Key Notes On Travel chatted with G Adventures to discuss its exciting new program National Geographic Family Journeys. Launched in early May, departures start in March 2020 but bookings can be made right now. Here's what travel advisors need to know so they can help families share the world with their children.
KNOT: Hello travel advisors. My name is Jenn and I'm the editor of Key Notes On Travel. We're live on Facebook today to chat about G Adventures' exciting new program National Geographic Family Journeys.
I'm joined by Amanda Dunning, G Adventures brand manager for National Geographic Family Journeys and The Jane Goodall Collection.
Lets jump right in. Amanda, why don't you tell us about National Geographic Family Journeys?
Amanda: We started a partnership with National Geographic Expeditions back in 2015 and launched National Geographic Journeys trips. We started the partnership because our two organizations were very much aligned in our values and we both believe travel can be a force for good.
We wanted Journeys to be a product that can reach so many more people, while introducing them to them to the legacy of National Geographic, but also to the cultural experiences and fun that G Adventures has to offer.
As we were looking for ways to continue to spread that message and the partnership, we realized the same successful formula that worked for Journeys could work for families. About a year and a half ago, we started researching families and how they want to travel, and we started to put Family Journeys together.
[With the introduction of Family Journeys] we've got 12 different itineraries all over the world for kids seven and older. But the activities are specially designed so that anyone, of any age, will really enjoy them.
We saw the statistic that had been pulled from your research that 85 per cent of people surveyed wanted a shared family travel experience; they don't want to be splintered up.
When we were doing our research, the reason for travelling wasn't necessarily about the destination. For a lot of us, we want to go "here, here and here." For families, it's less about that; instead, it's about making time for one another and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
And there's room [within National Geographic Family Journeys] for not just the nuclear family, but the extended family to travel together or possibly skip-gen (that's grandparents and grand kids). And of course, multi-generational travel.
Definitely. That was something we also came across in our research and that we know from our travel agent partners. Grandparents, aunts and uncles [want to come along too]. Because the group sizes are up to 20 people, we can fit different variations of families which get families from all around the world to travel together, which is half the fun.
Departures are March 2020 and forward, correct?
Can advisors can start selling these itineraries right now?
Absolutely. They launched on May 7th and they are all available to sell now. The departure dates themselves have been worked into school holidays to make sure we've got dates that fit within the breaks. If those dates don't work, we can also connect travel advisors with our private travel department to see if there's an opportunity to create a new departure or private trip for groups of 10 or more.
This is a good opportunity to describe to advisors what sets this guided travel offering apart from competing products in the market.
We are so excited about Family Journeys because of the unique selling points.
First and foremost, there are two Chief Experience Officers on every trip. For a group size of 20, that's pretty amazing. It's not just one for the kids and one for the adults; the CEOs really tag-team and make sure they're really bringing this all to life.
Second, all of the incredible activities have been designed in collaboration with National Geographic and they really bring to life the things you know and love them for. Photography and storytelling, history and culture, wildlife and conservation, and exploration; those are the things that is National Geographic is so well known for.
Not only that, we have pre-trip resources like a custom explorer's journal that kids will get in advance of their tour. They'll be able to bring it with them and fill it out as they go, and have it as a keepsake when they get back.
We've also looked at accommodations and kid-friendly meal options. When I was a kid, I was a chicken finger connoisseur. Although we want everyone to try the local experience - because that's what we're all about at G Adventures - we know kids sometimes want their plain pasta with butter, so we've built that in.
Maybe you can speak a bit further those special accommodations that have been built into the itineraries especially for young travellers? Maybe pace or lodging options/room types?
All of that was thoughtfully crafted into these itineraries. We looked at things like, how early would we start in the morning? We added in longer time in-destination, so instead of a one-night turnaround you've got two or maybe even three nights. And when we're driving from place to place, we made it so that no drive was ever longer than two or three hours, because it's tough to have kids in a vehicle for that long.
For accommodations, we've made sure to pick ones that are centrally located, comfortable and have a pool - where possible. In some places in the world, that's not possible, but we try. Triple and quads [are important] as well - which are on request - but we've made sure to contract with hotels where they are as likely as possible. We know families come in all shapes and sizes, and that room configurations are important.
What's the duration of the trips?
They're anywhere between seven and 13 days which is a nice amount of time. You can add on pre- or post-, or travel on your own. They're not so long that they're exhausting by the end of it.
And they're offered at a fairly inclusive price point: $1,999 and up. Pivoting now to how to best-sell these itineraries. How might an advisor recognize a prospective G Adventures family traveller? Are there certain qualities or traits to look for? Or language that advisors should listen for?
When we were looking at the target customer and what we've since discovered as the trips have started to book, is that these customers are curious, educated and probably well-travelled themselves. They may be repeating a destination but want to bring their children with them.
I think it's all about recognizing those parents who are eager for their kids to meet new people, get exposed to new cultures and try new things. That's at the core of who these trips are well suited for.
I think that's one of the most exciting things as a parent - and what I'm most excited about - showing my children the world. So I get that.
Obviously, selling travel to a parent or guardian who is responsible for the needs of many differs from selling to a solo traveller or couples. If a client needs a gentle push toward making a purchase decision or even just some reassurance, what might an agent say or do?
I think the good thing about booking with a tour operator, especially one like G Adventures, is that we've got 24/7 support - with the help of the agent as well. We've got a family trip specialist who can help agents with those questions. And you've got a tour operator who is able to provide that [element of] safety and security in-destination. You've got two CEOs who are able to make your life easier. As a parent, you're so busy and you've got so much going on. It's nice to be able to shut your brain off - just a little bit - by having that travel experience taken care of for you.
And at the end of the day - like you said Jenn, about showing your kids the world - what better opportunity than travel? It really gets back to the heart of it: these trips will hopefully make kids better people, more curious and protective of the planet. I think that's the best reason of all.
Education at a young age and experience plants the seeds of stewardship as a global citizen, curiosity and open mindedness.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience of travel advisors?
We've got 12 trips in many destinations. Some of the popular ones for Canadians have been Peru, South Africa and Costa Rica. These are special itineraries. If you are familiar with our Journeys itineraries, these ones are unique and all their own. We're really excited for all of you guys to start booking your clients on them.
If agents want more resources or information, where should they look?
This conversation has been edited for clarity.
Fast facts: G Adventures National Geographic Family Journeys
- 12 itineraries in five continents
- Departures: March 2020 onward
- Maximum group size: 20
- Minimum age: 7
- Duration: 7-13 days
- Each activity was designed around four guiding National Geographic themes: photography and storytelling, history and culture, wildlife and conservation, and exploration.
WHAT MAKES NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC FAMILY JOURNEYS UNIQUE?
- Thoughtfully crafted itineraries that combine engaging experiences and leisure time designed specifically for families with children ages seven and up
- Interactive activities inspired by National Geographic's expertise in photography and storytelling, wildlife, culture, history, and geography
- Pre-departure resources and materials from National Geographic to inform and excite every member of the family about their upcoming adventure
- Comfortable and convenient accommodations
- Two dynamic CEOs (Chief Experience Officers) who are specially trained to engage with young travellers
- Kid-friendly meal options throughout the trip
- Dedicated customer service consultants, known as Family Trip Specialists, to help families with travel preparation and planning from the moment they book
- A group of usually 20 or fewer like-minded family travellers
Costa Rica Family Journey: From Rainforest to Coast
Blanketed in pristine rainforest, lined by golden sands, and brimming with curious-looking creatures, Costa Rica is the ultimate family playground. Explore inland jungles and volcanic wonders in every way possible: soaring on a zip-line, riding on horseback, and hiking misty trails. Then head for the Gold Coast on the Pacific Ocean for some sun, surf, and adventures out at sea.
Iceland Family Journey: Geysers, Glaciers, and Fjords
From glittering glaciers to black-sand beaches, Iceland’s wild landscapes will surprise and inspire travelers of all ages. Explore this subarctic isle’s natural and cultural treasures alongside our dynamic guides as you step behind the curtain of a spectacular waterfall or hike to the edge of a volcanic crater. Descend inside a lava tunnel, delve into Viking history, or opt to try your hand at riding hardy Icelandic horses.
Southern Africa Family Journey: In Search of the Big Five
Boasting jaw-dropping scenery and some of the planet’s most iconic wildlife, southern Africa makes for an unforgettable family adventure. On this action-packed journey, venture to South Africa to seek out the legendary “big five” on safari, soak up the charms of cosmopolitan Cape Town, and see the penguins march along Boulders Beach. Then top off your journey in Zimbabwe with a tour of thundering Victoria Falls.