June 22, 2021 · Pete DiMaio
Make Your Hotel More Kid-Friendly By Focusing On These Five Areas
Are you ignoring a major segment of your audience, and a vast majority of the true decision-makers, who hold your future in their hands? If you’re a resort destination, family-friendly, or offer kid-friendly amenities you may very well be giving the cold shoulder to your most important consumer.
While parents may choose when to vacation, the kids hold the key to where that vacation will take place. Engaging with kids to help them nudge the parents is easy, particularly when you remember one golden rule. Kids are actually little people, and like to be treated as such. That means they want:
- To be acknowledged
- To be respected
- To be surprised & delighted
- To be catered to with experiences that matter
- “Kids” are not a monolithic group. Your toddler guests are going to be looking for ENTIRELY different things than your tweens or teens.
If you’re a family property and if kids are an important part of your market segment there are countless ways you can differentiate yourself to stand out to the youngest of your guests. There are five key areas of focus to create a truly kid-friendly experience at your property.
#1: Kid-Friendly Staff
- Pay attention to your arriving guests and surprise & delight the younger ones with a small toy. Inn of the Mountain Gods, a casino resort in New Mexico, is a great example of giving a small stuffed animal to young guests.
- Disney goes through rolls of stickers and staff are eager to hand out a few every time they see a kid. This minimal cost has a tremendous return in happy guests.
- Consider a kid-concierge to help families with children a family-friendly vacation itinerary that’s appropriate for the child’s age range. If you do invest in a kid-concierge, consider a dedicated pre-arrival email to that reservation introducing the concierge and offering a little advance assistance. Any good CRM system will be able to trigger off of a reservation that includes a child in the reservation.
- Give your staff the latitude (and time) to have fun with your guests.
#2: Kid-Friendly Rooms
- Look no further than Disney’s family suites or Great Wolf Lodge’s themed suites. These are the gold standards of kid-friendly rooms. Though this level of kid-friendly the exception, not the rule.
- Everyone appreciates a few complementary water bottles in a room, but what about a few juice boxes as well for the younger ones?
- What technology is “expected” from a young guest and how can you deliver? While blazing fast wifi, the ability to connect to your streaming services, and smart systems may not be expected from older visitors, kids have grown up with these services and assume them to be everywhere.
- Some hotels offer baby-ready rooms complete with cribs, rocking chairs, and other baby needs like a baby shampoo, diapers, and even complimentary logoed bibs. Use your pre-arrival communications to know what your guests will need and have it ready in advance.
- Disney, and several other kid-centric resorts make a point of leaving a little chocolate, fun towel animal, or other fun surprises during daily maid service. Again, this costs nearly nothing, but creates that memory that lasts forever.
#3: Kid-Friendly Amenities
- Consider fun (outside the box) amenities, such as a free self service ice cream machine, water bar, or other amenities that one may not expect. These create the amazing surprise & delight memories that encourage repeat guests.
- Acknowledge the friction points with kids and address those early (waiting for food, check in). Anytime a kid gets bored, tired, or hungry leads to what could end up being a negative memory.
- Kids don’t need complex amenities, but exciting ones to them. The little branded stuffed animal or balloon at check in is an amenity that will be remembered.
- From a food & beverage perspective, a great suggestion from a hotelier is to have a kid portions of any entree, this means the kid gets to eat the steak they may want instead of the kid meal they might otherwise be forced to choose. Although everyone should have nuggets and spaghetti on the menu.
- Kids clubs are still an integral part of a great resort experience, but what can you do to make the most of it? The Mermaid experience and SCUBA experiences at Dunes Village Resort here in Myrtle Beach take kids clubs to the next level. Plus, these experiences can include an additional fee and tie your property into the greater community.
#4: Kid-Friendly Community
You know those mermaids and SCUBA experiences we just covered, those shouldn’t cost you much, if anything. For instance a small admission fee and partnership can offset your costs significantly.
Beyond just your on-site experiences, look to the broader community and integrate their promotions into your resort experience. Would a kids’ welcome gift with local attractions, such as a free pass to the local go-kart track, make sense? This not only makes you a stronger member of your community, it allows you to offer a welcome gift pack that’s sure to please.
#5: Kid-Friendly Marketing
- Utilize more kid friendly mediums to engage kids as they consume media. This would include targeting younger channels such as youtube and other OTT platforms.
- Creating authentic content and engagement on the platforms kids use the most. TikTok users between four and 15 spend an average of 80 minutes per day on the app. Plus you have great opportunity for organic reach by being an active participant as well as paid exposure.
- Produce content that’s designed for younger guests, such as property tours hosted by kids, and promote these heavily on your site, social channels, and guest communications.
- Reviews are essential. If you’re a family resort, or you know a child was a guest, get their feedback (COPPA and privacy are a given). This can easily be done via your post-stay survey system when a child is on the folio.
- Never consider your site’s family/kid amenities section as an afterthought. Build this out and make it a compelling section. Again, look at Great Wolf Lodge’s Attractions page where you can filter by age group at greatwolf.com/concord/waterpark-attractions/explore-by-age.
There are countless more ways you can cater to your younger guests, including enhancing what you are already delivering to younger visitors. However, before you make any changes, audit your own property by looking at it through a kid’s point of view. Better yet, enlist your kids, or your staff’s kids, into a little forced labor to experience the property and share their recommendations.