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How to Market Tours & Activities to Families

Last updated on October 12, 2021
9 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Affordability is important to families planning to travel with children.
  • Families make up a third of the U.S. travel market.
  • Market to families during school holidays.

Skill Level

Beginner, Intermediate

One of the most important aspects of marketing is determining who your target audience is and understanding their behaviors. If families make up a significant portion of your bookings and tour groups, then it’s crucial to understand what matters to them when they’re planning their vacations and how to reach them to market your tours and activities. This guide will discuss the importance of families in the travel and tourism industry, including relevant stats and trends, and how to market your business to them. 

One major trend is that, more than ever before, parents are taking their children on trips to explore the world and enjoy the outdoors, looking to responsible tourism to teach the children about preserving the planet. If you focus on sustainable tourism and educating guests on your area’s ecosystem, families are likely to be interested in your offerings. Families are also often traveling on a budget, so marketing affordable tours is a great way to get their attention. As family travel trends change, businesses should stay up to date and adapt their marketing tactics accordingly. 

Families make up to 30% of the U.S. travel market – Family Travel Association

You can’t afford to ignore a third of your potential audience when planning your marketing efforts. It’s also important to know what these travelers prefer to spend their money on.

83% of families will splurge on their travel destination when planning a vacation, and 68% spend on paid attractions – NYU 

This second group will be looking to enjoy some activities in their destination, so you want to catch their eye with your company’s offerings. 

Travel Trends & How to Market for Them

Travel Seasons 

The most popular family travel times are spring break and summer.

80% of families take a trip in the summer and 42% travel for spring break – NYU

The winter holiday season and the mid-winter school break are also appealing options for family vacations. Depending on your location, you know when your busy season is and when you get an influx of travelers. Remember that travelers plan their vacations about three months in advance, so plan your marketing efforts, like social media ads, ahead of these popular travel times. 

Popular Destinations 

If you’re located in one of the most popular U.S. states for family travel – Florida, California, Hawaii, New York, and Colorado – make sure you’re emphasizing your family-friendly tours during the times of the year when families are on vacation. When it comes to international travel, Europe is the most popular continent, with Italy, France, and the U.K. being the most visited destinations. If you offer child and family-friendly tours in these countries, making sure they’re front and center will help you attract those family travelers. 

Travel Inspiration

According to a travel study by NYU and Family Travel Association, the main sources for travel inspiration are search engines, Facebook, TV shows, and travel websites. Families’ main sources for travel information are search engines, travel websites, and tourist offices. Make sure your tours are visible where families are looking for them. One way to do this is to make sure your business is connected to OTAs to get in front of families who are planning their entire trips on them. It’s also important to focus on your SEO efforts to make sure your business appears in relevant Google searches. 

Use Relevant Keywords 

To ramp up that SEO, it’s crucial to make sure you’re using the keywords family travelers are searching for to capture the right audience for your tours and activities. Use some of the keywords in the handy Wordstream graphic below for initial inspiration, and perform your own keyword research to find the ones more specific to your industry and area. 

Highlight Affordable Options

One of the most important selling points for families is affordability. It can be a challenge for families to be able to afford travel, and this could dissuade them from booking any tours or activities. To capture families traveling on a budget, highlight your deals and sales on your offerings that provide good value for children under a certain age or, better yet, are free for small children. 

Ten percent of families are unlikely to travel with their children – NYU

This is mainly due to affordability issues, but don’t despair – this is an ideal opportunity to market to locals. If parents decide not to leave town for vacation, they will still look for fun things to do with children in their area, so highlighting your kid-friendly deals can also encourage them to come enjoy a tour or activity with you without breaking the bank. 

Value Proposition

When deciding between a variety of options, travelers are always going to select the company that best addresses their needs. Tell your potential customers exactly what your value proposition is and why your tours are the best. For example, if your tours are the most affordable deal in town, make that explicitly clear on your website and any marketing materials. If you offer exclusive private tours, clearly explain how travelers can customize their experience. If your crew is super knowledgeable about the outdoors in your area, tell your customers that so they’ll know why they should book with you. 

Don’t Forget About Gen Alpha

Gen Alpha children, those born after 2010, are influencing family travel decisions and planning more and more (Expedia Group Media Solution). On average, travelers with Gen Alphas are taking more than three family trips a year, and it’s important for tour operators to market to this group. 

95% of family travelers said their priority was keeping their families entertained and happy. Other important factors include deals and value (89%) and outdoor activities (85%) – Short Term Rentalz

Keep these trends in mind when marketing your tours and activities to families traveling with kids of this generation. Like already mentioned above, make sure any deals or discounts are explicitly clear to help draw in travelers on a budget. You know most families are looking to keep the little ones entertained, often looking for outdoor activities, so make sure to highlight any fun activities you offer for families in your marketing materials leading up to peak family travel times. 

It’s clear that families are an important demographic for travel and tourism businesses, and meeting their needs can encourage these travelers to book with your company. Now that you have an idea of how families plan their vacations and what their priorities are, you’re better equipped to market your tours and activities and capture the right audiences. For more marketing ideas, head over to our marketing guides. 

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