Mum of three knows exactly what families value

Natasha Lawrence is so experienced at selling family holidays she could probably reel off the best resorts and destinations in her sleep.

The mum-of-three has gained an indepth knowledge of which hotels and resorts cater for different family sizes and tastes during a career in travel spanning 18 years.

“It’s all in my head,” jokes Natasha. With three boys aged two, five and eight, she can also draw plenty of product knowledge from booking her own family holidays.

One of the biggest challenges is to meet all of a family’s needs, especially as grandparents often come along too. “It’s about finding a hotel for all ages,” she says.

“Obviously, you want the kids to be happy, but in the evening when they are in nursery or asleep you need something for adults.

“Some clients want there to be activities all day long for the children, while others don’t want any activities but want cultural experiences, which is where Greece, especially Skiathos, is brilliant.”

As well as flight times and meals, Natasha says a top concern for families is accommodation.

“It’s a lot harder to look for hotels with guaranteed interconnecting rooms. I always email the hotel myself to see if they can do it,” she says.

Demand for certain destinations has also shifted as the family market matures, says Natasha, who started working from home for Travel Counsellors in November 2011 after a career break.

“When I came back to work I was getting asked for Cuba as a long-haul destination for families instead of Dominican Republic,” she says.

Natasha has also noticed increased interest in ski holidays among families as well as Egypt for beach breaks and cruising, while the Canaries and the Balearics have remained firm favourites.

One thing Natasha insists on is making her family clients feel looked after. She goes out of her way to make them feel special – from emailing their specific needs to a hotel to having milk and bread on their doorstep the day they return.

“It’s just trying to make the holiday experience a bit nicer,” she adds.

Natasha’s tips for selling family holidays

  • Really listen to the customer. Don’t start looking up hotels until you’ve had a good talk. Find out the ages of their children, what holidays they have been on, what they enjoy and their expectations.

  • Do your research. It’s no good offering a property with private pools or Jacuzzis. Talk to operators to find out the best products.

  • Make the journey as easy as possible. Families will often want short, daytime flights from their local airport. At the other end, they don’t want a long transfer.

  • Make sure there are enough activities and sights in and around the resort. Families do not want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

  • If you are a parent, use your own product knowledge and experience to help guide your customer.