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Chapter 5: Family Travel Spotlight

Hotels Evolve to Meet the Needs of Evergreen Family Vacationers

Family travel is here to stay and hotels can do nothing but keep up with these evergreen travelers. Whether traveling with grandparents, infants, college students or teenagers, families average 4.5 trips per year. With so many options, families are getting picky. Why stay at a hotel that doesn't offer free childcare services when they can stay at a hotel that does? At a recent TMS Family Travel Summit, travel leaders came together to determine the top trends of family travelers. Ultimately, families are on a mission to find the perfect vacation and hotels are catering to their every need.

*Top Five Family Travel Needs:

1. Family travelers are value-conscious

Some Hyatt Hotels offer 50% off a second room and free breakfast for families. This is the kind of deal families are looking for when staking six different travel websites, on average*. A deal can be found for families in places like the Hyatt Palm Springs which costs only **$80 per night in one of the most expensive cities in America. Grand Palladium all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic always have a special for children: The first child stays free and the second stays at 50% off.

Deal Lookout

Busy families can find deals on-the-go using a mobile app.

2. Families travel to make memories

A very important aspect of family travel is to make memories along the way. Seventy percent of families have taken vacations in the past year, to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and graduations*. A number of hotels are creating ways to store these memories for years to come. For starters, Vail Resorts offers services to make sure vacationers don't miss a chance to preserve special moments. The resorts offer an online photo-sharing and saving program called EpicMix. It allows families to have fun on the ski slopes while professional photographers take photos that vacationers can view later. The program allows families to stash memories while saving time.

3. Families want children to stay healthy and safe while traveling

Loews Hotels of California offers Precious Plates - a regular menu for children but with half the cost and smaller portions. At Ritz hotels, parents can call early and request outlet covers, a tub spout cover and first aid kit as part of the Protect Our Little Ones program. JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts offers menus for three young age groups.

4. Families want fun for kids and parents too

Grand Palladium Bávaro Resort & Spa opened the largest kids club in the Caribbean. Created in the theme of "Pirates of the Caribbean," the facilities include the "Fort Fiesta" Mini Club which has a pool, zip-line, game area and playground. Babysitting services are available to allow parents the enjoyment of a romantic date. Teenagers and young adults have their own club with a full sports and entertainment program. Barcelo Los Cabos Palace Deluxe All Inclusive has areas specifically for adults and for families. Mom and Dad can get away while the kids join in on supervised activities with their own age groups. The whole family can meet up in their suite later and experience the swim-up bar right out their window! While Disney World is still a popular family vacation spot, another option is staying off of the resort, possibly choosing a place quieter for Mom and Dad, but within close proximity to all of the parks. Vacation rentals or condos are a great place to stay to suit everyone's needs in a large family setting. American Vacation Homes in Orlando do a great job of just that, with houses in the more adult Disney District® but surrounded by all the famous amusement parks.

Family Travel Trends

Staycations are a popular vacationing method for families.

5. Families still love staycations

With so many people to coordinate, family vacation wishes can be easily met with staycations. These vacations are no more than 50 miles from home, but the decrease in travel time provides more valuable family time. Scottsdale Arizona's Hotel Valley Ho has been a part of Arizona's staycation craze, offering spa credits, free desserts and free drinks. Many families who live near large cities like Chicago have yet to experience their own area like a tourist. InterContinental Magnificent Mile in Chicago supports this idea with the "Steakcation" package, which includes $100 to dine at the Michael Jordan Steakhouse inside the hotel. Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade provides a comfortable setting for families with a room especially created for the kids and adjoining room for their parents. Colorful bedding, beanbag chairs, an art table, board games, books, cozy bath robes, bath accessories and a complimentary Kids' Sensation Bar filled with toys, trinkets and snacks makes this hotel feel like home.

*According to TMS Family Travel Summit.

**Based on prices from August 2013.