What appear to be simple marketing schemes are in fact thoughtful curations that have the double effect of attracting new customers and, if executed correctly, their return. Happy children mean happy parents and there's no better way to secure another booking.
Family travel is an enormous although occasionally overlooked segment of the luxury hospitality market — one that becomes all the more significant during the summer months. Appealing to families, and entertaining children, requires different perspectives, partnerships and platforms than traditional luxury guests.
The Four Seasons recently introduced a new Ultimate Family Escape Package prompting Skift to look at how luxury hotels design family programs and the behind-the-scenes partnerships that determine who gets included in the ultimate offering.
In the case of Four Seasons, individual hotels will usually create their own family packages based on what is happening on-site and in the city that would attract local and out-of-town families.
This summer, however, Four Seasons in New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C., came together to create a family-focused offer that appealed to the North East drive market during the popular summer months.
“Boston, New York and D.C. are all close and offer three separate experiences, which can also be joined together if the guest has enough time and chooses to do so. Each package individually allows children to grow and learn which promotes an educational vacation in the summer,” Thomas Carreras, general manager at the Four Seasons New York Downtown, said.
Families that most often take advantage of these packages are interested in exploring a new city, but seeking support in terms of planning and savings. In New York, for example, the main demographic of guests who purchase a family package are young parents between 25 and 35 years old with children between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.
Four Seasons designs the packages in coordination with vendors and partners in the surrounding neighborhood. Four Seasons New York Downtown, for example, takes advantage of its proximity to Tribeca, which has the largest concentration of elementary schools in New York and many dedicated children’s stores including Build Your Own Robot or Babesta.
“The family packages are designed with ourselves in the shoes of the family. We were once all tourists in New York City and we try to encapsulate everything that we know people want to see,” Carreras said.
Amenities & Tot-Sized Treats
The Four Seasons is not the only luxury brand testing new family packages this summer.
JW Marriott debuted its Family by JW programming in July to provide multigenerational families with tools that foster engagement and experiences among families – but especially those with children between 5 and 12 years old.
JW Marriott designed the program around three kid-friendly themes of creativity, activeness and culture and partnered with like-minded brands to bring it to life.
For example, JW Marriott in partnership with The Joffrey Ballet designs movement-based activities for families to practice together and in partnership with the Guggenheim Museum provides a ‘Travel Journal’ upon check-in that encourages children to think creatively and broaden their perspectives.
“Our goal was to collaborate with cultural icons to craft exclusive experiences that would engage families in a fun and creative way. We want to promote quality time that is both engaging and enriching for all family members,” Mitzi Gaskins, JW Marriott VP & Global Brand Manager, said.
In Europe, luxury hospitality brand Rocco Forte Hotels makes a special effort for its youngest guests. The brand-wide ‘Families R Forte’ program goes from babies to children under 16, and offers amenities and services such as cookie turndown service and pint-sized bathrobes.
The Families-R-Forte passport encourages children to explore the hotels, write descriptions of what they enjoyed most, and receive a visa sticker from each Rocco Forte hotel they visit. Each hotel also features a different character such as ‘René the Squirrel’ at Hotel Amigo in Brussels which stars in a children’s book gifted at check-in.
Outside of the hotel, partnerships also play a role in the design of Rocco Forte’s family packages.
“We only work with premium brands that offer the same level of service we provide and those that add an exclusive experience to our guests stay. Family brands we have partnered with include Hamley’s, the oldest and largest toy shop in the world, and Steiff, who invented the Teddy bear,” Phillip Haller, vice president of brand marketing, said.
Although Rocco Forte has 11 hotels throughout Europe, the most popular destinations for family breaks are London, Rome, Sicily, Munich and Berlin. The average customer is between 30 and 60 years old and typically spends five nights at the hotel.
In addition to the brand’s website and social channels, Rocco Forte also markets its collection of family packages with a quarterly family-focused newsletter that also highlights family-friendly events.
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Photo credit: Children play in a tent at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts