©EDSA | Insights | Kids Discovery

In recent years, toy sales have increased at a consistent rate of 16 percent per annum. Everything from video games, dolls and sporting goods to bikes, puzzles and building sets surged in popularity. And now, with the world entering a post-pandemic era, parents are reallocating their disposable income towards experiences the entire family can enjoy together – and children have a large say in their vacation destinations.

Theme parks like Walt Disney World continue to be among the world’s most visited vacation hot spots, with the Orlando parks reporting full-capacity bookings for weeks or even months in advance. Likewise, waterpark resort brands like Great Wolf Lodge are attracting new crowds of their own with multi-million-dollar expansions. For these destinations and others like them, children are certainly key stakeholders in the vacation planning process. And, as multi-generational travel continues trending towards the norm, resorts must respond to the wants and needs of an all-ages clientele if they are to remain competitive for the short and long term.

©EDSA | Insights | Dad and Kids in Sand

As designers within the hospitality and entertainment space, this means working to evolve with (and in some cases, ahead of) end users, anticipating the ‘next frontier’ and creating ever-more immersive experiences with different nuances for a wide variety of audiences. Destinations and activities must continually surprise and delight guests with carefully curated spaces and a smart mix of amenities. Thrill and adventure are exciting, but they must be balanced with moments that inspire or offer time for relaxation. This is important for creating rich, multi-dimensional vacations and the memories that go along with them. Today’s family unit craves travel that authentically has something for everyone, especially when guest preferences vary widely from person to person and family to family.

Finding this equilibrium between leisure and play has also influenced adult-focused hospitality brands. Five-star resorts like The Boca Raton in Florida, which has historically geared their amenities towards high-end pursuits, recently invested in the development of a children’s camp and outdoor play space co-branded with child development leaders, Itavi. A tugboat-themed splash pad and slides are available to all guests, and a full schedule of age-appropriate games, crafts and activities add a new facet to the resort’s stately and storied reputation. A subtle distinction between adult and child-driven programming creates micro-environments for guests to build their own individual vacation roadmaps.

©EDSA | Insights | Safari

It isn’t simply a matter of offering opportunities for both leisure and excitement. Properties must also incorporate experiences that promote togetherness and enhance memory-making to deliver on today’s vacation expectations. Adventure tourism, expedition travel and eco-tourism, for instance, have all become popular ways to bridge the generation gap, as they encourage people of all ages to get outdoors and explore the unknown. A number of traditional hospitality brands have even developed sub-brands in order to serve this group. Adventures by Disney is one such offering, with outside-the-theme-park experiences, each tailored to deliver that familiar Disney ‘magic’ in all-new locations.

Ultimately, with travelers insisting on more holistic experiences, it is essential to make smart development moves that consider multi-generational end-users to boost visitation and on-property spending in ways that are significant and sustainable. Though the palette of amenities will continue to evolve, the ways in which properties bring together parents, children, teens and in many cases, grandparents, with equal decision-making power will be a key factor in ensuring togetherness remains a revenue-producing trend.