Never has there been more attention on outdoor space, as Sue Hollingshead reports…
With the advent of a ‘new normal’ you could argue it has never been more important to ensure the outdoor space on our holiday destinations, not just meets but exceeds customer expectations. As we witness the stampede to UK holiday parks, demands on our outdoor space have been dramatically heightened with the combined influences of social distancing, and the need to stay at a safe distance, coinciding with a renewed interest in the great outdoors. “The initial first impression when a customer arrives on the park is paramount and can set the scene for the remainder of their stay,” believes Sian Gomersall, Group Marketing Services Manager, Poole Bay Holdings. “To create a great outdoor experience for owners and holiday makers alike, it is vital that holiday parks create a warm and inviting atmosphere,” she adds. “We offer recycled plastic furniture that has a host of benefits and lasts 25 years so there is no need to replace it for a long time,” Sian continues.
“Play areas for children are a big plus and again, recycled plastic outdoor play furniture such as play boats and planes can encourage little ones to explore imaginative play,” she says. Doug Barr, Sales Manager at Woodberry, points out “Customer flow and signage is also key to a great visitor experience, knowing where to park for reception, which way to go, what to do, all helps people feel relaxed and reassured - especially after this year of uncertainty.” It is not just about the landscaping, entrance layout, and perfectly planted floral pots, all of which are indeed important. Throw in a tidy grassed area, well maintained gardens, thoughtful customer-focused layouts into the mix and you are moving towards the ultimate top rates on reviews. Discreet bin storage is an essential day to day management element that can adversely affect the atmosphere if not managed effectively. Park lighting strategies are needed for visibility and safety, however, is also a vital part of the aesthetics. Small pockets of communal seating, in open spaces within the park, are essential for creating good aesthetics and areas for relaxation.
The children’s playground is typically a well populated area and an area where seating is important as Doug explains: “Seating is always a welcome addition adjacent to playgrounds, parents are on holiday too so they get to relax whilst still keeping an eye on their children and enjoying family time together. “It is also well known that timber play equipment has more anti-bacterial qualities than metal or plastic as wood naturally kills bacteria on surfaces quickly,” Doug adds.
“DEMANDS ON OUTDOOR SPACE HAVE BEEN DRAMATICALLY HEIGHTENED."
Well-managed communal areas are great, but we do all like our own space don’t we. Therefore a few finishing touches of accommodation essentials should surely include for outdoor tables, chairs, parasol, BBQ and maybe an outdoor hot tub. “Within a holiday park, it is vital that the private lodge area has everything a visitor would want,” Sian emphasises.
“The option of a BBQ and dining tables and chairs create a home from home environment. Recycled plastic furniture can be wiped cleaned, meaning that the visitors can simply wipe down after a rain shower and use immediately. Decking and walkways can also be created from recycled plastic with an anti-slip finish for a safe environment. Recycled plastic raised beds would also be a great addition for summertime with blooming flowers, adding a nice touch of colour to the outside area of a cabin/lodge. EV charging facilities are now pivotal. In September, electric vehicle registrations increased by 183.4% compared to the same period last year. “Visitors will be at peace of mind knowing that the destination offers EV charging, whether that be free charging or tariff-based charging,” says Sultana Rahman, Marketing & Social Co-ordinator at Rolec Services. “As the government have set out plans to completely abolish the sales of diesel and petrol vehicles, the need for charging points at such destinations is fundamental and will be a determining factor towards which caravan/holiday park they decide to visit.”
With the major uptake of cycling this summer, it would be a mistake to forget cycle storage, advises Fraser Dixon, Business Development Manager at Fordingbridge . “It makes perfect sense to promote cycling through a holiday park,” says Fraser. “Guests, more often than not, are looking for a healthy outdoor lifestyle when away, and anything to promote this is a definite must. “Not only will you have the safety benefits from reduced traffic through the park, but it also creates a feeling of wellbeing with guests. “That said, it is wise to move away from generic steel cycle stores in a holiday park setting; the last thing you want to achieve is remind guests of their daily commute to the train station when on holiday,” he says. Covered cycle areas can be pretty too; living sedum roof structures or flowing tensile canopies serve the need perfectly and complement the surroundings without looking utilitarian. Doug adds: “A good option is to have a few bike storage areas around the park, not necessarily that each accommodation has one – but so there won’t be one far away.” However you prioritise the multiple elements of your outdoor space management strategy, the overall principle is the same; to deliver the ultimate customer satisfaction to trigger return visits and repeat business, a worthwhile investment in your annual business planning
ATTENTION TO OUTDOORS DETAIL
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On any park, the cost of buying and maintaining outdoor essential equipment can quickly add up. Compass Insurance recommend you record the replacement value of all your equipment, no matter how large, small, cheap or expensive the items are, ideally backed up with evidence of values, such as receipts. It will then be easier to make insurance claims (or make the decisions not to claim) should they get damaged or destroyed. As with any other equipment on a park, the likes of bike shelters, racks, bins, seating and other outdoor furniture will need to be regularly inspected for damage, wear and tear etc. All equipment should be kept in good condition and records of all risk assessments made, maintenance, checking, cleaning etc. should be formally documented and kept readily accessible. This is particularly important in relation to any Public Liability that might arise.
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