With Families as Customers You Can Most Definitely Please Everybody

In restaurants, resort hotels, shopping venues and theme parks across the country, the one challenge in managing these businesses successfully is making your product or service attractive to families. With the economy improving, family-centered activities are on the rebound, creating a renewed opportunity for retail, travel and entertainment providers.

Among all forms of family activities, multi-generational travel – with kids, parents, and grandparents – has been one of the hottest trends in recent years. According to Leisure Group Travel Magazine, 40 percent of all active leisure travelers have taken at least one multi-generational trip over the last year, with nearly 21 million U.S. travelers having taken a vacation trip involving three or more family generations. In all, multi-generational travel accounts for upwards of 40 percent of the $270 billion leisure travel market.

The key to attracting this significant share of the family leisure market is to strive to offer attractions, amenities and activities that appeal to a broad range of family members’ ages, interests and lifestyles. At our family-owned and operated resort hotel, the Bavarian Inn Lodge, we’re constantly fine tuning our range of activities and events to appeal to all age groups. Our guests stay with us for many different reasons, such as a wedding, spring break, Christmas holidays and, increasingly, large family reunions, where our destination has become an annual gathering place.

For example, our Family Fun Center incorporates attractions for young children along with electronic games for teens and adults. Our pool area was built as a “living room water park,” with a splash pool for toddlers and their parents, water slides for older children, family-size whirlpools and a secluded pool just for adults. Additionally, we’ve created multiple seating areas for families to get together in a relaxed setting. And, family activities like karaoke, bring the kids, parents and grandparents in tune, making memorable moments together. We also offer a variety of dining options to please a wide range of tastes and age groups, from pizza for the youngsters, to prime rib for mom and dad.

Businesses of all types can tap the potential of the multi-generational market by closely researching generational trends, keeping pace with the latest your industry has to offer and, it goes without saying, providing a level of service that will surprise and delight your family customers – of all ages – and keep them coming back for more.

Judy Zehnder Keller is president of the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Convention Center in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Nestled along the Cass River in one of Michigan’s top tourist locations – Frankenmuth – the Lodge has 360 European-themed guest rooms, including whirlpool and family suites, four indoor pools, three whirlpools, two water slides, a miniature golf course, two gift shops, two lounges and two restaurants — all under one roof. In addition to being president of the lodge, Judy is also president of the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, Frankenmuth Gift Shop and Frankenmuth Motel. She is recognized statewide for her leadership in promoting tourism in Michigan.


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