Multigenerational Travelers Seek Travel Agents

Multigenerational travelers provide a significant sales opportunity for travel agents says Lindsey Ueberroth of Preferred Hotel Group By: Mindy Poder
Lindsey Ueberroth explains how multigenerational groups are a significant growing market for travel agents. // © 2012 Preferred Hotel Group
Lindsey Ueberroth explains how multigenerational groups are a significant growing market for travel agents. // © 2012 Preferred Hotel Group

The Details

Preferred Hotel Group

Multigenerational groups are traveling more than ever. Though these travelers are as tech-savvy as the traditional traveler, the logistics of a multigenerational trip drive many of these groups to travel agents. Knowing what these groups need and prefer as well as how to effectively reach and serve them is essential for agents looking to make the most of this sales opportunity.

Recently, the Preferred Hotel Group conducted an in-depth study about this market. Lindsey Ueberroth, president of Preferred Hotel Group, shares with TravelAge West what she learned and translates what the findings mean for travel agents.

How does Preferred Hotel Group define multigenerational travel?
According to the research conducted by Preferred Hotel Group, 40 percent of all active leisure travelers have taken at least one multigenerational trip, which is defined as a trip that consists of parties in three or more generations. So, in the previous 12 months, more than 20.8 million households/travelers in the U.S. alone have traveled together with their parents, grandparents or grandchildren.

What were the highlights of the report?
The multigenerational opportunity is more powerful than we had expected and has the potential for long-term growth in the travel industry. We found a potentially significant opportunity for traditional travel agents who understand and offer to serve the more complex travel needs of the multigenerational traveler. We also found that Europe is the favored destination for the multigenerational traveler.

How do these findings affect travel agents, and how can agents use this study to their advantage?
The study found that 19 percent of multigenerational travelers — nearly 4 million people — used a traditional travel agent for one or more trips in the 12-month period prior to the survey. This is good news for the travel agent. Multigenerational travel creates a challenging level of complexity in coordinating schedules, managing multiple departure points, booking additional if not adjoining rooms and more. For help navigating these logistics, travelers are increasingly enlisting the services of traditional travel agents. This is good news for agents who can provide the advice and logistical savvy needed to ensure satisfaction and value for multigenerational travelers.

Were any of the findings particularly surprising?
The multigenerational traveler is very savvy with technology and social media. They don’t just respond to electronic media — they act on it and contribute to it. We found the following measures surprising as they scored higher than those for non-multigenerational travelers:

• 23 percent have purchased a travel service as a result of receiving an unsolicited email “flash sale.”
• 37 percent have visited an online community forum or travel blog to seek information about destinations or travel suppliers. TripAdvisor is visited most often (60 percent).
• 17 percent have authored and posted content on a travel blog or community forum.
• 13 percent have made a decision about a travel service provider as a result of content they have seen on social sites.
• Many prefer to book travel services through online travel agencies (46 percent) and travel service suppliers’ own websites (43 percent).
• Multigenerational travelers look to friends and family (59 percent), television (55 percent), magazines (54 percent), newspapers (45 percent), destination websites (44 percent) and Internet search engines (44 percent) as sources of ideas and inspiration when planning travel.

How is Preferred Hotel Group marketing to the multigenerational market?
Preferred Hotel Group recognizes the importance of marketing directly to the multigenerational travel group. To that end, the company will launch several initiatives in 2012 aimed at this growing segment, including the promotion of a “milestone celebration offer.” In addition, consumers will be able to access innovative tools on the Preferred Hotel Group brand websites to book multiple rooms or to reserve special event facilities. Also, in 2012, Preferred will launch a new Preferred Family website that will include a multigenerational component. This section will provide valuable resources and offer advice on multigenerational travel and reunion planning.

How should agents market to this group?
Since the multigenerational traveler is as savvy with new media as any other traveler, it’s important that travel and hospitality industry marketers consider all online blogs, social media and related news services. Based on the research, attracting the multigenerational market is about emphasizing three key themes in all marketing communications:

Memories – Emphasize that the time we spend with our loved ones is the most precious and far more valuable than material luxuries.
Convenience – Emphasize that both the arrangements and trip itself will be pre-organized and hassle free, allowing the traveler to focus on relaxation and reconnection.
Value – Emphasize that traveling in large groups has benefits in both price and privileges.

What are some tips for agents booking milestone trips?
In order for agents to take advantage of multigenerational milestone trips, the leisure travel industry must create tailored product and marketing offers. Since the multigenerational/milestone travel party is typically a larger group, its members are looking for easy, turn-key vacations where agents provide value with the planning.

Are there any destinations or trips for 2012 that you believe will be especially popular for multigenerational groups?
With more than 50 percent of those surveyed expressing an interest in visiting ‘The Golden State,’ the California travel industry can capture this growth by creating tailored product and marketing offers. Because of their numbers, frequency of travel, and use of traditional travel agents, the multigenerational traveler presents a powerful opportunity for the California travel market. Additionally, 60 percent of multigenerational travelers expressed an interest in visiting Europe in the next two years.

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