel options. They also are more willing for their children to miss school to travel. However, they worry about safety, hygiene, food options, finding appropriate activities for their children, and getting value for their money. Because of these uncertainties, they tend to revert to “safe bets” such as family-friendly hotels and theme parks.
Finally, there are the Intrepid Travelers. They tend to opt for new destinations each time they travel, are most likely to take their children out of school for vacations, value travel over material possessions, and are likely to travel to unusual destinations to experience different cultures. While all families want to keep their children safe while traveling, it is not the main concern of this group.
“This represents a tremendous opportunity for the industry. If we continue to nurture the Intrepid Travelers, help the Cautious Travelers with their concerns, and cater in new ways to the Hassle-Free Travelers, we could see an even greater acceleration in the growth of family and multigenerational travel in the years to come,” said Rainer Jenss, president of the Family Travel Association, which he founded in 2014 with the goal of bringing the travel industry together to inspire more families to travel.
- 93% of the respondents are either “very likely” or “likely” to travel with their children in the next two years.
- Respondents took an average of 3.53 domestic trips and 1.25 international trips with their children in the past year.
- Families most prefer to travel with their children when the children are between 6 and 12.
- Affordability is the most prominent challenge for family travel. While this mainly affects lower income families, even higher income families raise this as a concern.
- The respondents highly value the educational and emotional benefits of travel.
- The respondents’ household income is the most prominent demographic factor to influence travel behaviors and challenges.
- Travel attitudes and preferences are, however, not clearly linked to demographic factors, pointing instead to psychographic explanations.
- Search engines are the most important information source for many families, but do not always provide information that is seen to be reliable and trustworthy.
The survey was designed in Qualtrics and distributed via research collaborators, SmartyPants and Scholastic.
About the NYU School of Professional Studies
Established in 1934, the NYU School of Professional Studies (sps.nyu.edu) is one of NYU’s several degree-granting schools and colleges, each with a unique academic profile. The reputation of the School of Professional Studies arises from its place as the NYU home for study and applied research related to key knowledge-based industries where the New York region leads globally. This is manifest in the School’s diverse graduate, undergraduate, and Professional Pathways programs in fields such as Accounting, Finance, and Law; Applied Politics; Creative Cities and Economic Development; English-Language Learning; Fundraising and Grantmaking; Global Affairs; Health Information Management; Hospitality and Tourism Management; Human Resource Management and Development; Languages and Humanities; Management and Systems; Marketing and Marketing Analytics; Professional Writing; Project Management; Public Relations and Corporate Communication; Publishing; Real Estate, Real Estate Development, and Construction Management; Social Entrepreneurship; Sports Management, Media, and Business; and Translation.
More than 100 distinguished full-time faculty members collaborate with an exceptional cadre of practitioner/adjunct faculty members and lecturers to create vibrant professional and academic networks that annually attract nearly 5,000 degree-seeking students from around the globe. In addition, the School fulfills the recurrent professional education needs of local, national, and international economies, as evidenced by close to 48,000 Professional Pathways enrollments in Career Advancement Courses, Diploma Programs, workshops, and seminars. The School’s community is enriched by more than 28,000 degree-holding alumni worldwide, many of whom serve as mentors, guest speakers, and advisory board members. For more information about the NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu.
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