Family Affairs

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“Lifestyle and demographic trends are adding new meaning to the term, “family vacation.� Parents still travel with their kids, but so do aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends.�

Last year, Ellen and Larry Hickey treated their 15-year-old niece, Megan, to an all-expenses paid trip to Disney World. While making hotel arrangements for themselves and their niece, the Hickeys experienced many of the same frustrations described by travelers in this month's cover story, “The New Family Vacation.� Explains Ellen Hickey: “We didn't feel safe giving a 15-year-old her own hotel room, but we wanted her to have some privacy.� The couple asked for alternative accommodations to the standard room with two double beds, but was given few options.

As the proprietor of a motel in Cape Vincent, N.Y., Hickey knows all too well the frustrations of travelers — and her own limitations as a businesswoman in the hospitality industry. She embodies both sides of the trend that Senior Editor Rebecca Gardyn identifies in this month's cover story. In addition to traveling frequently with members of her extended family, Hickey runs a 10-room motel that offers little in the way of alternative accommodations to the standard room. Yet, even Hickey acknowledges the challenges facing the travel and hospitality industries. “How people travel — and with whom — is changing, but we as an industry aren't doing a good job of keeping up with these trends,� she says.

Indeed, lifestyle and demographic trends are adding new meaning to the term, “family vacation.� Parents still travel with their kids, but so do aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. As Gardyn points out in her story, there are potential business opportunities in catering to this emerging group of travelers. “Multigenerational travel, single-parent travel, gay/lesbian family travel, are just some of overlooked and underserved niches within the family travel market,� Gardyn writes. “These nontraditional family groups may not be reason to overhaul entire marketing strategies, but tailoring specialized offers and accommodations to them just may help offset declines in slow economic times.�

In addition to the cover story, there's a lot to highlight in this issue of American Demographics, particularly the debut of a column, “Trend Ticker,� by Peter Francese. As many long-time readers of the magazine know, Peter is the founder of American Demographics and a demographics and trend expert. His column will demonstrate how demographic trends can be used to make long-term investments — although he won't offer specific stock recommendations. Few editors ever have the chance to work with the original visionary of their magazines. We at American Demographics feel privileged to have Peter back onboard. Welcome home, Peter.

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