Kids are hot, hot, hot in the Alaska tourism industry right now; trotting down cruise ship gangplanks, jetways, and hopping out of car seats, rigged and ready for their 49th state vacation. But are Alaska travel and tourism-related businesses meeting the needs of this incredibly active demographic? Moreover, are these businesses jiving with the high expectations of an incredibly well-informed parent base? Savvy moms and dads are the norm these days, and they want experiences that teach, inspire, and entertain their kids, be it on land, sea, or in air.
This is the first in a series of blog posts aimed at businesses and consumers. Hey, we’re both, tripping around Alaska with AK Kid, seeing and doing it all – but AK Dad and I are parents, first, and we want our son to have fun, be safe, and maybe learn a little something. So, in response to the wonderful requests received to tweak programs, offer a bit of advice, or review products, AKontheGO is proud to roll out our new Professional Services department, designed with Alaska travel and tourism in mind. But before you pick up the phone and call us (and I hope you will), here’s a little sneak peek at what you can do, right now, to make your business more family-friendly.
1. Shout it out! What? Your business loves kids, and creates special itineraries or products just for them? For goodness sake, let the world know! It’s not enough to simply list reduced rates for children, or “family tours” anymore; parents have choices, and they’re going to research, ask questions, and make charts to find the best experience, ever, for their kids. Create a separate page dedicated to kids on your website, describe in detail products or services, and spread the word utilizing parent-friendly social media outlets. Oh, and those photos on your website, Facebook page, Twitter account, or Pinterest board? Make sure they include children enjoying your product!
2. Set the stage. Once you’ve established a kid-specific product or service, give 110% to your young guests. Create a “Kid Zone” in your office, restaurant, or outside, and keep supplies stocked with current trends, not cast-off equipment or coloring books from a thrift store. Create a kids’ menu, if you operate a dining establishment. Go the extra mile to ensure personal safety and enjoyment of your pint-sized visitors, knowing all laws and regulations pertaining to children. Stock your shelves with extra clothing, boots, mittens, raingear, and the like in case of weather-related (or other) catastrophes. Not sure what to purchase? Call us. We’ll even shop with you.
3. Walk the talk. As any parent knows, it takes effort to create and maintain anything related to children. We get that. Instead of worrying about any unintended mess, noise, or financial investment, think instead about the return. Parents tell other parents the good and bad about vacations, you know; wouldn’t you want them to return home positively glowing about your product? Of course you would. Keep your facility clean, your experiences or products fresh, and your staff well-trained. If you create it wisely, they will come (and bring friends and extended family, too).
4. Take a course in KidSpeak. When was the last time you held a Beyblade? Or watched an episode of “Dinosaur Train”? Have you ever discussed the merits of Sponge Bob Square Pants versus Patrick? Watched ”The Avengers”? If you’re totally lost reading this, it’s time to get up on the latest and greatest in kids’ worlds, and that means knowing what they’re watching, eating, and doing. Tip: Children relate to adults who relate to them. Amen. All line staff, volunteers, and managers should know how to speak to kids as individuals with very important stuff on their minds, much of it quite insightful. Listen. Learn. Respect. Talk with children instead of at children. AKontheGO can provide short training sessions to line staff and managers who might need a refresher on KidSpeak 101.
5. Ask for feedback. So many businesses are afraid to ask for honest, compelling feedback of products and services. Evaluations are so important, both to consumers and business owners. Follow up with complaints in a timely manner, and ask for suggestions, then follow up again when a conundrum is solved. As a parent, nothing thrills me more than knowing I was heard. Additionally, do periodic checks of products. Head out on a day cruise unannounced and see how your staff work as a team when kiddos are around, or wander your restaurant and ask the kids directly how they like their dinner. “How can I make this better?” is a question that should constantly be floating around in your brain. AKontheGO can assist businesses with creating comprehensive evaluation forms for both consumers and staff, too.
Ready? Let’s do this! Alaska is the coolest place to be, and you can be cool, too!
Visit our Professional Services page for more information. We look forward to your family-friendly adventures!