A Content Analysis on Child-Friendly Hotels as an Emerging Concept in Tourism Marketing

A Content Analysis on Child-Friendly Hotels as an Emerging Concept in Tourism Marketing

Erdem Akkan (Mersin University, Turkey) and Sezen Bozyiğit (Tarsus University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3156-3.ch019
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Abstract

Children have been an interesting topic in the marketing literature both as consumers and influencers. Some studies claim that children might have an influence for buying decision of household products and services, even if for those which are not directly targeting them. This study is based on web information of 89 hotels, which were categorized as child-friendly on third-party hotel review websites. Through a measurement scale, adapted from similar several studies, the child-friendly characteristics of sample hotels were explored. Measurement scale consists of 35 items and five dimensions. According to the findings, the availability of these dimensions are ranked as (1) entertainment-related services, (2) food and beverage services, (3) room-related services or facilities, (4) other services, and (5) baby-related services in a descending order. It is believed that findings of this study will contribute to related literature and will give practical information to tourism decision-makers.
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Introduction

Family purchase decision-making is one of the most popular subjects in consumer behaviour literature. In this process, husband, wife and children play an active role. It is suggested that children’s influence on family purchases consistently accounts for a greater dollar amount than children’s direct spending (Bakir, Rose, & Shoham, 2006). However, early studies on family decision-making seem to cover the influence of the husband and wife dyad, rather than the influence of children (Chen, Lehto, Behnke, & Tang, 2016). From the tourism product perspective, it is suggested that parents are not deaf to what their children say related to household purchases. Furthermore, the satisfaction of children is highly rated by parents and if the child does not wish to go to a site, the likelihood of getting satisfied children is poor (Gram, 2007).

The interest in child issues in marketing and tourism literature has been rising for 50 years. Berey and Pollay (1968) referred to three main reasons: (1) the size of the child market is rapidly growing, (2) obviously children influence the family’s decision-making and (3) adult consumer behaviour is the direct antecedent of child consumer behaviour. Similarly, McNeal (1992; as cited in Caruana & Vassallo, 2003, p. 61) claimed that children’s influence on family purchases is increasing due to four reasons: (1) recently, parents have fewer children, thereby the influence of each child increases, (2) there has been a general increase in one-parent families that has resulted in children doing their own shopping, (3) there has been an increase in working women and delayed childbearing, as a result of which mothers tend to have more money to spend on their children, (4) out of necessity, working couples encourage more household participation and self-reliance. Flurry (2007) discovered that, children’s influence is now extending past those products considered traditionally child-oriented to include family-oriented products such as furnishing, automobiles and electronics.

It is reported that children are often involved in choices for family activities, such as vacations, and minimally involved in decisions for major household durables (Swinyard & Sim, 1987). Ceylan (2019) also stated that children are the most effective family members for the holiday destination choice. According to her, regardless of their age, parents consider their children’s preferences first. Hotel choices may differ according to demographic characteristics and interests of consumers. Especially, families with children want to choose hotels that are addressing both themselves and their children. These hotels are expected to meet basic needs of both parents and children, be safe for children, and entertain children with those hotel facilities. This ensures that both parents and children will have exciting experiences on the holiday. Being aware of these expectations, many hotel managements promote their services according to these wishes to gain competitive advantage by increasing the demand for them. Jelínková, Tučková, and Jurigová (2017) indicated, that it is necessary for tourism professionals, who are targeting families with children, to establish hotels prepared to meet special needs of children and to provide all kinds of opportunities for both children and their parents.

For the hotel management, it is necessary, but not limited, to have the features to meet expectations of families with children. It is also necessary to make the target market aware of these features. For this purpose, business professionals tend to use various promotion channels. Websites are one of these channels. Websites are critical for hotels, especially for communication, access to tools (i.e., databases, indices, etc.), promotion and marketing reasons (Poock & Lefond, 2001, p. 16). Because prospective customers generally do not have the chance to go and see the hotels on-site, they prefer to gather information about the hotels mostly via the Internet. They may get information from the official website of the hotels or through tourism agencies’ websites. Thus, the more information and images of hotels are on websites, the more insight customers will have about the hotels. According to that information, customers can make comparisons and they can decide quickly.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Marketing to Children: Marketing activities that are designed for children’s special needs, such as healthful and easy to use products, simple promotion messages.

Influence of Children: The influence of children on family decision-making process especially for household consumption.

Child-Friendly Hotel: A hotel, which offers additional services, intended for children’s and parents’ special needs.

Other Services: One of the five service dimensions of a child-friendly hotel offers. These services include health service, babysitting service, check-in area for children and children’s corner at the reception.

Room-Related Services or Facilities: One of the five service dimensions of a child-friendly hotel offers. These services include baby tub, humidifier, etc., and they are usually offered in the hotel room.

Food and Beverage Services: One of the five service dimensions of a child-friendly hotel offers. These services include kids’ menu, ice cream etc., and they are designed especially for children’s food and beverage interests.

Family Decision Making: The decision-making process of the household in which husband, wife and children play an active role.

Baby-Related Services: One of the five service dimensions of a child-friendly hotel offers. These services include stroller, waterproof baby diapers, etc., and they are especially for families with babies.

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