Experience beats expense for Latin American and North American family travellers

Away from the pressures of travel for work, when it comes to family travel, especially those with younger children, getting the best deal or lowest price isn’t a top priority for travellers from Latin America and North America. Instead it’s all about activities, safety, and memorable experiences, according to new research from Expedia Group Media Solutions, the advertising organisation of Expedia Group. And family travel planning is collaborative, with ideas coming from both children and adults.

The ‘Latin American versus North American Travel Trends’ study, conducted by Northstar Research Partners, explores Generation Alpha’s (children born 2010 or after) influence on family travel in Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the United States of America, looking closely at family travel attitudes and priorities.

The research offers insight into how content and information are influencing Gen Alpha, and the subsequent impact on family travel considerations and decisions. Across both regions, 60% said travel ideas come from both adults and children, with nearly two in five saying Gen Alpha influences family trip decisions.

When booking a family trip with Gen Alpha children, Latin American and North American travellers universally prioritise going somewhere with activities for the entire family, like theme parks and water activities, according to the research, however, the opportunity to entice family travellers goes beyond major attractions. Travellers from both regions look for museums when planning a family trip (45%), while 46% of North Americans look for dining experiences and 41% of Latin Americans look for guided tours.

In Latin America and North America, adults said that imagery or information highlighting kid-friendly activities or attractions influences Gen Alpha’s travel opinions. So, how is Gen Alpha influencing family trip planning?

In Latin America, 75% of parents and grandparents said Gen Alpha show them online content, compared to only 59% in North America. Latin American Gen Alpha children are also 26% more likely than North American Gen Alpha kids to use TV commercials to show adults places they want to go, and 50% more likely to influence family trip planning with ads they saved from publications.

Nearly half of Latin Americans said Gen Alpha’s travel opinions are influenced by travel-related imagery or information they see on TV or online, compared to approximately 26% in North America. Latin American Gen Alphas are also savvy smartphone users too, watching entertainment videos on their smartphone (80%) and looking at travel content (45%).

“Gen Alpha is the first truly digitally native generation, and the impact of this is especially prominent in Latin America,” says Jennifer Andre, senior director, business development at Expedia Group Media Solutions. “Latin American Gen Alphas are using digital devices to stay connected, entertained and informed, and they’re more likely to use online content to influence family trip planning.”

The research also shows that in this market area Latin American travellers take more family trips per year (2.7) than North American travellers (2.3 trips), but Brazilian and Canadian travellers take the longest family trips – more than eight days in duration, and two days longer than travellers from the US and Mexico.

Approximately 87% of travellers said they plan their family trips around school breaks or holidays, which likely impacts trip length. Visiting friends and family, and family play vacations, are the most popular trips for North American family travellers, while Latin Americans prefer relaxing or family play vacations. Nearly 50% of Brazilians opt for sightseeing vacations with their family.

When it comes to where they are travelling, under a third of family travellers actually have a destination in mind when they first decide to take a trip, and almost three quarters are open to help and inspiration when planning a trip. This opens up the opportunity for marketers to help influence family travel decisions with appealing images and practical content like reviews, information and deals, according to Expedia Group Media Solutions

The research highlights that destination selection and activities are top considerations for family trips. In the US and Canada, Gen Alpha also influences the trip duration and hotel choice, whereas Brazilians are more likely to consider transportation to their destination. Air travel is the preferred transportation for Canadian, Mexican and Brazilian family travellers, while traditional road trips are alive and well in the US, primarily due to affordability.

Family travellers are also more likely to stay in hotels, with location and family needs weighing heavily in their accommodation decision. Compared to general leisure travellers, those travelling with Gen Alpha are at least two times more likely to stay in a vacation rental.