Traveling on your own can be stressful as it is; add kids to the picture and your vacation can easily turn into a Griswold affair. Here are ten tips for providing great hospitality to parents traveling with children.
1. Make Reservations Easy and Clear
Booking rooms can sometimes be confusing because it isn’t always clear how many people a room can accommodate. Make sure your hotel site is comprehensive and easy to navigate. If a family is forced to split up between rooms, offer them adjoining rooms or perhaps a discounted rate if none are available. “Does this room come with a cot?” is an avoidable phone call with just a little website TLC (especially for focused-service teams).
2. Make Check-In Fun
Check-in time isn’t always a speedy process and kids can be left bored and anxious, especially after a long day of traveling. You could keep a drawing/craft table in the lobby that will keep the little ones busy while mom and dad sort out the room stuff. Some places offer lollipops or other sweets for children accompanying their parents. Why not go above and beyond the standard? Create a fun pop-quiz for the kids and offer them a candy prize for guessing correctly or even just participating.
3. Leverage the Silence of Texting
As a parent to a baby or toddler, there is nothing more annoying than a loud ringing telephone that wakes your child soon after they went down for a nap. Why not find a better way to reach out? If you’re providing the family with room service or any kind of maintenance, shoot the parents a text to let them know someone is on the way. By communicating this way, you can avoid waking the sleeping babes and suffering the wrath of an angry parent.
Read how one hotel went out of their way to communicate with a hearing-impaired guest >
4. Offer Accommodations Both Outside and Inside the Hotel Room
Worst thing that happens to a kid on vacation? Boredom. More importantly, bored kids are the worst thing that can happen to parents on vacation. This is why it’s so imperative for hotels to offer the kids fun activities outside and inside of their rooms (especially if you are not an all inclusive resort). For guaranteed outside fun, keep floaties by the pool, invest in a jungle gym or offer an indoor game center so the kids can play inside as well. For inside the hotel room, make sure the TV has some kid-friendly channels and keep an activity box with toys, books and crafts so that they don’t need to leave the room to have fun.
5. Kid-Friendly Menus
They say the way into a person’s heart is through food; this is especially true with kids. Make sure your menu offers plenty of choices for the kids as well. The rule of thumb with kid-friendly menus: if a kid can pronounce it, it’s probably a safe bet. Offering options for them will make them feel included and will save their parents the headache of arguing over eating dinner. A continental breakfast that offers choices for “everyone” should include kids too.
6. Kid-Sized Amenities
Who doesn’t like the complimentary soaps (or maybe even robes and slippers) in their hotel room? Kids tend to get more excited about these kinds of goodies. It makes them feel special when they are offered something that is specifically for them. In addition to kid-sized robes or slippers , you could also offer fun soaps and shampoos (think wacky scents like watermelon or bubblegum) alongside their parents’ “boring old grown-up” soap and shampoo. Also, make sure the sinks in the room are accessible to the little ones. If no low sinks are available, offer a fun-colored stepping stool that makes it clear it specifically for the kiddos.
7. Easy Access to Baby Stations and Nursing Rooms
Running back and forth to their hotel room in order to change or nurse the little ones can leave parents tired and stressed–the opposite way they are supposed to feel on vacation! You can help ease their responsibilities by offering easy access to baby changing stations and nursing rooms. Be sure the nursing rooms are comfortable and offer mothers privacy.
8. Laundry Services
When it comes to raising children, spills and accidents are a regular part of a parent’s daily routine. Having easy access to laundry is crucial for mom and dad. In addition to offering laundry service with reasonable turnaround time, it could be helpful to offer some packets of detergent or spot-stain removers in the hotel rooms for quick fixes. Offering discounted laundry service rates for those traveling with children would also be helpful.
9. Offer Resources for Activities Outside the Hotel
While your hotel may offer plenty of fun activities on the premises, often times families want to get out and explore. However, they may not know where to start and what activities are available. This is where you can step in. You can provide families with helpful tourist pamphlets or offer to book some excursions for them. Have your staff make it more personal by suggesting their favorite places or recommending the go-to spots of the locals.
10. Kid-Friendly Staff
This is the most crucial step to providing families with outstanding hospitality. It is important that your staff is friendly and actually interacts with the children that are staying at your hotel. As adult travelers, we don’t like being brushed off or ignored by staff; neither do kids. Above all, kids don’t want to feel like they are an unwanted nuisance. Remember, they are your guests too and they need friendly tending to even more than adults. Make sure that the whole family leaves feeling specially tended to; it’s what turns a standard family vacation into a fond, lasting memory.