A leading hospitality and pub company in the north of England, The Inn Collection boasts an expanding portfolio which, to date, comprises seven pubs/inns stretching from Flass Vale in Durham to Berwick-upon-Tweed, just two miles from the Scottish border.
We’ve stayed in several of the family-friendly inns and enjoyed every minute of our visits so have invited Sean Donkin, Operations Director at The Inn Collection Group, to answer a few questions about the company’s approach to the family all-important market…
How important is the family market to the Inn Collection Group?
Extremely. Our business is hospitality – and that’s giving a warm and friendly welcome to everyone who comes through our doors, including families. As a father myself with a young family, I know first-hand just how important it is to give a warm welcome to families, but also, from a business perspective to ensure you’re meeting their needs so they choose to visit you, return and recommend which makes strong commercial sense.
Our inns are family-friendly, demonstrated by the thought and attention to detail we put into providing facilities and services that will make a family’s stay easy and enjoyable. We have first-rate baby change areas, places where parents can leave buggies and pushchairs, children’s menus, family rooms and interconnecting rooms for people staying with older children but still looking to have the peace of mind of them being next door. Plus, we have a range of children’s colouring materials and activity sheets to keep little ones happy and entertained while they’re visiting us at mealtimes or when parents are relaxing with a drink.
Children’s play areas are available at some of our inns, too – a facility we’re looking to roll-out across all our pubs.
What offers or incentives are there for families to stay at your inns?
A number of our inns, such as The Lindisfarne Inn near Holy Island, have seasonal “winter break” offers in which children under 12 stay and eat for free – providing they’re with an adult paying for full price meals.
In your opinion, which inn is the most family-friendly or family-orientated?
The Commissioners Quay Inn and The Hog’s Head Inn are both new build inns. As such, family orientated elements have been a key element of the build from point of design. This includes wider corridors, spacious baby change facilities and incredibly spacious family rooms with interconnecting adjoining rooms. Large family rooms sleeping up to six are perfect for larger families and as an alternative to staying in an apartment or self-catering. We have superb children’s play areas at both of these sites along with outdoor dining areas so parents can sit and relax outside while the children play.
Do you pay special attention to children’s menus, etc.?
Very much so. We believe in having children’s menus that are every bit as tempting as our adult menus. We work together as a team to put together our kids’ menus, based on our first-hand knowledge and experience of dishes to tempt even the fussiest of eaters. We will always tweak dishes and adapt meals where we can to suit little ones’ preferences.
Can the manager of each inn set up their own family-friendly incentives or are such things agreed across the company?
Our managers are encouraged to think freely about their own inn’s initiatives and incentives, which we talk through. While each inn is part of our group, they are all individual pubs with rooms in their own right. So when The King’s Head Inn wanted to introduce self-guided “Walk Inn” breaks, taking advantage of the fantastic walking routes around the inn, we supported them. “Walk Inn” breaks include dinner, bed and breakfast along with welcome drinks on arrival, packed lunch and a pack of 20 self-guided walks. Their “Walk Inn” breaks are suitable for walkers of all levels and abilities and they have special children’s walks pack for families, too. At The Lindisfarne Inn near Holy Island we welcome a lot of families who are cycling or walking. The manager there wanted to introduce more facilities for cyclists – including families. As such, we have installed bike stands, secure bike storage and a range of suggested family-friendly cycling routes.
Are there plans for any more inns joining the group?
As an expanding company we look forward to announcing new inn additions to the group in coming months which will deliver our eat, drink, sleep and explore model.