[:en]Vacation rental managers and hosts may be surprised to learn just how big the family travel opportunity is. Family travel in the US is a lucrative and growing segment of the overall travel category, taking over 10 million vacations per year and spending $150 billion annually.
Families with young children often seek a home-like experience when they travel. With 7 million families under the age of 4 in the US alone, this means there is an enormous market for vacation rentals catering to the needs of families with small children.
At BabyQuip, we deliver baby gear to families at vacation rentals every day. We asked our 15,000 customers in over 300 travel destinations what families are looking for when they consider vacation rentals.
Here are the 5 essential strategies we uncovered for any vacation rental manager or host looking to attract more families to your property.
1. Prioritize Sleep
When babies take long daytime naps and sleep comfortably through the night, everyone gets to rest and recharge on a vacation. Well-rested families do more, play longer, get out and about more frequently and have more fun.
We’re also convinced that they write better reviews. A cranky, underslept parent is more likely to leave a critical review than a well-rested parent having a great vacation with their family.
What can you do to help your littlest guests nap well and sleep all night long?
- Provide sleeping accommodation for children. Provide a crib, infant swings, or toddler beds, depending on the age of the children of your guests.
- Suggest quiet bedrooms. Make recommendations in advance about the quietest bedrooms in your home. This way parents won’t set up a room for their toddler, only to realize the neighbor practices saxophone every day during afternoon nap time.
- Install blackout shades. Adults like these too, but they can be essential for small children at naptime. Blackout shades keep a bedroom darker even during the day, making it easier for parents to keep their children on their usual nap routine.
Showing parents that you’ve thought of the needs of their children’s sleep schedules will make it much more likely that they’ll rent your property over any other.
2. Assure Parents on Safety Matters
When we surveyed parents on their preferences for child-friendly accommodations were surprised to learn how important safety-related information is to them when they travel.
Our survey subjects included 250 parents with young children, and while we knew parents think about safety when it comes to products they rent – parents frequently use our service to rent safety gates, bed rails, cribs, and high chairs – we didn’t realize how many safety considerations parents make about the property itself.
Almost a third of parents would like information about the cleaning products used at their accommodation, and nearly three quarters want to be sure they can quickly and easily find nearby emergency rooms. You can make parents feel safer by providing optional safety equipment, and giving them more information about your property.
How can you make your property safer for families?
- Provide full-size regulation cribs or other sleeping accommodation. Be sure to use an appropriate mattress type for the age of the child – some mattresses can be flipped, making it possible to use the same mattress for toddlers and infants.
- Provide sheets for the crib, but do not include pillows, blankets, bumpers, or stuffed animals. All of these can pose safety hazards, and it’s best to allow the parents to make their own choices about what they feel comfortable putting in a crib.
- Post information about nearby pharmacies and emergency rooms. Parents want to know where to find help if they need it while traveling. Seeing those numbers and addresses prominently posted will give them reassurance.
- List the cleaning products used in your properties. Parents whose children have allergies or sensitive skin will be grateful to know which surfaces to keep the kids away from.
- Offer safety gates and bed rails. If your property has stairs, safety gates can be a literal lifesaver. Help your guests get the safety equipment they need while traveling by making it available to them.
If you want to provide safety-related gear, but don’t want to have to clean it and store it between hosting guests with young children, or aren’t sure about baby gear regulations, BabyQuip can help you provide these amenities without the hassles.
3. Make Way for Routine
Routines make parenting easier. Bedtime and dinnertime routines, as well as regular schedules for nap time and activity time, let children know what to expect and keep them calmer.
Vacations often send routines right out the window. Not only are the families likely to be doing lots of new activities, they’re not staying in their own home. This makes it hard to stick with routines like bathtime or storytime, which can upset children who need to be soothed after a long day of new experiences.
Vacation rentals that can accommodate bedtime and other routines make it easier for parents who are hoping to stay on schedule themselves.
How can you help families stick to their routines while staying at your rental?
- Ask them. You’d be surprised at how few take the time to do this! Simply send a quick message saying “I see you’re traveling with your children. Is there anything we can offer to help with your usual bathtime or bedtime routine?”
- Provide a few common routine items. Bathtime routine equipment includes an infant bathtub, a stopper for the regular-sized tub so that parents can run a few inches of water for a toddler, infant-safe soap, washcloths, and bath toys. Bedtime equipment might include a few books for children, a bedside lamp, a rocking chair, and dimmable lighting. And mealtime equipment might include the means to heat a bottle and child-safe plates and flatware.
You can also help parents rent bulkier baby gear that they find essential to their family’s bedtime routine, such as infant swings and rocking chairs.
4. Show Ways to Spread Out
We’ve noticed that families staying at vacation rentals rent more gear than those staying at hotels. This is largely due to the fact that families enjoy spreading out at rentals – it’s one of the reasons they rent in the first place.
For families with children of varying ages, spreading out allows quiet time in one part of the house while a more boisterous playtime can take place in another area. If you want to attract more families to your property, show them ways they can make full use of the property with their children.
How can you help families use your full property?
- Create special activity zones. Setting up a giant beanbag chair and good lighting in a little nook somewhere can might encourage kids to read or play games on their mobile device. A brightly colored kid-sized table with chairs can become the place will appeal to pre-school aged children.
- Manage your backyard. Backyards that are fenced and free of debris will immediately appeal to parents who want a property where their children can safely play. Adding a play area or outdoor toys is a huge bonus.
- Provide age-appropriate toys. Toys help keep children actively engaged and content, making vacation time easier and more peaceful. Parents will appreciate not needing to bring their whole toy chest on vacation with them.
- Equip your guests for around-town explorations. Don’t forget to equip families with gear for exploring everything your city has to offer. Items like strollers, baby backpacks and even beach toys can keep families playing outside for hours.
If parents can immediately imagine their children enjoying themselves at your property, they’re more likely to choose to stay with you.
5. Tell Families You Can Accommodate Them
You’ve added all these great amenities to your rental, but you need to let families know about the options available before they arrive. Not all of your guests will be families, after all, and a play area might not be appropriate for every guest you have.
How can you show families that you can accommodate their needs without suggesting that your property is only appropriate for families?
- Show two photos of some rooms. The next time you set up your property for a family with children, take a photo of the bedroom set up with a crib or the living room with the addition of a play area. Showing both photos on your website or listing will let families know that the option is available, while assuring other guests that these set-ups aren’t a regular feature of the property.
- Tell families about your family-friendly features in your description. In your website or online listing, add a headline that says “Family Amenities” or “Traveling with Children?” Under that section, list the available amenities and ask parents to reach out if they would like to use any of them.
Making sure your guests know that these amenities are an optional add-on, rather than a regular feature of the property, also means that you get lots of credit for providing them. Families appreciate all of these amenities even more when they realize you’re creating a special experience just for them.
Most of these items are easy to store in a closet or garage when not in use, and bigger equipment can easily be rented through a service like ours. BabyQuip delivers, sets up and picks up baby gear for your guests. We’re insured and always rent clean, quality gear, and we can save you the trouble of cleaning and story bulky baby gear.
With these tips, you can attract more families to your rental, and get positive and persuasive reviews from them after their stay.
This is a guest post from Trish McDermott, co-founder and family travel expert at the baby gear rental marketplace BabyQuip. If you have questions about the best baby gear to offer at your rental or want to know more about BabyQuip’s service, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re thinking of taking the excellent advice in this post to offer family-friendly staging for your vacation rental, you’ll need a way to clearly communicate what that setup should look like to your cleaning service. Use Properly to provide visual instructions that ensure your guests always arrive to house that’s been perfectly prepared to meet their needs. Learn more here, or set up a demo to see this feature in action. [:]