Mr. Rosenberger

Family Travel

Designing the Perfect Family Package

By Matthew Rosenberger, Consultant & Publisher, ABC Travel Guides for Kids

Cookies upon arrival won't do it. A bag of "stuff" - not good enough. Tickets to attractions that may not be of interest to your guests (or might be dependent on the weather) is not the answer. So what is necessary to create a perfect family package that will attract customers and keep them coming back again and again? Well... it doesn't require an advanced degree to understand that families look for a package that combines activities and amenities that are both educational and entertaining for themselves and their kids. The bag of "stuff" provides 20 minutes of activity at best and an "unhealthy" snack at check in might have a negative impact on parents who are encouraging healthy diets and lifestyles for their kids. This article will provide you with the information and insights you need to create the perfect family package. It will highlight what The Hyatt Harborside at Boston's Logan Airport has done to create a great family package.

Today competition is fierce for the booming family travel business and parents and their children are very sophisticated. Traditional methods are not enough. Additional steps must be taken to attract and keep your portion of the family travel business. Attention and respect are the cornerstones of good customer service directed toward family travelers.

It all begins when your hotel guests arrive. While the parents check-in the kids should be introduced and "check-in" with the hotel concierge. This will, from the start, make all members of the family feel welcome and respected and it won't cost the hotel a dime. It will also create a memory for the kids that they will never forget. First of all, the very word "concierge" commands respect, it's French and it's fancy! It will be a new word for most children and an exciting introduction to the hotel. Secondly, the concierge knows all the best stuff there is to know about the hotel and nearby attractions, restaurants and playgrounds. This introduction teaches the kids that they have an ally in the hotel - someone they can reach out to for information and advice - powerful stuff.

Along with that introduction, at a minimum, the kids should be given an information sheet prominently featuring the hotel name and logo along with some of the top rated attractions and "things to do" during their visit. The concierge should not just hand the information over but should enthusiastically identify some of the region's "best kept secrets" and more "kid friendly spots".

Stephanie Buccella, Marketing/Public Relations Manager of the Hyatt Harborside at Boston's Logan International Airport has implemented some of these strategies and has seen the benefits. She tells me that "along with the promise of a memorable and fun experience for all, we want to incorporate things unique to Boston and our location." Stephanie's got it right. The perfect family package creates an unforgettable link of your hotel brand and the top rated family attractions in your location, starting with the concierge introduction.

But the Hyatt Harborside does something above and beyond the distribution of an "information sheet". The hotel recognizes that "for kids it appears especially important to have something to take with them once the trip is over to remind them of their adventures". To accomplish this need, the hotel distributes a customized book and map about Boston that has been specifically created for it's youngest guests. The book features the hotel on the front and back covers of the book and Boston's best family attractions inside the book. The book combines the key elements Stephanie said her hotel wants to emphasize, the "uniqueness of Boston" and the "hotel's commitment to families". It is an ideal souvenir, combining both educational and entertainment information for the whole family. This ideal guide is primarily visual so that it engages the youngest travelers with colorful images of the hotel and the region's best attractions as well as older children with fun facts and a customized map. The book and map can be an integral part of a scavenger hunt package created by the brilliant and creative minds of most hotel marketing departments. The hotel could award a certificate to the young travelers upon their departure for completing the scavenger hunt. The possibilities are endless because the book is a catalyst for creativity. Stephanie has confirmed that her guests have responded well to the books. The good will and value to the hotel is much greater then a stuffed animal or bag full of "stuff" because the book is a souvenir that will survive the trip. The hotel staff is proud of the fact that it is distributing an educational and useful souvenir.

The last element to designing the perfect family package is perhaps the most important: was the family package all-inclusive and it did it offer the perception of great value? Sometimes it really is all about the Benjamins. The package must be structured so that all costs are inclusive. There should be no additional charges for parking, breakfast, movies, rollaway cot, refrigerator or the pool. Think outside of the box and incorporate an unlimited movie element to the package, and complimentary beverages and snacks. The checkout statement should be short, sweet and clean. No itemized laundry list checkout statement here, it has all been built into the pricing of the package. Take the time to price and market the family package accordingly. Anticipate a savvy family travel planner or two is among the group and blow them away by thinking of everything on their checklist. Give them the perception of great value.

So how do the current family packages at your hotel stack up? What formula are you implementing to solicit feedback from your guests? Are your customers must receiving and completing comment cards regarding their visit and the package. If you need to create an incentive for completion of the card, are you offering $5.00 off the bill for returning the comment card? Have you created a comment card with specific questions regarding the family package to gauge ROI on the package. How about a questionnaire designed specifically to illicit feedback from the kids? How did being introduced to the concierge make them feel? What was their favorite part of their trip? What was there favorite part of the hotel? Ask them how they liked the book and whether they found it useful. Create incentive for the kids to answer like providing them with an "official" hotel logo sticker. The answers to a couple of simple questions addressed to the family members who came to the hotel because of the family package will let you know whether they will be back and whether they will recommend your hotel to other families. Don't forget to send a follow up letter or email thanking them for their visit and completion of the card.

The Hyatt Harborside EXPLORE Family Getaway Package is a great package. It offers overnight accommodations in newly renovated guestrooms, breakfast vouchers, Aquarium and water taxi tickets, stuffed lobster toys, a customized book about Boston for kids, and cookies and milk. All the necessary elements: attention, respect, the perception of great value and a fantastic souvenir book are there! As soon as Stephanie replaces the cookies with a healthy treat she will have created the perfect family package.

Matthew G. Rosenberger is a family travel consultant and publisher who works with hotels that want to be recognized as the most family friendly in their region. He is publisher of ABC City Guides for Kids, an all-in-one alphabet book, activity guide and souvenir. The books are customized by hotels and resorts to feature their images, logo and address on the book's front and back covers. Mr. Rosenberger also promotes his selection of family friendly hotels at his website and family travel related assignments through his "We Love Kids" and "TOP FIVE" pick selections. Mr. Rosenberger can be contacted at 215-242-4011 or mgr@kidstravelguides.com Extended Bio...

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