Kids are a big part of the travel decision, every day playing a bigger role in where their family vacations take place. Big Five Tours & Expeditions is focusing on the kids’ wants, needs, and interests to help agents and the parents plan the perfect family vacation.

Big Five Tours & Expeditions has launched a Kids Kouncil, a think tank of children ages 6 to 15 that helps determine what they find important when traveling, and DNA for Kids, a new webpage dedicated for young travelers to help their parents in the travel planning decision. These new initiatives are designed to inspire younger generations to embrace travel and encourage their parents to take their kids along.

Currently, Big Five Tours & Expeditions offers Precious Journeys and Precious Journeys College Edition adventures, which have both been developed for families. The new initiatives have been designed to complement these programs and provide insight as to what the younger travelers are interested in, and offer tools to help guide the parents in their travel decisions.

I think the age is not as important as the willingness of parents to invite the children into the conversation and their willingness to really listen.

—Deborah Kilcollins, Brand Manager for Big Five Tours & Expeditions

Big Five Tours & Expeditions
A grandson enjoying traveling with his grandparents.

“When I was a kid, my parents planned vacations that certainly included many activities for us kids. But they never really asked our opinion in the planning stages,” says Deborah Kilcollins, brand manager for Big Five Tours & Expeditions. “We have seen essentially a paradigm shift that is only growing stronger. There is ample evidence that not only are more people traveling with kids of all ages; but they also want to travel with them for longer periods. Increasing numbers of parents are also willing to take their kids out of school to extend a journey. But this trend transcends generations. Our statistics show 30 percent of our travelers are kids traveling with grandparents. And the resources to serve these diverse families are also increasing with organizations such as the Family Travel Association.”

What is the Kids Kouncil?
The Big Five’s Kids Kouncil discussed various topics with children aged 6 – 15. In the near future, the kids will be involved in helping develop programs with the tour operator for an upcoming series of Kids Council Approved Journeys for families.

“The youngest person on our initial Kids KouncilTM  was six years old for the first meeting. She already had definite ideas about what she wanted to do and how she would like to do it as well as what she was not interested in,” says Kilcolins. “I think the age is not as important as the willingness of parents to invite the children into the conversation and their willingness to really listen.”

You’re probably wondering by now what the results where. How do kids like to travel?

“They like and dislike many of the same things as adults, if not exactly on the same level. For example, when we tallied up the answers of our Kids Kouncil and compared to groups of adults, whom we had asked the same questions—we were surprised to see basic similarities. The question about if they possessed super powers lead to adults giving answers such as ending all war. Our kids answered—putting an end to all bullying.  That seems to be the same answer on two different levels—ending war and ending bullying. By the same token, neither adults nor kids want to waste time waiting—in airports or lines. Kids are looking for activities that are fun and interesting, certainly, but they also have an interest in meeting people and doing good. Children also told us they wanted to spend more time with their parents. In answering the questions we posed, we were not sure what results we would get and were a bit surprised that not one child talked about smart phones, game boys or the internet.”

Children also told us they wanted to spend more time with their parents.

—Deborah Kilcollins, Brand Manager for Big Five Tours & Expeditions

At the Kids Council meeting this fall, the kids will be asked to develop their idea of a perfect 10-day vacation while focusing on their interests and not a specific destination including what activities they would like, how much they want to do in a day, and what they don’t want to do, etc. Big Five Tours & Expeditions will then match up their answers with specific destinations and come up with one or two that fulfill the kids’ needs. These will become the first new Kids Council Approved programs that will be online within the first quarter of 2019.

Big Five Tours & Expeditions
A family enjoys time on the beach together.

Use the DNA for Kids Page to Inspire Vacations
Inspired by the Kids Council meeting, the new DNA for Kids webpage is geared for kids to tell their families how they like to travel. The page can be found on Big Five Tours & Expeditions’ satellite website yourtraveldna.com, which will help travelers choose the best destinations to explore based on their interests and travel style. The DNA for Kids page offers a series of statements to check off such as: “My idea of a perfect day is doing the things I like without having to wait,” to “I love to eat and I’ll eat anything, even a crocodile.” The kids’ personal preferences can be e-mailed to their parents to help them in planning their family vacation.

According to Kilcollins, parents can use the Yourtraveldna.com site to help them figure out what they want to do and see during their vacations, too. “Both the parents and the children can take their versions of the DNA test.  There are times when travelers may know they want to get away but don’t really know where.  Yourtraveldna.com  is a simple tool that can explore each traveler’s interests—are they an Adrenalin Seeker, Foodie, Star Gazer, etc. The results are a list of destinations where their interests are represented,” she says.

Agents can take the test on behalf of their clients when they know what types of activities their clients are into if they know their client well, or even take it for them, adds Kilcollins. “The point is to determine what the client really wants and expects from a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. With this simple tool, you help them plan the journey that was meant for them instead of copying someone else’s trip. The same is true with the DNA for Kids. They have fewer questions but the results will bring up multiple destinations that fit their needs, which can then be printed out or e-mailed to the parents,” says Kilcollins.

And, if you want to involve the kids in the planning process with their parents, Kilcollings says, “Ask, don’t tell! The reason behind this process is really quite simple—to begin a conversation, a family dialogue that will help to broaden that beginning to encompass all family members. At Big Five, conference calls between your Big Five specialist, the travel advisor and the clients are always part of our process. Once that family has taken the DNA test, or if they already know where they want to travel, then parents can include the children in that conference call. I return to my first answer when I say the key is to include the kids in the conversation,” says Kilcollins.

For more information, visit bigfive.com. Think you’re the perfect family vacation designer? Then, don’t miss: “Help Wanted: Great Family Seeks Great Family Travel Advisor.” And, don’t forget to become a certified Family Travel Association certified travel agent, click here for more info.