By Matt Villano, on October 18, 2016

The future of family travel

Family travel continues to grow as a segment of the overall travel industry, and Expedia is delighted to support it.

This explains Expedia’s continued support of the Family Travel Association (FTA), an organization that comprises the travel industry’s leading suppliers, media companies, and travel agents, and exists to grow the family and multigenerational travel markets.

The organization celebrates its second annual summit next week at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona (about two hours outside of Phoenix). The event, which is open to industry insiders and members of the public alike, will combine insightful talks, hands-on activities, and a vendor showcase during which participants can learn first-hand about the latest and greatest in family travel today. Expedia was a sponsor of the first summit and it’s sponsoring this year’s event, too. The company also will be giving away a handful of travel vouchers to participants during the event.

Personally, this all means quite a bit to me. As you know, I’m a family travel blogger, and have been one of the Expedia Viewfinder bloggers since the beginning. I also have been involved with the FTA from the get-go, serving as one of the founding board members and still playing an active role on a number of different committees.

Naturally, then, I am delighted to preview the event for you here.

The event kicks off Sunday afternoon, with keynote speeches by Maureen Miller, vice president of marketing for growth and emerging businesses at Disney; Estee Rivera Murdock, who coordinates the “Every Kid in a Park” program for the National Park Service; and Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big Five Tours & Expeditions.

Viewfinder Tip: The Caribbean and Central America are the most popular family travel destinations, according to research the Family Travel Association will release during its second annual summit.

FTA President Rainer Jenss also will take the stage to share the results of a study the FTA conducted in conjunction with New York University—a study that shines new light on aspects of family travel, and reveals that 80 percent of industry respondents see the market as growing robustly.

(As an aside, I’ll be interviewing all keynote speakers after their talks via Facebook Live on the FTA’s Facebook page.)

From there, attendees and participants will get to choose between one of three breakout sessions. Topics include: the influence of the grandparent effect, marketing to traveling families, and the rise of volunteer and impact family travel. The marketing talk will feature executives from Royal Caribbean and Visit Anchorage.

The following day—Monday, October 24—Caroline Shin, CEO and co-founder of, will welcome the crowd with a keynote, followed by breakout sessions that cover six different subjects.

I’ll be leading one of these six breakouts—a talk about understanding millennial family travelers. During the talk I’ll share some original reporting about millenial family travelers, as well as new Expedia research on millennials and how they travel with their families. My co-panelists will be Julia Cosgrove, editor-in-chief of AFAR magazine; and Dana Johnson, director of marketing and sales for Southwind Adventures. I’m sure they’ll have awesome insights of their own.

Other sessions worth noting: one about curing Nature Deficit Disorder, one about the changing faces of family travel, and a third about dude ranches featuring Jason St. Clair from one of Expedia’s favorite spots, Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana.

There’ll also be a keynote panel led by Kenneth Shapiro, the ebullient editor-in-chief of TravelAge West magazine.

The day concludes with family-oriented activities in and around Tucson.

The summit wraps up Tuesday with a speech by Bill Street, corporate curator of conservation and education at Sea World, additional family-oriented activities in and around town, and a chance for public and industry attendees to meet and mingle with members of the media.

A full agenda, indeed. But an informative one. And an important one, considering that more and more travelers will be vacationing with families in the years ahead.

If you’re interested in following along, check out my live broadcasts on the FTA’s social feeds during the event. You also can read my blog, which I’ll update daily, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I’ll even be taking over Instagram Stories on Expedia’s account on Tuesday, October 25. So stay tuned! And be sure to consult the FTA before you book your next family vacation here.

Where do you like to travel with your family and why?