The beauty of togetherness

Families continue to be an important contributor to travel recovery this year, with demand fuelled by greater travel ease and weakened Covid fears

Family reunions through overseas vacations were a common sight as Covid-19 fears waned, isolation ended and international borders progressively reopened to travellers throughout 2022. This trend looks set to stay, with travel and tourism companies describing family travel as a growing and promising segment.

According to Agoda’s Family Travel Trend survey 2022, conducted in partnership with YouGov and released in December 2022, four out of five travellers will take a vacation with their immediate family in the next 12 months.

Four out of five travellers will take a vacation with their immediate family in the next 12 months, finds Agoda and YouGov study

The survey polled 10,000 travellers aged 18 and above from across Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, and the US.

While travelling with friends proves more popular than travelling with extended family, 52 per cent are keen to catch up with relatives on their vacation.

Travellers from Singapore (61 per cent), Taiwan (61 per cent) and Vietnam (59 per cent) are most likely to take at least one trip with immediate family, while the Philippines (47 per cent), Indonesia (40 per cent) and Malaysia (35 per cent) are most likely to plan two or more family jaunts in the coming year.

Family groups have featured strongly throughout 2022 for The Lux Collective’s portfolio of properties across Mauritius and Reunion Island, the Maldives and China, with Asian groups typically drawn to Lux* South Ari Atoll. In China, Lux* Chongzuo in Guangxi and the seven Lux* Tea Horse Road resorts in Yunnan are still attracting the domestic crowd since international travel access had only just eased in February.

The company’s CEO, Paul Jones, said this segment is lucrative, as it typically consists of five to six people per group across two to three generations; families prefer villas or interconnected rooms/suites that offer ample space for everyone, and they stay for six nights on average; family groups also gladly splurge on F&B, spa and group activities within the hotel or resort, observed Jones.

Amenities such as pools, kids’ clubs and family-friendly activities also score well with such multi-generational travel groups.

Family travel “continues to drive increased occupancy” this year, said Jones.

“We see a strong demand for family-friendly accommodation and experiences, as families prioritise quality time travelling together and creating memorable experiences post-Covid,” he said.

Family bookings are on the rise too at Radisson Hotel Group’s resorts. Andre de Jong, area senior vice president, South East Asia and Pacific, told TTG Asia that the Radisson Blu Resort Maldives, for instance, has seen “significant pickup in bookings of the family villa room type”.

The preference for spacious accommodations is not only driven by the need for comfort but also by the desire for more privacy and quality family time.

“We foresee demand continuing to increase with the return of multi-generational travel, thanks to the reopening of the Chinese market. Additionally, we are seeing positive trends in the Australian and European markets, especially during the school holidays,” said de Jong.

He pointed out that “families are increasingly travelling together for leisure and are willing to spend more on accommodation and activities”.

Shared wanderlust is benefitting tour operators too. Nick Lim, Asia CEO at The Travel Corporation (TTC), noted that whole family trips are on the rise for his brands since the resumption of travel, peaking during the school holidays.

Lim said improving ease of travel and greater confidence in vaccine efficacy for children and teenagers have helped to grow the appetite for travel among families. While there are still months to go before the November and December school holidays, families have booked up Trafalgar and Uniworld’s Christmas itineraries.

Escorted tours work great for families, as “(they) can sit back, relax and not worry about planning, safety or the complexity of coordinating transportation”, opined Lim.

He observed that family groups travelling with TTC brands are “worldly and often curious about the history, culture and the way of life of local people”, and they prefer “local, authentic experiences that connect them to their destination”.

“Tours with TTC are enriching for the entire family because children are exposed to the culture of the destination and of their fellow travellers from all over the world. Guests walk away from the destination with more than what history books can teach them,” he said.

A family visiting Italy can participate in Trafalgar’s Gladiators, Gondolas and Gold itinerary, where they will experience life as a gladiator at a Gladiator School in Rome

Family lures
Hoteliers say families from different geographical markets have specific holiday preferences.

Jones noted that European families typically seek out enriching programmes at kids’ club for the little ones, while the adults go for spa, watersports and cooking/pastry classes on their own.

De Jong said US and European families prefer off-site or outdoor activities that allow children to explore and discover the destination and immerse in local culture.

As for the Asian market, both Jones and de Jong agree that families tended to value time spent together.

“It is important to understand the different preferences of families from different markets that will enable them to reconnect with loved ones and create memorable moments together. By tailoring our offerings to cater to these preferences, we can ensure that families have a memorable and enjoyable vacation experience,” said de Jong.

That said, de Jong emphasised that “certain basics” remain for engaging families. Radisson Hotel Group’s family programme, Rad Family, is designed to enable families to create memorable moments together, no matter which property they are spending time at. F&B is an integral part of the programme, where hearty and healthy kid-friendly meals contribute to the complete vacation experience.

Launched in 2019, Rad Family is being rolled out progressively across hotels and resorts in the South-east Asia and Pacific regions. Pilot programmes are in the works for Radisson Blu Phu Quoc Resort in Vietnam and the soon-to-open Radisson Collection Resort Galle in Sri Lanka.

Over at The Lux Collective, collaboration with external partners ensures activity-packed vacations for its guests. A variety of family experiences are brought in throughout the year, such as Expert-led Workshops conducted by professional trainers and collaborators to deliver a mix of education and entertainment for everyone in the family.

Placing further emphasis on quality guest experiences, the company’s flagship brand Lux* recently unveiled a new Life Extraordinary campaign, through which breathtaking adventures, such as swimming alongside the whale sharks as a family, are curated under the banner, Extraordinary Experiences. These add to Lux* resorts’ signature onsite offerings, from tailor-made Lux* ME Spa and wellness sessions to unique guest activities like junk art galleries and film screenings on the beach.

Jones said all properties under the group are designed with families in mind. Interconnecting rooms are available in Lux* Le Morne, Lux* Grand Gaube, Lux* Belle Mare, and Lux* South Ari Atoll, while the Play kids club in all properties offers programmes for the young ones as well as for everyone in the family.

Differences in holiday preferences are also seen through tour choices. Lim noted that different TTC brands attract families with different priorities. For example, families that seek value and choice of experiences tend to pick Costsaver tours, while those that crave enriching experiences tend to gravitate towards Trafalgar tours.

That said, family group bookings are especially strong with Trafalgar.

“Trafalgar has the most comprehensive list of itineraries and experiences of all tour brands, with over 300-plus tours in our arsenal,” said Lim.

This year, Asian families keen to discover Europe can bookmark Trafalgar’s eight-day Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The tour calls at magical market stalls and spotlights old-world traditions, local craftsmanship and mesmerising city backdrops.

For families looking to customise their experience, Costsaver’s seven-day Jewels of Italy shines.The tour uncovers centuries of tradition, heritage, and culture, while visiting iconic landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Young adults who are looking to treat their parents to a premium holiday can consider the nine-day Best of Britain tour from Insight Vacations. Traversing Scotland, Wales and England, families visit the most magnificent sights in the UK, including Edinburgh Castle, Stonehenge and the English Lake District.

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