Planning tips for retailers

NEW YORK -- Familymoons are an "emerging trend" and need to be taken seriously by agents and destinations, according to Rebecca Grinnals, president of the Florida-based honeymoon and wedding consulting company Engaging Concepts.

"This is a golden opportunity to develop expertise in a new but rapidly growing market niche," Grinnals said.

"It's a very natural outgrowth of the destination honeymoon concept."

There was a time not very long ago when agents would never book a honeymooning couple into a place with families and kids, she said.

"That's all changed," Grinnals said. "Especially with so many second and even third marriages. Parents today don't want to leave their kids behind, and the kids certainly don't want to be left behind while their parents take off without them."

But planning a familymoon is a complex event, cautioned Sally Black, president of Vacationkids.com, a Pennsylvania-based travel agency specializing in family travel.

"There are usually kids of different ages, so they have different physical and emotional needs," she said. "There are time constraints and child-care issues.

Experts like Grinnals and Black suggest agents assist clients by keeping in mind the following caveats and incorporating them into familymoon bookings:

• Suggest that everyone in the family be involved in the travel and planning process; let each one plan an event.

• Expect the unexpected and keep a sense of humor.

• Choose a neutral destination, not one where either parent has spent a family vacation.

• Opt for a large resort or cruise. Camping trips are out. No privacy for anyone.

• Be sure the destination has flexible accommodations, affording the parents privacy but still enabling the family to be together.

• Be aware that single parents traveling with minors outside the U.S. should bring proof from the other parent that they have permission to travel with the child.

• Choose a destination that has significant experience in family travel, preferably in familymoons. -- K.S.

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For more details on this article, see Resorts pioneering programs for 'familymoons'.

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