April 24th is ‘Take our Daughters and Sons to Work’ Day. Since many of you will be bringing your children to work at your hotels in a few weeks, we thought we would delve into the 53 million reviews we have at our disposal to see what people really think about kids in hotels.
More than two million of these hotel reviews, or close to four percent, mention kids at least once. Not surprisingly, the majority of these reviews are written about resort properties, since these properties cater to families on vacation. When we looked at the details of the reviews, we found that children can evoke such a strong response from reviewers that they can be mentioned even when they’re not part of the stay.
For example, parents traveling without their kids can be so excited to experience some time alone that they mention it in the review. For example, “I was most excited about no crying kids for four days.” Similarly, when traveling to the hotel involves a plane trip with a crying baby, the reviewer might mention the relief upon entering the hotel. For example, “…after a very long day of traveling, dealing with delays, crying babies on planes, one’s nerves can be frayed.”
But, of course, actual children on property can elicit strong responses, both positive and negative. To better assist hoteliers in understanding how they can better service guests when it comes to children on property, we provide the following advice based on some typical kid-related hotel reviews:
Focus on the pool area
The most important topic in kid-related reviews is the pool, and the research indicates that pool facilities can cause contention among guests. Where a parent of a child may consider certain poolside activity safe or playful, another guest may consider it dangerous or disruptive. For this reason we highlight the pool as a “make-or-break” aspect of a stay when it comes to kid-related reviews.
Both sides agree that a strict and vigilant lifeguard must always be on duty. We see that pools without vigilant lifeguards on duty lead to kid behavior that causes friction for many guests.
“Lifeguards actually sat and watched the pool carefully, so you felt safe, not like at other resorts where employees wander off and their mounted chair is for show only.”
“The lifeguards were slow to react when a small boy and his mother got into difficulties, and the two were pulled out by another swimmer! Nearly a very serious accident.”
“Staff was also located everywhere with lifeguards at the waterslide doing excellent work keeping the kids safely controlled.”
“Few lifeguards and the adult only hot tub was filled with kids.”
If your property has a pool and you frequently have children on-property, you must invest in a lifeguard. However, be aware that a bad lifeguard can be seen as worse than no lifeguard at all as it promotes a false sense of security and allows parents to take a less vigilant approach to watching their kids. The lifeguard should not be afraid to be strict about the pool rules and take action to prevent children from disrupting other guests.
Children’s sleeping arrangements
A topic that comes up frequently in kid-related reviews is sleeping arrangements. This topic is especially prevalent for parents traveling with infants or very young babies, since restless kids can disrupt parents’ sleep, which can affect the entire stay.
Some of the more common complaints involve the crib. For example, it is not ready when they arrive, it is too small, or uncomfortable. Another common complaint was supplying a playpen when the guest had asked for a crib.
“They immediately came up and switched out the bed with a crib, while smiling and cooing at the baby.”
“That evening when my husband returned from a wedding with our overly tired daughter he found that no crib had been delivered.”
“It wasn’t a crib, it was a small pack and play.”
To avoid these issues, ensure that you have enough clean and comfortable cribs on hand to supply at short notice. Think about how much you value the comfort of your own bed and try to provide that same level of comfort to your pint-size visitors. Also be certain that you do not confuse cribs with playpens, as this may lead to complaints form guests.
Facilities and Activities for Kids
Kids’ activities/facilities show up frequently in reviews. Most parents staying with kids are looking for a relaxing stay and having their children engaged, without their direct involvement, is critical for a relaxing stay.
Any parent can tell you that children require more stimulation than adults in order to feel content while on vacation. Children rarely consider sitting quietly fun but parents often prefer to spend their vacations relaxing.
Below are some example quotes from parents voicing the preferences of their children in their reviews:
“My 13 year old and 10 year old were as busy as they wanted to be with soccer, volleyball, water polo and water aerobics.”
“And really as long as there were lots of other kids to play with, I knew my son would be happy.”
“Scheduled activities tend to occur on time, which is a bit un-Caribbean but quite welcome.”
“We were told that my son was not old enough to do some of the kids activities… and also told that he was too young to do other activities… so ultimately we were stuck with the pool.”
To ensure happy parents and kids, invest in quality staff and training and pay attention to guest feedback. If you do not have the ability to hire any support staff to help with children, perhaps begin with game consoles that can be rented from the front desk. The term “Wii” (a Nintendo console) correlates with positive kid-related reviews. You can request a deposit to offset breakages or malfunctions and it can be used at any time of day or night.
Any hotel that caters to children, and even those that don’t, should look carefully at their online reviews and post-stay feedback to understand how parents and children perceive the hotel’s services and amenities. A quick keyword search in Revinate can easily isolate reviews about kids and is a great first step to understanding how your guests see your hotel and where you have room to improve. For a demo, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.