Dec. 11, 2012— -- Moms are having their moment, at least when it comes to vacation planning.
That moms are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to the all-important family vacation may not come as a surprise, but the way some of the biggest names in the travel industry have been directly reaching out to those moms may be.
Next month, Hilton Hotels and Resorts will launch Hilton Mom Voyage, a family travel website that has 15 moms sharing their own Hilton vacation experiences.
"Our research shows that moms play an integral role in the family vacation planning process. Creating a forum for moms and dads to share family travel insights and experiences directly with our future guests will help travelers navigate our resort and leisure portfolio to find the properties that best meet the experiences they want to share during the valuable time families spend together," said Bonnie Campagnuolo, senior director of global brand marketing at Hilton Hotels and Resorts.
The selected moms were sent on a five-night, all-expenses-paid family vacation to a Hilton Hotels and Resorts. They will also get other perks, such as HHonors Diamond Elite status and free single-night stays at Hilton properties.
Last month, Vail Resorts, the company behind such resorts as Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Heavenly, Breckenridge and Northstar, launched EpicMoms.com, "a family travel guide to Vail Resorts for moms by moms." The moms giving advice are four professional travel writers.
EpicMoms.com bears a close resemblance to Snowmamas.com, another site giving ski-centric advice to potential visitors. But while EpicMoms.com only gives advice about vacations to Vail Resorts, Snowmamas.com gives advice to parents considering ski vacations to any destination. But there is an emphasis on Park City, Utah. The site was founded in 2008 by Krista Parry, director of marketing and communications at Park City Mountain Resort.
It started with only five people but has grown to 25 snowmamas and "papas," plus a Facebook community of about 300, said Parry.
"It's about the greater good," said Parry. "We don't shove Park City down your throat. First and foremost, this is about creating a community to help people take ski and snowboard vacations."
Family travel experts say the "greater good" approach is essential to success.
"These brands are realizing they need real, bona fide content," said Eileen Ogintz, nationally syndicated family travel columnist and the woman behind TakingtheKids.com. "Today's generation doesn't want market-speak."
The approach works well for Park City. Parry said visitors to the site are eight times more likely to book a vacation.
"Krista was ahead of her time," said Ogintz. "What's made it [Snowmamas] such a success is that it's so transparent. They're fine talking about things that aren't perfect, or giving advice about other destinations aside from Park City."
Even Walt Disney World – arguably the world's most popular family vacation destination – recognizes the importance of moms in vacation planning. (Editor's note: The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC News.) The hugely popular Walt Disney World Moms Panel was founded in 2008 with 12 members; today it has more than 40. The panel is an online forum where guests can get tips and insights for a Disney vacation from real moms, dads and grandparents who have "mastered the art of planning Disney vacations." Guests can pose questions to the panelists in both English and Spanish, as well as gain access to other vacation-planning tools for booking a Disney vacation.
"I think we're going to see more of these, wouldn't be surprised if every brand has one soon," Ogintz said. "But the caution here is they have to be honest and transparent. If all they write about is how everything is so wonderful it's not going to work."