Five Minutes With ... Rainer Jenss
Founder | Family Travel Association
This past fall, the Family Travel Association (FTA) launched a first of its kind program for the family travel industry: The FTA Family-Friendly Certification Program. Developed with the creation of the certification program were industry standards and guidelines that define what it means to be truly family-friendly and identify what suppliers need to do to earn this designation.
By establishing these industry guidelines, FTA says it's hoping to set the standards that will assist organizations when developing products and services for families, and help travel advisors choose who to work with when planning their clients' vacations.
Certification requires suppliers to go through an application process and audit of their current practices. Once approved, suppliers participate in a training program and receive guidance on creating marketing packages, in addition to receiving certification logo usage and licensing—a process several suppliers have already qualified for or are in the final stages of completing. The standards and guidelines criteria include management processes, communications, booking, guest services, facilities, amenities, health and wellness, activities, accessibility, and financial assistance.
Groups Today caught up with Rainer Jenss, Founder of FTA, to learn more.
How did the criteria for the certification program come together?
First, we tapped into the expertise within our membership within three different areas: travel advisors, suppliers and media. We recognized the importance of having a certain level of standards our industry as a whole should comply to, while also breaking out the guidelines by sector (cruise lines, hotels and resorts, airlines, etc.). We wanted all voices to be heard to help establish the baseline.
From there, we asked each sector to share some of the things they thought their portion of the industry could be doing to best serve traveling families. We also questioned and received input from outside the FTA membership, in addition to referencing findings from the annual FTA research study.
How will the certification—which is the first of its kind—influence and change the industry for the better?
We're really hoping the certification program sets the standards that will ultimately guide organizations and give them a launching point when they're developing the products and services for families in the first place. So rather than organizations developing products and then seeing if they meet the standards, they'll begin by looking at the standards and guidelines first and develop their offerings from there.
In addition to the certification, how can the industry better meet the needs of traveling families?
Communicate more with families and provide them with the information they're looking for, because there's still a large percentage who are out doing their own research and not using a travel advisor. There are often websites that lack a section specifically for families and in turn end up missing the information that consumers are really looking for.
For more information on FTA membership, partnerships or the Family-Friendly Certification Program, contact [email protected].
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor of Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb '23 issue of Groups Today.