Marketing to Teens: The Product

Real estate developers are joining homeowners in creating the new “must have” space in a luxury home – the Teen Suite or Teen Lounge. And, based on the trappings and amenities of these new designer spaces, “Go to your room” will no longer be a punishment for teens. To the contrary. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal described a 1,000 square foot teen suite in a Manhattan townhouse, built at a cost of $750,000 that has ping pong and billiard tables, a recording studio, kitchen, and theater for movies and videogames. Posher yet is a Michigan home with what they call a “kid zone” with two master suite size bedrooms, a movie theater, full kitchen, indoor basketball court, DJ mixing station and sleepover space with hanging bunk beds. In luxury condos, it seems it’s no longer enough to have a kids playroom. Now Miami condo Jade Signature will have a teen lounge complete with the latest motion sensor videogames, a computerized blackboard system and ping pong tables.

The travel industry, on the other hand, has been slow to successfully address the teen market, though there have been fitful attempts for over 20 years. Granted, it’s not an easy challenge as many have seen. Most hotels, when they have done something, settle for a lounge where teens can hang out, enjoying a game of ping pong and billiards, videogames and movies. Where hotels have met success (and increased revenue) is with teen spa and beauty treatments — for teens alone and mother/daughter and father/son offerings. Probably the travel industry segment that has done the best job are the major lines in the cruise industry. A good description of the programs is in www.thecruisecritic. Many divide their programs into “tweens” – 12 to 14 and “teens” 15-17. Besides a dedicated meeting space , they offer a full blown activity program ranging from parties and nightly disco to sports competitions, dance classes and even a take off on America’s Idols, “junior Star Seeker”. It helps, too, that the larger ships have a variety of sports facilities, like Royal Caribbean’s ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, mini golf, and basketball. These serve, too, for opportunities for parents to share activities with their kids, making for bonding, much sought after today. Special food options are offered as well, such as NCL’s teen passport where for $34.50 a teen can order 20 smoothies or other non alcoholic drinks.

Not only do teens have a voice In impacting travel choices, but also, today’s teens are tomorrow’s twenty something adults. So I say to colleagues in the travel industry, invite your creative minds to address this market. The opportunities are there for the taking.

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