As a single father of three, I am becoming increasingly sensitive to the idea that my children are reaching the point where they will be taking fewer vacations with me, and I am gradually abdicating to them the opportunity to create family memories and discover the world.
My eldest is 22, and has a blossoming post-college career. I have a middle child who this September became a freshman at college. And my youngest, an adventurous explorer, is a high school sophomore.
I’m a prime candidate for a thoughtful professional travel advisor who could help me plan the next six-seven years of family travel, before all three are on their own. I’m not much different than the average American parent, something we at the Family Travel Association (FTA) understand through our work supporting and advocating for families, but also through quantitative research.
We just released the U.S. Family Travel Survey, the fourth edition of the annual study conducted by the FTA and New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality—and supported by Travel + Leisure magazine.
According to the survey, 20 percent of American families used a professional advisor in the last three years, mostly because they find agents have access to better rates, understand their unique wants and needs, and provide customer care throughout their trip. And they give agents a B+, the highest rating among travel suppliers, for their efforts.
I’m in the market for an A+ agent, for all three reasons. The primary parent for two of my three, I need “access to better rates and prices,” like 48 percent of the survey respondents who used a travel agent, because I need to make a limited budget go farther.
My family is traveling a lot now back and forth to my son’s college in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, so I also need an advisor’s “in-depth understanding” of the destinations between our Hudson Valley home and there, as well as some bucket list places the four of us want to visit (like 41 percent of the survey’s agent fans said).
But most important is that, like 34 percent of the U.S. Family Travel Survey respondents who use agents said, I need an advisor who can get to know me and my family’s travel preferences and tailor recommendations for us.
I need someone who will look at my income and my expenses, our travel desires and preferences, and help me create a budget for family travel these next seven years, so that I am planning for vacations like planning for retirement.
So Recommend readers, here is the challenge. In the next 30 days, I want to cull a short list of travel agents to interview, to talk in detail about my family’s situation, and see if I can form a profitable relationship with a travel professional interested in helping us invest in the experiences of a lifetime, before it’s too late.
Are you up for the challenge? If so, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My family is worth an A+ agent.
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 Richard D’Ambrosio, communications director of Family Travel Association.