Are Rewards Clubs for Kids a Good Idea?

By Matthew Rosenberger Consultant & Publisher, ABC Travel Guides for Kids | June 18, 2010

The title of this article asks a simple question: are rewards clubs for kids a good idea? The answer is a resounding YES, but how elaborate does a 'rewards club' have to be and at what age do such programs really become effective?

Last year I wrote an article for the Hotel Business Review titled, "Building Brand Loyalty When Your Customer is Under 10 " and in the piece we highlighted a number of studies that indicated that kids from the age of two start to have beliefs about certain brands and even start recognize familiar brand names, packaging, logos, and characters and associate them with products, especially if the brands use bright colors, pictures, and cartoon characters.

When I was a kid we loved to "flip", trade and collect baseball cards. Topps was the main brand and producer of the cards, but was later joined in the industry by Fleer and Donerus who wanted to capitalize on the collectability of baseball cards among kids. I can still remember the styles of the cards, the logo of the brands, and of course the barely chewable stick of bubble gum that came with every pack. Today kids love to display, share and trade rubber band like bracelets that once removed from the wrist form all kinds of fun (and silly shapes) they are know by many names such as silly bandz, crazy bands, zany brands... you get the picture.

In fact, much like pet rocks, mood rings, beanie babies and Webkins, if you or your team has not heard of this product you are not prepared for families visiting your property. Because if you were, you would have some on hand to distribute to your young visitors and it would cost you literally a couple of pennies per band to bring a smile, and create a connection with today's family.

For those of you who are not between the ages of 3 and 19 you may not be aware of just how big the silly bandz craze is. It has taken over most playgrounds in elementary schools and will surely carry over this summer season to the swim club and summer camp setting. But the craze has also extended all the way to high school and college campuses. This rubber band like product comes in all shapes and sizes that only appear when they are taken off of one's wrist. If you want to be part of the "club" you need to understand the beauty and simplicity of this product and its impact on children. And more importantly, you want to have these silly bandz on site to distribute to your youngest guests upon arrival. This low cost initiative will go a long way in establishing rapport with your guest's kids and impress your guests. It will also show that you are in fact part of the "club". There are many examples in the hospitality industry of marketing programs designed for kids, the Camp Hyatt, Loews Loves Kids, and Omni Sensational Kids programs come to mind. Yet most of the marketing of these programs speaks to the parents not the kids. Creating a "rewards program" for kids is essential to attracting your share of the lucrative family travel business.

The key to establishing a rewards club for kids is to understand that when marketing to kids it is important to focus on what they want as a way of supplementing the marketing you have already done to attract their parents.

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