The Gen Alpha Influence on Family Travel is Real

Jennifer McCarthy, Director of Industry Marketing, Expedia Group Media Solutions
January 23, 2020
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In celebration of National Plan for Vacation Day, we’re joining with the U.S. Travel Association to help spread the word about how Americans don’t use their vacation time; in the United States, 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018, and over half of Americans left vacation time on the table. But, if Americans plan for their vacations, then they end up taking time off. This year, National Plan for Vacation Day falls on January 28 and to mark the occasion we’re highlighting the vacationing styles of some of the leaders at Expedia Group Media Solutions.

This post from Director of Industry Marketing, Jennifer McCarthy, explores how her family—which includes a member of Generation Alpha—plans their vacations.

Many of us with young children—aka Generation Alphas (born after 2010)—often know when we can travel because we are tied to school break schedules. Look no further than the airports, the water parks, and the ski slopes to see that family trips are generally happening during similar windows of time and that families—on a global scale—are frequent travelers. And it’s not just timing that kids influence. Many aspects of the trip, from what type of accommodation we book, to the activities we participate in, are influenced by all members of the family.

But surprisingly few of us know where we want to go when we start planning. As it turns out, according to our global study by Northstar Research Partners of family travelers with Gen Alphas, 70 percent of us haven’t decided on a destination when we start to explore and book our next trip. And our family is no exception to the rule; we love to talk travel in our house. And we look for trip inspiration everywhere: from the recommendations of our friends and family, to online searches and posts on social media, to our kids—who are often well informed on where, how, and when to travel. Travel ideas come from all members of the family, even the youngest.

Our family tends to take two or so trips a year, typically around our son’s spring and summer school breaks. And it turns out that—according to our study—our habits are similar to the typical behaviors of global families. Taking two lengthier family trips per year requires planning! Sitting down to plan helps us make sure we don’t leave vacation days on the table like so many Americans do. It also means that we use those vacation days for experiences that will help us build lasting, family memories. Nothing beats travel for that, and according to U.S. Travel, Americans who go to the effort of planning their vacations time are much more likely to use their time off. U.S. Travel makes planning easy with their Vacation Planning Tool.

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My family spent some time over the winter holidays planning our 2020 vacations, and our eight-year-old son expressed his many ideas and opinions. Like most families with Gen Alpha, he definitely influences our travel plans. One night after dinner we started talking, as a family, including my parents and our son, about National Parks in the U.S. we wanted to visit, and where we could drive to easily in mid-April over spring break. We decided on a scenic road trip from Seattle down the Oregon coast on Highway 101 to the Redwood Forest. We are excited to explore the beaches, eat ice cream in the coastal towns, and hike among the forest giants as a family.

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When it comes to accommodations, my husband and I are similar to so many other families with Gen Alpha kids. Unlike our kid-free days, our first priority is now convenience. Gone are the days of hopping on a plane or into a car with only a backpack. Even when we try to be reasonable about how much stuff we need for a trip, somehow the car is always bursting to capacity. So, getting all of us, and all of our stuff, from point A to B (and sometimes C and D), in the quickest, easiest, and even most painless (a girl can dream) way possible is so appreciated. That is why when we consider booking a hotel, we often look at whether they offer shuttles and other ways of making transportation easy.

Activities are key for Generation Alpha and their families—and for us, that is not just because we want to keep our son entertained. My husband and I also want to have fun things to do on vacation. We’ve all heard that the experience sector is booming and our family is definitely contributing to the boom. Destinations, hotels, resorts, and others who highlight activities and experiences for the whole family influence me, my husband, and our son, and help make the decision to book a no-brainier for all of us.

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But don’t just take it from me. Check out our research on how global families with Gen Alphas plan their travels, and how marketers—from tour operators to hotels marketing managers—can find new ways to appeal to us family travelers. After all, we are only going to explore more as our families grow.

Picture of Jennifer McCarthy, Director of Industry Marketing, Expedia Group Media Solutions
Jennifer McCarthy
Director of Industry Marketing, Expedia Group Media Solutions
Jennifer McCarthy is the global director of Industry Marketing, responsible for driving awareness in the marketplace of Expedia Group Media Solutions through press, influencer, speaking, content, branding and social programs. With more than 15 years of experience, she leads the global team in managing and bringing to market custom research projects and content, and communicating innovative campaigns, which have resulted in travel and marketing industry coverage, recognition and accolades. Before joining Expedia Group Media Solutions in 2015, for five years Jennifer led the Waggener Edstrom (WE) agency teams in Seattle driving the technology and digital marketing industry PR for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Advertising. Prior to that, she managed teams at leading PR agencies in New York focused on award-winning technology and corporate communications programs for key Fortune 500 brands. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound, and lives in Seattle with her family and feisty terrier.
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