Krista E. Betts, Senior Travel Advisor with Balboa Vacations (Virtuoso Network) in Austin Texas, developed a passion for travel as a child. As an experienced travel professional (18 years) she has a reputation for creating innovative and immersive trips. Betts passion for travel started as a young child, her mother was a flight attendant for TWA, and her father loved road trips in the car and on his Harley Davidson motorcycle with her riding in the back. As destination expert, Betts has relationships with travel suppliers all over the world. Understanding how precious her clients time is, Betts takes great steps to customize each vacation to suit each clients wishes.
Top 5 destinations for summer vacations
Betts finds many of her clients are wanting cruises this summer, in fact are requesting cruise ships (with lots of activities) by name. Other areas of interest to her clients are Italy, where beauty and history come to life, as well as South Africa. Costa Rica is still a big draw – her clients can’t get enough of Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa in Arenal.
Betts has seen a new travel trend emerging; some of her clients are requesting more culturally immersive vacations with a volunteer component. Me to We gives clients just that, a unique opportunity to help make the world a better place. Combining a memorable vacation while assisting with local harvests, or even building a school – working together as a family and giving back to a local community.
For the best availability and options, Betts advises clients to plan-ahead. It’s important to double-check the children’s summer schedules, especially their extracurricular activities. There is nothing worse than planning a trip only to realize that it’s the same week as a child’s lacrosse tournament.
in Nevada City, CA, is an 18-year veteran in the travel industry. Gillespie, as a working mom understands the stress of raising kids, juggling a career and, organizing family vacations. Planning trips with the children and extended family really helped her understand her clients and their challenges, particularly when it comes to designing getaways that the entire family can enjoy. Gillespie was recently selected as one of the top experts for family travel, from 200 travel agencies around the country and is highly vetted amongst her peers.
When it comes to summer destinations Gillespie’s client’s preferences are diverse. With some liking the Hawaiian Islands while others are drawn to U.S. Dude Ranches. Europe, specifically Italy, Spain and France are still big as are Caribbean Cruises. She also sees a lot of interest in Alaska when summer is a great time for both cruise and land adventures.
This year, Gillespie has noticed a lot more grandparents are taking their grandkids on getaways. Grandparents want to connect with their grandchildren without mom and dad around; they can create special memories that only they share. Also, more extended families are traveling together – not just grandparents/parents/kids, but aunts, uncles and cousins are also traveling together.
“Clients need to start planning as early as possible, particularly if traveling with many family members. It can take longer than people realize to try and get everyone in the family to settle on dates that work for everyone”. She adds. Advanced planning can get clients the best flights and accommodations. She advises each family member put a list together of their ‘top 5’ experiences for the trip. There’ll be some overlap as new ideas for activities that the whole family can enjoy may come up. Finally, don’t over-schedule. Clients often try to cram too much into a trip, especially in a new destination. Gillespie suggests clients keep free time to enjoy a few leisurely mornings and some relaxing downtime together.
Sally Black, founder of Vacationkids Travel Agency, in Kunkletown, PA and Director of Travel Agent Initiatives at the Family Travel Association (FTA). Black is a published author with her book “Fearless Family Vacations – How to Make Everyone Happy Without Losing Your Mind”. A former paediatric nurse turned Travel Agent, she was one of the first home based travel agencies before IATA and CLIA had licensing credentials. Prior to that Black worked with IATA for several years putting together “internet expert panels/moderating them” for their passenger services conferences all over the world.
This year Black’s client’s summer vacations are focused on Europe (Italy, UK, Croatia, Greece, and River Cruises). She also sees heightened interest in Costa Rica, Dude Ranches and Asia (Thailand, China and Singapore). The ever-popular Caribbean Cruises are a regular staple.
Black finds families are asking for more adventure components in their itineraries – clients are “definitely looking for more experiential trips”. Multi-generational vacations remain extremely popular – combining these two “must haves” often means finding a balance to appeal and satisfy all travelers. Also, there are more requests from families for apartment style accommodations with “managed” properties, so Airbnb style accommodations with professional assurances are on the rise.
When it comes to advice for clients planning this year’s summer vacation, Black thinks it’s just like planning a family; you really need to start 9 months in advance. It’s easy for parents to remember the 9-month timeline and the agent community needs to continually encourage families to plan ahead simply due to the nature of family travel. Including the kids in qualifying conversations early in the travel planning process and identifying any conflicts will help agents close more sales.