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Heading out of town for spring break is an annual tradition for many families, but a new twist on this popular vacation is bringing friends and extended family along.
Vacatia, an online resort marketplace for vacationing families — along with family travel websites Traveling Mom and Traveling Dad — recently surveyed some 1,000 vacationers about their spring break plans.
The results? If you think it’s too late for clients to plan their 2018 spring break vacations, have no fear. According to the survey, only 22 percent of families booked a 2018 spring break trip before the end of 2017. About 30 percent of families say they make plans one to two months before a spring break trip, and 17 percent book within a week or two of departure. Basically, that means nearly half of your spring break-bound clients are probably just starting to think about where they want to go.
Another notable result of the survey is that, when it comes to spring break vacations, the definition of family has evolved to mean more than just parents and kids. While about 66 percent of families report that their spring break trip will involve only their immediate family, 8 percent note that grandparents will be included in their plans; 11 percent plan to bring adult kids (or other adult family members); and 5 percent of responders say they plan to also bring friends along.
And bigger groups require larger accommodations, which come with a heftier price tag. More than half of vacationers surveyed report that they expect accommodations to be their largest spring break vacation expense. However, Vacatia’s research shows that resort residence rentals frequently cost less than comparable quality adjoining hotel rooms. Plus, Mike Janes, chief marketing officer for Vacatia, points out that resort residences offer the space of a home with the services of a hotel, which makes them a great choice for mutigenerational travel.
Caroline Shin, CEO and co-founder of Vacatia, notes that guests are increasingly booking larger resort rentals or multiple resort residences to accommodate friends and extended family members.
“We call them ‘like family’ trips,” she said.
In response to this trend, Vacatia’s guest benefits program, "Family and Friends,” offers discounts when booking three or more resort residences. (Note: Vacatia works with travel agents on a client-by-client basis and is readying the launch of a travel agent commission program.)
Another exciting survey result is that 28 percent of travelers say they plan to visit a new destination. And 9 percent of responders also plan to explore nontraditional accommodations and stay somewhere other than a hotel (up from 6 percent in last year’s Vacatia survey). This willingness of travelers to try something new opens the door for advisors to suggest spring break trips that involve ecotourism, voluntourism or experiential travel.
Additionally, while 41 percent of families report that mom is the main family vacation planner, one-third of responders say their family's spring break planning is a group effort, with 8 percent noting that even kids get a say.
"We always recommend sharing the planning duties,” said Cindy Richards, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and editor-in-chief of Traveling Mom. "Coordinating everyone's schedules can be a challenge, but family time together is priceless. That always makes it worth the effort."
Here’s our travel agent guide to trips for large families.