Thursday, 28 June 2012

Holidays - time to think about mums and dads

We’re now in a world where information is available at the click of a button, just a quick surf to a web page on our laptop or smartphone. It’s something that’s particularly useful when you are planning a holiday, or so you’d think. In our experience planning and enjoying a holiday can still be very hit and miss and that often comes down to a lack of vital information that mums (and dads) need when planning a break.

I’ve just returned from Menorca and on reflection I can see it’s the little things that made the difference – knowing what food my daughter would have access to, what hours the kids club would be open. I’d done my homework, visited travel agents, and scoured the internet forums and Trip Advisor for insight. It should have been enough but the stuff I really wanted to know was missing. I could pick out some bits from the varied reviews online but the problem with reviews is that we don’t know the reviewers and what makes one person happy can be a nightmare for someone else.

As a mum and marketer I’d like to see holiday companies (and that includes airlines) think about the small stuff that makes a difference to parents so I don’t have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Here are just a few things that matter to mums and dads and could well influence their buying decisions:

Pool depths. I have a five year old who is way too cool for the baby pool. She wants to be in the big pool but I’m only happy to for her to be in there if there is a graduated depth. That way I can watch her, she gets to have fun with newly made friends and I get an extra few minutes on the sun lounger. 

Food. With kids you need specifics – what times can they eat, what will be on offer (especially important for babies and those weaning) and what is on the kids menu? If you offer self catering then where are the nearest child friendly restaurants. 
Kids Club. We need to know if it will be open and when. Otherwise you can end up with very disappointed kids and angry parents. What activities will be on offer – how about showing us a typical week’s itinerary? 

Flights. Make it clear what the situation is with pre-booking (or not) seats. Is there any chance we could be separated from our children/partners? A policy that keeps families together (and occupied!) is a great idea. Make information on car seats and prams (additional costs) clear. 

Mums and dads. Make it clear before we get there what trips and activities are on offer to the adults. At our hotel there were archery and table tennis competitions, I didn’t know this beforehand but for some of our party it definitely enhanced their holiday experience. 

Size and beds. Make it clear how big the apartment is (truthfully!) and whether the beds are doubles or singles squashed together. If you have family options (adjoining rooms etc) then make this information easy for families to find. Remember that if you offer one-room apartments to families and their children go to bed early then mum and dad could be sat in the dark staring at their sleeping children.

Hygiene. How often is the apartment cleaned? How often are the towels changed? Should we take beach towels?

Since I had children my criteria for holidays has changed, I now look at things like transfer times from the airport (two hours in a hot coach with a child is a nightmare) or closeness to the beach (small legs can’t walk very far). This information can often be hard to track down without trolling through but it would be easy to make it more visitor centric. 

The holiday experience should start at the searching stage and we shouldn't be left hoping for the best on arrival. I think holiday firms have to ask us the tourists about what we want to know and realise the some of the little holiday nuances make a big difference.

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