Create the Ultimate New Years' Eve Family Package

By Matthew Rosenberger Consultant & Publisher, ABC Travel Guides for Kids | November 14, 2009

Ask most parents of young children (10 and under) where they are spending New Year's Eve and Day and the answer you will most likely hear is, "We'll be at home with the kids". Your marketing team's mission is simple: Change that answer to, "We'll be celebrating at a hotel that has an awesome family New Year's Eve Package-it's our tradition!" Kids get excited about New Years Eve; they can stay up late and celebrate. A well-designed package that includes a celebration earlier in the day for the family, and options later for the parents, will provide families with an exciting way to begin each new year and create tremendous good will for your hotel or brand. A highly visible and properly marketed plan reaching for national rather than just local or regional media coverage should introduce families to your package and highlight your brand's commitment to families, even if they don't actually book the package.

I recently asked about 40 of my daughters' classmates, campmates, friends and associates, all between the ages of 6 and 10, if they could go to any hotel in the country which hotel would they choose. The answers I heard the most (almost unanimously) were The Nick Hotel and "Disney World" in Orlando, Great Wolf Lodge, The Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA and "New York City".

Now I suppose if this informal poll had been taken in different parts of the country with more youngsters involved, Nick Hotel, "Disney World" and Great Wolf Lodge would remain high on the list, while the Hershey Lodge would be more regionally known, and an answer of "New York City" would be less frequent. But the lessons to be learned from this little experiment are huge and offer tremendous insight into the best way to reach kids and their families.

The properties selected by my daughters' peers are all extremely family oriented with onsite amenities and activities for kids and their families. What those queried failed to name were any of the major hotel brands like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, or Sheraton. Why? Because kids look for fun, novelty and brand recognition; the key components, among this demographic, and absolutely necessary to help kids identify their preferred hotel. Undeniably the Nickelodeon, Great Wolf and Hershey brands are strong among children (and moms and dads and grands for that matter). While the "Disney World" and "New York City" answers suggest that these regions have strong recognition among kids as fun and exciting places to visit, most polled were unable to name specific properties that were their favorites in these locations. (I did have a couple of "The Plaza" answers, primarily because of the Eloise books-again highlighting that "novelty" is effective with children).

It is difficult to compete with the Nick Hotel, primarily because of the worldwide brand recognition due to the media conglomerate that is Nickelodeon; and Great Wolf Lodge because of the water park aspect of the properties; and Hershey Lodge again because of the surrounding attractions associated with the property, but if some of the principles learned from this exercise are applied by your marketing department toward the creation of a family oriented New Years Eve package your package can be successful, and over time, your package might become the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this article.

So what is your property's game plan if you are not the Nick Hotel or Hershey Lodge?

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