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Have you ever planned a dream vacation for a family that turned out be everything they expected, and more? If so, chances are (1) you busted your butt, (2) you made some nice money, and (3) you now have clients for life—including the kids, who, when they grow up, will likely want to work with you or your company.

Ask anyone who specializes in family travel, and they’ll tell you the rewards go well beyond the dollars and cents and repeat business. It’s the personal satisfaction that often wins the day. You see, working with families really matters. It matters financially and it matters emotionally.

For most families, planning a vacation requires a big financial investment. And there’s an emotional investment as well. Parents put a great deal of stock into spending quality time with their kids, so they want to make sure everything is just right and they come back with lasting memories. Perhaps this explains why (mostly) moms visit an average of 20-something websites before booking their trips.

Family Travel Association president and founder Rainer Jenss and his family.
Family Travel Association president and founder Rainer Jenss and his family.

So are agents prepared to work with today’s diverse families and the opportunities they represent? Should agents even bother to specialize in this area? To answer those questions, look no further than the numbers:

This is, by far, the largest market segment in the entire industry, representing over 30 percent of all leisure travel, or $500 billion worldwide (over $200 billion of that is in the U.S. alone). Moreover, it’s one of the fastest growth areas of the business. There’s no question the global focus on family travel is accelerating—growing 26 percent faster than the travel industry as a whole.

Want to see some more interesting numbers?

Industry research shows that if you ask the average travel agent what they specialize in, 4 out of 10 will tell you family travel. That’s almost twice as many that say luxury (22 percent), and about four times more than adventure (10 percent), and even weddings/honeymoons (11 percent). Only cruises, with over 60 percent, ranks higher.

Truth be told, I’ve come to realize that the average travel agent seems to know very little about the challenges families face and what type of products and services are out there that are kid-friendly. Not all agents, of course, but too many.

That’s why the Family Travel Association (FTA) just launched the Family Travel Certification and Training program to help travel agents acquire the professional knowledge needed to specialize in this market segment.

The program, open to all FTA agent members, was developed by Sally Black, the owner of VacationKids, a Kunkletown, PA-based travel agency that specializes in family travel, and was made possible by the generous support of MSC Cruises. This comprehensive 23-module course is the first of its kind in the industry and sets the standard for the knowledge, expertise and excellence needed for agents who wish to make working with families and traveling with children a priority.

Finally, according to our 2017 U.S. Family Travel Survey, only 15 percent of parents used a travel agent to help plan or book their travels. Fifteen percent! So just imagine a world where that number grows to 20 or 25 percent!

Heck, let’s dream big and go for 50 percent!

For more information about the Family Travel Association, becoming a member, and registering for their certification and training program, visit familytravel.org or contact Rainer at rainer@familytravel.org.

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 Rainer Jenss, president and founder of Family Travel Association. 

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