Family travel is once again on the rise as travel begins to open up. While all segments of the population are traveling again, an important emphasis is on family holidays. By 2022, the number of family vacations is expected to increase by 25%. In the United States alone, total travel will amount to 376 million trips.
While people yearn for new scenery and experiences that only travel can offer, for families, the appeal of a family vacation is also about emphasizing what so many of us learned during lockdown: that family is a big part of what makes life meaningful. While it may be a surprise that after a year or so of intense family bubble time families are wanting to spend even more time together, the focus of the family vacation is on sharing joyful experiences and creating memorable moments. Because you only live once.
As a hotelier, you have a meaningful opportunity to not only provide a home base for families but be a part of their joyful and memorable vacation! On an emotional level, this is, of course, deeply satisfying. And on an economic level, there’s no better way to build guest loyalty and repeat bookings than to play a part in a positive memory association.
Your effort to attract families to your hotel is more worth it than ever! Learn more about what families are looking for when booking hotels, along with our top four tips to make your hotel a family favorite.
1. Family Specials and Value Adds
According to NYU, the “best value for budget” is the most important factor for 77% of families when booking accommodation. Offering a discount on family rooms or targeting families in your email list with coupons could be a good way to clinch a booking but this tactic is highly competitive and doesn’t take into account the heart of why families are traveling. Instead, or in addition to discounts, emphasize family experiences with value-adds and package deals that highlight area and property attractions:
- Coupons for local tour companies
- Stay and Play vacation packages that include local activities with a hotel stay
- Offer free parking, especially with the increase in road travel
- Provide free breakfast or a discount for your on-site restaurant
- Attract extended family and reunions with group bookings
2. Highlighting Self-catering or In-room Extras
While families may want to get away from everyday responsibility and chores such as making meals, they still crave convenience, making hotel rooms with kitchens and kitchenettes very appealing to families. If that’s not an option at your property, little conveniences like mini-fridges and microwaves are essentials that can be added to some rooms without a huge investment (but a good return!).
Used as either a value-add or an addable extra, family snack packs go a long way to make a family happy and ward off hangry experiences. This could be a continental breakfast delivered in the morning, or a basket of chips, water, cookies, and fruit in the afternoon.
Surprise and Delight: have you stayed at a hotel that has in-room coffee and tea? Of course. But have you ever seen instant hot chocolate offered? It’s rare to see! But it shouldn’t be because it’s a delight for kids of all ages (including parents).
3. Focus on Entertainment
How can families make memories with a stay at your hotel? According to Short Term Rentalz, 95% of family travelers prioritize keeping their families entertained and happy. For the most part, this means highlighting area attractions as 85% want nearby outdoor activities and major attractions, while 42% emphasize wanting to relax and unwind together. What this tells us is to highlight your area attractions but do it truthfully. You can’t change where you’re located but telling guests you’re closer to Disneyland than you actually are, for example, will only result in disappointment.
While location is important, consider this: more families are traveling by car than air as Forbes reports only 17% of parents are comfortable flying with their children since vaccines are not yet available for children under 12. As your hotel is a car ride away, families may already be familiar with regional attractions. The pandemic also made staycations more popular than ever with families seeking fun in their own backyard, so to speak. In this case, it’s certainly not a “home away from home” experience that families want! Families want what they don’t have at home: swimming pools, spa, room service, and more. But it’s also important to highlight family-friendly amenities that are just expected nowadays: onsite laundry, free WiFi, and family-friendly TV programming and movies.
Think outside the box and stand out from your competition! Offering something wacky and unique will not only surprise and delight your families, but it will also give them something to talk about. Weird and wild amenities are great for increasing word-of-mouth hotel recommendations in-person and online.
Here are some of the more creative ideas we’ve seen from our clients:
- Rooftop smores over gas fire pits
- In-room movie packages complete with room-service popcorn and treats
- “Yes-Day” Stay packages with a variety of offerings kids can select before their stay, from video game console rental to make-your-own in-room sundaes
- Private movie theatre booking (think screen projector in a meeting room with comfy seating)
- Bike or kick scooter rentals
- Scavenger hunts or “passports” to highlight nearby attractions with a prize from the front desk
- Rent-a-pet! Take the lobby dog for a walk
- Family pizza party: your restaurant’s private room used as a prep space to make your own pizza
- Hotel rooms decorated in a theme
- Candy and/or ice cream bar within your onsite cafe or gift shop
- Ice cream tastings for kids served alongside flights of wine for the parents
- Outdoor movie nights on a projection screen, complete with picnic baskets
- Kid or family workshops or classes: think art classes, djing, cooking, yoga
- Bath-time bundles with bubbles and bath toys
One nice perk for you as a hotelier is that these extras can be used as either value adds to attract guests or as booking add-ons that can be selected during the booking process through your online booking engine.
4. Amp up Your Digital Presence
None of your family-friendly perks and initiatives will do much for attracting guests if you don’t get the word out by amping up your digital presence.
Update your profile: The vast majority of trip planning happens online, and family travel is no exception with 59% of families using OTAs as the main source of inspiration (NYU). Ensure your OTA listings are up-to-date with current photos and amenities, plus make sure you’re responding to reviews.
Leverage influencers: In addition to marketing your family-friendly amenities on social media (as 30% of family travelers said social media plays a role in trip planning) leverage word-of-mouth opportunities. Can you invite mom bloggers and influencers to your hotel for a free stay in exchange for their honest online reviews?
Update your website: While it goes without saying, it bears repeating; ensure your website is up-to-date and reflects your family-friendly offerings. If you’re not sure of the best way to display this information on your website, check in with your designer!
Leverage email: According to Hubspot, email marketing offers a 4100% Return on Investment! Needless to say, hotel email marketing is an effective method of attracting families, especially on repeat bookings. Use guest profiles to target families specifically with offers geared toward their interests.
The pandemic has made us consider more than ever what’s important in life. For many of us, family is at the core of our existence. Whatever you do to attract families to your hotel, the main thing to remember is that it all comes down to connection. Anything you do to help create memorable experiences for families to connect is a sure win, not only for your bottom line but as part of what makes your work as a hotelier meaningful as well.