Children in Singapore will increasingly have more say in where to go for family holidays, Club Med SEA GM says

The travel industry might want to focus on attracting more children, especially since Singapore families are including children in holiday decision making, Club Med’s South-east Asia general manager, Vijay Sharma, says.
Club Med

Deciding between a trip to Thailand or Japan for the school holidays? Instead of considering only the activities that you could do, you might find yourself gravitating towards what the kids want instead.

Don’t worry, you’re probably not alone, at least according to Club Med’s South-east Asia general manager, Vijay Sharma.

The GM told Business Insider that he expects families in Singapore to increasingly give children more say in where they go for vacations.

Allowing them to take part in family decision-making teaches children valuable skills – learning to speak up for what they want, listening to others’ wishes and making compromises,” Sharma said.

Of course, keeping children in the loop also helps keep them excited and interested in the trip.

But children are not the only ones the travel industry needs to cater to increasingly.

Multi-generational travel is also among the top travel trends Sharma – who has in the past worked with other hospitality and travel brands such as Thomas Cook, Abacus, Kuoni and Make My Trip – says the industry will see in the next five years.

Noting a rise in multi-generational families vacationing together at Club Med’s all-inclusive resorts, Sharma said that it could be because “Singaporeans want to recreate past memories or simply spend quality time together as a family”.

“It provides a different travel experience, because you are creating and bringing back new memories together (and it’s) even better when you get to experience something new together with the entire family,” he said.

“Family bonding continues to be the main objective for travel and (Singapore families) will grow to be more open to trying new activities in the years to come,” he said.

Millennial families, who spend much of their lives in the digital realm, will also want to disconnect during these holidays. Instead of staying connected to the rest of the world, more will emphasise experiences and services. “(Millennial families) travel with a purpose – to disconnect and reconnect by spending quality time with their family,” Sharma said.

Since travel is an important part of millennials’ lives, it is important for them to ensure that the holiday is meaningful to all members of the family, so that everyone takes home lasting memories of the holiday, he added.

This could also be why Singaporeans are more concerned about the safety, compared to travellers from other markets. “Since it’s a trip meant for families, the location has to be somewhere relatively safe since you won’t be travelling with friends but with young kids or even elderly,” Sharma said.

What being family-friendly means for businesses in travel

To accommodate the rise of multi-generational travel, businesses need to think about facilities for the entire family, so that as a unit, they can gain new experiences and bond while they travel.

Dedicated family areas, interconnecting rooms, family suites and childcare services are also another thing hotels must look at, Sharma said. Club Med is often considered a pioneer in this regard, having established Kids Club at its resorts in 1967 and the Amazing Family programme in APAC in 2018.

Businesses can also look into offering deals to attract parents, who would be attracted to all-inclusive packages. One such package is Club Med’s own initiative to allow children under four years of age in free of charge. Children above four are also entitled to discounts of between 20 to 40 per cent, Sharma said.

“All-inclusive packages also make it easier for parents to say yes to all the ice cream, games and activities without having to fork out more!” he said.

Additional reporting by Rachel Tay.