Booking a family vacation has its own set of challenges, says Richard D’Ambrosio, communications director, Family Travel Association. “The number one difference between booking a client like a couple or a group of friends, versus a family, is the multiple ages and interests that children can have in one family,” Jared Alster, v.p., marketing, Cox & Kings, The Americas, adds that, “It is important to understand the specific needs of the various ages traveling and what experiences will interest the kids at each age; i.e. special diet/food needs, car seat requirements and what sort of baby/child equipment parents will be traveling with. Knowing in general what the kid-friendly destinations are—for example, Peru, Costa Rica, Belize, and Western Europe, Japan, etc.—and what unique experiences in each of those destinations will keep them engaged” is also important, according to Alster.
D’Ambrosio adds that, “These differences can impact everyone’s satisfaction. All it takes is one grouchy child, unhappy with the activities and facilities, to ruin the vacation for everyone else. While some adults act like children, children are children, and you cannot expect them to ‘just deal with it,’ if they’re not interested in most of what everyone else is doing.”
He adds that, “Another important difference is the complexity that can come with small children. Different all-inclusives and cruise ships have different policies for caring for children of young ages. There is nothing worse for a parent than to show up on the first day of vacation and find that the resort or ship is geared towards children a few years older than yours, or that a toddler is too young for the daycare center, and mom and dad won’t get to sit by the pool when they want to.”
“Agents should understand that, depending on the ages of the children, they can be active planners in a family vacation,” points out Alster. “Often, it’s the kids who do the research online and then make suggestions to their parents. So there might be additional competing priorities verses when planning a couple’s journey, for example.”
Agents who understand their clients’ intimately, and can match their families’ interests with destinations and experiences can really drive client satisfaction and retention.
— Richard D’Ambrosio, Communications Director, Family Travel Association
“It really is all in your qualifying questions, and managing your customer relationship management database,” says D’Ambrosio. “When you know the ages of your client’s children, their hobbies, sports, interests, you can propose vacation types that match those interests as their children grow up, you’re creating such value for parents who are already struggling to keep up with everything at home, school and work. For example, knowing that mom and dad need some down time, but their active kids need to be on the go most of the day to keep them happy, can help you narrow down the destinations and accommodations best suited for that family. You can try to track that in your human memory bank, but as your client list grows, outsource that to a good CRM, and then run reports to help you detect trends and target offers to the right family, at the right time.”
Joann Delgin, director, travel agency sales for Disney Destinations, suggests “for families traveling with children, we recommend travel professionals ask if there are kids of similar age already booked. That way, your client’s child knows they can make a new friend.”
She points out that “there is something for every guest when a family travels with Adventures by Disney. From Junior Adventure activities to adults-only events, every trip is designed with the family in mind. Adventures by Disney offers more than 30 adventures on six continents, so it’s important for the travel professional to find out what’s important to the client and what type of memories they want to create with their families.”
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