The importance of hospitality catering for children is often underestimated in today’s hospitality establishments. Few owners realize that children make the decision on the choice of establishment one third of the time and they influence the decision ninety percent of the time which means in any language that children are worthy of looking after. Children are all too often seen as a nuisance and only a noisy pest that comes along with adults instead of a form of steady revenue, and when looked after correctly will result in return business.

Children will not be the wealthiest of clientele who frequent your establishment, but their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents may be, and they will be paying the bill at the end of it all.

So, what are the advantages of hospitality catering for children?

It doesn’t cost much to feed them.
Children do not travel alone.
Children are loyal.

Because of these points alone is it any wonder that some of the most successful food companies in the world specialize in catering for children; Mc Donald’s, Burger King and closer to home, Spur, to name but a few. These are all business that thrive in feeding children. How many times have you seen a child begging their parents to bring them to Mc Donald’s just so as they can get a happy meal toy; a child coming out of Burger King with a crown hat on their head; or the child around the town centre with Spur balloons tied to their buggy? Of course, the children didn’t pay for them but they did influence the adult’s decision to take them there and spend money.

Upon a recent visit to a pub/restaurant I saw a great example of how one establishment excelled at specializing for children’s needs. I was enjoying Sunday lunch and in came a group of four adults and what seemed like a small army of children in-tow, ranging in age from six months to twelve years old. The high chairs were at hand and were quickly brought by the waiting staff which meant the parents could then release their handful of bags and all of the children’s toys. Before the waiting staff brought any menus to the table they provided jugs of water and some bread rolls to which the children immediately got stuck into.

The children were then brought a special children’s menu which had on the back a colour by numbers drawing of the mascot. This was theirs to colour in with the crayons which were also provided and the children started colouring straight away and comparing their masterpieces. On the menu there were colourful illustrations and the mascot of the establishment, which the children were told was known as “Ringo”. Several of the dishes were named after the mascot which the children also seemed to enjoy. The waiting staff then took the children’s orders after chatting to them briefly and helping them with their decisions. The waiting staff were obviously used to such an army of children being downloaded upon them.

After ordering the children continued to colour in ‘Ringo’ on the back of the menu with very little disruption to other diners while nibbling on their bread rolls. Their food arrived then shortly afterwards, at about the same time as the parent’s starter.

Needless to say, the parents were delighted with the service they received, as the ‘problem’ of dining with children was immediately taken out of the equation by the quick attention of the staff and the children were not left waiting at any stage. If children are left waiting, then they can get cranky and more hungry/disruptive by the minute. Because the staff were clued in enough to see that they had a potential disruptive band of noisy children on their hands they acted by keeping them occupied and not letting them settle down and bringing them water, bread, menus, crayons and shortly afterwards their food which was presented as being “Ringo’s cosmic burger”.

It’s key to remember that children need to be entertained and fed and if they are happy then the parents will be happy. This establishment excelled at looking after children and their sometimes-demanding needs. The next time that this family decide to go out to eat you can be sure that the kids will be shouting out for a return visit to see Ringo.

Additionally, one thing which really gets up a child’s nose is when it comes to dessert and there is no jelly available for them. Save yourself the hassle of disappointing the children and always have it available; and if the kids don’t eat it then the senior citizens will!

A dining experience for children needs to be memorable for them and the important factors are;

When children arrive, entertain them
Don’t keep the children waiting
Children want to be served quickly
Parents want their children fed quickly
If the children are happy then the parents are happy

So, it’s time to increase your revenue and start looking after the children who bring along their parents to your establishment and start looking at these little people as money spinners again and again, provided you look after

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