Attendees at the recent Family Travel Conference reveal that hotels and cruise lines must try harder to meet family travelers' needs for a stress-free, healthy and engaged vacation.
(Media only, New York, Feb 9, 2012) – At the Inaugural Family Travel Conference co-hosted by Family Travel Forum, the global family vacation planning resource, 40 family travel professionals surveyed declared that restaurants, hotels and cruise lines need to improve their children's menus to make them tastier as well as healthier.
"There are only so many chicken fingers a kid can eat," one conference attendee said.
Well over 100 million trips annually now include children and an estimated 1.3 million children cruise each year. The Family Travel Conference drew attendees from all over the United States to New York City, which welcomed over 14.3 million family visitors in one year, contributing $12.3 billion to the NYC economy.
The group of noted family travel writers, bloggers and TV personalities, many of them parents, met at the Omni Berkshire Place, February 3-4, 2012 to share best practices and discuss ways that the travel industry can better meet today's traveling families' needs. Key findings include:
— Hotels should follow cruise lines kids' programs to offer more activities for teens and tweens instead of focusing only on children ages 4-12.
— Resorts should increase enrollment by eliminating fees ($50+) for kids' clubs and presenting enrichment programs rather than babysitting. Courtesy of Atlantis Resorts, the conference attendees and children were shown a fun, cooking demonstration at Virgil's BBQ restaurant, as a model of engaging, interactive programs.
— Frequent traveling families also want more activities for families to do together. "And have a kids' concierge who knows where to go and what's affordable," one travel professional suggested.
— Stop charging for Wi-Fi; conference participants were unanimous in their disapproval of petty recurring charges in all segments of the travel industry.
"This was a unique opportunity to learn from and engage with expert travelers who can help us create memorable experiences for families," said Omni Hotels executive Caryn Kboudi, VP Corporate Communications Omni Hotels & Resorts. Omni was one of the conference's major sponsors.
The group of noted family professionals made it clear that despite the economy, families put a priority on travel. The vast majority of attendees said they plan to fly on their next vacation despite the cost and the stress: as one blogger noted, "flying is the least family friendly option."
Among destinations, Australia, Belize, Hong Kong and Mexico City are on the writers' To See and Do lists for 2012. Domestic US destinations include Orlando — the most visited city in the country with over 53 million visitors last year — and the great outdoors in Yellowstone National Park and Arizona.
The two-day conference was organized by Family Travel Consulting, comprised of Eileen Ogintz, syndicated columnist and creator of TakingTheKids; Kyle McCarthy of Family Travel Forum, and Kim Orlando, founder of TravelingMom.com. JoAnne Vero, who produces Travel Media Showcase every year, partnered with the three family travel leaders to produce this event.
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For more information on survey results and interviews, please contact:
Eileen Ogintz, 203-227-9180/cell 203-984-1866 / email@example.com
Joanne Vero 877-868-9501/ cell 732-904-8662 / Joanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
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