Throughout the pandemic, families have been separated from loved ones – and for longer than many would have ever predicted. As a result, once travel resumes full throttle, those separations may very well may translate into a boom for family and multigenerational vacations, much as it did in the aftermath of 9/11.
“Grandparents, especially those in their prime retirement years, have been sitting at home for about a year now – without the distractions of work or virtual schooling – so they are ready to go,” said Susie Chau of Carpe Diem Traveler. “They are also moving the biggest bucket list trips up their list because we all now recognize how precious the gift of travel is and how nothing is certain.”
She added, “Going forward, I think multi-gen family trips will continue to grow because we've all experienced the loss of quality time extended family members and therefore have a deeper desire to connect in a meaningful way. Family vacations are often the strongest childhood memories that kids have, so what better way to build memories than to travel together?”
On a similar note, Ryan Doncsecz of VIP Vacations said that since the onset of the pandemic “family members have lost out on many potential memories and experiences with their loved ones.”
As a result, “VIP has definitely started to see an uptick in terms of new destination weddings, multi-room family vacations, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and your everyday friends or social groups,” he said.
“For our groups traveling in the immediate future, we are still hearing a concern from some group elders,” Doncsecz said. “However, many remain consistent that when the vaccinated count increases and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations are reexamined, they will travel.”
Chau is witnessing a blossoming multigenerational trend for 2022. “My bookings for Ireland, Africa and the Caribbean are for multiple multi-gen families traveling together with Grandma and Grandpa – or even Great Grandma and Great Grandpa – leading the charge to gather the whole extended family together,” she said.
David Hartman of Fantastic Endeavors believes families will opt for vacations in North America and such closer-to-home destinations like the Caribbean and Mexico well into 2022.
“I expect the demand for villa vacations to increase as families save money on long haul airfare and invest savings into a longer stay in one house for the entire family,” he said.
Going forward, Laurence Pinckney of ZenBiz Travel said he thinks vacations to all-inclusive resorts, theme parks and villas, particularly in the U.S., will be hot sellers.
“I really believe when cruises come back they will be huge for the family and multigenerational markets.”
During the pandemic, Hartman has been booking family and multigenerational trips to Orlando theme parks and all-inclusive resorts in Mexico.
“Requests for Hawaii are finally showing an uptick,” he said “Demand for Europe land and river cruises is way down.”
Chau has planned domestic family as well vacations to the Dominican Republic, and Mexico during the pandemic. “Careful selection of accommodations that are handling COVID protocols particularly well is key to making people feel comfortable with travel,” she said.
All things considered, travel advisors are fairly confident that, at least by next year, travel – including the family and multigenerational segment– will begin to pick up significantly.
“Although nothing is ever guaranteed, booking for 2022 feels very comfortable for most people I’ve been talking with,” particularly for clients who were unable to celebrate milestone events due to the pandemic, Chau said.
“2022 is their year to celebrate it big and now is the time to plan. Trust me, calendars will start filling up fast once the vaccine rollout reaches the wider population and people are feeling confident about gathering again.”