YouGov has unveiled the results of its latest Family Travel study on the first day of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2015 with the findings showing that 64% of the 2,000-plus MENA based survey respondents travelled with their children in the last 12 months, and almost two-thirds (62%) prefer online booking channels.
Scott Booth, Research Director & Head of Travel, Tourism and Leisure for YouGov ME presented the research results as part of an interactive panel discussion on the first day of ATM 2015 under the theme ‘Family Travel Trends – global family travel patterns and how the Middle East can cash in on them’.
“Our research looked at how behaviour and preferences change when travelling with children, and with children of different ages, and this was a good springboard for discussion,” said Booth. Sponsored by Mexico, family travel is the Spotlight Theme for this year’s ATM and the research, which was based on outbound travel from the region, revealed that families are taking an average of two trips per year, and that those with younger children (0-12 years) tend to travel more often than those with 13 to 18-year-olds, taking three or more trips annually (32% of surveyed respondents). Top ranked reasons for family travel were visiting friends/family (29%), resort/beach holiday (25%), Eid holiday travel (17%), shopping (15%), nature holidays (14%), city breaks (11%), sightseeing (9%) and religious tourism (9%).
Recommendations were also crucial factors in the decision-making process with feedback from family/friends the major influencer versus traveller reviews with 50% relying on this for trip planning. Input from teenagers in the family is also exerting significantly more influence on booking decisions compared to families with 0-12 year olds, highlighting a need for teen-focused marketing and teen-friendly properties.
“In terms of destinations, the pattern is not drastically different from those travelling without family, with large concentrations of family travellers visiting the UAE and Europe,” said Booth. “Those who are married with or without children are more likely to have visited Egypt or India on their last leisure trip. Those married with children are more likely to have visited UAE on their last trip compared to those married without children,” he added, Accommodation preferences were topped by four or five-star hotels or friend/family homes (31%) with 29% of survey respondents looking specifically for city centre locations and the availability of family suites/villas most important for parents of 13-18 year olds with 17% choosing to stay in hotel apartments. Reasonable costs were also cited as an important consideration for family groups. Destination ‘checklists’ were different according to the age group, with families with 0-12 year olds seeking out locations with lots of activities on offer, theme parks and a good attitude to children, while those with older children (13-18 year olds) wanted all-inclusive options, decent flight times and access to shopping.
“We also found that 40% book less than one month in advance and 62% are choosing to book their trips online, although parents with teenagers in the family are still more likely to visit a travel agent,” noted Booth.
“This is the second important YouGov report on family travel following the March 2015 release of its luxury travel study which highlighted increasing demand from affluent families making travel a high-spend priority; and with families our Spotlight Theme for this year, the data that Scott and his team have shared is incredibly useful as both inbound and outbound travel professionals look to capitalise on this key growth market,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.
The panel of experienced travel sector specialists included Terry Kane, Head of Travel, Facebook MENA; Gillian McLornan, Gold Travel Counsellor, Travel Counsellors; Ailsa Pollard, Senior Vice President, dnata Travel; and Fredrik Reinisch, Regional General Manager UAE/Seychelles, JA Resorts & Hotels.