Written By: Stacey Morton, Marketing Consultant, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts
The back to school season (late August to early September) is a signal that the summer is coming to an end. Even at 40+ years old, September still feels like a time to pack away the flip flops and get out the book bag. It feels like a combination of excitement for a new challenge ahead and the regret of the best time of the year coming to an end.
For parents of school age children, back to school can be a time to rejoice! But, before they can get to a state of euphoria, they must survive back to school shopping and preparation.
It seems that the back to school shopping lists have grown from the times of needing a few pencils and erasers in a pencil case. Today parents must deal with extensive lists of school supplies and the endless requests for the latest trendy clothes and technology from their children. Back to school spending is estimated to increase 4.5 per cent in Canada this year due to lower gas prices, a stable but low Canadian dollar, some price inflation, enhanced Canada Child Benefits and – perhaps most importantly – the spending habits of Gen Z-ers, according to Ernst and Young.
But, back to school shopping does not have to be a chore, it can be a reason for a mini vacation. If you live within a reasonable drive to one of Canada’s major cities, you can make back to school shopping the reason for a fun family getaway.
The shopping experience at some of the country’s malls feels like an amusement park. Toronto’s Dixie Outlet Mall for example offers a back to school virtual reality adventure within a VR Experience Lounge. The lounge utilizes Samsung Gear VR to allow shoppers to explore oceans, safaris, other travel and more, while uncovering back-to-school offers. Complimentary wi-fi and snacks are a great draw for parents and visitors to the lounge will also be entered for a chance to win a $500 back-to-school shopping spree.
The West Edmonton Mall is North America’s largest shopping mall, but it offers far more than the traditional shops, kiosks and food courts. The West Edmonton Mall houses a complete indoor amusement park, an 18-hole miniature golf course, a water park, an ice rink, a manmade lake, music venues and themed wings, including Bourbon Street and Chinatown.
Hotels are also getting in on the back to school travel trend by offering special packages. Radisson Hotel Edmonton South offers a great package that includes complimentary shuttle to and from the West Edmonton Mall and a pre-paid $100 credit card. Also in Edmonton the DoubleTree by Hilton West Edmonton offers a great Back to School package that includes a complimentary buffet breakfast for 2 plus a $25 Visa Gift Card.
With a great location in the heart of Saskatoon’s downtown shopping district, the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon is the perfect place to stay while you shop for school. After everything is checked off your list, kick back at the Radisson’s pool and waterpark, complete with a waterslide. They will also take care of your vehicle with complimentary parking in an underground parkade. And, they have partnered with Tourism Saskatoon, so you’ll also get an Experience Pass Plus—your ticket to many local events and festivals.
Hotels can help with more than just improving the back to school shopping experience, in Halifax the Homewood Suites by Hilton®, has created a special offer for new university students. Starting university is both a special and anxious time for students and family alike. At Homewood Suites by Hilton®, the goal is to help families and students feel at home, right away. So they developed a special rate for university students, friends and family so they can stay at the hotel at a discounted rate while the new student gets settled into university life.
Other hotels offer very appealing weekend and family deals to inspire a weekend of back to school shopping. At the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Conference Centre Regina, families can book a package to receive free breakfast – a great way to fuel up for a day of power shopping!
Whether the new school year is a first for your kindergartener or perhaps your child is going off to university, or, like in my case your dogs are “re-visiting” Puppy 101 Obedience Training for the third time, it can be a time of transition and excitement and maybe a few tears and growls.