On the road with their brood – outbound

Family travel is becoming more online-savvy, multigenerational, adventurous, exploratory, yet safety-conscious, a poll of outbound agents in Asia-Pacific

Sue Henderson, product and crisis communications manager,  Flight Centre Travel Group
Australian families nowadays tend to combine relaxation/resort travel with soft adventure.
The ‘flop and drop’ beach holiday is still popular, but many families are opting to combine this with more adventurous and cultural activities. Vietnam is particularly popular for this at the moment, as it is a reasonably priced destination and there are numerous direct flight options out of Australia.

We also see extended families or a number of families travelling together. Larger family groups (or multiple families) are travelling together more often.

The popularity of villa and apartment style accommodation in places like Bali has increased as these customers like the idea of a home away from home. The accommodation is self contained which enables everyone to stay together and they have pools. Adults don’t have to leave the poolside to put down the kids down for nap.

As well, we are seeing more requests from families for escorted adventure tours to countries like Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and India. Parents also see these as great educational opportunities for their kids and appreciate the value of expert guides who help to showcase the best attractions. An escorted tour also removes the challenge of arranging their own transport when travelling with children.

Alex Lee, general manager, Miramar Travel Service
Overall, the frequency of family travel has increased, from one to twice per year. Top destinations include countries in South-east Asia and South Korea, due to Korean TV shows and affordable cosmetic shopping.

Meanwhile, families with higher spending power opt for Dubai – which is trending for 2018 – because of the availability of a ski venue, water sports, as well as 4WD desert tours.
Though cruise holidays have been aggressively promoted, it still can’t win over family travellers who prefer to travel by air, as cruises are not as frequent as air flights.

Another trend is that family groups are also requesting more free time – to go where they want to go and do what they want to do – on tour programmes. It’s a must and there must be at least one to two such days or they won’t consider joining the package tour.

Nishant Pitti, CEO & co-founder, EaseMyTrip.com
Indian families are taking more multigenerational trips, especially tours with grandchildren, to explore new destinations.

We are also seeing a boost in the number of adventure trips. These are very popular among Indian families, where millennials usually affect the travel decisions the most. These families usually avoid going to a destination which has political unrest or tension.

Rejuvenation has also become an important aspect for Indian families when deciding on a destination, hence resorts that offer detox or wellness are rising in popularity.

Popular destinations for Indian families include Morocco, Oman, Jordan, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam and Seychelles.

Yusuke Asami, manager, outbound travel marketing and strategy department, JTB Corp
Japanese families are pretty predictable and we saw strong demand for Hawaii again this summer. To be honest, it has been like this for a long time and I do not expect this to ever change.

Typically they go for four or five days and do things together as a family, whether it be sightseeing, shopping, relaxing on the beach or eating out. For Japanese families, the most important thing is to make happy memories together.

A new trend we see emerging this year is that some travellers want to do things they have never done before, but they don’t want to be too adventurous or to spend too much money. That has coincided with a sharp increase in the number of cruises that are available around Japan, so families are taking cruises to other parts of Japan, as well as to South Korea and Taiwan. We see this as the start of a new wave, especially if prices remain reasonable.

Meanwhile, longhaul holidays are not really an option for Japanese families, primarily because of the cost, and the amount of holiday time that most Japanese working people do not have.

In the past, Guam and Saipan used to be very popular – they have good hotels and beaches, and it is only a couple of hours flight from Japan – but prices have risen steeply in the last couple of years. People who might have gone to Micronesia in the past, are now going to Okinawa instead.

Adam Kamal, CEO, Olympik Holidays
There is a growing trend of Malaysians booking their seats online to save costs. In the past, the older generation of travellers used to come to us for flight bookings. But we have seen their numbers reduce over the last three years, and now they only buy ground packages (hotels and tours) from us.

There is also a growing trend where clients come to us with their own itinerary. This is especially common among millennial parents with children. They have done their research online and know which places they want to visit while on holiday, and just require us to arrange transfers and a guide. However, the older generation of travellers remain content to follow our group series departures with fixed itineraries.

There is also a growing trend where young families with children tend to go on holidays with close friends who also have children. This is so that costs on private tours can be shared.

Visiting South-east Asian countries are most popular among the middle income group of travellers, where holidays are usually short stays with a minimum of three nights. Popular destinations are Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok and Bandung for shopping, Batam for resort stays, and Lombok and Phuket for the beach.

Lyn Galon, consultant, Scorpio Travel
Outbound family travel this year is a bit weak compared with the surge in 2014 and 2015.
Japan remains a strong destination – though expensive, it is perceived to be safe. There have been many enquiries about Australia, New Zealand and the Holy Land as well.
Families usually look for destinations with theme parks, not so much for beaches as we have many in the Philippines.

Multigenerational travel is common, usually with a complete family (parents and kid/infants), and an uncle or aunt thrown in. Average group sizes are usually about seven to nine pax.

William Loh, operation manager, Farmosa Holiday Tour
Cruises and FlyCruise packages are on the rise with families, especially multigenerational ones.

For example, bookings for sailings in February 2018 started pouring in from February 2017. It’s a very hot market now. Singaporeans like new experiences, and cruises are fresh. Younger couples stick to shorter sailings around the region, while older generations are open to longer cruises.

A self-drive holiday in Australia is also popular, especially among young families who prefer to travel at their own pace. Flights to Australia are getting more affordable as well, contributing to its popularity. Interest is spread evenly across Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney and the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

For year-end winter destinations, South Korea is a shining destination as it’s one of the most affordable winter countries with ski resorts, especially for families who have never seen snow or skied before.

Mongkol Thitawannoned, manager, Miracle Time Travel
This year, Thai family travel usually comprises a few generations, and they like cheap tours (up to 20,000 baht [US$602] per person), and usually choose Asian countries. This trend will probably continue into 2018.

Hot destinations for such families include Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Japan is the top destination for Thai travellers as they perceive the country to have everything – good weather, good food, interesting tourist attractions, and it is also a perfect place for shopping.

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