How hotels can attract and win over family travelers

Family travel is predicted to increase by a huge 25% by 2022 according to the ‘Key Trends in Family Travel’ report by GlobalData.

An increase in disposable income and the booming Chinese tourist market were cited as significant reasons for this growth. According to Sara Grady, Head of Travel & Tourism for GlobalData, family travel is “moving beyond the traditional sun and beach getaway”, and multi-generational trips are expected to increase.

In the next few years, family-friendly hotels will have an opportunity to capitalize on this rapidly expanding and profitable marketplace. With that in mind, here are our top six tips for hotels to attract and cater to family travelers.

1. Make life easy on arrival

Family hotel check-in

The arrival and hotel check-in process can often be a source of stress for parents — especially after a long journey with tired toddlers. This is a chance for your hotel to make a great first impression by turning those first few minutes and hours into a smoother experience.

For anyone arriving with a baby (and especially those arriving late at night), make sure that there’s a crib ready and waiting in their room. When a screaming infant just wants to sleep, the last thing you want to tell their parents is that their room isn’t prepared.

By the time your family guests arrive, they might have already realized that they’ve forgotten to pack an important item (such as baby formula or wet wipes). So during the check-in process, make a practice of offering to fetch any baby essentials. Some parents might feel that it’s their responsibility to be on top of everything, but will appreciate your offer to help them out.

2. Flexible nanny service

Plenty of hotels promote a babysitting service. But parents often associate babysitting with someone watching the kids during the evening. In reality, there are times when a lot of parents just want more time for themselves during the day.

So why not promote a flexible nanny service that’s built around the needs of each guest? For instance, some guests might just want a thirty-minute break so they can read a book undisturbed while their kids are in the pool. Others may want to enjoy a spa treatment, or take a quiet stroll into town. It’s worth explicitly mentioning these kinds of examples in your marketing so moms and dads know that they’ll have chance to unwind alone how they want, whenever they want.

3. Discounts off attractions

Child on merry go round

The cost of a family vacation can quickly mount up. Particularly when parents are trying to keep their kids entertained with additional trips, activities, and excursions.

Package room deals with discounts off theme parks, tours, and attractions are a great way to make a vacation more affordable. But some parents may want to save money on simple treats, such as trips to the cinema or soft play centers. So reach out with pre-arrival emails to find out about any specific preferences that help you personalize your deals.

It’s also worth thinking about the ways you can offer affordable experiences that let families relax together on-property. For instance, certain Marriott hotels offer a family movie night package that includes the choice of an in-room film, a customized pizza delivered to the room, and non-alcoholic drinks for adults and children. What relaxing hotel experiences would your typical family traveler enjoy?

4. Kids packs

Packing for a family trip can be a hugely time-consuming process, and parents often come laden with heavy cases and flight bags. Hence, forward-thinking hotels are providing essential items that enable families to travel lighter.

At Almyra Hotel in Paphos, guests can pre-order baby equipment online via the hotel’s ‘Baby Go Lightly’ service. In addition to an array of essentials, such as playmats, potties, and buggies, parents can order non-essentials like DVDs, storybooks, and swimming jackets. Car seats can also be requested for private transfers.

This online service is something that all hotels could replicate. Alternatively, you could provide travel packs for parents that ensure their children are kept occupied during a busy day trip, or a long return journey home. For those with toddlers, a pack filled with stickers, coloring books, crayons, and a few (parent-approved) snacks for the road will be highly appreciated.

If you really want to go the extra mile, contact your guests before they arrive to find out about their children’s preferences, such as favorite toys, TV shows, or treats. You can then stock their travel bags with the kind of personalized items that you know they’ll love.

5. Communal areas for older kids

While plenty of hotels provide camps and classes to entertain little ones, older kids generally aren’t as well catered for. However, some hotels are giving tweens and teens their own social space to make new friends and enjoy time away from the grown-ups.

At The Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife, kids aged 10 to 16 years have a customized place where they can hang out and get stuck into an array of sports, games, and competitions. Teens can attend hip hop workshops, MC classes, Xbox competitions, Guitar Hero battles, and a weekly rock-style party with a strict no-parents-allowed policy.

While your own hotel might not be able to dedicate the same amount of space or resources, consider whether you can dedicate a teenager-only area with consoles, games, pool tables, or big screen TVs so they can socialize and enjoy some parent-free fun.

6. Family-friendly guest rooms

Child in hotel bed

When babies and toddlers are far from home and out of their routine, being in an unfamiliar hotel room can feel a little intimidating. But for a relatively small investment, it’s easy to help the whole family feel more settled.

At Rocco Forte Hotels, their Families R Forte programme offers practical items to make their guest rooms feel like a home away from home. Little ones are given milk, cookies, and a teddy to snuggle up with at bedtime. While parents with older children can request books, magazines, movies, games, and games consoles.

At The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of Asia Pacific, kids can enjoy an in-room campside adventure that includes a tent, night-time story book, compass, lantern, flashlight, drinking bottle, and a cuddly lion.

These kinds of thoughtful services demonstrate how hotels can make their in-room experience feel more welcoming and family-focused. And if your hotel can reassure families that you’ll make their little travelers feel happy and settled, you’ll instantly stand out from the competition.

Attracting family travelers

The number of outbound family trips is expected to leap from 300 million trips in 2017 to 376 million trips in 2022. So there’s a huge opportunity to capitalize on this rapidly expanding section of the marketplace.

As outlined above, a number of hotels have spent time creating themed activities and helpful services that guarantee that everyone in the family has a great time, no matter what their age is.

If your hotel caters to families, now’s the time to consider how the experiences you provide can lighten the load on parents, put big smiles on little faces, and turn the family vacation into a memorable experience.

Joan Evelyn Lee

Joan Evelyn Lee

Joan is VP of Operations at Travel Tripper, helping hotels worldwide efficiently manage their distribution channels and maximize direct bookings. She loves cooking, traveling, and all things New Orleans. Contact her at joan@traveltripper.com.

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