Move Over Mom! – The Kids are Making the Vacation Decisions

Move Over Mom (1)We’ve never done a statistically significant study in our rental agency to see who makes the vacation rental decisions but we do know that women are the primary inquirers, and feature predominantly on rental agreements as the lead guest.

Increasingly, we are hearing from them that they were not the final arbiters in the choice – it was the kids who had the final say or at least were the major influencers.


This is not new. An article in The Journal of Vacation Marketing in 2000 said:

“There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the family vacation market is growing and that the children’s impact on purchases decisions is becoming increasingly strong.”

Then more recently, in the Huffington Post, the director of retail marketing at Thomas Cook Travel was quoted as saying:

“We know that moms are the decision makers but kids are the influencers,”

Years ago, kids may have been shown a brochure or two but probably didn’t participate much in the visit to the travel agent and the final decision. Now, according to a Nickelodeon study quoted in Time Magazine – American Families Increasingly Let Kids Make Buying Decisions :

“family decision-making in general is more inclusive these days; more than half of parents seek their kids’ input, and just under half say their family discusses and decides major decisions together”

Hotels have been hooking into this trend for a while, ramping up their marketing to family groups with the awareness that the kids are driving the decision-making process.

A survey by Holiday Inn found:

“nearly 90% of parents say their kid’s preferences are influential when choosing a vacation destination.”

Then we factor in the amount of time kids are spending on social networks sharing what they are doing or planning to do, and you realize you have the potential of reaching a massive audience who are powerfully influential on those with the purchasing power.

tweetAre you marketing to the #vacationrental decision makers? If you think it's Mom, you would be wrong!

We realized this power of marketing to the youngsters last year when listing a new property. It was high-end and was listed later in the season. This usually means it’s more of a challenge to get booked because the larger and more affluent groups tend to book early, leaving the lower to medium value properties for the smaller and last minute groups.

mackenzie kidsWe posted our best images and frankly struggled to get more than a couple of weeks booked. It was too late to do an A/B test on the best photos to use, so we just swapped out a lakeview photo (these are usually top producers) for an action image of three kids jumping off a dock.

The reaction was almost instant – within the same day, we took two more bookings and by the end of the following week had the summer fully booked.

With each reservation, the guests were asked what it was about the listing that drove them to a decision, and in most cases, the photo was cited as being the one the kids had chosen to influence the parental decision.

Now that was a result!


Windsor Hills Resort – Orlando

Other images that produce similar results are:

  • Sandy beach with bucket and spade
  • Watercraft (particularly paddle boats and stand up paddle boards
  • Swing sets
  • Child fishing off the end of a dock
  • Themed bedrooms

Providing you have permission to use a photo showing a child/children, these can be very effective in the marketing mix.

How are you marketing to the junior influencers?

What images do you use that have the greatest impact?