Although everyone in the family looks forward to throwing on their flip flops or spending a day riding Splash Mountain, Moms usually end up making the tough decisions when it comes to booking a summer vacation. Slaloming around summer camp schedules, boss-approved time off and everyone's interests (all while staying within budget limitations) can often prove difficult.
We recently spoke with nearly 1,200 Moms planning to take a family summer vacation this year, and asked them about their habits and preferences.
Those Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
There are two ways to book vacations, flights, and other big-ticket items. Wait as long as possible to cash in on last-minute deals or book a year in advance when low demand and low competition keep prices down. Both strategies contain advantages, but the poll shows a trend:
- The majority (43%) of Moms said they book the vacation one to three months in advance -- when schools, activities and work schedules become clearer. Moms want to make sure they have all the bases covered (scheduling conflicts, animal care, etc.) before committing to a vacation.
- The bolder 20% wait until three weeks or less to book a trip, while the more cautious 23% book vacations three to six months ahead of time. Some love rolling the dice and taking advantage of last-minute, "quota-meeting" deals that vacation spots offer.
- Only 9% of Moms polled said they book vacations more than six months in advance. Large-scale vacations may need to be booked this far in advance, though with the uncertain future, most are reluctant to take the risk.
The Big (or Small) Elephant In The Room -- Budget
Not surprisingly, Moms plan on spending about the same or less than they did last year, while a small minority will be spending more. Their budgets generally range from $500 - $3,000, and families will be staying closer to home.
- 37% plan on spending less this year than last, while 44% claim they will spend about the same. Though the economy has seen a slight uptick in recent months, Moms still are reluctant to splurge on that mega-vacation, one that extends beyond their means.
- 38% plan to spend between $1,000 and $3,000 with 32% of bargain shoppers only earmarking between $500 and $1,000.
- Lastly, 32% of Moms say their family will be driving this year instead of flying.
Where To Go and Where To Stay
Vacation means something different to everyone. Moms and families report that the beach is their favorite destination in the summer.
- The majority (36%) said spending time at the beach would be their ideal. 18% said their family prefers visiting friends and relatives, while another 18% enjoy theme parks. A small cohort (10%) goes camping, while an even tinier group (8%) likes to tour historic landmarks.
Lodging also can be a speed bump when it comes to planning a vacation. Some Moms reject the hotel idea altogether, and prefer to bunk with friends and relatives, logging important family bonding time while avoiding the exorbitant cost of a hotel.
- 53% of Moms said they plan on staying at a hotel, while 44% will stay with friends or relatives.
A Vacation from Your Vacation -- How Long is Too Long?
Sometimes a two-week jaunt in Europe ends up being more trouble than it's worth, but a two-day getaway to Mexico might be over before you can say "margarita." Generally, the preference for families is one week, though a large number said a long-weekend would suffice.
The Bottom Line
Moms discussed the most important factors for them when booking a vacation: price was first and then location/destination. These core needs show that Moms want to keep everyone in the family entertained, but as long as the price is right. Also, Moms looks for those little "extras" like on-site activities and entertainment, or kid-friendly amenities that can make a vacation easier on everyone.
For marketers attempting to reach vacationers this summer:
- The economy still plays a factor in vacation plans for families -- many Moms will choose to spend less overall.
- Hotel marketers, fear not. Most families prefer to stay with you than with friends or relatives. Family deals such as "kids eat for free" or "50% off hotel kids club camp" go a long way, especially for Moms.
- Push one-week or long-weekend deals as those appeal most to Moms. Trips lasting longer than one week are difficult to plan and maintain, while vacation time that lasts less than a long weekend is not ideal.
- Moms will not be able to resist a vacation to their ideal destination at the right price. Having extra opportunities for entertainment (swimming with dolphins, an arcade or a character actor meet-and-greet) and kid-friendly amenities (bedtime stories or step-stools) will go a long way towards having a Mom choose your destination over another.