Today's post is inspired by Frank Stevens, an event professional based in Amsterdam. He started a discussion in a LinkedIn about accommodating the needs of mothers with nursing infants attending events. It's an important topic but it has rarely been addressed. It got me thinking and remembering what it's like to travel and attend events with a young baby.
As event planners, it's important to give more thought to making events family-friendly for parents travelling with babies.
I have organized a number of client events where family members have been welcome. There have been mothers with babies and even newborns at some events. Also, when I was training to become a summer flight attendant for Air Canada, I remember that quite a bit of time was spent on taking steps to ensure the comfort of families with infants and young children.
Based on these experiences, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- For meetings and events that nursing mothers and parents with infants are attending, provide a lounge near the main meeting room with:
- couches and comfortable chairs
- tables for diaper bags
- a refrigerator
- changing tables
- washroom facilities
- snacks for the mothers)
- a screen, TV or monitor where the meeting can be monitored
- nannies (highly recommended)
- Provide a reserved table and seats near the door for parents to use as desired.
Advise parents that they can slip in and out of the meeting whenever they wish.
- For events that involve overnight stays, select a venue with a nursery, nanny service and, if possible refrigerators in guest rooms (or arrange for rental of a small fridge for baby food and formula).
- Send families tips for traveling with infants and information about the facilities available at the resort including babysitting and nursery.
- Many destinations require passports even for infants.
Advise parents to apply for a birth certificate on-line to expedite the process and then pay to fast track the passport application process.
- Order cribs, high chairs, and playpens for guest rooms, as required.
- Arrange for infant seats for all transfer and transportation vehicles.
At some destinations where suitable seats are not available, provide parents with the specifications for seats that aircrafts will accept.
- For events that involve travel, arrange meet and greet for families with infants and toddlers.
I remember stepping off the plane in Montego Bay when my son was a baby. It was reassuring to have a member of the airline staff greet me and carry my bags as I went through immigration, customs, and the luggage claim process.
- GIve parents the options to upgrade from a bus to car transfer.
- If the groups travel by bus, reserve the first few rows for the families with infants and toddlers.
- Load the luggage in the compartment at the front of the bus so that it can be unloaded first.
- Pre-arrange for luggage transfer to (and from) guest rooms
- During orientation, provide information for about the location of child care, nursing, and medical facilities.
- Ensure that the families are accompanied to their rooms and that they have everything the need.
- Check in regularly to ensure that families have everything they need.
It is helpful to provide a package for infants that includes all of the supplies, equipment and services families with infants and toddlers will require in-transit and at the resort.
Taking these steps will ensure that meetings, incentives and events accommodate the needs of families with infants and go a long way towards creating events that are truly family-friendly.
The Cvent Event Blog has more tips for Designing Family Friendly Conferences, Retreats and Incentive Trips, Balancing Team, Family and Free Time During Foreign Corporate Events and Group Check-in Enhances Experience for Corporate Clients.
Photo Credit: Charles Street Bakery