Surprising Children and Delighting Parents at Gloucester Services
Gloucester Services knows exactly how to surprise and delight its customers. I mean, anyone who has ever stepped foot in ANY other service station will be surprised and delighted as soon as they even park up at Gloucester Services. It really is quite special. I know I'm not alone in treating this service station as a destination and not just somewhere to stop en route to some far flung place. Playdate? Gloucester Services. Roast dinner? Gloucester Services. Coffee and cake? Gloucester Services.
Having popped there yesterday with PJ to do a spot of Christmas shopping in the farmshop, there are several things fresh in my memory about just how well they cater for children and families.
We started with a bowl of chips. Yes I know, I'm an awful parent feeding my child a meal with absolutely zilch nutrition, but just a few days away from Christmas and being rushed off my feet...needs must! But unlike so many places, chips aren't the only thing on the menu here for children, in fact, they have a whole counter with lunchbox style food (sarnies, cheese, jelly, fruit and biscuits) JUST for children. As for hot meals, with any adult meal bought from the kitchen, a child's meal can be purchased for just £1! Now that is excellent value - the hot food is REALLY good by the way, not like the offering at other service stations.
After a few chips and 'dip-dip', we headed into the play area, which is in a room with chairs and tables, this means grown-ups can sit and enjoy a drink or something to eat whilst the children play. When PJ was a little baby, I really appreciated the little kitchen area with a microwave to heat up bottles or baby food. All these little thoughtful measures make a real difference to parents.
Before heading over to the farmshop, we popped to the toilet. Gloucester Services have family rooms which are blimmin' excellent. It basically means that PJ can sit on a toilet made especially for little ones (she's not potty trained yet but we are trying to encourage her), whilst I sit on the big toilet (sorry if this is TMI for some people, but hey, even the Queen sits on the loo!), and I can then change her nappy on the baby change unit. The room has two sinks - one high up and one low down - so everyone can be as independent as possible . Family rooms are definitely the way forward.
We then headed over to the farmshop. To try and prevent PJ from pulling anything and everything off the shelves, I gave her a big basket to carry around and 'help' Mummy. Of course, we had a few mishaps, including a bottle of gin and a few jars of jam, but I'm glad to report the bottles, jars and my purse were all left unscathed. It was the member of staff who served us at the till that surprised and delighted us both. She didn't do anything that requires complicated processes, staff training or expensive giveaways. What did she do? Quite simply, she was friendly, engaged both PJ and I in conversation and gave PJ a sticker. Those small gestures meant I could pack and pay without needing to chase after a bored toddler and PJ smiled the whole way home - as did I.
What small gesture could you make to help children and families have a better experience?