Accommodation is just the start – tailor the whole holiday to tots with smart add-ons, says Joanna Booth
You wouldn’t book a family of five into a standard double, or put a couple with a toddler into a quiet boutique hotel with no facilities for kids.
The same rules apply when it comes to getting clients to and from their destination – hire cars and airport experiences can be tailor-made to suit families. Here’s how.
In the car
Even those couples who enjoyed hand-luggage-only city breaks and would think nothing of hopping on local buses back in the day decide that hiring a car is the sensible option once they’ve had a family – there’s not just the boot for suitcases, pushchairs and toys, but there’s the added freedom of moving around exactly as and when they want.
Avis recommends at least a five-seater with four doors, for ease of access as well as comfort, but add multiple children to the mix and clients may need a larger car than they first think.
Affordable Car Hire suggests going up a car size for extra legroom, and making sure all parties have a full seat, not a flip-down. Luggage racks are available only at limited locations and upon request, so clients would probably be safer choosing a car where all their luggage fits inside. Larger cars needn’t be vastly more expensive: for seven days hire in Alicante, Your Car Hire charges £82 for a Ford Focus, £124 for a Ford Focus Estate and £153 for an Opel Zafira seven-seater.
Rules change from destination to destination when it comes to child and baby seats, so it’s worth checking and pre-booking baby, infant, child and booster seats for clients as necessary.
Affordable Car Hire sells Bubblebum inflatable booster seats for kids aged three to 11 from £29.95 – the seat folds flat so families can take it home and use it again on future holidays. Your Car Hire claims that Goldcar is unique in offering one-use baby seat covers included in the cost of baby seats, brand new every time to give parents peace of mind when it comes to hygiene.
It may be worth suggesting clients book additional driver insurance so that parents can share the driving. Another good idea is to rent a satnav to reduce the likelihood of tetchy arguments about directions while kids are screaming in the back.
Keeping the kids entertained can be cheaper and simpler if clients book Avis’s Mobile Wi-Fi package, which offers up to 1GB of data per day wireless internet access for laptops, smartphones, tablets and any other devices, so kids can stream cartoons or check Facebook on long journey without running up a fortune in roaming costs. Able to connect to up to 10 devices at a time, the pocket sized device is portable so it can be taken out of the car too, and is password-protected. Prices vary slightly but in Spain start from €8.68 per day, capped at €66.93 for the rental.
At the airport
Parents have only so many arms, and sometimes carrying suitcases and kids can seem overwhelming. This is where luggage delivery companies such as Luggage Mule and First Luggage come in, taking bags from door to door. If clients are flying with a low-cost carrier, they’ll be saving money on check in charges too.
When it comes to babies, clients could reduce the amount they need to pack by buying essentials in resort, but may worry about the hassle of hitting the shops the second they arrive. Instead, they could book Holiday Extras’ Baby Essentials package.
The kit includes Pampers nappies, baby wipes, Sudocrem, shampoo and nappy bags, and is sent in advance to their destination. Prices start from £34.99 for a one-week and £54.99 for a two-week supply.
You can even take the sting out of moving through the airport with a Fast Track Security Pass that allows the family to use dedicated lanes at security, pre-bookable with Holiday Extras from £3. The pass is available as an add-on at Manchester, Liverpool John Lennon, Luton, Bristol and Leeds Bradford airports.
Ask the experts
Greg Lawson of Columbus Direct explains what families need to consider when it comes to travel insurance
Most policies include the essentials such as 24-hour English-speaking medical assistance, trip cancellation and personal belongings, but the amount of cover provided will vary so buyers need to have a clear idea of what they want. Here are my top tips:
1. Policy limits: The lowest priced policies may not cover everything that holidaymakers are looking for. Most policies cover at least £1,000 of baggage per person, but check the limits for valuables and individual items. If they have expensive gadgets or phones to cover, look for a policy that offers a gadget cover extension or that specifically covers these items.
2. Excess waiver: While a £200 excess on a medical claim worth thousands of pounds may not seem too much of a concern, as the excess is applied per person, a cancellation claim for a family of four could be costly. Customers should consider an excess waiver, which means paying a bit extra so that no excess is deducted if they claim.
3. Modern families: While a ‘family’ is traditionally regarded as children travelling with their parents, today’s families can include stepchildren or children travelling with the parent they no longer live with.
Most companies understand this and are happy to provide this extended cover, while many will also cover grandchildren travelling with their grandparents. Sometimes children travel with families other than their own; generally this cover cannot be purchased online as policies need at least one person aged 18 or over.
Tried and tested
Tristar Worldwide Global Chauffeur Service
What: Tristar Worldwide Global Chauffeur Service
Where: More than 80 countries
Trip reviewed: London E1 to Gatwick
I’ve never really bought into that whole ‘the holiday starts when you lock your front door’ nonsense. With the hassle of security queues and flight delays, it often feels a lot like hard work right up until the wheels are off the runway. But having used the Tristar Worldwide Global Chauffeur Service, I could be convinced to revise my opinion.
There’s nothing particularly pleasant about leaving the house at 5am, but having a besuited chauffeur with a spotless estate waiting prompt and ready really helped. I’m often disappointed by how many airport taxi services don’t keep an eye on traffic and road closures, but Tristar’s Bogdan was on top of everything, getting me from London E1 to Gatwick in record time – just one hour. And the journey was smooth enough for me to apply mascara without any eye gouging. Tristar offers a highly professional service that would be suitable for business clients or the high-end leisure traveller.
With a 99% on-time performance it hardly seems necessary, but for those sticklers for timekeeping its Platinum Service on-time guarantee means that if a car is even one minute late for a pick-up, the journey is complimentary.
With offices in London, Manchester, Paris, Boston, New York and Hong Kong, Tristar has a fleet of more than 500 vehicles, and offers transfers to events as well as airport transfers. It also offers tours with a driver-guide and a chauffeured car for days out.
Tristar pays agents 10% commission. To set up an account, contact the business development team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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