The shape of the family holiday is changing, with more and more grandparents heading for the sun for multi-generational holidays with their kids and grandkids.
The Baby Boomers are living longer and living better than any other generation before. They are a dream for travel marketing professionals.
They are fitter and more financially secure than their parents were. And, crucially, they are still up for a good time – and they want to share the fun times with their grandchildren.
These everyone’s-in breaks are particularly popular around “big” birthdays, with 60th and 70th birthdays being real favourites for “multi-generational holidays”, as they have been dubbed in tourism marketing circles.
About one in five Brits have been away with three generations in the past year. Families who’ve done it rave about the experience – it’s a real chance to spend quality time together without the stresses other big occasions such as Christmas can bring.
Cruises seem to work best for these big family groups and it’s easy to see why.
After all, modern cruise ships have everything you could ever want in one place, not just sun, sea and a swimming pool. There’s food, drink and entertainment on tap. And every morning brings a new destination.
Splash in the pool
There’s no time to get bored and it’s that variety that makes it so appealing. Grandma and Grandad can head off into the market at some Mediterranean hotspot while their school-age grandkids stay aboard ship to splash in the pool.
Or perhaps the grandparents need a day off the sightseeing, while everyone else checks out the latest destination. It’s a marvellous jigsaw holiday that keeps everyone happy – with guaranteed good weather, excellent entertainment and a great meal together every night.
And these ships are big enough to hide from everyone if some quiet time is required, although I’m not sure that’s part of their tourism marketing strategy, to be honest!
The other big favourite for multi-generational holidays is booking up a villa. Spain, France, Portugal and Florida are particularly popular destinations. It’s easy enough to book one online yourself but co-ordinating flights can be a bit tricky. Of course, a travel agent can take this burden off your hands.
And once you’re at your villa, the area’s yours to explore in your hire car. The real bonus is having a place entirely to yourself – with no overcrowded pool and no race to bag a sun lounger with your towel.
Of course, it has the flexibility of letting you choose to cook for yourself – who’s up for a barbie? – or eat out. A real home from home.
But it does seem like tour operators might be missing a trick when it comes to booking up for large family groups looking to stay in hotels. This is an area where hotel marketing could improve.
Big names on the high street
Thomas Cook, Tui, First Choice and Virgin Holidays are all big names on the high street with fantastic websites where you can sort out your sojourn in the sun yourself.
But if there’s more than nine in your group – that would be Grandma, Grandad, you, your other half, your kids, your brother and sister-in-law, your nephew…and your niece can’t get booked – it gets a bit more complicated.
So complicated, in fact, that you can’t be trusted to do it yourself ... the tour firm has to set everything up for you.
Now, when you’re dealing with two families with kids, anything that makes the process even a little more difficult is a bind. It’s hard enough for everyone to get the same dates off work.
And searching for a destination that pleases everyone can be a fraught experience, anyway. So not having that easy certainty that you can all get booked up together makes everyone edgy.
But as the shift to these big family holidays continues, you can be guaranteed travel agents and tour operators will be looking at how to make everything go smoothly.
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