There's a new travel demographic in town, and they're called PANKs: Professional Aunt, No Kids.
With more and more women in the U.S. and Asia either choosing to have children later in life or electing to lead childless lives altogether, PANKs are emerging as a group with major growth potential in the travel industry, points out a wide-sweeping trendspotting report out of the World Travel Market (WTM) show in London this week.
As childless women, they're more likely to have disposable incomes. And as doting aunts to tots, children or teens -- whether by blood or by friendship -- they're also likely to welcome the opportunity to bond with their nieces and nephews over extended travel experiences.
According to the WTM Global Trends Report 2013, in 2010 nearly half or 43% of US women between the ages of 15 to 44 were childless -- up from 40% in 2002.
Citing research conducted by Savvy Auntie, a website for aunts and grandmothers, the report points out that there are 23 million PANKs in the U.S. who spend a whopping $9 billion annually on children.
"PANKs want to have meaningful experiences with the children in their lives and develop strong bonds with them, which makes travel an ideal product for this demographic," said Savvy Auntie CEO Melanie Notkin in a statement.
Cruise company Royal Caribbean also acknowledges this growing market segment by purposely refraining from using the term 'mothers' in its advertising, the company says, despite the fact that its marketing strategy is hinged heavily on women -- the group that makes the most travel-related decisions.