If you think face painting and balloons are all it takes to attract today’s parents to your events — think again.
“There are too many options to choose from,” says Scary Mommy and Today Show Parents Contributor Melanie Forstall Lemoine. “If you want me and my family to attend your event, there are specific needs — and even challenges — you need to meet.”
According to Lemoine, if you want parents to attend your event, there are five common questions you need to answer. Here’s how to make attending your event easier for families.
Question #1: Will my kids — and me — be engaged at the event?
No parent wants to come to a family-friendly event and find that the only activities are some face-painting and a bowl full of candy. Parents are looking for age-appropriate activities with educational value and variety that will accommodate more than one child.
Your answer: Create multiple levels of participation
Preparing the family for an outing can be a daunting task. One of the easiest ways to add more value for parents is to offer many activities for multiple ages and stages.
Matt Forsman, founder of Sasquatch Racing, used this strategy to ensure all his participants could compete — regardless of their fitness level: “In addition to the endurance component of our races, we added a ‘trail treasure hunt’ a few years ago to play up the fun factor,” he says. “We planted silver woodallions along the race course for lucky runners to find and turn in for prizes from the ‘Sasquatch Sack O’ Fortune.’ at the finish line.”
With simple tweaks, Forsman turned his course into an adventure that all ages would enjoy. As Lemoine says, “I want my family to experience things together. Nobody wants to stand around and watch their kids have all the fun.”
Question #2: Does the event fit with my schedule?
According to our research, 59% of Americans with young children struggle to balance their family’s schedule when attending live events. So it’s no surprise the second top consideration of parents is the timing of your event.
Your answer: Host a time-flexible or multi-day event
Offer parents the option to pick and choose when they’d like to attend your event under one all-access ticket. This option can give families flexibility that they’re willing to pay more for.
“It’s pretty disappointing for the whole family when it’s time to leave the house and one of your children suddenly needs a nap,” says Lemoine. “When an event offers flexible start times and activities that run multiple days, I can please everyone and feel like Super Mom.”
Question #3: Where is it? Will there be parking?
Families have to carry a lot of stuff to get out and about. Diapers, snacks, spare clothes, water bottles, strollers — it all adds up fast. That’s why the where of your event is almost as important as the when.
Your answer: Choose the right venue and location
Parents want to know how far away your venue is from their hometown, what the parking will be like, and if it’s safe. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit your venue to something boring. Your venue can be just as much an attraction as the activities themselves.
Important considerations are:
- Accessibility for elderly relatives or caretakers
- Ramps and adequate room for strollers
- Restrooms with changing tables (in the men’s room as well!)
- Easily accessible waste disposal that will not affect event quality (i.e. proper receptacles for soiled diapers)
Question #4: Do the ticket prices match the value of the event?
Cost can be prohibitive to many families, so it’s important to find the sweet spot for pricing your event. “Some events forget that parents have to buy more than one ticket and charge outrageous amounts,” warns Lemoine.
Your answer: Set a reasonable price, but don’t sell yourself short
Family-friendly events have a unique challenge when it comes to pricing. Your goal is to find the balance between pricing tickets so you can make a profit and still look like a good deal for parents.
Discounts and early bird pricing can help you win over on-the-fence parents who aren’t quite ready to commit to your event. Here’s how to use them:
- Early birds are a great way to kick off your on sale with tickets that are persuasively cheaper than your full price General Admissions.
- Discounts, such as for returning families, first-time families, or batch ticket purchasers, can give your ticket sales a boost when they’re ebbing.
Question #5: Are the event organizers trustworthy?
The internet is a powerful thing and today’s parents rely on it to vet experiences, venues, and organizations before trusting them with their kids.
Your answer: Offer families a warm welcome
Having trusted staff on hand can ensure your attendees — parents and children alike — feel grounded and comfortable. You can even host a pre-event meetup to make sure people are already familiar with the setup when they arrive at your event.
“We design our events for the shyest person in the room,” says Ariel Waldman, Global Director of Science Hack Day. “Our pre-event meetup invites people to see the venue, ask us questions, and meet other attendees. Not everyone needs that. But for those that do, it’s really important to them.”
Get your event out there to families
Want even more pro tips on how to design the perfect family event? Check out New Data: How to Plan and Promote the Next Generation of Family-Friendly Events.