By Anthony D. Adler
President & CEO – Member Travel
Over the last several years, a whole sub-industry within the travel industry as evolved dedicated to family reunions and multi-generational travel. Member Travel employs specialists who are completely dedicated to family vacations.
Family reunions can be terrific, but they have some virtual minefields that must be crossed during the planning process. Here are some of the pitfalls and ways to avoid them:
1. Too many cooks spoil the broth. It just doesn’t work when Aunt Jenny says the family is going to the Caribbean, and Grandma Louise says the family is going to Africa. The solution is to have one family member who is in charge of the reunion work with our specialist. We are happy to provide ways for each family member to personalize their trip, with pre- and post trip extensions, or with various accommodation options.
2. Not every aspect of any trip will appeal to all members of the family. As long as there is something for everybody, a total consensus should not be necessary on each detail. For example, if taking an Alaska cruise, a pre-planned excursion to walk the surface of a glacier may be much more appealing to the younger members of the family. However, there are other excursions that may be more appealing to the older members. This actually can enhance the experience as everyone has their own unique adventures to discuss when they are dining together at dinner. A family reunion should offer opportunities for the family to get together throughout the vacation, but should not require mandatory participation in each and every planned event. This is really a good thing! If you spend every minute together, you quickly remember those things you didn’t like about each other when growing up!
3. Make the trip easy.This is why cruises are so popular for family reunions. No need to figure out where to meet for dinner or how you are all going to get there. We also do many reunions at resorts, but we strongly suggest planning the major meals in advance. It does not work when some want Chinese food and others want steaks. Avoid the arguments about where to go by choosing ahead of time.
4. Choose accessible destinations. Sure, we plan some exotic reunions in far off places. Still, you have a much better chance of having more people join you when you don’t require people to take three different planes to reach their destination. Travel can be strenuous, and if you have older relatives as part of your group, be considerate of how much more difficult it can be for them to make multiple airline connections.
5. If there are young children involved, make sure you choose a place where they will also have lots of fun. As a parent, I can tell you from personal experience that it is no vacation if your kids are miserable. This is another reason cruises with their extensive kids’ programs are so popular. If choosing a resort, allow us to help you find one that is truly kid-friendly. Allowing children and welcoming children are two completely different things!
6. Consider offering some variation from year to year. Once you do one reunion, you will most likely find that the family wants to do it again and again. (This is quite good for my company!) We have families who for fifteen consecutive years have chosen the same resort for their reunions or family get-togethers. It can be a nice tradition, however, when we actually talk with the various family members, they often tell us they are getting bored with the same place year after year. It is hard to continually dazzle people if they don’t experience some variety.
The bottom line is that reunions and family travel can provide you with some of your happiest moments and create some fabulous new memories to cherish in your heart forever. With some careful planning and assistance from Member Travel family specialists, you are much more likely to have a happy group that will be grateful for the opportunity to travel together. Sure, there are pitfalls, but we are here to help you stay clear. We are honest and open about our own experiences and those of our clients. Everyone is different, so our first priority is to listen to your needs. We care about our clients!
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