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Destination Marketing & The Single Mom – Five Tips

Family travel accounts for one-third of all leisure travel, according to the 2013 “Portrait of American Travelers” study by Ypartnerships/Harrison Group.

Yet despite the fact that nearly 12 million households (28%) are run by single parents, nearly 80% of these by single mothers, destination marketing organizations have been slow to respond to the unique needs of this market segment.

For years, marketers placed low priority on single parent households, assuming that these households represented minimal discretionary spending capacity. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 40% of mothers are now the sole or primary source of income for U.S. household, and research has shown for years that the primary travel decision makers in households skew female.

Research shows there are two distinct groups of single mothers. The never married mother and the separated, divorced, widowed, mother. The latter group represents a growing segment of the U.S. population- those aged 35 and older, educated and financially capable, are the exact niche audience DMOs should target.

There are several components single parents seek in travel:

  • Affordability: With one income, single parents are seeking reasonable pricing, which is often why they look to all-inclusive packages.
  • Parent + Child Itineraries: As the single breadwinner, single parents are more likely to work more and unable to connect with their children as often as they would like during the work week. Therefore, they seek itineraries that include activities they can participate in together and reconnect.
  • Single Parent Connections: When parents are not with their children they’re seeking to connect with other adults. Single parents prefer to travel and connect with other single parents – there is no pressure for romance and there is a mutual understanding in lifestyle. Often times these connections create friendships that result in future travel adventures together.
  • Adventure Travel: According to single parent travel expert, Brenda Elwell Gottschalk, adventure travel is popular among single mothers. This provides an opportunity for moms to not only interact with children, but an opportunity to bond specifically with a male child seeking a form of masculine influence.

While the industry has perfected the pitch for the LGBT market, active boomers market and is making headway in preparing for millennials, single parent households remain an enigma. Yet several travel agents, resorts and cruise lines understand the needs of this market and have made headway in making them a priority.

All- Inclusive Family Packages (3)

All- Inclusive Family Packages (4)

All- Inclusive Family Packages (2)











So what does this all mean for DMOs? Take a play from the private sector playbook and consider the following:

  1. Incorporate “mom and kids” imagery to promote family travel in advertising, direct marketing and digital platforms.
  2. Provide sample itineraries showcasing evening activities for adults that are not focused on romantic couple experiences.
  3. Market adventure travel itineraries that are appropriate for a single parent and children.
  4. Encourage hoteliers to create single parent packages during both peak and off-season.
  5. Train tour operators, travel agents and partners on the single parent demographic and how to cater to this market’s needs.


Have other ideas for welcoming the single parent family traveler?  Tweet us @aboutdci.

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