Or things to remember when creating hospitality paradise for families
Families are one of the biggest markets in hospitality industry. Travelling with children has become extremely popular, so we witness increased numbers of adventurous parents taking their children along on weekend trips, holidays or simply dining out nights. Multi-generational travel is also on the rise, bringing extended families (kids, parents and grandparents) to spend quality time together. So how do we adapt to the new trend and ensure our guests get to spend the time of their lives!?
What do you think when hearing family-friendly? Hotels and restaurants that allow kids in their establishment? Maybe even have a children menu on offer? Unfortunately, in many cases that is exactly what it is. Many businesses claim to be family friendly to attract more guests, whereas in reality they are simply "kids-allowed" establishments. But it doesn’t need to be this way. Creating memorable experience for the guests of all ages is possible and - often - simple. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track.
Think GUEST journey
In this case I have all guests in mind. Designing family friendly experiences requires a close look into guests' journey and understanding of their different needs. If we aim to be the place, which offers more than a high chairs in the restaurants or cots in guests’ bedrooms, we need to carefully analyse all touch points of the holistic experience our visitors will have. When mapping your guests' journey it is important to see from both - the kids and parents - prospective.
Safety first. It probably goes without saying that guests’ safety is paramount for any hospitality establishment. Even more it is when hosting little visitors. Children are keen explorers and, normally, way more active than the adult guests. That means they will find and reach spaces the grownups often don’t even think about. Especially when dealing with babies or toddlers, it is essential to ensure that our premises are hazard free and safe for their experience. Think sharp edges, small objects, opened windows, electricity outlets and even plants! Things and objects that seem normal to us, might be potential danger for the kids, so taking safety seriously is the first step toward success.
The basics. Designing splendid family friendly experiences requires consideration of the basics, such as space arrangements or essential equipment. From the designated area for stroller parking, coats and bags (to keep both - the space clear, and your guests comfortable), to generally more spacious places, nappy changing amenities and products, or equipment that kids can reach (e.g. your buffet) - everything needs to be thought of.
Services and facilities. When hosting children we also need to tailor our provided services and available facilities to their needs. The goal is to ensure young guests feel getting the same value as their older companions. That means amenities, facilities and services offered suit their liking and needs. So what can that be?
Think of adult options in the kids form. Say, we offer slippers and robe for our guests. Why not adding the smaller size set for the little guests? Or the restaurant menu - one thing is to have a Kids choice section in the back of it, another - to create a separate menu card specially designed for kids eye and liking. Colourful photos of the dishes (ideally supporting the balanced and varied diet, which the parents will appreciate!), your business mascot or favourite character presenting the meals, maybe even a bit of story telling - it won’t only look creative and different, but will also entertain the kids. Which brings us to the next point.
Entertainment. Keeping children busy and entertained is one of the main challenges not only for businesses, but also parents. Be it a toddler or a teenager - they all get bored easily, so a great amount of effort needs to be put into this aspect. Depending on our establishment's type and concept, we should consider various entertainment options suitable for different ages. Whether it’s supervised childcare facilities, playground or game activity area, fully trained babysitting service, kids club, teens clubs or others. Providing amusement options and keeping them involved in various activities will not only make them happy, but also delight the parents. Even if there is no possibility for designated kids area in the establishment, providing things, such as colouring books, toys and games, occasionally even snacks or candy (this should be consulted with parents prior) - will be appreciated. Believe it or not, even your food serving and plating could be a source of entertainment if done creatively.
Young guests likely won’t be the ones raising complaints or writing negative reviews on the internet, but that doesn’t mean they do not require care and attention. If there is anything I have learnt during my years, is that - happy kids surely mean happy parents. Have you noticed, how happy and proud people are when you compliment their kids? Or make them laugh? Let’s face it - people love their children and want to see them happy, merry and looked well after. So what does that mean for us in service interactions?
Warm welcome and care. Kids should always feel expected and appreciated, so kind, enthusiastic greeting is important. We need to remember to acknowledge the kids - refer to them personally with the separate hello (while leaning to their height level), handshake or even the high five; to speak with them - ask questions directly, take orders from them and always give a little extra attention.
Staff training. Not all people like kids, which means it is critical to educate the team about their importance and how to deal with them. Being a great family host means having patience, being kind and having skills to handle people of different ages. Ensuring every team member is capable of these tasks will create a better working environment for the staff and, no doubt, greater experience for the guests.