Who makes the vacation destination choice these days…and why does it matter to independent vacation rental owners?
According to a recent report on Skift.com, guests’ children are playing an increasingly important role in vacation destination choice. As owners, we might be delighted, alarmed or even uninterested by this news. It depends entirely on whether families make up a significant proportion of your guests. If so, you may need to take a closer look at what you’re providing to attract the little sticky-fingered darlings to stay at your property.
Family appeal is the key
Personally, I’m quite happy if they are helping make the vacation destination choice. I’ve always presented my vacation rental as the ideal family destination. I also make great play of the facilities and attractions it offers for children and adults alike. We’re also aware of those surveys that reveal mom as the dominant decision maker in the family’s vacation destination choice and home!
The Skift report says: ‘A YouGov survey, commissioned by vacation rental company HomeAway, of 2,813 kids (ages six to 18) and parents in the US, UK, France, Germany and Spain found that while the overwhelming majority of parents give their kids some say in vacation planning, parents in Germany and Spain gave the kids the most sway. The tallies were US (85 percent), UK (76 percent), France (86 percent), Germany (95 percent) and Spain (94 percent).’
Kids make the final decision in some cases
In the US, they point out, younger parents are allowing their children far more input into the final vacation destination choice. The survey found that 34 percent of US millennial parents give their kids the freedom to ‘make the final decision’ on where to head for vacation.
Something like one in five of these parents admit to giving their children ‘full control’.
Is this really such a new development? In autumn last year (see my earlier blog), Holiday Inn conducted a survey which revealed similar findings on kids calling the shots on vacation destination choice. They said that ‘Nearly 90% of parents say their kid’s preferences are influential when choosing a vacation destination’.
Common sense tells us that parents with children of any age would need to consider the feelings and preferences of their children in vacation destination choice. Subject to budget limitations, of course.
There are places that are truly child-centric – including the resort hotel Martinhal, in Sagres, Portugal where I stayed recently. But even here, while ostentatiously focusing on the kids with all kinds of special facilities, I noticed that their offer was balanced by significant adult attractions. Whole family catering, in other words.
Keep a sense of perspective
So, I think a sense of perspective is needed when considering how (and even if) we might react to these findings. Should you rush out and buy a full size trampoline or start digging out a swimming pool at your property?
The HomeAway survey found that the most important lodging feature to both kids (37 percent) and parents (75 percent in the US) is a swimming pool. Job done? No, unfortunately. Their survey showed that 21 percent of kids want a water slide too!
While it may be worthwhile investing in attractions for junior guests, it may not be necessary to spend lots of money. Hoteliers are old hands at this so it could be worth looking at the family deals and children’s facilities they offer to pick up some useful pointers. You might also seek out more local attractions with child appeal and place extra emphasis on those you already have, to increase the chances of you being their vacation destination choice!
Use pictures rather than words to appeal to kids
Remember that with children a picture is worth a thousand words – doubly so with kids. If you did buy that trampoline, make it a big pictorial feature. It could be a decider for junior.
Look again at the children’s accommodation you provide. Does it have child appeal? You might consider decorating one room as a child’s room and make a photo feature of it to appeal to youngsters. A rocking horse in the bedroom can be a big pull.
What if junior is a teenager? A PlayStation site in the bedroom could be a winner.
Learn from guest questionnaires
You can learn from your guests too. Ask your guests how the kids enjoyed their stay. What did they like, in particular? What would they like to see that could improve the experience?
Bring on those kids! We’ll even provide complimentary wet wipes for those sticky fingers…