Travel Industry Catering To Families This Summer

June 16th, 2010 by Mariah

Travel Industry Catering To Families This Summer

Below is a great article taken from the USA Today regarding the efforts by hotels to cater to families this summer season. Innkeepers can get some great ideas from this article, such as making kid goody bags, kid-friendly dining options, and offering gaming systems. Parents may be reluctant to bring their youngsters to a B&B, so if you have anything that caters to kids make sure you ADVERTISE it.

“Hotels try harder to woo travelers on vacation with kids.”
By Roger Yu, USA TODAY

Hotels are stepping up their efforts to woo vacationers and families.
They’re introducing leisure and kid-friendly amenities to deal with a new industry reality that leisure travelers are more important than ever.

Leisure travelers — which include vacationers, honeymooners and wedding attendants — surpassed business travelers as the primary hotel customer segment in the U.S. in 2004. By 2009, leisure traveler volume had risen to 476 million, or 54% of the total, from 399 million in 2000, says D.K. Shifflet & Associates, a travel research and consulting firm. The nights business travelers filled rooms fell during the nine-year period to 411 million.

“Business travel has been slowly declining, says Douglas Shifflet of D.K. Shifflet. And, he says, “It’s not going back.”

Travelers have also gotten younger. Gen X travelers — in their late 20s to early 40s — are replacing Baby Boomers. Gen Xers are more reluctant to travel for business but are showing greater willingness to go on vacations with their families, Shifflet says. “They’re having kids now,” he says. “They try to balance their lives more.”

Among the new leisure traveler enticements:

Family. More kid-friendly programs are offered. Marriott International has started distributing toddler care items, such as fitted slip covers for cribs, squirting bath toys, baby lotion and shampoo and nightlights, at 2,500 hotels throughout most of its brands. “Things people might forget. We’re making sure hotels have these items,” says Peggy Fang Roe of Marriott, adding that the effort is partly to help change its reputation as a business hotel company.

In July, Marriott-operated hotels will begin distributing free activity books and silicone bracelets featuring Nickelodeon characters. For $10, customers can buy a SpongeBob backpack containing a splash ball, paper doll and sunglasses. Customers at full-service hotels — Marriott and JW Marriott brands — can pay $20 for the backpack and a SpongeBob book and pillow cases. Marriott’s partnership with Nickelodeon also features costumed characters and live shows at some of its resorts.

Omni Hotels gives away free bags of goodies for kids (with Twizzlers, flashlight, cup, mini-drum and bookmark), as well as milk and cookies.

Value. With budgets tight, families are looking for deals. Homewood Suites by Hilton says its revamped free meal program has helped draw more leisure travelers in the last year.