Batten down the hatches, Little Johnny may be coming your way. Recent research shows that kids are important decision makers in choosing vacation destinations. We look at why we should be worried.
We love ‘em – and hate ‘em, generally depending on how they behave. Or, more cynically, whether we run a vacation rental home or not. Kids, particularly other peoples’ offspring, can become the bane of your life or an absolute joy. It may do the parent’s heart good to see little Johnny having a great time splashing about in your swimming pool but you wish he wouldn’t take the hi-tech expensive TV remote in with him. Later, they’ll be cooing over the little 112-pound angel, worn out from bouncing on the bed but now sleeping cosily on that new sprung mattress you recently replaced – when the last one was damaged by a serial bedwetter…
OK, so we’re laying it on a bit thick. But that’s only to prepare you for what’s coming next. Word is that kids, if not now actually making the holiday choice decisions, are having a very big influence on where they stay on vacation. And we vacation rental owners had better look out. In terms of dread, it brings to mind those spine-chilling words ‘Here’s Johnny!’ yelled so menacingly by Jack Nicholson in The Shining movie. In our case, it’ll be Little Johnny – hopefully without the axe.
A major influence
Time to batten down the hatches then. According to vacation rental owner Heather Bayer, known as ‘The cottageblogger’ who has a good handle on these things, kids are making the vacation decisions. Previously, as we might expect, women were the major players in vacation decision-making but now, says Heather: ‘Increasingly, we are hearing from them that they were not the final arbiters in the choice – it was the kids who had the last say, or at least were the major influencers’.
Holiday Inn conducted a recent survey which seems to back up the claim: ‘Nearly 90% of parents say their kid’s preferences are influential when choosing a vacation destination’.
But rather than rush out and replace all fixtures and fittings with industrial strength alternatives, we are urged to welcome the little darlings with open arms. And you know, sometimes you just have to go the way the wind blows. If they are, at the very least, a big factor in decisions and if your property is aimed at families then you better shape up, turn up the child appeal and start looking for more ways to attract those junior vacationers.
Increase child appeal
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 useful tips. Perhaps you could seek out additional local attractions with child appeal and place extra emphasis on those you already have, always remembering that a (good) picture is worth a thousand words – doubly so with kids. Remember, you may be selling to the children as well as the adults. Take a hard look at the smaller rooms in your property. Do they appeal to children? Consider decorating one specifically as a kid’s room perhaps. Ask your guests how their children enjoyed their stay, what they liked in particular – and what they felt could improve the experience. This may give you ideas for affordable tweaks, which may beg the question, does a pro-size trampoline qualify as ‘affordable’?
One final tip: tread carefully when attempting to sell damage waiver insurance to guests with children. And if you’ve never thought of using this convenient alternative to a security deposit, perhaps now is the time to start? Here’s Johnny – and he might just have an equally naughty sister.