It is no secret that traveling families are a big part of the vacation rental boom. More and more parents are making the family vacation a priority each year and they enjoy the option of having more space than the usual hotel room provides. Parents appreciate the extra space in a vacation rental, especially having a kitchen that offers way more flexibility when feeding their brood.
It’s no easy task to organize a family trip, though. In a family travel survey, almost 90 percent of Americans said they are stressed out about planning a family trip, and almost half said that finding family-friendly accommodations was the most stressful part.
So, what can owners do to tap into the family travel market? How can we make finding kid-friendly vacation rentals easier for parents and ensure we are providing for their needs and wants?
It isn’t enough these days to check ‘children welcome’ on a listing site to ensure a property is child-friendly. In reality, many of those ‘kid-friendly’ homes do not have what parents need, and this (more often than not) leads to disappointment and frustration. Families want vacation rentals that live up to that name and specifically want to know what they can expect in each home. But how do you do this? How can you make your vacation rental scream ‘family-friendly’?
What parents want and need
First, let’s look at what parents are looking for in a vacation – same as everyone… rest, relaxation and fun! Now, what do parents need to make that happen? That depends on the age and needs of their children. Here is a breakdown by age and what particular challenges parents face:
Babies: Parents with babies are focused on getting them to eat and sleep. Tired parents are not going to have a great vacation!
Toddlers: Once a child starts moving, safety becomes a primary concern. Worrying leads to stress – and the last thing parents need on vacation is stress.
Kids: It’s all about fun for this age group. Keep kids happy and parents will be happy, too!
What amenities can owners add for families?
Here are several ideas for the amenities you can include to ensure children of all ages are covered:
For all children
- Protected pools – fenced pool, pool cover, alarmed doors or secured area around home
- DVD player and family DVDs, Netflix or On Demand Cable
- Child plates, bowls, cups, cutlery
- Blackout blinds/curtains in kids’ rooms
- Crib or travel crib (pack ‘n play)
- Sheets/baby blankets
- Baby monitor
- Baby seat or swing
- Bottle warmer/sterilizer
- Mini food processor or handheld blender
- Changing pad or table
- Stair gates
- Booster chair for dining table
- Bed rails
- Outlet covers
- Toddler books and toys
- Step stool
- Potty seat or child’s potty
- Bath toys
- Non-slip bath mats
- Umbrella strollers
- Fun, kid-friendly bedrooms or bunk rooms
- Children’s books
- Toys – indoor and outdoor
- Board and card games
- Game console such as an Xbox or Wii
- Foosball or ping pong
- Sports equipment
- Kids’ bikes, helmets & pump
Don’t forget to highlight all family-friendly amenities in your listing descriptions. You’ll stand out from the crowd and show parents you offer above and beyond the basics. Being clear about what amenities you offer is key and can really help sell your home to families.
It may seem counterintuitive, but including information about any possible problems can actually assure parents that you have thought about their needs. If you have a pond that is near the house, for example, let parents know and explain how they can keep their children safe. (Maybe the doors chime when they are opened or there is a lockable screened-in porch.) Parents are grateful to have this kind of information ahead of time. They know what to expect when they arrive and there are no unwelcome surprises (or angry calls!).
Another way to support families is to help parents in planning their trip. Be generous with information, even before they’ve made a booking. Include lots of tips in your listing, where to go and what to do. Include a list of favorite family spots and good kid-friendly restaurants. Is there anything fun to do with children if it is raining? Parents will appreciate the tips and most likely write a fabulous review for their stay.
The family market is a big one, and tapping into it is fairly easy and inexpensive. You can start with a few amenities and add on as you get more family bookings. Before a family’s arrival, you could ask about the children’s ages so you have some idea of their needs and perhaps add a little something for the kids in a welcome basket. Taking children on vacation is no easy task! For parents, the little things really do mean a lot.
About the Author
Nikki Woodson Blair is the founder and director of Clanventure.com, a new website devoted to kid-friendly vacation rentals. She knows a thing or two about traveling with kids, having visited the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America and Europe with her family, and is passionate about helping families create vacation memories.