In 2019, 77% of U.S. parents said they had gone on a family trip in the past three years. Whether parents bring the kids along on a business trip or set aside a week for a memorable family vacation, family travel calls for a hotel experience that caters to every guest, young and old.
The hospitality industry can capitalize on the family travel market by offering family-friendly amenities that continue to draw in families who are away from home. We’ll explore this concept further and share some family-friendly hotel ideas to help you create an exceptionally family-friendly hotel experience.
Read the article or jump to a specific section:
- What Does Family-Friendly Mean?
- Ways to Create a Family-Friendly Experience at Your Hotel or Resort
- 1. Offer Family Room Deals
- 2. Offer Value-Added Package Deals
- 3. Provide Baby Essentials to Families
- 4. Include Basic Necessities in the Gift Shop
- 5. Provide Kid-Friendly In-Room Amenities
- 6. Adopt Pet-Friendly Policies
- 7. Provide Child Care or Special Events for Kids
- 8. Provide Play Facilities On-Site
- Benefits of Family-Friendly Hotels
- Benefits for Hotels
- Benefits for Families
- Choose Soft Play® Products to Create a Family-Friendly Space
What Does Family-Friendly Mean?
Every hotel guest who comes through your doors has family connections, but many of them may be traveling alone or with a partner or colleague. Traveling with family is a different experience. When a hotel is family-friendly, whole families can enjoy their experience there. The hotel’s amenities and features appeal to all age ranges, from babies to seniors. Especially for families with young kids, finding family-appropriate accommodations can be a major priority.
The term family-friendly is often synonymous with kid-friendly. Most spaces, including hotels, are designed with adults in mind already by default. Kids can be left out of the picture unless they are intentionally considered. A family-friendly hotel goes out of its way to make the space welcoming and engaging for all guests, including little ones. When kids are happy, parents are happier too, and the whole family can enjoy their time at your hotel.
Ways to Create a Family-Friendly Experience at Your Hotel or Resort
To attract families, you need to take proactive steps to make your hotel or resort a family-friendly place. Highlighting family-friendly amenities in your hotel marketing is a smart move that can encourage travelers to choose your establishment over your competitors. What amenities should you include and advertise? Here are some ideas that can turn any hotel into a haven for families.
1. Offer Family Room Deals
The 2019 U.S. Family Travel Survey found that affordability is the greatest challenge for families when it comes to travel. In some cases, it prevents families from traveling altogether. The 2020 Marriott Bonvoy Bold From Chase Survey found that, even among families with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more, budgeting is a common concern when planning a family vacation. Families with kids tend to have more expenses and, therefore, must be careful with how they spend.
You don’t necessarily need to lower your room rates. In fact, families looking for a hotel may be just as deterred by a suspiciously low price as a high one. Instead, look for ways to give discounts to families who may need to spend more for extra accommodations or amenities. A great way to do this is to encourage families to book adjacent rooms and discount the price of the additional room or rooms.
These deals are perfect for multigenerational trips where grandparents need their own room but want to be close to the rest of their family. It’s also a great option for a family with older kids who can stay together in their own room, allowing their parents to enjoy some privacy next door. Providing these family rates is a smart promotion to run during lower occupancy seasons, especially, since it can help you fill more rooms.
2. Offer Value-Added Package Deals
Another way to help families save money and enjoy a family-friendly experience at your hotel is by offering some package deals. Consider what other hotel offers you provide to combine with family accommodations for a more all-inclusive feel. You don’t have to be an all-inclusive resort to do this — nearly any hotel can find ways to create a package deal.
For many hotels, a simple and popular option is to include meals at the hotel’s restaurant in a package. You could, alternatively, allow kids under a certain age to eat free at your hotel’s restaurant. If you don’t have a restaurant on-site or you already offer complimentary meals, consider partnering with a restaurant within walking distance of your hotel to create a package deal that includes a gift certificate for the restaurant.
Value-added family packages may also include fun activities that families can enjoy. You might partner with a local mini-golf course or arcade to include a voucher for these activities. Or you may coordinate with a local museum, zoo or aquarium to create a package deal that includes accommodations and tickets to the family-friendly places.
3. Provide Baby Essentials to Families
Anyone who has cared for an infant knows that traveling with a baby can be complicated. Parents already have a lot to worry about, like packing plenty of diapers, outfit changes, bottles and other supplies. Anything you can provide to make parents’ lives easier is a perk. You can either provide these items on a complimentary basis upon request or have them available for a small rental fee.
Some essentials that can help families with babies include:
- Cribs, bassinets or playpens
- Changing mats
- Baby baths
- Bottle warmers
Purchasing a few of these items is a relatively minor investment for your hotel but could prove to be a real draw for families. Especially when it comes to larger items like strollers and bassinets, packing these items alongside luggage can be tricky. Some families may have limited storage space in their vehicles or may be flying and trying to limit their checked luggage.
In these instances, being able to leave bulky items behind knowing the hotel will provide exactly what you need is invaluable. Providing these essentials can be an easy and effective way to show parents you care about their needs.
4. Include Basic Necessities in the Gift Shop
When you’re traveling with kids, the packing list can seem endless, and accidentally forgetting something at home is nearly unavoidable. Your hotel can become the hero in this likely scenario by keeping some necessities and comfort items in stock in a gift shop or convenience store on-site.
If you don’t currently have a store in your hotel, you can create one without overcomplicating it or overextending your staff. Keep it simple and locate the store near the front desk so reception staff can monitor the store and handle purchases.
Offer these basic necessities in your shop:
- Over-the-counter children’s medicines
Many of these items you can also include in a vending machine if you would prefer to have a self-service option. You may also choose to make some items, such as toothbrushes, available upon request for free. The key is simply making these items available to families in a convenient way so they can get what they need without having to go out to a store. You’ll enhance the guest experience for families and all your guests.
5. Provide Kid-Friendly In-Room Amenities
There are plenty of ways you can make your hotel rooms or suites more kid-friendly. Some hotels create themed rooms with colors, designs and characters that excite their youngest guests. For example, a hotel on the beach may want to have a pirate-themed or an under-the-sea-themed room. You can upcharge for these themed rooms that families are sure to love. Even in a standard room, there are amenities you can add to appeal to families.
When you know a family with kids is checking into a room, consider leaving a welcome gift kids can enjoy. Some ideas include a coloring book or activity sheet with crayons or a stuffed animal. You can also choose to hand these welcome gifts to families as they check in at the reception desk. Or include kids by hanging child-size robes in the bathroom or closet. Parents may get a bigger kick out of this than kids, especially since it makes for a great photo op.
There are also some practical amenities that families may appreciate in their rooms. Including a kitchenette in a room makes it easier for families to warm bottles, fix snacks or store leftovers. Nearly half of families say this kitchen access is an important factor in choosing their hotel. On-site laundry facilities can be helpful, too, especially in the case of longer stays.
Another perk many travelers will enjoy is being able to log in to their streaming accounts from the hotel TV. This makes it easy for parents to curate what their kids watch and ensure they have access to their favorite shows and movies.
6. Adopt Pet-Friendly Policies
Traveling with pets used to be a rarity, but market trends show that is no longer the case. In the last decade, the percentage of people who bring their dogs with them when they travel has more than doubled. Especially on a family vacation, some parents and kids alike may prefer to make their furry family members part of the trip, too. When families plan to travel with their pet, that will inform their hotel search. By putting pet-friendly policies in place, you can attract these families to your business.
Of course, allowing pets in your hotel comes with its share of potential complications and extra cleaning needs. One way to minimize potential issues is to designate one floor or a certain block of rooms as pet-approved rooms. Keeping certain accommodations pet-free is a smart move since this will appeal to people with allergies.
You can even go a step further for pet owners to make your hotel stand out. Consider providing a complimentary pet bed or food and water bowls for pets to use during their stay. These little touches will delight adults and kids alike who are eager for their family pet to enjoy their stay.
7. Provide Child Care or Special Events for Kids
No matter how much they enjoy spending time with their kids, all parents need time to themselves to relax, recharge and reconnect. Help parents get this much-needed time on their family holiday by offering child care services at your hotel. This offering could take the form of a day care on-site, or it could look like scheduled activities that do not require parents to attend.
Some of the most kid-friendly hotels and resorts host kids’ clubs where kids can enjoy fun activities with adult supervision from hotel staff. Consider these activities to engage kids and give parents some grown-up time:
- Show a kids’ movie on a big screen
- Host a storytime hour where you read books aloud
- Lead arts and crafts projects
- Take kids on a treasure hunt
- Offer face painting
- Teach kids about the history or natural environment of your location
- Supervise free play on an on-site playground
These services can be a major selling point for families looking for the perfect place to stay on vacation or during a business trip when the kids are coming along. Even parents who prefer not to leave their kids in someone else’s care may still love the idea of participating or watching from the sidelines while their kids have fun.
8. Provide Play Facilities On-Site
One of the best hotel amenities you can provide for families is an area where kids can play freely. Family getaways should be fun for everyone involved, but many hotels can feel dull to kids. Kids are often told not to touch anything or to avoid getting rambunctious in a hotel, which can leave them feeling stifled. Kids need a place where they can have fun.
One area where this can happen is a pool, but you can take an average pool area to the next level by adding water play equipment. Create your own little waterpark right there at the hotel, which can be a major bonus for families who book a stay with you. You may also include an arcade or game room, which can appeal especially to older kids.
One of the best ways to allow kids to burn off some energy, use their imaginations and ultimately have a great time is to install a playground at your hotel — either indoor, outdoor or both. Transform your hotel lobby or a designated area into a kid-friendly space with play equipment. Even if you’re working with limited space and a tight budget, you can install a sculpted foam playground that will delight kids. You can even create a custom playground with the perfect theme or branding for your hotel.
Benefits of Family-Friendly Hotels
Why should hotel management concern themselves with making their establishment more family-friendly? Because there are valuable benefits that both your hotel and your guests can enjoy.
Benefits for Hotels
Consider these reasons why catering to families is a smart move:
- Capture a large demographic: Families are not a small minority within the travel market — they represent a large portion. So, if you fail to appeal to these travelers, you can miss out on a lot of business. On the flip side, if you cater to this demographic, you can capture more of the market and boost business considerably.
- Set yourself apart from the competition: Research shows that 61% of families consider finding a kid-friendly environment a top concern during their search for accommodations. If your hotel is considered more kid-friendly than your competitor down the street, you can draw in these families.
- Create a caring brand identity: Every hotel, from independent boutique hotels to international chains, have a brand identity. Your brand is how consumers see you, and you want that identity to be positive. When you show you care about families, you can cultivate an empathetic and family-oriented brand identity that gives people a positive impression of your business.
Remember that catering to families does not have to come at the expense of the guest experience you offer business travelers or couples looking for a romantic getaway. You can find ways to appeal to all of these demographics. If you’re concerned about how other travelers will feel about the presence of kids, a simple solution is to create designated spaces in your hotel.
You may choose to place families primarily on the first floor or two. In these areas, parents won’t have to worry as much about their kids getting a bit noisy since they’ll be surrounded by other families who are understanding. You can assign single guests and couples to rooms on an upper floor where they can enjoy a quieter atmosphere. With a little planning, you can make your hotel a welcoming place for everyone.
Benefits for Families
From families’ perspectives, there are valuable benefits to staying in a family-friendly hotel versus a hotel that doesn’t cater to their needs. In a family-friendly hotel, they’re more likely to enjoy:
- Convenience: Vacations can be fun and memorable occasions, but they can also get a bit stressful at times. Traveling away from home comes with its share of logistical complications, especially with young children. The more complications and inconveniences hotels can remove from families by offering the amenities and items they need, the more families can simply have a great time together.
- Cost-savings: The number-one factor for families in choosing their hotel is finding the best value and sticking to their budget. If you can appeal to this concern with family discounts and value-added packages, you can draw in more families and help them enjoy a fun vacation on a budget. By offering amenities for families on-site, you can save them from spending extra money elsewhere.
- Fun for all: Perhaps most importantly, kid-friendly hotels can ensure every member of the family enjoys a great trip. For a parent taking a break from work, a simple, quiet room may seem like a dream come true, but kids need a bit more to engage them and help them enjoy their time away. Amenities like pools and playgrounds can get kids excited for their vacation, even on the days they simply stick around the hotel without going anywhere. And child care can help caregivers enjoy a relaxing break, too.
Choose Soft Play® Products to Create a Family-Friendly Space
Families are looking for accommodations that fit their needs. You can make your hotel the place that checks all their boxes and gives them a great guest experience.
If you want to distinguish your hotel as a family-friendly destination, consider adding a playground from Soft Play. We offer a range of products to help you create both indoor and outdoor playgrounds that will appeal to families. We have decades of experience in this industry and have earned our place as the global leader in contained playground equipment. We can help you create a customized playground that will excite families and kids, enticing visitors to your hotel. Request a quote to learn more.