For the seventh year, the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality and the Family Travel Association (FTA) have collaborated on research regarding emerging trends in family travel. The recently published 2022 U.S. Family Travel Survey focuses on the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic and recent economic uncertainty affect family travel behaviors.
- Travel demand is strong, with 85% of parents very likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months, especially multigenerational trips.
- Travel spending is robust and the worst effects of the pandemic are receding.
- Many of the barriers to travel that families self-imposed during COVID have lowered. Now 57% of families feel that the pandemic is mostly contained and therefore they are comfortable traveling again. 43% of families remain cautious about travel due to the lingering effects of the pandemic and make plans accordingly.
- International vacations, city trips and events are making a comeback.
- Hotels strengthened their position over vacation rentals.
- Travel advisors continue to solidify their position in a post-pandemic travel landscape. The challenges created by COVID have increased consumer interest in using advisors to help plan and book their family vacations. Willingness to use a travel advisor for family travel is 52%, a significant increase over reported behavior from 2021, when 17% used a travel agent.
- The respondents’ children emerged as a big source of inspiration for family travel (76%), followed by friends (53%) and other family members (52%). Almost half of the respondents are inspired by travel bloggers (49%).
- In terms of types of trips, beach vacations (66%), city vacations (65%) and visiting friends and family (61%) were the top three indicators. Conversely, the interest in nature/active vacations seems to be waning.
- The top four sources that provide families with travel inspiration are movies, TV shows, Pinterest and Instagram (in that order).
- Priorities for family travel include having children discover new places and new experiences, to bond and grow closer as a family, and to relax and unwind.
- Affordability continues to be the top challenge for families and has been consistent every year of the survey (followed by dealing with potential cancellations).
- The effects of the travel restrictions related to the pandemic seem to have largely waned.
According to the survey, 85% of parents are very likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months, and travel intent in 2022 is higher than in 2019. There is strong demand for travel in larger family groups. While 57% of respondents feel that the pandemic is mostly contained and are comfortable traveling, 43% remain cautious when making travel decisions. In many ways, the influence of the pandemic is receding: international vacations are more popular this year, city vacations are on the rebound, and more families are now looking to stay in hotels (pausing the continuous rise of vacation rentals of the past several years).
Inflation and the rise of gas prices, as well as the hike in interest rates, will likely influence travel behavior in the coming year: families particularly indicate they will look for cheaper prices on lodgings. One trend that remains strong: interest in travel advisors for trip planning.
The survey represents responses from more than 1,000 parents in June and July of this year and was conducted by the FTA and the NYU SPS Tisch Center of Hospitality, in collaboration with the Shubert Organization and Telecharge. This year’s sample included a larger percentage of respondents in higher income brackets with more advanced educational backgrounds than in prior editions.
“This year’s survey shows that while the pandemic impacts family travel less than last year, the last two years have also led to changes that are likely to last,” said Lynn Minnaert, former clinical associate professor, Tisch Center. “Families are excited to get back out there, but peace of mind and value for money are key priorities when they make travel decisions.”
Rainer Jenss, FTA founder, added, “With the global COVID pandemic now mostly behind us in 2022, we have seen that family and multigenerational travel has been an important force in the tourism industry’s recovery. This speaks volumes to the priority families are now placing on spending time together and traveling. Now is the time to double down on family travel.”