Comment: Five trends that will shape family travel in 2024

Gary Pope, chief executive of marketing firm Kids Industries, identifies five key travel trends for 2024

In their 1999 seminal work The Experience Economy, authors Pine and Gilmore said: “In the new experience economy, companies must realise that they make memories, not goods.” Of course this has always been true in the travel industry and  there are few things more powerful than travelling to make memories for families.

But today it seems more important than ever. Memories that can, if nurtured, develop the kind of loyalty that makes customers that last a lifetime.

A few months ago we conducted our annual Global Family survey. The project takes in the hopes, fears, dreams, attitudes and ambitions of 5,000 families across ten countries. You’ll be interested to know that a staggering 81% of parents now consult with their children about their choice of holiday destination. But perhaps even more telling, is that 55% of families put their children’s opinions at the very heart of their decision making.

The rise and rise of Generation Alpha, as the most empowered and vocal generation to date, is well documented. Whether they are actually any different from previous generations is up for debate, but they are more connected and they know how to make their voices heard. Couple this with the broader trend in parenting to be more inclusive and it’s really easy to see why engaging the whole family in your product, offer or communications is increasingly important.

So, as part of the broader study we spent time talking to parents and children about what it is that they want from their time together and looking at the wider societal trends that might play a part in the direction of travel for the family. So, here’s our big five trends for 2024 and beyond…

1) Creating deeper connections: The rising importance of creating a memorable trip through hands-on fandom-focused experiences is a thing and it’s getting MUCH bigger. In fact, the Licensing Industry is devoting its entire Expo this autumn to Location Based Entertainment. What was once just the domain of Disney and Universal is increasingly becoming populated by smaller and more nimble intellectual property businesses all keen to stake their claim in the experience economy.

2) Set-Jetting (I can’t claim that nifty title but it is jolly good): Travelling to destinations that have been featured in well-known TV shows or films will be popular. We’ve seen a rise in this in 2023 as the binge-watch trend continues, providing inspiration to travel and show off some serious fandom. Places like Dubrovnik have really pulled in the tourists thanks to Games of Thrones but then that Barbie movie – you might have noticed – led to a sell out Airbnb destination and the preschool sensation Bluey has similar destinations available to hire in Oz.

3) X-Generational travel: On the ascent throughout this year as families sought out more opportunities to spend quality time together, strengthen their relationships, and create lasting memories. Factors such as the desire to share experiences across the generations as well as childcare responsibilities and budgets will continue this trend throughout 2024.

4) Transformational trips: This one is not going away and is going to keep on rising through 2024 and beyond. But this isn’t just for those wanting to find themselves on a yoga retreat. Families want to get closer to the world they live in. The whole family wants to find time to really immerse themselves in communities and cultures and enjoy authentic experiences.

5) The Power of Presence: As seen on Netflix’s ‘most watched’ category right now – Rich Holiday Poor Holiday programme – what families are coming to realise is that a holiday, regardless of spend, should be about enjoying quality time together. It’s often the simple pleasures and unexpected moments that provide a bank of lifetime memories, not the expensive meals or resorts.

How these trends manifest in your own offering and operations will of course be unique to your business, but if you want to ensure that you make the family wish list and are considered by the 81% of families who do actually listen to the kids, then you really do have to be doing it for the kids.

Specialist family marketing agency Kids Industries has developed customer experiences for the likes of Mark Warner, Tui, Thomas Cook and Royal Caribbean

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