Modern family

Tracey Davies looks at how agents can create seamless packages for families large and small

Family holidays have changed over the years. Long gone are rain-soaked camping trips to Wales – now families are considering all-inclusive resorts in Mauritius or sailing holidays around Croatia.

From single-parent families, blended families and those living in multi-generational situations, a modern family now has different needs and requirements from their annual summer holiday, and this is where agents can win. Whether your clients are looking for an easy all-inclusive holiday with teeny tots or a high-energy action trip with teenagers, they will benefit from an agent’s expert knowledge.

Going solo

Family corfu
Sailing around Corfu

Family holidays are often designed to cater for the nuclear ‘two-parents-two-kids’ unit, which can be frustrating for single parent families and those who don’t fit that mould.

According to Gingerbread, the charity that supports single-parent families, there are over 1.8 million single parents with dependent children…and they are very much in need of a holiday!

“When finding the right option for single parents, knowing when there are no single supplements is key and can significantly help with budgeting,” says Kelly Cookes, Chief Commercial Officer of The Advantage Travel Partnership.

EasyJet Holidays offer dedicated single parent family holidays that feature kids’ clubs, children’s pools and airport shuttle services. Plus, until September 30, 2024 there’s a promotion of up to £100 off one adult breaks based on one adult and children up to the age of 12.

When considering a family holiday, many parents focus on entertaining the children, but it’s important to prioritise everyone’s needs whether it’s free kids’ clubs, local excursions or all-inclusive packages.

“Agents need to understand what the parent is looking for when they’re booking a holiday, whether they want to meet and socialise with other parents or go somewhere where they can spend quality time with their children,” says Lisa Balsom, Director of Sales & Marketing UK, Ireland & Scandinavia for Sunlife.
It’s worth considering smaller or more intimate properties when booking holidays for single parent families.

“I would recommend travelling to either one of our family-friendly hotels – particularly the smaller ones such as Bella Mare in Corfu or GK Beach in Crete,” says Hannah Naylor-Vane, Head of Trade Sales at Simpson Travel. “There are free kids’ clubs at both this summer, making it easier for children to make friends and adults to meet other parents. And our local concierges are on hand for support so that single parents don’t need to feel ‘on their own’ when travelling with their children.”

3G travel

Family waterpark
Fodele beach waterpark, Crete

Travelling with several generations is a growing trend in family travel. A 2023 study commissioned by Visit Dubai showed a massive 89% of Brits wanting to book multi-generational holidays, 26% of which said it was to make up for time lost during the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a big increase in bookings for multi-generational travel in recent years,” says The Advantage Travel Partnership’s Cookes. “With various different wants and needs to accommodate for, it’s key to build up an understanding of each group.

“Agents need to know where to find suitable properties such as larger villas, properties with interconnecting rooms or places with communal social areas.”

Simpson Travel has seen bookings for multi-generational holidays double over the past ten years. “These holidays often tie into a special occasion such as milestone birthdays, wedding anniversaries, retirement celebrations and even post-wedding family get-togethers,” says Simpson’s Naylor-Vane. “Our bigger villas and villas adjacent to each other work perfectly for these groups, and our 2024 collection reflects this trend.”

Says Balsom: “Food is also a major factor that agents need to be aware of. Sunlife resorts have multiple restaurants offering a wide choice of different cuisines for guests.”

Best sellers

Family sand
Sandboarding in Dubai

Anywhere can be a family holiday destination if you’re brave enough. A broad generalisation, of course, but it’s essential for agents to tease out exactly what their clients want to get out of their precious family time. If they’re looking for a fly-and-flop holiday with a manageable flight time, then the Mediterranean beach resorts in Spain, France, the Greek islands and Croatia, all work well. For guaranteed sunshine outside of summer, they’ll need to venture a little further. Dubai is a popular destination for families and combines white-sand beaches with all-singing, all-dancing hotels, plus theme parks, shopping malls and desert adventures.

Budget, time of year and specific activities are key considerations for agents which can affect the choice of destination.

“With the current economic uncertainty still a factor for many, all-inclusive offers a guaranteed price and the ability to budget in advance,” says Cookes. “This summer, they account for 45% of all departures.”
With price in mind, Deluxe Holiday Homes identified the most affordable destinations for safe family travel in its latest study. Romania leads the way followed by Czech Republic , Croatia, Finland and Portugal.

Offering a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario, Simpson Travel’s Mousses Creche and Kids Club in Lefkada is a collection of villas within a small estate. It also has a private kids’ club run by qualified nannies and is ideal for parents with young children.

There’s been a real upturn in families considering destinations in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. “Mauritius is fantastic for family holidays,” says Balsom. “We offer a range of savings such as free accommodation and meals for children under 12 and a 20% discount on an extra room for children up to 17 years old.”

Greece is another perennial favourite with families. For this season, Simpson Travel has introduced three new-build Torreta villas in Lefkada. “When booked together they work well for larger groups or multiple families,” says Naylor-Vane.

“Ultimately, each family will have their own desires for their holiday so it’s important for agents to spend time finding out what they are looking for,” says Cookes.