When was the last time you directly qualified children during a family vacation consult? If you can’t remember or if this isn’t part of your normal workflow, then you’re missing some big opportunities.
In a recent survey, adults were asked, “Who gives you information or inspiration for where you go and what you do on vacation?” 52 percent answered their children!
This survey was part of the U.S. Family Travel Survey 2017 conducted by NYU School of Professional Studies Tisch School of Hospitality and the Family Travel Association. The 2017 Kidpinion Travel Survey reports that 13 percent of parents said their kids make the family’s final vacation purchase decision.
This data suggests it’s important for agents to recognize the power and influence children have when it comes to family vacation purchases. With parental permission, including the kids in qualifying consultations can be empowering for children and enlightening for adults.
Creative thinking agents realize how fun planning and vacation anticipation can be for every member of a family. Many agents consider an initial consultation as one of many tasks in their never-ending day. Taking the time to chat with a child will energize your own thoughts while giving you an entirely new perspective on your business.
- Speak with parents initially to determine important criteria like children’s ages, travel dates and budget. Then suggest scheduling a 15- to 20-minute video chat or meet up with the entire family.
- Kids love the idea of connecting with a virtual pizza or doughnut party for a bit more fun.
- Prepare and ask age-appropriate travel questions for every member of the family. Also, be prepared for some interesting questions from younger kids who may not have much travel experience.
- Agents must, be prepared to referee by having some suggestions for compromise. For example, if one family member doesn’t get their choice of destination then perhaps they can have their choice of activities to fill one of the family’s vacation days.
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Take plenty of notes about the children’s likes and dislikes for your database to reference when planning future travels. Just remember, growing kids are a moving target, you’ll need to re-qualify them at least once a year depending on how often they travel. Children can change their interests like changing a pair of socks. Instead of asking a closed ended question such as, “Do you still play soccer,” when re-qualifying you can ask, “So tell me what you’re into these days?”
Including children in family vacation planning demonstrates to parents that you are truly interested in the needs, enjoyment and experiences of their entire family. This type of attention is what builds long term business relationships and a long list of referrals. Taking the time to qualify children now is a future investment in the travel agent community. The kids you chat with today will be the ones purchasing travel on their own 10-15 years from now. Why not demonstrate to them the benefits of working with a caring, travel professional.
Don’t miss more tips from the Family Travel Association, such as Help Families Discover What’s Possible.
Recommend magazine has partnered with the Family Travel Association to bring you monthly columns to help travel agents sell family travel. This column was written by Sally Black, Chief of Travel Agent Initiative at Family Travel Association.