Comment: Family holidays are changing

Gary Pope, chief executive of Kids Industries identifies four trends in the sector

Most families will be dreaming of a summer holiday. Whether we get one is an entirely different matter.

And if we do, what will it look like, where will it be, how much will we spend and how long will it last?

These are just some of the questions that agents must be asking daily, and something Kids Industries has attempted to answer in its new insight report, which looks at four trends likely to shape holidays in 2021 and 2022.

Following ministers’ cautions against Britons booking holidays abroad this summer despite the vaccination rollout, it looks like 2021 could be a year of two halves. The lack of travel corridors, the fact we’re all still in lockdown and legal requirements to have a negative test before and after travel and/or quarantining on your return, mean that, while it may not be illegal to book a holiday abroad right now – it feels all too complex to bother with for many families.

The good news for travel agents, however, is that the holidays we’re allowed versus the ones we’re dreaming of are two very different beasts.
Families are desperate to get out – we’ve been under multiple lockdowns now and the pandemic has been a daily ‘you only live once’ reminder to us all. One in five families are planning ‘the trip of a lifetime’, according to Abta, and half of Brits believe their next holiday will be ‘the most important of their lives’, Jet2holidays research has found.

So, what does that mean for providers? It means planning and offering dream holidays of a lifetime with exciting new experiences for the whole family as well as reimagined rest and relaxation – essentially taking the family destination holiday to the next level, and some.

This means a huge proportion of families who have always sat on a Spanish beach for two weeks will now be scrambling to find a domestic break. Many families will be heading to the British countryside, a source of nostalgia and happy memories for many parents.

According to Sykes Holiday Cottages, two thirds of parents claim the best holidays they’ve ever had were UK family staycations and, in 2020, 44% of Brits planned to return to a destination they visited as a child.

This goes hand in hand with the trend of exploring the great outdoors – which will see families desperate to get outside with walks in the countryside, beach visits, attractions and sightseeing. Getting outdoors has been proven time and time again to be a great way for families to connect and make memories as well as having an incredibly positive impact on our mental health. It’s also hugely beneficial for children’s development, which has suffered with home schooling, exam delays and a lack of socialisation.

The time is ripe to really tap into that nostalgia messaging through product and promotion, focus on the role holidays play in creating wonderful memories, which have been few and far between over the last 12 month.

Minications vs flexcations

Covid means a) we want frequent changes or scenery, and b) we’ve discovered we can work from anywhere. The result is a hankering for ‘minications’ and ‘flexcations’, which will have an impact the frequency and duration of our trips, and how we use accommodation options differently.

In 2020, 42% of Brits switched to taking several short breaks instead of a longer holiday, according to Travelodge, and this is likely to remain the case this year. ‘Minications’ are a more flexible option at a time when restrictions and rules are still changing weekly, and a cost-effective one given many of us are tightening our belts due to the impact of the pandemic on family incomes. These types of trips are often more spontaneous, so expect shorter lead times on bookings.

On the other end of the spectrum, we can expect to see a huge increase in ‘flexcations’ as families opt for a change of scenery by relocating for days, weeks or months. They will still be working – and their children homeschooling – but they will also be able to go for a dip in the sea in the morning or a walk for ice cream together after ‘school’. These families will have an entirely different set of needs and expectations from agents and accommodation providers, so now is the time to ensure they are being met.

So, 2021 is likely to be a year of two halves (maybe even 1/3 vs 2/3) – with the former at home and the latter seeing a surge in breaks abroad. With that in mind, there’s no better time to create dream holidays of a lifetime for families to book now and look forward to, to promote the Best of British and to provide flexible solutions to support our new travel needs.

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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