One of the top travel trends in 2014 is multigenerational travel. Most tour companies report impressive increases in business in recent years from this niche market.
Classic Journeys has offered family travel packages since 2003, and that slice of the market accounts for 30 percent of total business, according to Sarah Thies, marketing and communications manager for the company.
“Sometimes, grandparents have already traveled to a destination and now want their adult children and their grandchildren to experience that same thing,” said Thies.
For some older family members, bringing kids and grandkids along completes an item on their bucket lists. On these trips, families often enjoy reunions, anniversaries and milestone birthdays.
“The three generations spend a week together bonding,” said Thies. “All details are taken care of. They just focus on fun.”
Thies recalled some grandparents visiting Costa Rica several times, each trip with a different child, son- or daughter-in-law and grandchildren in tow. Other popular multigenerational foreign trips are the Galapagos Islands, the Turquoise Coast (Turkish Riviera), Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Boomers are also having an impact on the multigenerational travel market. They may live quite some distance from grandchildren, so travel is a way to bridge the gap.
“Many boomers have moved into a lifestyle stage where they’re more active and affluent and are better educated” than past senior groups, said Sharon Bell, brand manager for Tauck Bridges. Tauck has seen double-digit increases in multigenerational business.
In the United States, national parks are a strong draw, and European destinations, especially Rome, all of Italy, London and Paris, are frequent bookings. Trips that involve wildlife, such as safaris, also appeal to multigenerational groups.
The experts suggest that travelers look for trips that offer great excursions but also sufficient free time to explore on their own.
Family river cruising (U.S. and foreign) is also seeing its share of multigenerational travelers. Travelers have to pack and unpack only once on a river cruise. Ships are smaller, with fewer passengers, and are more intimate than ocean cruises. There are often other families on board with whom to mingle.
The trick with multigenerational travel is keeping all ages happy and engaged during the trip.
“The value of working with a tour operator is that we have all these excursions with built-in transportation, accommodations and free time,” said Maria Fruci, public relations specialist for Collette. “But also, preread the suggested itineraries to make sure they have excursions that appeal to everyone. You want everyone to have a good time. You want variety,” said Fruci.
The Collette Family product line was developed especially to appeal to various family age groups. The different tour offerings strike a balance with activities that appeal to all generations, said Fruci.
Popular international family tours include Italy and Paris.
“It’s international travel, it’s Europe, and we have leisure time built in besides the planned excursions,” Fruci said. “In Paris, you see the Eiffel Tower, but there’s a whole free day, too.”
Out West, multigenerational families are enjoying Collette’s Wild West and Yellowstone Family Adventure and the Canadian Rockies tour. Bookings for both have increased 20 percent year over year, said Fruci.