Designing Family Friendly Conferences, Retreats and Incentive Trips

Fern ResortOffering meeting and conference attendees the opportunity to bring family members can be a valuable perk and companies don't have to blow their budgets to do it. (Some companies give employees the option of paying to upgrade and bring family members. Others, allow each employee to invite one guest on incentive trips and pay extra to upgrade and bring children.)

Keeping these tips in mind whenever you build family friendly conferences, retreats or incentive trips. They are based on years of experience working with corporate groups and personal experience in taking my son to resorts and hotels for conferences and family vacations.

Venue Selection Tips

Be sure to select a venue that has:

  • suites or connecting rooms
  • an inviting children's menu
  • cribs, cots or roll-aways and high chairs
  • engaging supervised activities for toddlers, children and teens
  • spa, fitness and other programs for spouses
  • child care options (e.g. nursery, babysitters, hall sitters)
  • a nurse's station on-site
  • family-friendly entertainment in the evening

Look for venues with kitchenettes or refrigerators and microwaves and special facilities like indoor or outdoor water parks, a lazy river, pony rides, dolphins or climbing walls.

With the variety of activities and amenities in close proximity to hotels, resort villages are a great option for corporate events to which families are invited.

Examples of Family-Friendly Resorts: Kalahari Resorts, Fern ResortHalf Moon Resort, Atlantis Paradise Island, Atlantis The Palm, Al Waha at Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and SpaTropical Islands lodges, tents or campsites.

Event Design Tips

  • Give parents an opportunity to order special beverages (e.g. milk, juices) and snacks for their children.
  • Give guests with families the option of coming in a day early so that they can get their children settled and spend some time with them.
  • If the group travels together, arrange for the families to be transferred to the resort first or to get off the transfer bus first.
  • Be sure to use transfer vehicles with infant and toddler safe seating for the members of your party with young children.
  • During your orientation or group check-in, arrange for the nurse(s) to meet the families.
  • On the way to their rooms, be sure to have staff point out the children and teen activity centers to the families.
  • Round out your schedule with a range of activities for spouses and for children in various age groups to enjoy while meetings are taking place. Activity Ideas: 40 Fantastic Family Activities for Conferences and Corporate Events
  • Finish the daily meetings or sessions at 3:30 so that the families can spend some free time together during daylight hours. (Start the meeting early if there is a lot of content to cover.) 
  • For dinner, serve the families first. Another option is to have a children's meal time and provide supervision and entertainment during the regular dinner time so that the parents can relax and enjoy their meal.
  • Build a half a day for off-site excursions into the itinerary.

Search the Cvent Supplier Network for family resorts.

Photo Credit: Fern Resort

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