Holiday Snaps – Josh Donald Managing Director of South West Holiday Parks

Holiday Snaps- Josh Donald Managing Director of South West Holiday Parks

holiday snapsHow is 2017 shaping up for your parks?  We are very excited about the 2017 season and feel that the staycation will be stronger than ever with more and more families choosing to holiday in the beautiful South West. Demand is already up on last year for camping, holiday lodges and private lodge ownership.

What challenges are currently facing the holiday park sector?  Not just meeting, but exceeding, our customers’ expectations is our greatest challenge. We strive to offer the very best in accommodation, facilities and service and the expectations of our customers are rising at the fastest rate I have ever seen.

How have visitor expectations changed during your time in the holiday business and how have you reacted to those demands?  Our customers will not accept poor service or accommodation and they are right. We are constantly re-investing to ensure that we keep ahead of our competition. Customer retention is very important to us and proves that we are getting it right.

If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect to the success of the park?   Our team. Everyone plays their role to ensure the smooth running of the business and we work hard to ensure we pull together and deliver the best parks we can for guests.

 

Who is the most important person in the business and why?  We believe that our customers are the most important people. They are the reason we are in business and what we offer them really matters.

What has been your most interesting experience in the industry?  Developing Coast View, Shaldon and taking it from a run-down out-dated holiday camp to a dynamic five star holiday park. We are not finished yet and there is still much to do but the transformation has been incredible and very rewarding to see.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?  My father once told me ‘customer first or you’ll have no customers’ and this has stuck with me ever since, and works because it is so true.

Where do you see yourself and the company in ten years’ time?  Still growing, developing and learning I hope. Perhaps with several more parks to add to the SWHP brand but without forgetting that we never wanted to be the biggest; just the best.

Where do you go on holiday?  We appreciate how lucky we are to live in Devon but we do spend a lot of time with family and friends on the Isle of Wight. We also love Cornwall, France and Italy but never get to go as often as I would like.

 

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here

postcardsPicture postcards from Pearl Lake Leisure Park, Shobdon in Herefordshire…  Run by Glenn and Hannah Jones, Pearl Lake Leisure Park is a luxury country park set around a breathtaking 15 acre glacial lake. The lake is the largest natural lake in Herefordshire and is the crowning jewel to 80 acres of rolling park land that also boasts an exclusive nine hole golf course, a crown bowling green and relaxing woodland walks.

Pearl Lake Leisure Park is being continually improved and updated by Glenn and Hannah and has won numerous awards for their efforts in the time they have been there. As a member of Visit England’s grading system the park has achieved a five star status. The Lakeside Bar Kitchen was revamped last year and the owners are also investing in a new sun terrace for the 2017 season. Children can enjoy the play area, football pitch, skate ramps and recreation field.

postcards1In the village of Shobdon there’s a village shop and Post Office that takes care of all the essentials, and the local village pub is just a few minutes’ walk away. Open for a ten month season, March 1st to January 2nd, holiday home owners can even celebrate Christmas and New Year at Pearl Lake. Tourers are welcome and self-catering holidays are available. There are also a wide range of both new and pre-owned holiday homes for sale.

Devon Park Embarks On A Green Safari

Devon Park Embarks On A Green Safari

The owners of Ladram Bay Holiday Park are stepping up their efforts to make the park a haven for flora and fauna, including endangered species.

The owners of Ladram Bay Holiday Park are stepping up their efforts to make the park a haven for flora and fauna, including endangered species.

Visitors to Ladram Bay Holiday Park this year are being invited to enjoy a ‘green safari’ of the grounds where a raft of new wildlife-friendly initiatives are taking place. Last year the park was named by world-famous botanist David Bellamy as a winner of his prestigious conservation award at its top gold level.

Now Ladram Bay’s family owners say they intend to move up another gear in their efforts to make the park a haven for flora and fauna, including endangered species. Holiday guests, it says, will notice many new plantings of native trees, shrubs and flowers – including foxgloves flourishing in fallen trees which have been allowed to naturally decay. At the same time, the park will be removing various non-native species such as laurel – and bolstering its historic hedgerows with new plants such as blackthorn, spindle and hazel.

Credit for much of the work, says Ladram Bay, is due to head gardener Scott Rowe who leads a four-person grounds-keeping team tasked with putting the park’s plans into action. Park director Zoe House says the latest initiatives will add an extra dimension of discovery for holiday guests to enjoy during their stays: “Our family first started welcoming holidaymakers to Ladram Bay Holiday Park more than seventy years ago,” said Zoe. “It was then a farm, and we have never forgotten our agricultural roots and the importance of managing the land in a sustainable way. “Protecting the natural world and its inhabitants is even more important now than it was then, and we try to ensure that the park is as welcoming to wildlife as it is to guests.”

Pre-Season Safety

Pre-Season Safety

Not only will regular inspection and maintenance keep your equipment safe, it will also extend the life of your play area.

A leading UK playground inspection and maintenance company is urging holiday park owners to check the condition of outdoor play equipment before the start of the season to avoid costly repairs during the busiest time of the year. RSS (Playground Inspection and Maintenance) advises that failing to check equipment could lead to equipment failure rendering the play area out of action during peak periods.

In the worst case, a failure could cause an accident resulting in a personal injury claim, a fine and bad publicity. “Play equipment is like any item with moving parts - they suffer wear and ultimately they break or decay,” says Andy Readman, Managing Director of RSS. “You wouldn’t leave your car in the garage for five months and then take it for a long journey without first checking it over!”

Andy adds: “Not only will regular inspection and maintenance keep your equipment safe, it will also extend the life of your play area giving you the best return on your capital investment.”

BH&HPA Welcomes New Chairman

BH&HPA Welcomes New Chairman

Paul Searle has been appointed as the new Chairman of the BH&HPA.

Paul Searle has been appointed as the new Chairman of the BH&HPA.

Paul Searle, managing director of Searles Leisure Resort in Hunstanton, North Norfolk, has become the new national chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA). The organisation brings together the owners and managers of some 3,000 park businesses which, according to tourist board statistics, accommodated 13.5 million holidays in 2015.

The figure equates to 30% of all holiday nights spent by domestic holidaymakers in Britain that year. Paul believes that the association he now chairs is stronger today than at any other point in its 60-plus year history: “Ours is an incredibly diverse industry, bringing together businesses of all types and sizes,” he says. “The sector includes many long-established family-owned enterprises, which form the majority of BH&HPA’s membership, as well as major holiday park groups with a national presence.

COMMON GOAL “What binds us together, however, is a common goal – and it’s that of constantly evolving, and refining the standard of the services and facilities we offer to customers. “An important way to achieve this is by parks coming together to share their knowledge and experience, and the association is the perfect platform for facilitating this,” said Paul. Paul heads one of Norfolk’s largest and most popular holiday centres which he manages in partnership with his brother Andrew and sister Joanna.

The family business was founded in 1954 by Paul’s grandfather, Geoffrey, and began life as a modest touring park serving visitors to the popular coastal resort of Hunstanton. Today, Searles provides more than 500 privately owned and rented caravan holiday homes and lodges, as well as 300-plus touring pitches plus luxury timber camping pods. Paul follows his father, Richard, who served as BH&HPA national chairman from 1995 to 1997, and who was appointed MBE for his services to tourism in 2001.

Good Neighbours

Good Neighbours

Artist’s impression showing the planned development at Meadow Home Park.

Artist’s impression showing the planned development at Meadow Home Park.

When Andrew Thornley’s parents diversified from running a bakery to running caravan parks in the 1960s, the ingredients were set for a family-run business that is still going strong almost 50 years later. Olympic Park Homes, as the company is now known, has been in operation for six years although Andrew Thornley has been in the residential park homes business for at least 17 years. Now in his sixties, Andrew is still very active in the business but is gradually passing over the reins to step-daughter Sam Leigh-Jones and her husband Darren Jones.

Six years ago, Sam and Darren took an increased role in the company, initiating a stronger commercial focus that led to them re-branding as Olympic Park Homes. Today, Olympic operates three residential parks - Delamere Grove and Meadow Home Park in Cheshire and Carrwood Park in Lancashire. All three Olympic parks are exclusive to people 50 years or older, are pet friendly and crucially, are set in stunning locations. Meadow Home is the newest and smallest of the three parks, but Sam considers it to be the family’s flagship park. “We bought Meadow Home from another family in June 2015,” explains Sam. “At the moment we have 18 homes there, but we already have planning permission for another seven. I don’t think you could find a more picturesque and peaceful location.”

THIRD TIER Meadow Home Park lies beside the River Weaver and the layout of the park takes full advantage of its natural topography. The development, which will add in a third tier of new homes to replace older models, is planned to start this May. Sam hopes that it will be completed by September. “We’re really excited about this project and also keen to get it completed,” says Sam. Darren, Sam and their two daughters live on the site and take a strong personal interest in their residents.

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Finger On The Pulse

Finger On The Pulse

Hoseasons sells well over a million holidays each year on behalf of its partners, who also benefit from year-round, multi-million pound, multi-media promotional campaigns.

Hoseasons sells well over a million holidays each year on behalf of its partners, who also benefit from year-round, multi-million pound, multi-media promotional campaigns.

Staying ahead of your competition and showing off your best assets through strategic marketing is an increasingly essential element for a thriving holiday business. Carefully balancing the elements of a successful marketing strategy to suit the tastes of your target audience is key. For that reason, marketing for all businesses, regardless of size, needs to be carefully thought through, and often requires a multi-pronged approach.

“A good marketing strategy is essential for any holiday park, regardless of size or scale,” comments Mark Warnes, Property & Portfolio Director at Hoseasons. “We recognise that owners take much pride in the operational management of their parks and want to ensure that occupancy is at its highest throughout the year. To achieve this, a fully integrated marketing strategy which includes digital and traditional channels is required to fully showcase and promote the USP’s on each park, to the desired audience.” Hoseasons by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is one of the UK’s leading self-catering accommodation specialists, with over 28,000 places to stay in coastal and countryside settings throughout Britain and Europe including lodges, parks, boats, cottages and apartments.

The brand sells well over a million holidays each year on behalf of its partners, who also benefit from year-round, multimillion pound, multi-media promotional campaigns. Says Mark: “Knowledge, recognition and trust are the most important benefits for any park when partnering with Hoseasons. “The brand is led by people with a flair for marketing and desire to push the boundaries of traditional UK holiday perceptions.

“We realise that customer attitudes to marketing are constantly changing and we ensure that our marketing is fresh, engaging and embraces technology.” He adds: “Our marketing strategy is fluid and we utilise digital methods to drive website traffic and create targeting campaigns that work alongside ecommerce initiatives and traditional channels of print and offline strategies.”

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Win-Win Appeal

Win-Win Appeal

Commercial swimming pool enclosures offer new opportunities and increased profitability to venues by extending the season, increasing throughput and reducing costs. Pic: Certikin International

Commercial swimming pool enclosures offer new opportunities and increased profitability to venues by extending the season, increasing throughput and reducing costs. Pic: Certikin International

The vagaries of the Great British weather can play havoc with outdoor pool time. While outdoor pools are often the main attraction in the summer, during the cooler months they tend to be a no-go area for holidaymakers and can ultimately cost the pool operator, with little or no return on investment. By weather-proofing an outdoor pool owners can not only benefit from year-round pool usage but can also extend the swimming day; a win-win situation for both park owners and their guests.

Commercial swimming pool enclosures offer new opportunities and increased profitability to venues by extending the season, increasing throughput and reducing costs. There are two main types of swimming pool enclosures; telescopic or fixed. A fixed pool building remains in place and ventilation is provided via lift up sides and access is via doors at the end of the building. Changing rooms and shower facilities can easily be incorporated if required. In contrast, a telescopic pool enclosure enables you to fully open the pool and enjoy warm sunny days whilst rolling it back either by hand or using solar powered motors when it turns colder. Both types of pool building can be freestanding or attached to an existing adjacent building.

PLANNING REQUIREMENTS “It’s important to remember that a swimming pool enclosure is not a temporary building and will require planning in sensitive locations as will the swimming pool,” advises David Lawrence, Managing Director of Telescopic Pool Enclosures, who has been marketing retractable enclosures throughout UK since 1991. He adds: “We always undertake all planning and if requested building regulations for our enclosures and accept full responsibility.”

The company has held sole exclusive rights for the ROLAL retractable or fixed swimming pool enclosure for the UK, EIRE and the Channel Islands since 1998 and has installed hundreds of enclosures throughout the UK. The enclosures are the only retractable enclosures designed for glass of either 6mm safety or 16mm sealed units. They are also the only retractable enclosures in the UK using as standard 16mm triple walled polycarbonate, which makes them the most insulated enclosures that offer all year use without any additional heating other than the pool water. Since 2006, the company has also offered another complete range of retractable enclosures with low to medium heights and high, smaller enclosures.

These are not glass, but glazed with either eight or 10mm of twin walled polycarbonate or clear or bronze solid 4mm transparent polycarbonate. “All our enclosures are constructed on site by our own skilled fitters and are done so usually within a two to three week period. Larger enclosures can take longer especially when using glulam beams to allow incorporation of walls, chalets and other buildings,” says David.

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Paperless Policy

Paperless Policy

Leisuredays’ Managing Director, Ryan Wilby, presents a cheque for £15,163 to Barbara Dinsdale, of Heart Research UK, and their mascot Hartley.

Leisuredays’ Managing Director, Ryan Wilby, presents a cheque for £15,163 to Barbara Dinsdale, of Heart Research UK, and their mascot Hartley.

A paperless initiative by insurance provider, Leisuredays, has helped the company raise more than £15,000 for national charity, Heart Research UK.

Leisuredays donates £1 to the charity every time a customer chooses to receive their insurance documents by email rather than in the post. The Paperless Policies initiative has raised a whopping £62,908 in the last eight years.

This year, Leisuredays’ Managing Director Ryan Wilby presented the charity with a cheque for £15,163 during Healthy Heart day. The money will help to prevent and treat heart disease across the UK by funding the charity’s work.

“We thought we’d written our biggest cheque last year, but once again I’m delighted that our customers have helped to raise the most money yet to support Heart Research UK’s very valuable work,” said Ryan. “Plus, customers not only receive their insurance documents quicker but they’re also helping to protect the environment too.”

New Income Stream For Caravan Parks

New Income Stream For Caravan Parks

The EV Charge Online charging pedestals from Rolec provide a new income stream to the caravan park.

The EV Charge Online charging pedestals from Rolec provide a new income stream to the caravan park.

A revolutionary EV charge point management system which means that EV drivers no longer have to pay any membership, subscription or connection fees and the caravan park operator does not have to pay a licence fee, has been developed by one of the UK’s electric vehicle charge point manufacturers.

The EV Charge Online from Rolec enables EV drivers to simply pull up to a charge point and, using their mobile phone, login to the charge point and pay-to-charge using Visa, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal via Rolec EV’s secure back office. GPRS connectivity to the back office is provided by Rolec’s network partner Vodafone, who supply roaming SIM cards designed to lock onto the strongest signal in the area, regardless of network provider. Over 200 businesses have already installed EV charging pedestals complete with the EV Charge Online system.

Rolec EV’s Managing Director Kieron Alsop commented: “These charging pedestals, when used by an EV driver, immediately begin paying money back directly into the caravan park operator’s bank account.” He added: “These self-managing pedestals are easy to install, requiring only an electricity supply in order to provide EV drivers with charging facilities.”