The next generation of family traveler
As a hotelier and soon-to-be mom who is frequently on the road (although doctor’s orders are keeping me local as the big day approaches), the concepts of family and travel are merging in my mind lately. So it’s only natural that this item in Jaunted would catch my eye. Like Jaunted, I applaud Air Wisconsin for its “Certificate of First Flight” — a great idea that created a special moment for a couple and baby venturing out on their first trip en famille (one that was no doubt approached with some measure of trepidation).
For a generation that is taking the leap into family life later than their parents did, today’s young adults have had plenty of time to cultivate a taste for the finer aspects of travel before the arrival of little ones. When they do become parents, they expect the same level of service with children in tow as they enjoyed in their solo travels. And they are no more inclined to sacrifice their children’s comforts and interests than they are their own. The “next generation” of well-traveled child is no tagalong.
The luxury hotelier, then, must create memorable guest experiences for the youngest patrons and do so without compromising the adult experience. Here are a few suggestions, many of which are components of our own Trump Kids program:
- When a family arrives, take a moment to greet each child and let them know that you’re committed to making their stay as fun and comfortable as possible.
- While screen-time is a welcome diversion for some traveling families, others use vacation as an opportunity to take a break from technology. Have a nice mix of low- and high-tech entertainment at the ready, from children’s books and board games to family-friendly movies and the latest hand-held gaming devices.
- Pint-sized robes and slippers make kids feel like they’re guests just as important as Mom or Dad. So do “business” cards printed with the child’s name. (Ours are provided courtesy of our Trump Attachés.)
- Don’t underestimate young palates. While traditional items for the pickiest eaters should always be available on your children’s menu, today’s kids, especially those who travel, eat out more and are exposed to more sophisticated flavors at a younger age than previous generations. Parents will want to see healthy options on that menu, too. Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits (and even a few veggies) into your offerings.
- Kids love pampering every bit as much as grown-ups, so make them welcome at your spa with a few treatments designed especially for youngsters, teens and families together. Just make sure you can accommodate children without impacting the tranquility of the spa environment for your other guests. You might limit junior spa-goers to certain hours, for instance.
- For families that book suites, a baby monitor allows parents to relax over an in-suite dinner and movie uninterrupted in one room while baby sleeps safely in another.
- Stock the room with child-care necessities, from diapers to bottles to bath amenities that are gentle on young skin. Traveling light with kids is somewhat of a contradiction in terms, but anything we can do to help reduce the load is welcome, especially with the increasingly burdensome baggage fees airlines are imposing. Have child versions of nonprescription medications available on request, too, in case a parent is caught off-guard by a late-night teething episode or upset stomach.
- Top-quality, firm crib mattresses aren’t just a luxury — they’re a safety item. Fine linens provide an extra touch that lets parents know you care about their little one’s comfort as well — a message that will go far toward inspiring guest loyalty as their children grow.
- On the night before a family checks out, touch base with the parents, either through a personal note or a call, to ask if there’s anything you can provide to ease their trip home (perhaps a snack to keep kids occupied on the trip to the airport). You might also leave a small, easy-to-pack gift for each child at turndown on their final night to help them remember their stay.
These are just a few ideas out of an endless array of possibilities. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how family travel is evolving, especially as I grow closer to welcoming my own little world-traveler-to-be.