Luxepitality interviews Richard Liddle

Worldwide Kids

Tell us a bit about your background and how and why you started Worldwide kids?

Having finished university in London I wanted to work in the hospitality industry. I worked for a few different family orientated tour operators in resorts both in the Alps and in beach locations around the world. While several of them provided a childcare service for their clients, it was apparent from many hotels that they wanted to have a professional childcare service for all guests as opposed to a childcare service provided by one tour operator exclusively for their guests.

While this gives a tour operator a USP, it can make other hotel guests feel somewhat second rate when they are not permitted to use the service because of their chosen booking agent.

I saw this as an opportunity – to help hotels, often with a limited knowhow regarding childcare, to improve their services for families. Typical elements that are often neglected are; staff with no training, no childcare Operating Procedures, poor equipment, and no age appropriate activity programs, children’s facilities that are inappropriate for ages, and do not provide a safe, secure and fun environment for children. I think families deserve better – and in many cases now families are now demanding better.

In terms of facilities there are certain regions geographically that tend to invest heavily in facilities for kids, particularly China, however even in these cases, the ‘hardware’ is there (facilities), but the ‘software’ is an afterthought (training and activities). From my perspective this is entirely the wrong way round. A well trained childcare team can provide an excellent childcare service in very limited facilities.

Now that I have 3 kids of my own, ages 1, 6 and 8 years, they are the ultimate test for our childcare services!

What is Worldwide kids?

Worldwide Kids is a hotel and resort childcare consultancy. We have over 30 years of professional childcare services in hotels and resorts gives us a wealth of know-how to create a world class childcare facility from scratch or to transform an existing childcare facility and service into the best they can. And we will always find a way to do that to match a hotel or resort’s budget. Our goal is to aid the hospitality and leisure industry in providing the highest levels of care for children.

Traditionally the family market of yesteryear has been content with a few toys and a playground and a local babysitter in the corner. Those days are long gone. Parents of today expect a high quality childcare facility with well trained childcare staff to care for their children and to ensure that they have a fabulous holiday. Giving children the full 5 star experience and care that adults are getting.

Our intention is not for parents to use our childcare services 24/7 but to use it as a chance for 100% relaxation with peace of mind that their children are in good hands. On average children use our childcare services for 4 sessions per week.

We are not a tour operator. We are not a travel agent.

We are a childcare specialist consultancy business. Hotels working with us place a huge importance in the quality and standards of childcare provided for their guests.

Many tour operators and travel agents use a hotel’s Worldwide Kids collaboration as a selling point.

With such depth of experience in setting up and providing professional childcare services, Worldwide Kids is a childcare brand of exceptional quality that is trusted not just by hotels, but also by a loyal following of families in the UK, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Russia, and the UAE (so far!).

How does worldwide kids benefit hotels?

We benefit hotels by providing specialist knowledge in childcare. From minimising their risk, to improving their facilities and services for guests, resulting in new revenue streams, improvements in low season reservations, and improved family reservations in general. Working with us also ensures that you get your childcare facilities and services right first time, with no costly mistake along the way.

Where in the world do you operate now?

Currently we work with hotels in Abu Dhabi, Antigua, Cyprus, Croatia, Dubai, Greece, Hong Kong and The Maldives – with lots more in the pipeline.

How do you select your staff?

Staff are selected based on their experience working with children, their qualifications, and most importantly their attitude to children and customer service. Childcare skills can be trained. The right attitude cannot. A desire to provide an exemplary childcare service in a safe and appropriate environment, keeping children entertained while learning something new through play.

What do you need to get started and how long until a new kids club is up and running?

Any hotel can have a professional childcare service, although the needs vary depending on the hotel location and guest demographics. To get started a hotel just needs to get in touch. The usual process would be sending a childcare consultant to audit their existing family facilities and services, to give our perspective on how these can be improved. Following this initial step, we then create a childcare concept, a facility layout and design, equipment list, recruitment plan, operations plan, and provide training for the new team. The concept and design elements take around 6 weeks to complete. Following any building or refurbishment requirements, recruiting a team can take up to 3 months to ensure we find the very best childcare team for a hotel with the correct skills, experience, attitude and languages. Our in-resort training takes 6 days, followed by operational support 24/7 to help the childcare team and the hotel deal with any issues that may arise, and ensure that activity standards and customer service remains at the highest levels.

Every hotel wants to see a tangible ROI for any investment they make. On average, hotels we work with see a 15% improvement in family bookings with an average 9 bed nights per family. Where an early years childcare service (ages 4 months to 3 years) is appropriate there is also a good additional revenue stream. A 300 room hotel can also expect approximately €7,000 per month from a professionally operates crèche service.

What do you enjoy most about your job

My job is extremely varied, so no day is ever the same. The most satisfying thing is reading the positive comments from parents and happy hoteliers alike. I also enjoy the travel and experiences in some of the best hotels in the world.

Where is your favourite place to travel

My favourite place to travel is a difficult one. From a personal perspective travel is about new and unique experiences. And seeing my kids enjoying themselves in a new environment. The world is our oyster to explore and my bucket list is extremely long. If I had to choose one place right now, I would say Greece – because the people are generally very friendly and have a great attitude to kids. You cannot beat fresh seafood served with style and a smile.

List 3 items that you never travel without

My Macbook, my sunglasses, photo of my wife and kids.

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