Simon Mahon, general manager at the Park Plaza County Hall hotel in London, has made great strides to make the property more family-friendly since he took charge in 2009. He tells Janie Manzoori-Stamford about how he set about capturing such a lucrative section of the marke
How did you set about making the hotel more family-friendly?
We created our "family fun in the city" package, which uses our spacious en suite studio rooms to offer accommodation for two adults in the main area and two children aged 12 or under in the living area.
The rooms also provide amenities that are particularly handy for families, such as mini-fridges and microwaves. Other initiatives include a 24-hour children's menu on request, a children's movie package, animal-shaped shower gels, lollies on check-out and babysitting on request.
How did you know what facilities would appeal to families? I worked with my team, many of whom have children, to put together some ideas that we knew would complement our current offer and hotel set-up while also providing value-added extras that tick all of the boxes for families to make their hotel stay as convenient and enjoyable as possible.
Is there a risk that you might alienate couples or business guests? Our family-friendly credentials obviously attract a lot of families, but we take great care to ensure all of our guests' needs are catered for.
What other considerations were taken into account while making the decision to be more family-friendly? It was really important for us to offer a family-friendly package which is accessible to families as the consumer, both in terms of costs as well as content. We were, therefore, careful to strike the right balance between providing fun activities for the kids and convenient add-ons for the adults as well as keeping the package affordable.
How big is the family-friendly hotel market in London? The family market is one that hoteliers definitely can't afford to ignore. The key to success with this market is realising that children are often the decision-makers in the family, so hotels should adapt their products, services and food and beverage offer to fit the needs of the children and therefore keep the whole family happy.