TOUR operators have boosted the range and quality of their family products for summer 2000 in an attempt to win a greater share of the early-booking market.
Most of the major operators now feature family products at selected properties throughout the Mediterranean which, in addition to kids' clubs and child facilities, offer a full entertainments package centred around the family, plus a greater choice of activities.
Thomson, which was the first to launch a product specifically tailored to families three years ago, has extended its Superfamily brand to nine additional properties giving a total of 31 for summer 2000.
Superfamily properties cater for all ages, from babies through to teenagers, with facilities ranging from pushchairs and high chairs to special play areas and kids' clubs for each age group.
Airtours has more than trebled the number of Family First properties it offers for 2000, going from just three this year to 11 for next year. These offer creches and baby sitting as well as enhanced kids' clubs.
Airtours commercial director Seamus Conlon said: "They have been extremely popular, and we are seeing more people looking for this type of product."
Airtours has also expanded its Suncenter product, which offers an entertainments package tailored to older children.
"We are trying to offer different types of product for different age groups, so FamilyFirst is targeted at younger families while Suncenter has lots of activities for older children," added Conlon.
First Choice is offering its new Familyplus product at two more properties in Greece, bringing the total to nine for summer 2000. Head of marketing Kyle Haughton said Familyplus had been expanded following the successful launch of the brand this year. "The units where we are offering Familyplus this summer have been very popular and we are getting people rebooking them for next year," he said.
"In these units the whole environment is based on families doing things together, and we have found the concept is working well."
First Choice is also targeting the family market through its upmarket brand Sovereign which has included more family friendly hotels plus a greater number of child reductions in all properties for 2000.
Facilities such as children's activity programmes, play areas, early meals, plus baby-sitting and listening services are available at these properties.
Marketing manager Stephanie Pritchard said: "In this increasingly competitive premium market our aim is to extend the appeal of Summer Sunshine brochure to include younger families."
The 2000 brochure features 101 resorts in the Mediterranean, 12 of which are new including Patalavaca in Gran Canaria and La Chayofa in Tenerife, Puigpunent in Majorca, Mijas Costa in Andalucia, Aghios Ioannis in Corfu and Bodrum in Turkey.
Sunworld is planning to follow its rivals in launching a family product later this year, although details are being kept under wraps until the launch of the operator's second-edition brochures. Sunworld product director Alan MacLean said: "The family market is very competitive and there is a recognition that people expect more from their holiday now."
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