Family tours are becoming popular with Chinese outbound tourists, and online travel agencies have been trying to keep up with the demographic’s changing travel habits. Over the last year, in particular, destinations have seen a rise in parents traveling with their children on educational and cultural tours, and countries like Egypt have been able to attract the interest of a growing number of Chinese tourists with their rich cultural history.
Interestingly, many of these family tours are led by family matriarchs, especially during the summer travel season since school holidays don’t align with national holidays to allow all family members to travel during the school year. This provides an opportunity for mothers and grandparents — who are not currently in the workforce or have ample paid time off — to explore the world with their children.
In an effort to capitalize on women-led family travel, the Chinese online travel agency Caissa (凯撒旅游) has introduced a new product category that caters to mothers and their young children called “Mother’s piece of mind, happy cute baby” (妈妈省心, 萌娃开心).
The new products on Caissa go to 31 different countries and include tours that cover art, history, music, modern technology, nature and wildlife, and local festivals. In all, there are over 100 travel products with 28 themes, including environmental conservation.
A Caissa representative told Chinese travel media Pinchain that 40 percent of the itinerary focuses on engaging with a child’s personal interests, 30 percent is reserved for fun and education, and the rest is for attractions that interest parents and grandparents and includes relaxation. The company is planning further development of these products based on customer feedback.
About 76 percent of all travel includes parents with their children, according to a report last May from government research institute China Tourism Academy. The organization estimates this segment of China’s tourism market to reach over RMB 1 trillion in the next few years. But despite the market segment’s growth, parents have lamented the limited touring options offered. Most tour packages aren’t specifically geared toward families or young children, and more importantly, the tours offered don’t always have a theme that Chinese parents view has beneficial to their children’s education, according to Pinchain’s report. This has reportedly led to low levels of satisfaction for parent consumers.
Chinese online travel agencies may not have everything that traveling families want at the moment, but that doesn’t mean some destinations haven’t taken notice of these trends. Destinations, particularly those in Europe, have sought to attract more visitors with family-friendly itineraries. Most recently, The Hague Marketing Bureau (THMB) announced its family-friendly tourism campaign via WeChat in January. The campaign is an extension of The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions’ “Travel with Child, Holland First” campaign.
The media outlet noted that family tour options lack interaction and engagement to strengthen family bonds while sightseeing. Much like China’s luxury consumers, travelers are becoming more discerning, and they expect more from their tourism experiences. Families are looking for more personalized experiences, forcing online travel agencies to provide more diverse tour options.
The goal of these new tour options is to offer a balance that engages and educates young travelers while providing for older travelers who still may want to take shopping trips or see sights that aren’t of interest to their children.