On Saturday, March 17, Big Five had its inaugural gathering, which became the Kids Kouncil™. The event took place in our headquarters and was composed of six children between the ages of 6 and 19 years of age, who are all related to Big Five employees. Two of them joined in from Jacksonville via Skype.
Why? Big Five has been evolving and developing its approach to family travel over several years. We believe the creativity and ideas of children combined with the power of travel can transform the world.
We began our first serious steps with a family collection of trips called Precious Journeys®, followed by Precious Journeys® College Edition. Each collection feature activities and hands-on learning experiences specifically tailored for children and older teens.
As we looked for new adventures and options for this select collection, we came to the idea of having a meeting for and run by kids – no adults allowed. We came up with a short list of questions for them to discuss, which might give us insight into what the next generation is thinking about. The oldest member of the team served as the moderator.
The objective of this exercise was to get real answers from the children directly, without the adult filter, to discover what is important to children today. We did not focus on just travel specifically but rather on what each child was looking for and valued. Questions ranged from what was the best day you ever had, to what was the grossest food you ever ate.
The only rule was that wherever the conversation went, the adults would not interfere in any way. They weren’t even allowed in the room, except for a silent Ashish to take some pictures.
We realized this was a bit risky as we did not know what to expect. Would they all sit there mute? Would they run around and talk video games? Would we get any useful data from this experiment?
But it wasn’t long before we saw that these kids had a lot to say about the world and what they expect. We learned more in two hours than we could have learned in months.
What we as adults think kids want, and what kids really want are often miles apart. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus; parents must be from Mercury and kids from Pluto!
After that, our group officially became the Kids Kouncil™. We met again in July to talk about the results of our questionnaire. We also appointed the group as Junior Board Members.
We presented some of the results at recent conference of travel agents to demonstrate some of the differences between the kid answers and the adult answers. The adults were surprised by the level of the children’s answers. For example, one of the questions we asked was – If you had super powers, what would you change about the world?
Here’s what the kids said:
Not exactly childish answers, right? It is clear that children of all ages have much to contribute in ideas, enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of the solution. We are going to continue to develop authentic family travel that goes back to one of our fundamental beliefs that travel today is as much about why and less about where – even with kids.
We were impressed by how enthusiastic these children were and how eager they were to do it again. The Kids Kouncil™ will continue to meet two to three times yearly to provide ongoing feedback and ideas. A couple of them have expressed a serious interest in actually developing programs with us. We look forward to the upcoming meeting when the board will review Big Five current family-oriented programs in the Precious Journeys® collections to insure that they measure up and can be included as Kids Kouncil Approved™ adventures.