There are 1.9 million single parent families in the UK. Over 24% of children live in a single parent household, yet research from the Single Parent Rights campaign showed single parent discrimination is widespread with 80% of single parent respondents reporting experiencing discrimination. The most common area of discrimination, with 66% of respondents affected, was from fees and charges.
Single parents reported being charged a ‘single supplement’ which funded the discounts offered to ‘traditional’ families (2 adults, 2 children). Examples included ticket prices at attractions and events and the cost of family holidays. There were also incidents where single parents were rejected from attending events because they did not meet the minimum requirements for a family ticket. In most incidents the issue was that the price of a single parent and child(ren) was higher per person than in a two-parent family. One single parent described her frustration, “as a single parent why am I being expected to pay for a person in a package that is not suitable for me?”
According to the Family Ticket Watch report, 1 in 5 people visiting their museums were single parents or were visiting with one adult and 96% of single parents said that family tickets didn’t work for them.
It’s clear that businesses do need to hear this, understand and try something different.
Businesses can let underrepresented and marginalised groups know that they see them, they understand their lived experience, and they are there to support their needs. Inclusion means that everyone feels involved, respected, treated fairly, and considered in business culture.
Businesses of all sizes can break advertising norms by highlighting people or groups that might be underrepresented; this includes single parent families.
Here are some examples of successful inclusive marketing:
English Heritage has a “kids go free” policy which works for single parents, as well as coupled adults.
Family and Friends Railcard – any two adults can be named railcard holders. With this railcard you can save up to 30% on adult fares and 60% off child fares. Up to four adults and four children can travel on the card, they don’t need to be the same people each time.
Lancashire Museums offer a family and friends Xplorer ticket which offers free unlimited return visits to all venues and helps to make diverse families more welcome.
There are loads of things that business can do to be more inclusive of families of all types:
Understand the value families are seeking and have flexible family tickets with a range of prices – don’t dictate the size of a family. Families come in all shapes and sizes.
Check the messages you’re sending with prices and discounts and think about what this tells customers. Ensure any discount structures don’t unintentionally exclude certain family set ups and review pricing regularly.
There are a few different ways in which businesses can be flexible with their pricing to be inclusive of single parent families:
– A set discount off the total cost for individual tickets when visiting with a child. – Different family tickets for different family sizes. E.g. small family ticket for one parent families etc.
– Family tickets that are valid for a year to allow return visits.
– The option to add extra children or adults to a standard ticket price at a discounted rate.
– A small group ticket option which can include friends.
Businesses need to be good value for all. They should be thinking about their pricing from the perspective of different family set-ups. Families don’t mind paying for a day out, they just want it to be fair.