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A few years ago, right after the Arab Spring in Egypt, I was talking to the president of a major tour operator that had a large operation in the country. He told me about how his company had chartered its own plane to get groups out of Egypt, even while other travelers were stranded at the airport, hoping to get on a flight.
“Talk about a commercial for the benefits of traveling with a tour operator,” he said. “Standing there, watching our groups board a plane and fly to safety. Sometimes chaos and complications are great for business. It reminds consumers why they need expert help.”
I’ve seen this statement play out in various forms over the years, and I think it’s especially true when it comes to family travel, which can be complicated and stressful even in the best of circumstances. All it takes is one disastrous trip — even after hours spent planning — to convince parents of the value of expert assistance.
In this issue, we have a special section devoted to theme parks, which have evolved to the point where even savvy parents should realize they need some help. A theme park is not the straightforward concept it was a generation ago. These days, there are so many special programs, hotel options and unique experiences available that some resorts have inspired whole books devoted to insider tips. Whether it’s going behind the scenes with a master builder at Legoland, or getting a reservation at SeaWorld’s all-inclusive Discovery Cove, families nowadays don’t just “go” to a theme park — they “do” a theme park. Agents can be a great help in doing a park the right way.
If you have clients that are looking for something a bit more exotic this summer, in this issue’s cover story, “Away We Go” (page 14), family travel agents and experts share other ideas for great family vacations. And in other stories in this issue, we focus on Hawaii, Costa Rica, cruising, cycling tours and more.
Regardless of the type of trip, a key to attracting more family business is not only letting parents know about their travel options, but also pointing out how much easier and less complicated their lives can be if they just reach out for help. Get this marketing message out today, and there’s still time to reap the rewards this summer.
After all, family travel may be complicated and chaotic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing — for you.