As families grow and change, so do their vacations. Last year, research from online travel agent Agoda conducted by YouGov found that 35 percent of global travelers have taken a holiday with grandparents, and Thai and Indonesian family travelers are the most likely to include siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles in their travel plans. Labeled skip-generation travel and ‘gramping’ (i.e., grandparents taking their grandchildren on trips), these non-traditional family vacations are becoming more commonplace. As they do, hotels must increasingly recognize and accommodate these multigenerational travelers by creating the right spaces and experiences to meet their diverse needs.
Erin Barber, the innkeeper at The Equinox, a 147-room resort that has several on-site inns, tells LODGING that the property’s outer buildings offer groups a large space that they can make their own during their stay. Barber is The Equinox’s first innkeeper, a role focused on making personalized contact with guests of those inns. “What I strive to do is be the face for The Equinox and for the inns, and make sure that our guests here are really getting the type of getaway that they expected,” she explains.
Barber says that family travel is expanding to include not only grandparents, but also in-laws and cousins. That shift, she explains, is driving guests to seek rentals that can accommodate their entire crew in one place, with separate rooms as well as shared, private spaces for cooking together and enjoying each other’s company. For instance, two of The Equinox’s inns—The Meadow House and Dormy Cottage—provide those bigger housing units that large families require. “There are individualized rooms where you can stay as a smaller family, but also be in the bigger house. I think that is definitely a more common way of traveling now. Not just two adults getting away—we get away with our bigger families,” Barber says.
Who is coordinating these large groups? Barber says that it’s often older children who are making travel decisions. “It’s not necessarily the parents anymore who are saying, ‘Okay, this is where we’re going and we planned this out.’ They’re asking their kids, ‘Where do you want to go that would have an experience for you?’”
“Families look different for everybody, so giving guests more options and creating more versatile experiences is absolutely a benefit to you.”
For that reason, Barber stresses the importance of creating a strong social media presence and attracting a following. “The influence of social media with pictures is huge. We’ve started really trying to make our social media presence a lot bigger recently, and it’s been successful for us,” Barber explains. For example, the property hosted a giveaway to encourage users to follow and share their content for a chance to win. “I think that’s huge because it’s not just older generations anymore who plan a vacation. It is the input of the children and the whole family.”
Another critical strategy to attract multigenerational families is to accommodate their particular needs during their stay. Personalizing the guest experience goes a long way in encouraging guests to leave reviews, share their travels on social media, recommend the property to others, and even return for another vacation. The challenge with multigenerational groups is that hotels must customize amenities and activities for diverse ages and interests.
“When a lot of people travel together, there’s a need for activations for all travelers to find something they’re interested in within their particular destination,” Barber says, explaining that The Equinox offers both traditional resort activities—like a spa and golf club—as well as curated itineraries and activations for families—from falconry school to mountain biking. Barber has created s’mores kits so families could gather around a fire pit after sundown and stocked the resort’s golf-themed Dormy Cottage with Arnold Palmers before guests check in. “I’ll reach out to them and say, ‘Is there anything that we can do before your arrival?’ Before we have any group with a buyout, I’ll see what their interests are,” Barber explains. “It’s about making their experience unique to their travel desires. You’re not just checking into a hotel and getting what everybody else gets. You’re getting a personalized experience.”
“We really do need to be aware that travel is changing. Families look different for everybody, so giving guests more options and creating more versatile experiences is absolutely a benefit to you,” Barber concludes.