The Rise of Micro-Cations

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While Americans are notorious for letting the year—or even several years—go by without taking a vacation, a new trend is on the rise making it easier to squeeze in a trip while managing tight schedules and, in some cases, even tighter budgets.

According to the 2019 Vacation Confidence Index released by Allianz Global Assistance, more Americans are opting to take “micro-cations” instead of, or in addition to, the more traditional weeklong vacations. Defined as a leisure trip that is fewer than five nights, the Allianz survey shows that micro-cations are popular across several age groups. Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of Millennials took at least one micro-cation in the last year, while 69 percent of Gen X’ers and 60 percent of Baby Boomers did the same.

“Since most Americans have only 2 weeks off, it makes sense to break the year up with two small vacations instead of one big one,” says Lynn Ciccarelli, owner and operator of Bella Vacations.

Susan Farewell, owner of Farewell Travels LLC, agrees adding that the rise in micro-cations, “mostly has to do with time availability. Not everyone can take two weeks of vacation and in some cases, one spouse can but the other one can’t.”

Numbers from the Vacation Confidence Index also illustrate this point, with 32 percent of Americans reporting that they prefer micro-cations because it was easier to take time off work for shorter periods and another 10 percent saying that it’s simply easier to find a travel companion for a shorter trip. Other reasons why Americans report taking a micro-cation include preferring to take more frequent shorter trips than fewer longer trips (26 percent) and feeling that a vacation of more than five nights was not necessary for the purpose of the trip, like attending a wedding or visiting friends (32 percent).

With 19 percent of survey respondents expressing a preference for micro-cations because they did not want to spend money on longer trips, Kim Goldstein, president and travel consultant specializing in Disney Destinations, Sandals and Beaches vacations at Journeys Travel Inc., has also seen price become a major sticking point for her clients.

“I’m definitely seeing an increase in shorter stays as prices continue to increase,” explains Goldstein. “My honeymooners seem to always start with a $3,000 budget, but each year the cost to travel increases, therefore we have to decrease the amount of days on their trip in order to meet budget requirements.”

Budgeting concerns are also seen in this year’s Vacation Confidence Index with one-quarter of Millennials saying money is a primary reason to take shorter trips. This also supports other findings that those with a higher income are more likely to vacation longer. More than half (51 percent) of people making $50,000 or more took trips longer than five nights in the last year, compared to 29 percent of those who make less than $50,000.

Where to Take a Micro-Cation
When booking your clients on a micro-cation, travel time and choosing a location with a variety of activities are key according to Ciccarelli and Goldstein.

“I try to send [my clients] somewhere that’s relatively close, so they don’t lose a lot of time traveling,” says Goldestein. “Many of my travelers aren’t necessarily familiar with travel times, so I get a fair amount of requests for Hawaii, Bora Bora, Europe for a 4-night stay from the East Coast. Clearly that is not the best way to maximize their time in a destination.”

Nearby domestic destinations with plenty to see and do make for a convenient and entertaining micro-cation.

Ciccarelli points to destinations such as Memphis, Napa, Miami, and Boston as good options for micro-cations fit for both couples and families. “A short trip will still need to have many options of places to explore, dine and shop,” she says.

Tips for Booking Micro-Cations
When asked what advice she has for travel advisors booking their first micro-cation, Farewell agrees with Ciccarelli and Goldstein, but also adds a few of her own tips.

“We approach [micro-cations] the same way we do longer itineraries—keeping comfort and efficient routing high priorities. Even though a trip is short, that doesn’t mean you can’t build in down time. We never design short trips so they are go-go-go. We create a balance so client can enjoy their trip and not feel rushed or tired,” she says.

According to Farewell, micro-cations are a particularly good option for families with difficult schedules. If the kids are the ones who have a more restricted schedule between SAT prep, sports and other activities, Farewell even encourages one parent to take one child away every now and then for some one-on-one time. Farewell also sees business travel as an opportunity to add on a micro-cation that the whole family can enjoy.

“Increasingly, clients want to hop over to Paris or London or tack a short trip onto a business trip, having their family join them,” Farewell says. “Seize those opportunities to piggy-back micro-trips to business trips. It can be a great savings for a family if some of the flights are handled by employers.”

With the rise in popularity of micro-cations, several hotels and resorts around the world have created special deals and packages specifically designed for shorter stays. Learn about a few of these offerings here.