Of all the new features within AKontheGO.com, I am most excited about our Family Friendly Business program. Created to assist parents and caregivers with decision-making regarding their Alaska adventure, this program, found under the “Family Friendly” tab above, is more than a listing of places to see and stay. Businesses who participate in the program, which is completely voluntary, by the way, have committed to serving their youngest guests in a way far beyond crayons at the table or window seats on a day cruise.
I have a mental list (or several) of things I wish vendors would do or not do when it comes to showing kids around Alaska, and apparently, so do many dedicated AKontheGO.com readers. Finally, after months of spewing out verbal recommendations to those who inquired about such, I wrote it all down, and thus the Family Friendly Business Recognition program/directory was a reality. It’s still small, mind you, because AKontheGO is committed to making a big deal about each vendor who chooses to participate. Businesses receive a certificate, stickers proclaiming them to be “Family Friendly,” and a button to place on their website. At the AKontheGO Launch Party this Thursday, you’ll get to meet our first five partners, businesses who already serve their youngest guests in a fantastic way.
What constitutes “family-friendly,” then? Below are AKontheGO’s thoughts regarding a stellar experience for young people of any age, and the adults in their lives. Many of these suggestions were borne of comments from AKontheGO Facebook fans, and I would encourage readers to add their comments below and keep this discussion alive. What is it about a business that captures the essence of kid-friendly? Are there particular businesses you’d like to see in this program? This is your forum for discussion, AKontheGO’ers, let’s use it!
FAMILY FRIENDLY IN ALASKA (From the Family Friendly Business Recognition Program):
Are children welcomed with smiles and personal greetings? Does the business understand that children can become hungry, tired, overworked, and thus behave accordingly?
Do kids receive any special products (coloring books, crayons, stickers, etc.) to help them learn from, or enjoy more, their Alaska experience?
Do restaurants feature a children’s menu? If a tour or activity offers a meal, is a children’s alternate available to suit young palates?
Do tour companies, vehicle rental agencies, and/or adventure businesses provide a safe environment for children (if their activity is indeed suitable for younger visitors)? Are seat belts/, PFD’s, and clear instructions provided for parents and caregivers? Are limits for age and/or weight clearly expressed before the trip begins, and potential risks stated before booking?
Are activities tailored to children, or are certain aspects of an “adult” program configured so children will be able to participate and enjoy their experience? Do guides, operators, and staff know how to talk to children on their level, using words and phrases kids will understand, and are appropriate for young ears?
Does the business offer a space for children to play, indoors or out? Are there age-appropriate games, books, and/or small toys? If television is provided in a common space, are programs appropriate for all audiences?
Do families say “We’ll be back!” at the end of their stay or experience?
We’ll see you all at the AKontheGO Launch Party in just two days!