You may have noticed that family and multi-generational travel is featured on many travel trend lists for the year ahead (like this one from Condé Nast Traveler, and this one from Virtuoso®). Family travel is on the rise — perhaps that’s partly because the world is becoming more accessible and many extended families find themselves living farther apart.
According to the AARP, one of the top motivators of travel for American Baby Boomers (practically all of whom intend to travel in the coming year) is to spend time with family and friends. And with money to spend on travel, more and more grandparents are bringing the kids and grandkids along on vacation.
Traveling with kids comes with its challenges, from feeding the mob to keeping the kids occupied during downtime. But despite logistical challenges, families are still packing their bags and opting to travel — now more than ever. That’s why there are hundreds of blogs, online guides, printed guide books and even some TV shows about traveling with kids, offering family travelers tips on what to bring, where to go and where to stay.
When it comes to travel accommodation, families look for lodgings that are safe, convenient and fun.
For lodging operators who would like to increase their share of the family travel pie, we’ve compiled a list of simple ideas for making your property family friendlier. Even the smallest efforts are likely to stand out to guests traveling with kids!
Lighten the Load – Traveling light is next to impossible for families, especially for those with small children. But lodgings can help lighten the load by having space-taking items like strollers and playpens available to borrow or rent. Baby swings or jumpers, baby baths, in-room highchairs and bottle warmers are other convenient items that could be made available on request and would be much appreciated by guests traveling with infants.
Be sure to advertise these amenities on your website so that guests know they don’t have to bring their own.
Family-Friendly Local Recommendations – Staff members should brush up their knowledge of local family-friendly attractions, activities, restaurants, parks and other points of interest to be able to offer helpful suggestions to guests with kids. Highlight these nearby attractions on your website too, to help sell your property to family travelers.
In-Room Amenities & Boredom Busters – Kids can get a little crazy cooped up in a hotel room (even for 20 minutes), so providing items like colouring books and crayons, board games, books, a DVD library, and game console rental that can be enjoyed during downtime will go far to impress kids and adults alike.
Also be sure to promote regular in-room amenities that families would particularly appreciate, such as kitchenettes and rollaway cots.
Kid-friendly Common Areas – Family travelers often seek lodgings with playgrounds and swimming pools, but properties without can provide plenty of fun too. Consider dedicating some outdoor and/or indoor space for kids to play. Even a simple swing set, lawn games like badminton or swingball, a ping pong table, or a giant Jenga set will appeal to kids of all ages.
Family-Friendly Activities – Quality family time is important to vacationing families and properties can enhance those moments by providing activities that families can enjoy together.
For example, you could offer bicycles (including kid-sized bikes and helmets, and bike trailers) to borrow or rent, or family-friendly walking tour maps. Consider running a bocce ball or ring toss tournament, or simply provide fun family lawn games on demand (hint: Google “DIY lawn games” for inspiration!). How about a family-friendly morning yoga session? Or an evening toasting marshmallows around the fire pit?
Supervised Kids Activities – Properties don’t have to run an official kids’ club to offer fun activities for kids. Craft sessions, lawn game tournaments, colouring competitions, pajama parties and movie nights are some inexpensive organized activities that can be supervised by qualified staff members (with current first-aid certification, clear background checks, and great communication skills with kids!).
Kid-Friendly Food – For properties with onsite dining, offering a kids’ menu is a no-brainer if catering to families with young children. But if you really want to impress the parents, review kid-friendly menu options to ensure healthy choices are available, like grilled chicken with celery sticks and Ranch, oven-baked (not deep fried!) chicken nuggets, mini hamburgers with 100% fresh ground beef, and fresh fruit salad.
With food allergies on the rapid rise, providing allergen-free options will make traveling much easier and safer for many families.
Stock Your Store – If you have a small store on site or offer a few conveniences for sale, be sure to stock items like baby wipes, diapers and sunscreen for purchase — daily conveniences that families with young children often run out of or forget to bring on vacation.
Family Packages and Offers – Entice families to stay with year-round or seasonal packages and offers created especially for family travelers. Consider partnering with nearby attractions and restaurants to offer discounted or free activities and meals included with a stay. Or implement a “kids stay free/dine free” policy. Multi-generational family groups would likely appreciate a discount on additional (and preferably adjoining) rooms.
Get to Know Your Family Guests – Make note of any special requests, ancillary services or other relevant observations about family groups in guest profiles within your property management system (PMS) or customer relationship management system (CRM) to get to know your family guests. Comprehensive guest profiles are key to personalizing service — through proactively providing the things guests need during future stays (like extra towels, a playpen or gluten-free cookies) and targeting marketing efforts more effectively.
Promote Your Family Friendliness – Promote your property wherever family travelers are likely to find you!
Make sure your website highlights your property’s family-oriented features, including amenities and services, packages and nearby attractions. Convey a family-friendly vibe with bright photos of families and kids having fun at your property, and highlight positive reviews by family travelers.
Your property’s listings with OTAs and review sites should also portray family friendliness through descriptions, amenity lists, photos and special offers.
Use your social media channels to promote family packages, stand-out amenities and your proximity to nearby attractions too. Social media is also a great way to share glowing reviews and guest photos that can help persuade potential customers to make a booking!
Family travel is an ever more lucrative market, and it isn’t difficult or expensive to make a property family friendly. Even the smallest conveniences can make a big difference to families away from home. Putting some of the above-mentioned simple initiatives into place can help your property stand out and become a family favorite!