The Herman Trend Alert|
July 24, 2002
Family Business Travel
A new trend is underway in convention travel. Business executives and professionals attending trade shows and industry conferences are bringing their families along on trips. They rationalize that it's a good learning experience for the kids or that, while they're away on business, they might as well add on a vacation with the family. This movement is driven by an increasing reluctance to be away from family for extended business trips. The events of September 11 have punched the values "reset" button for a lot of people. The desire to combine business with pleasure is intensified by the renewed focus on family.
Hotels and conference centers will undergo some significant changes in the way they do business. Watch for destination hotels, particularly "mega-hotels," to offer childcare for small children and educational activities for older children. A number already do. The learning opportunities will ease parents' concerns about taking their kids out of school to join parents on a convention trip. Roll in facilities for convention-linked family activities and some special attractions for children (mini-spas, entertainment, family-friendly restaurants) and you have a fine formula for a family destination conference center. Designers and program specialists will be engaged to make designated areas of the property kid-friendly. Suites may be redesigned-or adjoining rooms remodeled-to create mini-apartments, so kids can sleep on real beds in their own connected rooms instead of on lumpy roll-away cots in a crowded room with their parents.
Convention planners will explore ways to make the conference experience more attractive for families. Schedules will allow for family time and some events will be planned specifically for family participation. Spouse programs, on the wane because so many spouses have their own jobs, will expand to family programs. Professional speakers who specialize in youth audiences will be invited to present at major conventions-to the families.
Meeting planners may negotiate special family airfares for conventioneers as a stimulus to maintain attendance levels. With the importance of face-to-face involvement at industry conventions, planners would much rather find ways to accommodate families than try to bring people together meaningfully through web- based conferences.
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