Editor's Letter: Ramp Up For Global Family Trips

If we thought we were in unique times a year ago or two years ago, we this April find ourselves emerging ever so carefully from the pandemic only to find that we’re in the midst of an aggressive war act on Ukraine. This is a tragedy we couldn’t have imagined seeing during our lifetimes. As the situation progresses the hope is that the travel industry will be able to assist more and more in the recovery. As I write this, several cruise lines have offered up their ships to house and care for those fleeing Ukraine. The hospitality industry is well poised to help even more since its basic purpose is to provide care and shelter to fellow humans.

It feels absolutely insensitive to say that we’re hearing that the luxury travel advisor business isn’t being affected dramatically by Putin’s war, because there is so much pent-up demand from seasoned clients to travel. As they say, it is what it is. As we suspected, as we emerge from COVID, even those who spent frugally in the past are now willing to pay up to get the dates and accommodations they want. Fortunately, luxury travel advisors for the most part are profiting from this strong sentiment to travel now and travel large.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Questex Travel and
Meetings Group

What other trends are emerging in 2022? American Express reports that family travel continues to grow; here’s one nugget: 70 percent of parents agree that in 2022, they are planning to take their first international trip with their children since prior to the pandemic. On top of that, 58 percent of respondents agree that they are more interested in multigenerational family trips than ever before.

This focus on bringing the kids, and the grandparents along on international trips will require special care from the travel advisor. Travel insurance is everything; aside from the fact that we live in odd times, people fall ill when it’s least convenient and those wonderful kids often get inflexible schedules for camp, internships or new jobs after nonrefundable travel has been booked. But most of all, with a wide variety of age groups on one itinerary, advisors will need to deal with multiple activities, room configurations and possibly a wide range of arrival and departure dates.

If you have a lot of families on your client list, ramp up now to deal with their unique needs. Find an assistant who loves details and has a lot of patience if you need to, or even give the virtual assistant concept a whirl if you’re game. Family travel requires strong focus and a mind that thinks logistically. Assume last-minute changes to itineraries will need to be made because you’ve got all sorts of players involved. 

Pay attention to the small details, too. If your client has little ones, suggest to the driver picking them up after their overnight flight that they have a lollipop or two with them to keep the cranky tears at a minimum on the way to the hotel. For those traveling with toddlers on a flight; recommend the client gets triangular crayons that won’t roll off the airplane tray. (Thank you to Melissa Pitruzzella Smith at Ciao Bambino for that one.) No one wants to get down on their hands and knees and look under an airplane seat for a sepia brown crayon at 2 a.m. on an international flight but that’s what parents have to do sometimes. Use your own practical knowledge to keep your traveling families happy; there’s a fine line between quietude and chaos when you’re traveling with kids in tow.

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