Grandtravel catches on

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A big marketing trend is marketing on the basis of grandparenting," says AARP President Bill Novelli, "and the travel industry has certainly discovered it."

After all, 27% of grandparents age 50-59 say they vacation with their grandchildren in a typical month and 16% of grandparents age 60-74 do, according to AARP's "Grandparenting Survey." Grandtravel, grandparents vacationing with their grandchildren without the parents, has become a fast-growing travel trend.

BILLIONS IN PLAY

America's 60 million grandparents spend an estimated $30 billion a year on their grandchildren, according to data compiled by Market Research, and they spend $36.6 billion on travel and travel-related services.

If, for instance, grandparents spent even $500 per trip with grandchildren, that's at least a $6.5 billion market, Advertising Age estimates.

One travel agency, named appropriately enough, Grandtravel, started doing tours for grandparents and grandchildren 15 years ago and has seen traffic steadily increase over the years.

"We wouldn't still be doing this if it wasn't increasing," says founder Helena Koenig, whose advertising is handled in-house.

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Ads are placed mostly in newspapers and some magazines, such as The New Yorker, says Ms. Koenig, and there is some direct mail. But many of her customers contact the travel agency because of word-of-mouth and the company Web site, grandtrvl.com, she says.

The most popular tour destination is Kenya for an African safari, followed by London, Paris and Washington, she says. Tours include a guide and an escort who can help fill prescriptions or find a dentist for a child's loose orthodontic wire.

"Grandparents are very conscious of the future of their grandkids and they like to spoil them," says Mr. Novelli. "So there is a lot of opportunity [for marketers]."

Contributing: Janice Rosenberg

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