ATM 2015 puts a spotlight on family travel

ATM (Arabian Travel Market) has enjoyed huge success so far this week, welcoming over 2700 exhibiting companies for its 22nd annual edition.

YouGov took it as an opportunity to reveal new data on MENA family travel trends as an in-depth study highlights a preference for destinations with theme-park activities, shopping and child-friendly environment. Findings from the latest Family Travel study show that 64 per cent of the 2000-plus MENA-based survey respondents travelled with their children in the last 12 months, and almost two-thirds (62 per cent) prefer online booking channels.

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 (zero to 12 years) tend to travel more often than those with 13- to 18-year-olds, often taking three or more trips annually.

Recommendations were also crucial factors in the decision-making process with feedback from family/friends the major influencer versus traveller reviews with 50 per cent 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 zero- to 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 Scott Booth, Research Director & Head of Travel, Tourism and Leisure for YouGov ME.

“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 per cent) with 29 per cent of survey respondents looking specifically for city centre locations and the availability of family suites/villas most important for parents of 13- to 18-year-olds with 17 per cent 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 zero- 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- to 18-year-olds) wanted all-inclusive options, decent flight times and access to shopping.

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