Children’s pester power has a major influence on where families go on holiday, according to research exclusive to Travel Weekly.


Almost 80% of 2,000 children surveyed in a YoungPoll survey commissioned by Teletext Holidays said their parents sometimes or always let them help choose the family holiday destination. Children surveyed were aged five to 15, with an average age of 10.


Of the respondents, 17% said their parents always let them help when they are deciding where to go on holiday, while 61.4% said their parents sometimes allowed them to help. But 21.6% said they had no say in the decision.


The findings suggest children are a critical advertising market for family holidays, said Teletext Holidays managing director Victoria Sanders. “It’s important the industry realises how much influence children have,” she said.


PR Week editor Danny Rogers said the travel industry could learn from other industries by marketing more effectively to children, but should avoid focusing advertising solely on youngsters because this could result in parents being manipulated into certain purchases. “Travel may be behind other industries, such as the car or film industry; Disney films are aimed equally at parents and children and advertise to both.”


Holiday companies said they recognised children’s needs but said pester power had negative connotations more relevant to confectionary or toys.


First Choice general manager of marketing Stuart Mayo said: “Other industries may work on pester power but I don’t think it’s relevant in our market. We recognise we need to talk to kids, but only through channels we feel are appropriate.”


He added: “Holidays are high-ticket items. While children might influence the decision, they are not going to generate the demand for the purchase as they would do for a toy.”


First Choice focused much of its advertising for summer 2009 on swimming pools and launched a Splash Collection of hotels with pools to attract the family market. In its Holiday Villages brochure it has redrawn standard graphics of resorts into a cartoon-style to target the whole family. But Mayo insisted: “We do not advertise directly to children.”


The Co-operative Travel Group distribution director Alistair Rowland said: “Of course children are involved in the holiday process. We would always do a campaign involving children if there are free child places. Equally, there are fewer families than non-families.”


The group markets through social media and online channels, but Rowland warned that the younger generation already wanted to transact online via mobile phones. “It’s about recognising new traits. Other industries have better mobile technology; travel is not staying ahead of the game. It’s not to say shops will become defunct, it just means they have to have a point of difference.”


For more on this research, click here and here.