6 Ways to Keep From Alienating Traveling Grandparents

by , Feb 8, 2013, 3:51 PM
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This time of year, grandparents start thinking about Spring Break and the kind of travel they might do with their grandchildren. It’s a great time to travel—everyone’s ready for a break in routine and traveling in nearly any geographical direction offers many unique opportunities. 

As “Family and Multigenerational Travel” once again takes the top spot in Virtuoso’s 2012 Luxe Report for the biggest travel trends, there’s also the reminder that Spring Break is an occasion where grandparents will spend more to get the experience they seek. And of those grandparents who travel, a third travel with their grandchildren. That constitutes a defined market that’s accessible and buying.

As a company within the hospitality and travel industry, it’s important to take a fresh look at your planning to see if you are really positioned for attracting these discriminating grandparent buyers who are on the hunt now for their next family experience.

  • Don’t assume they want a separate “Kids Program.”
    A common complaint of grandparents is that activities are planned for their grandchildren that don’t include adults. While it doesn’t have to be total togetherness 24/7, plan a variety of options where grandparents and grandchildren can be together—from jewelry making to snorkeling. Making memories with their grandkids is one of their prime objectives.

This family-friendly experience also extends to mealtime. If you are having formal lunch and dinner sittings, provide a more casual option for “family style” dinners during the Spring Break season. Grandparents also want their grandkids to eat and socialize with others of the same age, so it’s all about providing options that makes the time together most enjoyable.

  • Think of them more like “parents” than “grandparents.”

These affluent grandparents are typically robust, active and engaged in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. They often crave the kind of extended time together with their grandkids that they can’t get by just visiting them. If they visit at home, their grandkids continue to shuttle off to soccer or music lessons and there’s little time together.
Grandparents long for this separate, protected time to fit into their grandchildren’s lives, and they look for brand experiences that can provide it. 

  • Help grandparents engage their grandchildren.

On a recent luxury trip, grandparents were sharing stories of how they often chose travel brands based upon whether they could send their grandkids to a website and build their excitement for the trip. Grandparents were complaining that on some websites there were too few pictures of kids. And if there were pictures, often there was little variety in the kids’ ages and activities shown.

Grandparents want to see children of various ages. There may be an age range of their grandchildren, and they want to make sure age-appropriate activities are available for each child. If the children in the visuals look older than their grandchildren, it can still be useful information, providing them with ideas for future excursions.

Grandparents also prefer brand sites that include pre-trip guides for their grandchildren, to help build excitement, as well as educational sections that speak to kids directly rather than comment about them.

  • Help grandparents and grandkids feel part of a unique community.

  • Use video blogs and other interactive tools during the awareness and acquisition phase to show that you understand the group’s interests and desires. Help grandparents, parents and kids all feel that your community is irresistibly better than others.

  • Don’t force grandparents into just one or two digital channels.
    Think about how these affluent grandparents use the digital platform. They are on Facebook. They have smartphones. They shop online, pay bills online, etc.

    Create a number of customer journey scenarios and analyze each of them for multi-channel opportunities. Where can mobile and social play? How can you help grandparents spread the story after their interaction with your brand? You know they want to brag about their grandkids. This is your opportunity to have a brand zealot spread the good news, so make it easy for them.

  • Don’t micro-price activities.
    There is likely nothing a grandparent finds more distasteful than having grandkids ask them time after time if they can do a paid activity. Grandparents don’t want to say no, but the “cash register game” could be a negative influence to the overall experience.  Try bundling activities or providing one-price options so that there are fewer disappointments or disagreements.

Grandparents are typically investing a lot of money to create good times with their grandchildren and often like to annualize the activity if it seems really fulfilling. By helping both grandparents and grandkids preview the experience, enjoy it as a family unit and share it with others, you create an informal ambassador program that is strong and renewable.

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