Toronto-based TPI travel agent talks booking trends at Family Travel Xpo: Multi-gen groups are big, and so are villas
TORONTO — Family travel is shaping up to be a driving force behind travel’s recovery once these (hopefully) waning months of COVID-19 are behind us.
That’s certainly the case in the U.S., says Rainer Jenss, Founder, Family Travel Association.
Coming out of the pandemic, “all the trends are predicted to be led by family travel – and I’m not surprised one bit,” notes Jenss.
Pre-COVID, one in three trips taken by an American was done so with a child 17 years of age or younger, he added.
Jenss was on hand to introduce – virutally, of course – the recent Family Travel Xpo, by XpoPRO Mobile, a division of TravPRO Mobile.
“You’re here because you’re deeply committed to children being able to see and experience the world,” Jenss told Family Travel Xpo attendees, inclduding travel advisors and other stakeholders in the travel industry.
TPI travel advisor Clara Power, who is based in Toronto, offered her Canadian take at one of the Family Travel Xpo panels, ‘Family Travel Trends, an Advisor’s Perspective’.
Power was joined by Protravel International travel advisor Garey Bell, based in Westbury, NY and specializing in luxury travel. Moderating the panel was JJ Villani, VP Sales and Business Development, TravPRO Mobile.
While the U.S. travel industry is mostly full speed ahead these days, Power pointed out that Canada is still dealing with its long list of travel restrictions.
Asked about booking windows at this point in the pandemic, Power said: “Up here in Canada we still have a lot of travel restrictions and most of our travellers are not really going to get going until Q4. So we’re looking at November, December and beyond. So that’s a major shift. When people may have booked 3 months in advance, now they’re looking at six to 12 to 18 months in advance. There’s a longer booking window.”
But both Power and Bell say that regardless of when travel is being booked, family travel, especially multigenerational travel, is extremely strong. Families travelling together is also popular. “Because in Canada we have been separated for so long, [with an] inability to get together to celebrate holidays, there’s been a bigger shift to larger group travel, whether it’s multigenerational, or multi families getting together – they are all headed together in large groups,” said Power.
The groups are big, but the resorts they’re choosing are not. Power says she’s seen a notable trend away from mega-resorts. “People are avoiding the mega resorts,” she says. “People don’t want that 8,000 – 9,000 [guest scene], but 300 – 400 is fine. There are still a lot of requests for villas, anything that’s a little bit more private, but still accessible with amenities. Families want to be in a villa to have that privacy, to have that distance, but they still want those amenities.”
Bell says his multigen and multi-family bookings are skyrocketing too. “A lot of people who had to cancel their trips are rebooking,” he said. “ I think everyone is eagerly ready to celebrate, whether it’s a anniversary, 50th birthday, girls’ getaway … as soon as the borders started to open, the influx has been significant.”