Family Matters: How (And Why) You Should Make Your Property Kid-Friendly
Did you know that the average TripAdvisor traveler is married, has a child or two, and is planning the perfect family vacation.. They choose vacation rentals because of the value they provide over a hotel—not just monetarily, but also amenities like a full kitchen, laundry, and extra space to spread out.
So, what does this mean for you, the owner or property manager? If you aren’t thinking about catering to families—or more specifically, kids—then you could be missing out. The idea of children influencing family vacations has gained ground in recent years, with The New York Times, Boston Globe, and TravelPulse just a few publications citing the research.
That’s why we’ve rounded up a few ways—and reasons why—you can better attract family travelers. Some are doable without spending a dime, while others turn a small upfront investment into big long-term results.
First up is the most important aspect of getting more bookings to your property: reviews. Have you ever hosted a family in your rental? Don’t waste another minute without asking them to review their stay on your TripAdvisor listing. Even if it wasn’t booked through TripAdvisor Rentals. A recent survey showed that 72% of travelers will not book a rental with no reviews. It’s crucial that your property has at least one solid review—whether it’s from a family or not—in order to garner the full interest of someone browsing listings in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask past guests, even if it’s months or years later. If they enjoyed their stay, they’ll be happy to write some kind words. Bonus points if they mention what their child enjoyed about the stay.
Where is your rental located?
Do you rent out a beach house? A cabin in the mountains? A downtown apartment? No matter where your rental is located, you can instantly make it more family-friendly with just a few small additions.
For beach homes, be sure to have beach toys, chairs, and a sand umbrella on-hand. A few plastic shovels and pales can go a long way with a five-year-old. Parents will appreciate not needing to buy clunky beach chairs—or worse, pack them themselves! Tack on a frisbee and boogie board in case you’re hosting teenagers. And, to put the icing on the cake, provide a pull-wagon of some sort for easy transportation from the home to the beach. Not only is it convenient, but the little ones will love pulling their toys around.
If you’re renting out your cabin near hiking trails or fishing creeks, tell your potential guests what equipment you already provide. Start with a few fishing poles and tackle box. A mountain bike or two would be savvy (helmets most definitely included). And maybe some sunscreen in case the family overlooked it (a necessity before a day of hiking under the sun). In winter months, keep a plastic sled in storage or even a couple pairs of snowshoes—one adult size and one children size. They don’t need to be expensive, especially if the local trails are of beginner level.
And fear not if you’re renting a city apartment. While the local attractions might be enough of a family draw, take it a step further inside your rental with a fun coloring book featuring all the historical and important attractions in your city. Kids will love coloring the buildings and landmarks they just got done exploring, or vice versa.
Emphasize the washer & dryer
It may seem obvious that a full home comes with a washer and dryer, but less so if you’re renting out an apartment or community condo. Either way, make sure you emphasize this amenity in your property description. Having laundry in-unit is an important factor the average TripAdvisor traveler considers when booking a property for their family. Kids get dirty. Having laundry at the ready means little Billy gets to wear his favorite shirt more than once, not to mention needing to pack less.
To drive this point home in your property description, consider tailoring the language towards a family instead of just stating a fact. “The property has a working washer and dryer” gets the point across, sure. But something like this will have a much larger impact: “Don’t worry about dirtying your beach towels on day one. You’ll have full access to our washer and dryer, complete with laundry detergent and dryer sheets.”
Master Chef juniors
One of the main themes of a TripAdvisor family vacation is food. But along with eating out, TripAdvisor renters also take full advantage of the kitchen. In fact, 83% of all vacation rental guests say that “dining at the property” is the biggest cost-savings benefit of a rental, according to our 2016 survey. But how can you take this a step further and cater your kitchen—a quite common and self-explanatory amenity—towards children and separate yourself from all the other properties?
How about a kid-friendly cookbook? Parents are likely already considering how they’ll keep their children entertained during the downtime at the property. Make it easy for them by leaving a recipe book on the kitchen counter, showcasing meals that are easy for kids to understand and help out with. Just make sure you have the necessary kitchenware to carry out the recipe.
Keeping within the food theme, give parents an assist about which local restaurants are good for kids. If you’re already offering a welcome pack (and if you’re not, read this!), why not include a short list of eateries in the area that are particularly kid-friendly? For a family that isn’t familiar with the area (likely your vacation rental guests), this could require a bit of research. It’s even more challenging if they have a toddler or a picky child. Help them out with a one-sheeter on the best kid-friendly restaurants. Solid kids menu? Fun atmosphere? Game room or funky theme? Let your guests know.
The average TripAdvisor family prefers to stay in a rental with two to three bedrooms. But that’s not to say your one-bedroom property won’t work, especially if your guests are a family of just three. Do you have a large living room with a pull-out couch? That could reasonably act as a second bedroom, especially for a family who is comfortable with sharing spaces. Another benefit to this is that the family is saving money, as most rental properties increase in price for each additional bedroom. If you’re living space seems right for it, it might be worth investing in a nice pull-out couch, air mattress, cot, or something of the like. Then, include a picture in your listing of the living room both in its normal state as well as its bedroom state. This gives the family an idea of whether it could sufficiently act as a second bedroom.
If you do already have a bedroom dedicated for children (bunk beds, smaller bureaus, etc), consider turning it into a themed room. The beauty is it doesn’t really matter what theme you choose. The simple idea of their bedroom being decked out in themed decor will be exciting to kids. We’d recommend staying true to the area of your rental. Surfer’s paradise? Treehouse hideaway? Or go the character route: Disney, Ninja Turtles, and Harry Potter are a few favorites. This can be as involved as new wallpaper and custom furniture, or as basic as some props and pictures on the wall.
If you have a swimming pool…
We won’t sit here and tell you to go install a swimming pool! And depending on your property’s location, it might not make sense. But for owners and managers that do have a pool, make sure you’re promoting it front and center. Our 2016 survey revealed that a swimming pool is the number one amenity families look for when booking a rental. It’s obvious why kids enjoy a pool, but not as obvious to actually highlight the pool in your listing. Include it in your property title, again in your description (Is it heated? Diving board? Do you have pool toys?), and in your photo gallery. Better yet, include a picture of the pool with any toys, rafts, or noodles prevalent so your guest knows what’s included and can envision themselves hanging out there.
Indoor nighttime activities
While families will explore plenty, they also want good indoor activities to keep busy at night. Have a few board games available, an array of DVDs (keep it PG-13 or lower to be safe and cater to all ages), and a book shelf. To take your bookshelf a step further, include relevant books to your location. For example, the average TripAdvisor family enjoy nature walks and their kids love animals. How about an informational book detailing the different native animals for the kids to learn about, before they venture out and see them in person? (Is there a local zoo or birdwatching facility in your town? Bingo.)
Cater to the masses
At the end of the day, your potential guest could be anyone. However, catering to families with kids—even if it’s not necessary for every guest—has far more value than the potential risk of not catering towards families.
Take a 40-year-old couple for example. They’ll still be interested in your property even if there are some kid-oriented features, as long as the price is right and the value is there. The family-friendly additions won’t deter them from booking. Whereas a family might immediately write you off when they see that your description or reviews make no mention of being good for families. Or if your images don’t reflect a good family-friendly vibe.
By appealing to families, even subtly, you’re catering to a much larger potential pool—as opposed to shutting them out. And that’s good for business!
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