Travel Cures All

I’m shown here with Kostas Sfaltos, general manager of One Aldwych in London, where we recently hosted a roundtable of the city’s top GMs. Watch this space for the findings from this esteemed group.
I’m shown here with Kostas Sfaltos, general manager of One Aldwych in London, where we recently hosted a roundtable of the city’s top GMs. Watch this space for the findings from this esteemed group.

A bit of a buzz was raised last month when a study revealed that parents who tell their kids they’re more special than others are breeding narcissistic behavior. And narcissists in the extreme grow up to do bad things to others, aside from just annoying their friends by constantly seeking praise or taking selfies in inappropriate settings.

The research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was based on 565 children in the Netherlands. They, along with their parents, were surveyed over 18 months.

The New York Post countered the findings with an article listing several ways to avoid the narcissist syndrome, which included sometimes telling your kids “no” instead of “yes” and making them take part in errands (think real world responsibilities) instead of constantly providing them with magical moments aimed at enchanting them.

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Traveling with your kids to show them that they don’t live in a bubble and that humanity is diverse was another solution to avoid nurturing narcissistic babies. It doesn’t have to be luxury or far-flung travel, in fact, any change of scenery would probably do the trick, said the article.

Most affluent travelers already know how valuable vacations are to their children’s emotional evolution, and you’ve likely crafted many an itinerary aimed at immersing the children on the trip into the culture of the place they’re visiting.

It’s vital travel advisors consider the children on these adventures not just because the parents want them to, but more and more often, it’s the kids who decide where a family will vacation. It might be based on where their friends are going or that their social media friends may live far, far away and require a visit. I just read an article in The New York Times that relayed how kids are fueling the decision process on where their parents will buy a Manhattan apartment. It’s not just about their wanting to live in the same posh building their schoolmate lives in — that doesn’t hurt. It’s also because they naturally go online to research any project that concerns their entire family. In some cases, the article said, kids have found better apartments online than the real estate broker, because they’d dug deeper or had looked at slightly higher price points. They’re also able to do the math; in one case, a child noted that pricing for one spectacular apartment was more than reasonable because the monthly maintenance was astronomical.

Bottom line? A 10-year-old today absolutely has an equal seat at the table for big family purchases. And that certainly includes travel. Before you find yourselves in the same shoes as the Manhattan real estate brokers in The New York Times article, proactively include the children of your clients in the travel-planning process. Give them a seat at the table, even if it’s a virtual one, if you sense they’re going to go off and do their own research. That sounds burdensome, I know, but you’ve got to preempt their running off to their friends to find out a travel advisor who will listen to them. It could happen.

By the way, if you look up some of the signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you may recognize some people you know. Some of the signs include having a grandiose sense of importance, believing that he or she is “special” and unique, having a very strong sense of entitlement and regularly showing arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Could it be that by providing luxury travelers with over-the-top experiences we’re instilling in them narcissistic tendencies? Some days, you just can’t win!

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