It’s all about the kids. If you’re a parent you already know this since you are living it, but for those hoteliers out there that do not have children pay close attention: Kids are increasingly influencing travel decisions in households. That makes the lil’ ones an important group to listen to because not only do their opinions suddenly matter but it’s the perfect opportunity build that lifetime of loyalty by catering in new and innovative ways to your youngest guests.
Consumer psychology revealed the products and services we grew up using and experiencing help determine about how we feel about specific brands throughout our entire lives. It’s why we get that warm and fuzzy feeling about certain brands. I can think of one specific hotel brand I grew up staying with regularly which now has a special affinity for me I could never shake. Even as that brand has its downs and now ups my feeling for it never really changed. It’s ingrained in my soul because that etching took place in my most formidable years and reminds me of the cozy feelings I had on those summer road trips with Mom and Dad.
Family travel is huge. In fact, this nice is is much bigger than you may realize. Do you know that according to travehorizons, those traveling with either children or grandchildren make up 30 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers? And leisure travel accounts for 77 percent of all trips taken according to the U.S. Travel Association. And what about this one: Family travelers take an average of 4.5 trips each year (travehorizons). That’s a lot of kids staying in hotels.
Residence Inn by Marriott is tuning in to this segment and realized that asking kids what they thought would be a great way to find out what they are thinking. So the brand team created the first-ever Kids Roundtable on Travel. And it was a chance for the brand to discover what those boys and girls are thinking. Sure some of them are whimsical and impractical… for now, but others make so much sense you’re going to wonder why you hadn’t implemented these ideas already.
“These children have very different expectations, views and opinions of travel than our guests today. Their world is technologically advanced and there is no limit to their imagination,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager, Residence Inn. “We host a lot of families with children at Residence Inn. Who knows, we might test some of these out-of-the-box ideas in the near future.”
Some of the ideas this crack panel of eight to 12 years olds make a lot of sense such as guest room access that recognizes your fingerprint instead of keycards but a few others are better suited to The Jetsons. Those ideas include wall color that changes at the click of a button, microwaves that cook up anything you want and a robot butler serving your every whim – sounds like Rosie. Get me one of those please!
The kids also suggested design elements that are predetermined by the guest before arrival. This one intrigues me and with 3D projection mapping technology starting to hit the mainstream this may be possible one day.
Other highlights include:
- Customized experiences with a tech twist: Aside from whimsical desires for endless free ice cream, water slides and entire floors dedicated to “FUN,” kids want to be in control of their travel experiences, from pre-ordering in-room snacks to deciding hotel room amenities. Hoteliers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the bed itself. Ideas ranged from mattresses/pillows that can adjust firmness based on personal preference, to mechanisms specifically designed for light sleepers (sound proofing) or heavy sleepers (an alarm-enhanced pillow).
- Emotional motivation of family time on the road: When asked to cite the best part of traveling with their families, the kids mentioned the emotional experiences and importance of sharing memories. Connecting with family, seeing relatives who live abroad and spending quality time with loved ones ranked most meaningful.
- Getting there is half the fun…or at least it will be in the future: Forget long family road trips packed into a station wagon. Flying cars, teleports, Google driverless cars, hovercrafts and jet packs are the predictions that the roundtable kids made for future transportation methods. In fact, half of the attendees believe that they will one day have the option to holiday on the moon.
Residence Inn by Marriott’s Kids Roundtable on Travel took place at the Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Midtown East. In order to target a subsection of well-traveled children, Residence Inn partnered with innovative family website MacaroniKid.com to select 10 participants, ranging in age from eight to 12 years old.