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Family travel continues to be a popular priority.An estimated 88 million Americans will take a family trip this year, and a significant portion of these caravans will include teens.The most family-focused hotel properties typically offer “kids clubs” or comparable childcare/entertainment programs for younger children, but even those with frequent family traffic sometimes struggle to engage teenagers.Hospitality brands with unique offerings specifically for the 12- to 17-year-old crowd not only have a better reputation among the youth, they’re poised to win patronage from parents who long to keep their entire crew happy on holiday.For hoteliers looking to build or expand an engaging atmosphere for teens, here are some considerations.
Three out of four teens have a smartphone. More than half have a tablet. Why not craft a space specifically with this digital generation in mind?Offer teens a welcoming common area where they can use their devices and socialize, both online and in person. Prioritize essentials such as fast, free Wi-Fi, USB charging ports and cool, comfortable seating. Use signage to promote brand hashtags and highlight the hotel’s official social channels.Properties with a scenic locale might designate a “go live” zone, encouraging teens to live stream via Instagram, Facebook or other social channel of choice. For hotels in a less-scenic locale, offer a branded step and repeat backdrop to encourage selfies and social sharing.
Hotels that are all-in on family often create a teen-specific lounge, with dynamic shapes, LED lightening and a laidback feel.Cruise brands are particularly adept at creating cool spaces, stocking them with gaming consoles, karaoke stations and beverage bars that serve age-appropriate snacks and sodas. Some even have bumper cars and offer DJ lessons, but you don't need to go that far. A fun, welcoming space to escape to is a great start. If budgets are tight, consider selling a lounge sponsorship.
Wristbands have been a resort tradition for decades. They're used for various purposes, such as designating access (to pools, attractions and the like) and identifying various age groups.While convenient for the hotel, teens sometimes see these wrist bands as shackles. Not only can the clipped end be sharp and scratchy, they’re an inherently underwhelming accessoriy, often little more than a bland strip of plastic.If your property uses bands, consider a change in protocol. Look to color-coded woven bracelets, beaded bracelets or glow-in-the-dark silicone bracelets. Not only can these offerings help your hotel stand out from other properties, they can help teens stand out from each other, adorned with a small charm or bead that affords a custom look, and a souvenir. For real wristband goals, get familiar with Disney’s MagicBands, which additionally allow guests to unlock their guestroom.
Teens love doing things independently, and there are two features of a property that they seek out; freedom to eat alone in the restaurants and a few relaxing treatments in the spa.Spa visits, in particular, are appealing to teens because they're at an age when they're uniquely focused on their appearance, not to mention they manner in which the media depicts going to the spa as something adults do when luxuriating on vacation. Many spas offer access when accompanied by an adult, but some also welcome teens on their own, including Aulani in Ko Olina, Hawaii, which offers a 1,500-square-foot "spa-within-a-spa" exclusively for their teen guests.Food outlets can become a center of teen socialization during daylight hours. Sometimes teens play the role of adult and dine with their younger siblings while their parents sleep in, hit the spa or participate in other activities.Welcoming teens to these spaces regardless of whether or not they're with their parents is a simple protocol update that can afford teens a newfound sense of freedom.
If there is one overwhelmingly successful, teen-minded amenity, it's the dance party.Teenagers want to go to revel in the evening, too, sometimes even more than their parents. A teen dance party is the perfect way to entertain in a safe environment, and encourage young guests to meet others.Invite them to stream their own music, imbibe sugary drinks and do their favorite Fortnite dance under flashing lights. Maybe even keep the teen lounge open late for the after party.
It doesn't have to be October for teens to be tempted by a haunted hotel tour. Anything that gives young ghost hunters an excuse to gather, stay up late, play with flashlights and pretend they've seen ghouls is sure to intrigue. Best of all, your hotel doesn’t truly need be haunted.Build a narrative around your hotel's history or local lore and create a few ghosts for your guests to watch for, then offer a guided expedition after dark. You can take the teens and their loud galloping and giggling through sections of the resort where guests aren't trying to sleep and keep them busy for an hour or two while being one of the coolest hotels they have ever visited.Even if you don’t uncover any apparitions, most youth will enjoy the hunt, especially if it ends with desert at a restaurant.
Teens are only just beginning to age out of the summer camp phase and still love outdoor activities.Sport courts and access to checked-out balls, rackets, jump ropes and the like will lead to impromptu games. Organize snowball fights for cold-weather properties, and standup paddle board use for properties on the water.Tailgate-type games such as Cornhole, Ladderball and giant Jenga are inexpensive and always popular. And remember how many teens have mobile devices? Draft a Pokémon Go critter list, and challenge them to "catch 'em all."
The simplest and least expensive way to earn a teen's gratitude is to treat them like adults whenever possible.Coach your team to greet them like they would an adult. Allow parents to authorize their teens to patronize the outlets on their own and charge purchases to their room. Afford them the feeling of freedom and adulthood that they crave whenever practical.
Taking steps to make teens feel more at home in your hotel is savvy, but don’t overlook the importance of broadcasting your offerings as they’re developed.Fill your Instagram feed with happy teens. Write about enhancements in your hotel blog. It's just the sort of thing parents – and teens – research.
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