Sunday, May 11, 2008

Going on a business trip? Take the kids along!

A greater number of hotels are encouraging business travelers to bring along their families. Hotel chains such as Omni and Embassy Suites have already launched child-friendly options in an effort that travelers will bring their children with them and generate more income for the hotel. So if you take your kids along, you will see goodie bags, goldfish, toys and denim couches in the kids rooms which are connected to the main room, creating a large suite effect.

According to a survey conducted by Y Partnership, a marketing firm, about 38% of adults traveled for work once a week with their children in 2007, up from 26% in 2000. Says Peter Yesahich, the CEO of Y Partnership, "Work habits in America have become so oppressive to people that they look at vacation as a form of family union." Another factor is that hotels are seeing more empty rooms during the weekends and are looking to generate some money from other avenues.

Based on the research conducted by Y Partnership, one-third of travelers on business trips extend their trip for leisure when possible. In 2000, this figure stood at 60%, but as business travel has become more serious and not considered as entertaining as it used to be, travelers are bringing their families on fewer of the trips.
The time-tested tradition of giving away toys and goodies is the most common strategy. Omni Hotels distributes free backpacks with small toys to children, as well as milk and cookies delivered to the room each night. This summer, Kimpton Hotels will start distributing tote bags with yo-yos and bath sponges and provide goldfish in some rooms. Loews Hotels has partnered with Fisher-Price, and guests can borrow the toymaker's electronic "Smart Cycle," which is an exercise bike/learning tool.

Swissotel Chicago has introduced suites with aquatic, dinosaur and planetarium themes. Converted from two rooms, each suite starts at about $800 a night. The aquatic room is adorned with toy whales, a child-size table and DVDs/books about fish and the environment. The package comes with four tickets to local museums, about $100 in value, says spokeswoman Nicole Jachimiak.

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