Tips for choosing a play module for your hotel
Some people believe the food and accommodation industries are the only guaranteed investments in today’s business-scape. After all, no matter how broke we are, we still need to eat. And on the nights we’re far from home, we’ll still pay for a place to sleep. That said, millions of hotels exist, so if you’d like yours to thrive, you do need a unique selling point. Positioning yourself as family-friendly is certainly a good direction.
It’s risky, because people sometimes go to hotels to escape their little ones. It could be a couple seeking alone-time, or someone on a business trip, looking for peace, quiet, maximum concentration, and a mini-bar. Parents who are away from their kids are sometimes charmed by other people’s. But childless travellers are – by circumstance – less accommodating. So being family-friendly could cut you off from their business.
On the flip side, while you’ll lose conference bids, you may gain double or even triple the business, because families travel in hordes. Once they know you’re good with (their) kids, your patrons will tell every other parent they know. Siblings, neighbours, community associations, social media groups, they’ll all come flocking in. And as the kids tell their classmates about their exciting visit to your venue, you now have access to thousands of their schoolmates.
Keep them busy
There are several components to making your space child-friendly. Your kiddie menu needs to be exciting, playful, highly textured, and full of flavour, with child-friendly portions and kiddie packs. You still need something for the adults, but most parents are focused on feeding their kids first, and they’ll be content eating their children’s leftovers, so make sure the little ones are happy. You could even market kiddie meals with an adult add-on as part of the package.
Two, you need child-friendly staff. Waiters, waitresses, hosts, and hostesses with infinite patience, warm smiles, and kid-facing approaches to life. You don’t want servers that will roll their eyes when a mum is too frazzled to decide what to order. Or a dad busy herding his kids as they change their food demands every three minutes. Instead, you want the kind of staff who can distract kids with witty banter, cheeky stories, and commercial playground tours.
They need to straddle the line between ‘I love kids’ and ‘Your kids like me more than you!’ You also want your staff to be comforting, not creepy. You don’t want patrons worrying you might try to steal their children. Part of this effort is to keep the playground visible from all parts of the hotel. Rooms, lobbies, eateries … if your guests can spot their kids at a glance, they’ll relax, which means they’ll spend more money.
Pick the right play-set
The modular play-spaces you select will depend on your available space. Is it indoors or outdoors? A play area that can be seen from everywhere is likely to be located in a central atrium. The floor will need rubber matting, because loose sawdust would litter the rest of the hotel. You want a mixed-age space, to cater for all your clients, though you can segregate certain areas to separate younger kids from older, more boisterous ones. It’ll help you avoid injuries.
If the atrium has high or open ceilings, you can invest in a tiered play-set like Lofty Castle Skytower. It’s 8.5m high with slides, tunnels, rope walls, mazes, a catacomb, and more. Plus, its high spaces make it easy for adults to navigate. It needs constant supervision though, to make sure smaller, gentler kids don’t hurt themselves. It also needs about a dozen square feet of fall space, so ensure your playground is well ventilated and your floor is well padded.
Bring on the waterworks
If you don’t have as much (vertical) room, you could pick a play-set that’s closer to the ground. A water-based play-set can work really well for indoor play. Something like Mossman or Yarra. These sand-and-water play-sets are usually positioned as ‘toys’ for summer play. But in a hotel setting, you can keep the room well-heated and invite kids to splash around in their bathing suits. It’s cheaper and more parent-facingthan building a kiddie pool, because there’s less risk of drowning. It feeds parents’ need for safety, and kids get to play with water. Sand is optional.
Another choice is a Quadro kit with water slides, inflatables, and water-filled ball-pits. Quadro uses large, colourfulmodular ‘blocks’, meaning kids can get involved in construction. They’ll arrive at the playground and arrange the available modular parts into a play-set of their choice. Essentially, they could assemble a different play-set for every day of their stay. Just make sure you buy a comprehensive aqua construction kit that has all the relevant parts. And have a friendly adult on hand to help them build their kid-dom.