Planning For A Successful Succession

Planning For A Successful Successionplanning for a successful succession

Planning and managing a family succession can be fraught with emotion and impact on relationships away from the business, so if passions are running high or it is difficult to take the challenging decisions needed for a successful handover, Howe recommends bringing in outside help to remove emotion from the decision-making process and help all parties focus on making choices that benefit the long term health of the business.
Recognising this challenge is what led Andrew to join forces with other industry experts to create Bridge Leisure Management in 2008. 10 years on, the company provides day-to-day management of holiday parks for owners who want to successfully step away from their business.
He says: “As professional managers we can focus on the park, its success and development. We don’t have an emotional attachment so we can focus on what is good for the business and good for the owner.” Discussing the transfer of the business from one generation to the next can often unearth unresolved conflicts between family members, such as arguments over business direction, perceived family favouritism, or lack of confidence in abilities.
Planning4ASS2Rather than confronting and discussing these families are more likely to bury their feelings and beliefs, eroding trust and increasing their stresses during the succession process.
At this point, outside support can be invaluable in helping the process of handing control from one generation to the next, when any changes made by the younger group keen to make its mark can be seen as a criticism of the work done previously by family.
“We work alongside families to help get the best from everyone and maintain an absolute focus on the business Holiday park owners are spending so much time working that they are failing to plan for a successful retirement. Andrew Howe, chief executive of Bridge Leisure Management says that one of the biggest mistakes park owners make is to ignore questions of succession.
He says: “If your goal is to handover to family members, there can be many tricky questions to answer, made more difficult by the close relationships of those involved.
“For example, what if the next in line is not ready, not up to the task of running your business, or if there are several family members vying to take over a small park where there’s really just one job to fill?” Howe’s belief is that successful succession planning must start years in advance so business owners can identify and address the weak spots and potential problems of handing over to family members.

DEVELOP AND THRIVE

By clarifying the skills that your business needs to develop and thrive, you can decide who is best placed to take over responsibility for running the park and put in a place a training or coaching plan to account for areas where they are lacking. Giving family members a long-term view of the park’s potential can help them understand what is expected of them for a successful
handover, but for park owners who have grown their operations as the sole person in charge, it can be a difficult change in mindset to start having open and honest conversations about their business. Howe’s advice is to make family members responsible and accountable for the park’s growth by showing them the business challenges and future opportunities.and success. All parks are different and so our role is to find a management solution that works for each individual owner.” In many instances, holiday park owners may discover that their children don’t share their same enthusiasm for succession, and so their next step may be to look at selling.

EMOTIONAL TIES

AndrewHoweYet the emotional ties of a family business can often make this simply too difficult a decision; who wants to be the generation that sold the family business? Additionally, the commercial realities of a sale can create additional issues, especially when an owner has over-estimated the value of, and interest in, their business. Bridge Leisure worked with a caravan park owner who expected his son to take over when he retired. But after completing university, his son decided on a different career path. Says Andrew: “They thought of selling but were in for a shock when the agent’s guide price was far below what they expected and was at a level that the owner felt neither reflected his hard work nor the true value of the park.” Their response was to bring in Bridge Leisure to take over the park operations in return for a management fee and a bonus to grow the business, while the owner kept the profi ts and retained ownership of the park, ready to benefit from a future sale when profits and market conditions get better. “By bringing a degree of flexibility and freedom to the park owners, they could step away from park operations but still benefit from the true value of their business,” says Howe. “Wrestling with the ‘whys and wherefores’ of succession or a sale can put a stop to owners successfully retiring from their business, and making a decision on what next can be heartbreaking. “Putting a plan in place early, and taking control of the different options and outcomes, is the simplest way to make your next steps a success.”
Bridge Leisure Management
Tel: 01908 067 900
www.bridgeleisure.com

The Fun Factor

The Fun Factor - Water Play

TheFunFactor

Think swimming, then think fun, with water leisure attractions one of the biggest draws for the modern holiday park destination.
Consistently one of the top holiday choice markers, a resort that offers the additional splash appeal, will reap the rewards, with not only a booking but those all-important repeat bookings. “More and more facilities are looking for resorts that offer more than just a pool,” explains Simon Smith of World Leisure. “Knowing how crucial it is to customer appeal, pools should be offering so much more than a basic swim,” he emphasises. World Leisure recently completed a £1.5m overhaul of the swimming pool facilities at Ribby Hall Village Holiday Park in Lancashire. Last December Ribby Hall won an unprecedented four Gold Awards at the UK Pool & Spa Awards. The new pool features new slides including a 48m interactive play slide. Swimmers can climb a tower to the top of the slide, which then takes them out of the building and back inside again. As they come down the slide, they can play an interactive touchpad game on the inside of the slide, with scores recorded once the ride is complete. Scores can be uploaded to social media platforms, with the top three scores displayed in the pool area. World Leisure also refurbished the splash pool and added an interactive aqua deck play structure, with tipping buckets and integral slides. A themed GRP (Glass Reinforced Polyester) toddlers’ pool links into the splash pool, with a slide and steps to open the pools up to all ages. World Leisure also installed a new sauna, steam room and feature showers, with all new filtration and controls. Mark Leech, senior manager of Ribby Hall Village, said: “It is important as a business to continually invest and improve the facilities we offer to our customers" Mark added: “We believe the new interactive slide and new splash pool features will be real talking points that will bring family visitors back again and again.”
Park operators need to provide appealing facilities for all age groups, with a typical water leisure offering including cannons, waterfalls, rain curtains, fl oor volcanoes and wall-mounted massage jets to add more attractions to the pools. Achieving this – and still providing an acceptable return on investment – requires very careful planning at the design stage, particularly where space is limited. Water slides and flumes have always been popular, but they require a significant capital investment, huge amounts of energy to drive massive pumps and constant life guarding.

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PLAY OFFERS WATER FUNPlayOffersWaterFun

The main aim of aquatic play equipment is to allow kids to have fun in a safe environment. Playing with water is also a vital part of a child’s development. Hippo Leisure’s modular play equipment, including Water Factories, Interactive Masts and Play Platforms are all extremely versatile products and can be expanded or updated to help to encourage regular, repeat visitors.
“What you’re aiming for in your facility is a way to keeping the whole family entertained, regardless of age or ability,” comments Teresa Metherell, Marketing Coordinator for Hippo Leisure. “This can be achieved by installing a variety of interactive water play features that provide both low level sensory play for toddlers as well as high level anticipatory and big splash play for older children and even adults,” she adds.
“It’s important to keep water play areas fresh and appealing.”

Hippo Leisure
Tel. 01752 771740
www.hippoleisure.com

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SPLASH PADS OFFER FAMILY APPEAL

SplashPadOfferFamilyAppealThe naturally inclusive and adaptable nature of a zero-depth splash park makes it an excellent amenity for holiday parks seeking to increase family attendance. Ustigate is a partner of Vortex International of Canada, offering a product portfolio of over 300 aquatic structures specifically designed to meet any specification, from low water consuming products for once use systems to super soaking buckets which create tidal waves.
The range includes many interactive free-standing products, the Water Journey collection, inspired by nature’s streams, and the Elevations range, are play structures that provide great combinations of water features between platforms of varying heights, encouraging children to climb and move between levels while engaging with children on and off the unit. The Elevations can be installed inside or outside, as part of a splash pad scheme or in a wading pool – They are designed to take fun to the max and are offered with a choice of water slides for the ride down.
Vortex is a world leader in aquatic play solutions, having completed 7000 installations in 45 countries, all of the products are renowned for being robust and innovative. Vortex recently announced the Explora collection has won two International Design awards, taking Gold in Leisure Games and Fun and Silver in the Social Impact category. Like all Vortex products, the Explora collection integrates a strong active play component that keeps children moving, pushing, pulling, spinning and exploring. The price of a typical splash pad depends mainly on three factors; size of the scheme, the type of water system – either a once-use or recirculating – and finally the selected water features. A typical once-use system would cost about £100,000 and the majority of recirculating systems are priced from £250,000.
Ustigate’s splash pad designers divide all waterplay installations into three bays; toddler, family and teen, in which they place specific products that are designed for each age group, therefore increasing play value and popularity. “By effective selection, combination and positioning of aquatic play features for your scheme, it will speak for itself and attract and retain customers naturally,” says Ustigate’s Ernie Hemming. “In addition, by using a range of colours, sensations of water and sleek designs, there won’t be any member of the family who will be able to resist playing!”

Ustigate Waterplay
Tel. 01322 424445
www.ustigatewaterplay.co.uk

Balancing Act

Balancing Act - Security

BalancingAct

Security is a precarious balancing act for holiday park operators. Holiday makers arrive on site, ready to have a good time, ultimately taking away some precious memories when they set off for home, safe and sound and without incident. One of the greatest challenges each season is managing visitor expectations and enjoyment during peak periods.
Security measures need to be almost invisible until they needed with security staff, particularly, a reassuring presence for guests.

HARDWARE

Specialist suppliers like Ramtech completely understand that as a holiday park operator you need robust yet discreet security solutions that enhance the leisure experience you provide to your customers.
Ramtech’s alarm monitoring system is tailored to meet the specifi c challenges faced by the caravan and holiday park market, enabling you to offer additional peace of mind to your customers that their investment in their holiday homes and valuable contents is protected all year round.
“Our wireless alarm system provides reliable, effective security that also delivers a valuable additional selling point and revenue generation tool for your park. Once installed, the alarm systems can be operated and monitored by your own security teams, putting you in complete control,” says Ramtech’s Cat Widdowson.
BalancingAct2“We’re currently the trusted security system provider for over 200 parks that have over 100,000 holiday or residential park homes on their sites, including Bourne Leisure, Park Resorts, Parkdean and Park Holidays UK.”
Touring caravans left on sites, and even static caravans can be a target for thieves. All caravans manufactured in the UK since 1992 have a 17-digit vehicle identifi cation number (VIN) etched onto the vehicle chassis and windows. Mark your VIN number with a security marker inside cupboards and other places to help you identify your caravan if it’s stolen.
Although North Wales is one of the SAFEST PLACES to live, work and visit, the regional force works pro-actively to remind caravan owners and holidaymakers of these simple steps to help reduce chances of becoming a victim of crime including: • Immobilising the caravan with an approved clamping or locking system once on site.
• Fit a tracking device so the caravan can be traced if stolen • Fit a reliable alarm and always switch it on “Holiday park theft is becoming a big issue as caravans,lodges and holiday homes increasingly have more valuables in them,” agrees Roy Williams of security provider Crosby Intruder Alarms.
“It is commonplace these days to have two or more televisions, Sky boxes and other audio and video entertainment systems. It can be lucrative for a thief to target these units, particularly in the closed season when there is less chance of being disturbed.

LOCKDOWN

While alarms and CCTV can go some way in tackling crime on parks, often much simpler and inexpensive steps can be taken to prevent theft. One such product from Cardea Solutions – the Buggy Lock - is becoming widespread at holiday parks across the country. The device is designed for families and allows prams and essential transportation equipment such as scooters and bikes to be secured safely. Stores of agricultural equipment and often vehicles for maintenance use around the premises need to be kept secure. These can range in value but hold an appeal to criminals as items that are easily sellable. It is important for site owners to protect these items by storing them correctly and securely in locked buildings or compounds, with keys removed and stored in a safe place.Many caravan and holiday home parks suffer from some form of vandalism from time to time. Installing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) can help to combat this problem. There is some very high quality CCTV equipment these days that doesn’t cost the earth that can provide clear images in both day and night situations. From an insurance point of view, commercial insurance is a two way street whereby insurers will do all they can to provide a safety net to protect a company’s assets and their ability to trade. In turn, insurers may provide clients with guidelines to adhere to which they hope will serve to limit the potential for claims. Holiday Parks are well accustomed to having the correct physical security in place, barriers, CCTV, alarms are all common to protect a park from traditional thefts. However the threat of a digital attack or loss is ever increasing in the modern world. With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect it’s concerning that according to Government Statistics only 38% of businesses are even aware of this new data protection act. Unfortunately, we operate in a world where cyber attacks of one form or another have become a common part of everyday life – 46% of businesses reported a cyber security breach in 2017 (Source – UK Government Cyber Breaches Survey 2017).

INCREASED LEGISLATION

BalancingAct3This combination of increased regulation and more regular breaches means that it’s more important than ever that your business takes steps to protect itself in the digital world, even if you don’t operate online it’s likely that your systems are connected to the internet and therefore could be vulnerable. Most businesses in this sector will have an electronic booking system and/or hold customer data electronically; access control may also be digitalised. All of this could leave your business exposed to signifi cant costs and expenses and importantly loss of income, in the event of a system failure, fraudulent or not! Businesses should look at their IT infrastructure to ensure they have robust security in place to minimize the risk of a breach however it is not possible to guarantee any system is completely secure – user error or a determined hacker can often still cause a breach. Therefore, parks are recommended to look at Cyber Protection.
Commercial combined policies for holiday parks should provide an option to include the contents of the business, any holiday lets and the owners’ personal effects. At Towergate, for instance, an extension is available to cover plant and machinery used to maintain the property. In addition, it is understood that many sites, particularly those of a larger scale, will use agricultural or commercial vehicles, which can also be included on a combined policy. Insurance provider Leisuredays recently dealt with a report of eight break-ins at a holiday park in south east England during the closed season after thieves gained access in a vehicle and stole property from a number of holiday caravans. “We carried out a survey of the park and the park owner has increased security by installing a 24 hour security guard and a number plate recognition system,” explains Gareth Walker, head of Leisuredays Development. “We have always aimed to reward the security conscious parks with lower premiums. Many parks will employ a series of security measures, such as perimeter fencing, thick prickly hedging, CCTV, light sensors, guarded barriers and security lighting. It can be a tricky balancing act for park owners to protect their customers but also not create a heavily controlled environment.” Theft and vandalism cover is included as standard on all Leisuredays holiday caravan policies as well as cover for replacement locks and keys in the theft or damage. The company offers advice on safeguarding property, as well as supporting initiatives such as the Caravan Park Watch, where associations and parks work together to share information and develop crime prevention campaigns. We know you are busy. But, we cannot advise strongly enough to take the time out, and risk-assess the effectiveness of measures in place, to ensure and to be able to demonstrate that your park is as security-proof as possible

Homes For Life

HomesForLifeAmerican influences on a Lancashire group of residential parks...

A trip to Florida in 2003 with a group of fellow park owners proved pivotal to Michael and Julie Ward, owners of four residential park homes in Lancashire.
“We travelled to the States to enrol in two courses at the Disney Institute including ‘The Disney Approach To Quality Service’ and spent time visiting parks and manufacturers, including a park in Sebring,” Michael explains.
“At its centre was a huge leisure complex with swimming pools, tennis courts, a function suite, computer rooms… the park owners were promoting an active retirement and we were hugely inspired.”
This American park became the catalyst for Michael’s vision for a new development: Acresfield.
Acresfield Park opened in 2010, an exclusive development of just 43, easily maintained, two bedroomed, detached bungalow-style properties, specifically designed for the over 55’s. The park is ideally located close to the historic market town of Garstang, where residents can enjoy shopping, golf, fishing, bird watching, as well as beautiful fell, canal and riverside walks. Acresfield is also situated just 30 minutes from the brighter lights of Blackpool and the coast.
HomesForLife2Nevertheless, Acresfield residents need never leave the park as it provides everything they need for entertainment on-site. Four years ago Acresfield Health Club & Spa opened. The club boasts a 15m swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, a state of the art gym, a multi purpose hall for dance and fitness classes, indoor bowls, badminton and table tennis. There is also a bistro, hair studio, and a spa with three luxurious treatment rooms.

Club Membership

The Club is open for membership to the general public, however fi rst time purchasers of new homes on Acresfi eld Park receive free membership and homeowners on the other parks receive highly discounted membership. Michael refers to Acresfi eld Park and its attendant Health Club & Spa as the ‘jewel in the Residential Parks portfolio crown’. He is justifi ably proud. Last year, Acresfi eld Park and its adjoining sister park, Wyre Vale, featured on a Channel 5 documentary series. The episodes featuring the parks attracted between 1.2 and 1.4 million viewers, and resulted in many converts to the park home lifestyle.

“The TV series really showcased park home living at its very best,” says Michael. “We were inundated with enquiries and I think that this is probably one of the best pieces aired on TV, which depicts the excellent sense of community which park home living affords.”
It’s not all gloss and no substance… the Ward family are committed to providing their residents with ‘homes for life’. The parks, and their homes have been developed with a constant regard for the fact that the British population is an ageing one. The family is not only keen to promote an active retirement for residents, but they have also taken steps to ensure that they are providing homes that are accessible for those who suffer from disabilities, or the infirm. “To meet this challenge we designed, in association with two leading park home manufacturers, Prestige and Stately Albion, the Acresfield collection of homes,” explains Michael. “The homes have been very subtly adapted with wider doorways and turning circles for wheelchairs. Walls have been strengthened so that grab rails can be fitted if required, now or in the future, and low threshold shower cubicles or wet rooms are fitted as standard.”
HomesForLife3The homes also come with a 24-hour emergency call system and each home is fitted with a key safe to assist emergency access. Care for the environment and resulting cost savings have also been taken into consideration in the design and installation of the homes. “All of the homes are economically heated by mains gas; additionally, some have solar panels with under fl oor heating,” says Michael. “They are incredibly energy efficient and exceed the British Standard. Homeowners are also free to purchase their utilities from the supplier of their choice to find the best deal possible.”

Award Winners

The Ward family purchased their first residential park home estate in 1968. Michael and Julie are the second generation, becoming involved in the business in 1985. Winning Residential Park Owners of the Year, an unprecedented three times, over the years, their Parks have also won numerous Gold David Bellamy Conservation Awards including a Special Distinction Award. Michael and Julie own and operate four residential parks, one Holiday Park and a Health Club & Spa with the help of their daughter Sophie and son Alex. Their parks are all located in Lancashire: Gawthorpe Edge Park in Burnley, Lodge Park, Wyre Vale and Acresfield Parks in Garstang, and Merlewood Country Park, which is situated in the picturesque village of Little Eccleston.
Together, the parks extend to some 475 pitches. The close proximity of the parks means that the family can take a very personal interest in their day-to-day operation. They are supported by a loyal team of almost 40 people, many of whom have worked on the parks for over 30 years. “We really understand the importance of offering a quality service to our homeowners,” says Michael. “In this day and age, people are eager to criticise and less keen to commend, which is why we are so proud of our multiple resident-nominated awards.” The Ward family believe strongly that park homes such as these represent the perfect solution for customers of a certain age. As the demand for park homes increases, Michael believes that the Government needs to change its attitude towards park living.
Residents recognise park homes as acceptable, affordable housing and it’s time that the powers-that-be did too,” says Michael. “Park homes are an important provision within the housing sector for an ageing population and offer considerable flexibility, energy efficiency and cost savings. Local authorities need further encouragement to allow parks to expand and new parks to develop.”

Wish You Were Here – Seven Oaks in Wales

Wish You Were Here - Seven Oaks in Wales

WishYouWereHere - 7OaksOne of the most picturesque caravan holiday home and luxury lodge parks in the UK can be found on the Welsh border with Shropshire. Overlooking the River Severn, Seven Oaks Holiday Park at Crew Green, between Shrewsbury and Welshpool, has been awarded the Visit Wales five star “exceptional” rating.

Most caravan holiday homes and lodges on the 40-acre park have river views and are bordered by mature trees, banks of planting and immaculately kept grass down to the riverside.

River fishing is available and there are two coarse fishing lakes for the exclusive use of owners. Non anglers are able to relax on one of the many benches dotted around the lake and enjoy watching the abundant wildlife.

WishYouWereHere - 7Oaks2The park’s facilities include a dedicated reception, laundry, a state-of-the-art fitness suite, crown green bowling green complete with pavilion and pitch and putt golf.

Twenty riverside pitches were added on an elevated terrace three years ago, taking the total to 119. Open from March to January every year, the park is especially popular with caravan owners from the Midlands and North West England.

“We are not just selling a caravan holiday home here, we are selling a new way of life,” says Margaret Brace, who manages the park with her husband, Ron.

Seven Oaks Holiday Park
www.sevenoakscaravanpark.co.uk

Holiday Snaps From Alison Watson

Holiday Snaps From Alison Watson

HolidaySnaps - Alison WatsonOperations Manager At Bridge Leisure Management - a company that provides professional management and consultancy for the caravan holiday park industry.

What was your career path into the industry?

In 1989 my friend and I decided that we would do a summer season as children’s entertainers for a bit of fun and I ended up never leaving. I have worked in every department from Entertainment to Retail but mainly in Caravan Sales and General Management

How has market changed during your time in the industry?

The biggest thing I have noticed is that holiday guests are looking for more breaks per year and the seven or 14 day holiday in the UK has pretty much disappeared, to be replaced by more, shorter breaks.

How do you predict things will change in the next five to ten years?

One of the things I love about this industry is its resilience in the face of economic adversity. Private letting is one to watch as there has been a bit of a shift to external booking agents such as Airbnb and Booking.com, which could become even more prominent moving forward.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?

“Invest wisely now to save later.” I think of this anytime I am deciding on a major purchase.

What do you most like to spend your time out of working hours?

I love spending time with my family, eating out and keeping fit.

My favourite past time is cooking, whether it’s baking fresh bread to cooking for friends.

Who would like most like to sit down to dinner with and why?

I like variety so probably Tina Turner who would belt out a tune, Peter Kay as he is one of a few comedians who makes me laugh out loud and probably my Great Aunt Elizabeth, who was an inspiration to me from an early age.

Do you have any claims to fame?

I am a grade 8 musician and have played the trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn since I was around eight years old.

Where do you prefer to take your holidays?

Anywhere hot. I love the Canary Islands, a good beach holiday with a few day trips suits me down to the ground. I also love the US and would love to explore there - Route 66 is on my bucket list.

 

 

Pooch Power

Pooch Power - Dog Friendly Parks

Pooch Power

Dogs are one of the biggest winners of Britain’s holiday park boom with many more pooches now enjoying holidays, as part of the family, rather than being left at home in kennels. Park Holidays UK, for instance, confirms it welcomed more than 5,200 dogs in 2017, and is on target for even bigger figures this year. Overall, it says, guests bringing pets have risen by over 60% in the past three years. Now the group, which boasts 26 seaside holiday parks in southern England, has also decided that Rex will no longer have to ‘ruff’ it in budget Bronze accommodation. This year, the doors of selected Silver and Gold standard holiday homes are being fl ung open so that owners and their pets can enjoy their stay in style Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the move is designed to provide a wider choice for the growing number of people who are now opting for a UK holiday: “Staycations might be providing a big boost to Britain’s tourism economy, but it’s the nation’s dogs which have the biggest smiles on their faces,” he said. “Many families tell us they hated being separated from their pets when they went abroad, and felt guilty that their four-legged friends weren’t with them. “Our holiday parks are also a great place to exercise a dog on a lead as the grounds are virtually traffic-free, and all have nearby countryside and coastal footpaths. “Dogs benefit as much as humans from a change of scenery, and owners won’t be fretting that their pets are pining for them in expensive boarding kennels far away,” added Tony.

Holiday Resort Unity also offers a range of pet-friendly accommodation which equates to 15% of its total fl eet, as well as accepting pets on touring and camping fields. Last year, HRU say 9,432 dogs stayed with them. The company also allows holiday home owners to fence in their own gardens and this is a big draw when a dog-owning customer is looking to purchase a holiday home, so having a dog friendly venue is really important for the business. “Our location is a draw for customers with pets as we are a short walk from the sandy beaches of Berrow and Brean which stretches for nearly fi ve miles and from the other side of the park there are numerous footpaths that head out into the country side,” says Director Alan House. “We also have a designated dog walk area on the park which is very popular with guests and owners,” Alan adds. “With our pet friendly units, on our hiring fl eet, we have switched out carpets and replaced them with vinyl floor coverings to help with cleaning and we also have a number of units with fenced gardens.” With a new stretch of the England Coast Path just opened alongside Brean Leisure Park, an increase in the number of dog walkers would be inevitable. All pet owners would be welcome, said Alan, whether staying on the holiday park or not. Backing their pet-friendly mission, HRU’s Brean Somerset holiday park recently opened a new café, called Coast, which is welcoming both humans and hounds. HRU is putting pooches on a pedestal by offering them their own food and drinks menu when they visit with their owners.

Dog MenuAlfie and Poppy’s special menu includes starters, main courses and desserts – plus, of course, a selection of drinks such as Pawsecco and Bottom Sniffer Beer, both made for dogs. Instead of being forced to lie on a hard floor, Tysons, Milos and Max’s will have their creature comforts provided for by a soft blanket on which to recline. “We listen very carefully to our customers all the time, and their feedback on this issue was that they didn’t want their four-legged friends separated from the family at meal-times,” says Alan. “So when we created Coast, we decided to go the extra mile and not only invite dogs in to the café, but to present them with their own three-course menu to chew over. “Now we have solved everyone’s doggy dilemma at a stroke, and customer reaction has been brilliant!” he adds. Park Leisure, know that many of its owners see their pets as another member of the family, and there’s nothing worse than the prospect of having to leave your four-legged friend behind whilst you head off to make memories. That’s why every single one of their 12 parks are pet friendly, creating the perfect luxury home-from-home experience. Beautifully located across the UK in stunning country and coastal settings, many of our parks are perfectly placed just minutes away from spectacular dog-friendly beaches, pubs, and picturesque walking trails, creating an idyllic base for a getaway for the whole family. Home owners can obtain information about nearby dog-friendly destinations by popping into their owner’s lounge.

Approximately 50% of Park Leisure holiday home owners have dogs, and feedback demonstrates that the parks’ dog friendly facilities have been a real attraction when prospective customers are making a purchasing decision. Park Leisure ensures all facilities accommodate pets and their owners, with the following facilities currently available to dog owners: • Exclusive dog walking areas, offering a safe place for dogs to play freely • Disposal bins situated throughout the parks for easy dog-waste disposal • Designated drinking areas for dogs • An array of walking paths and routes to choose from, ranging from long adventurous walks to relaxing strolls • On-park convenience store offering dog related products Just recently, Malvern View Country & Leisure Park has added a custom-built, five-star treat and water station for the abundance of dogs on-site – one of Park Leisure’s most popular destinations for animal lovers, a whopping 60% at Malvern View are pet owners. For those who want to dine with their four-legged friends in tow, both Brynteg and Plas Coch Coastal and Country Retreats offer dog friendly restaurant and bar options. We hope you get the message. Holiday parks need to not just be Fido-friendly but specifically cater for our canine customers. For there is no doubting the pulling power of pooches when it comes to attracting and retaining a special breed of customer. Those who fail to heed the doggy command are truly missing out.

FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS

4 legged friendsWhitehill Country Park in South Devon has set tails wagging with the launch of extra dog-friendly features for four-legged guests. Further fanning the Paignton Park’s pooch appeal are new ‘dogs welcome’ caravans, including a boutique range for hounds looking to holiday in style. Better still, the family-run holiday park has also introduced a warm doggy shower which offers Fido a nose-to-tail makeover after a muddy walk. The new sprinkle-spa is one of many dog-friendly facilities found at the park with its dedicated pet exercise area and complimentary doggy bags available to owners. Whitehill Country Park marketing director Claire Jeavons says there has been a steady rise in demand for dog-friendly accommodation over recent years: “It’s estimated that around twelve million households in the UK own pets, including over eight million dogs of all shapes and sizes. “Dogs are always regarded as very much part of the family, and our aim at Whitehill is to make them feel just as welcome as their human counterparts by introducing more dog-friendly caravans, and features such as our new doggy showers.” The wide range of dog-friendly accommodation includes caravan holiday homes, luxury lodges, and touring and camping pitches. In addition, all guests holidaying with dogs are given a Whitehill Doggy Information Guide on arrival which highlights delightful dog-friendly walks and attractions found in Devon.

SETTING DOGGY TAILS WAGGING

Setting Doggy Tails WaggingFamily-run Beverley Holidays in Paignton set tails wagging with a Bring Your Dog To Work Day. Staff were joined in the workplace by their canine companions to support two top animal welfare charities as part of a nationwide initiative of which Beverley is an offi cial sponsor. Highlights of the day included a Crufts-inspired parade of pooches, a series of challenges to fi nd which pets had the Rex-factor, and a ‘Beverley’s Best in Show’ fi nale. The fundraising initiative coincides with news that the group has opened its doors to man’s best friend with a range of dog-friendly holiday caravans and facilities on Beverley Bay for 2017. Pet owners can now choose from a range of holiday caravans kitted-out for hounds who like to holiday in style, coupled with a dedicated dog exercise area. Its warm doggy shower is also proving a ‘pooch-tastic’ hit, providing dogs with privacy while they clean their muddy paws, plus an ‘A-la-bark’ menu, and Beverley Doggy Holiday Guide for guests. Beverley Holidays director Claire Jeavons, said: “Dogs are very much part of the family, and our aim at Beverley is to make them feel just as welcome as their human counterparts. “Our introduction of our dog-friendly caravans and facilities for 2017 is already proving very popular among owners and dogs alike,” she added.

 

FIDO-FRIENDLY HOLIDAY FACILITIES

Fido-FriendlyOver several years the Bridge Leisure owned Hedley Wood site, in Bridgerule, on the Devon and Cornwall border, has introduced a wide range of outdoor equipment to appeal to pet owners. New dog kennels have been introduced for 2018, with outside showers also available to help owners clean their pets after walks along the park’s own nature trail, or on the region’s many pet-friendly beaches. Dog bins are located across the park, helping guests keep the setting clean and tidy. The park has complemented the outdoor developments with the addition of new dog beds for every caravan, and doggie welcome packs including biscuits, bags and information about local pet-friendly attractions. Bridge Leisure has also turned an empty field into a dog agility course at its Hedley Wood It’s the latest in a series of developments that the business hopes will help it become the South West’s most popular pet-friendly holiday park. The new development was the brainchild of general manager Paul Murphy, who believes the addition of specialist dog agility equipment will create a talking point that encourages guests to spread the word about the park’s pet friendly credentials. Says Paul, “It’s not unusual for holiday parks to have a dog walking area for guests, but how many pull out all the stops to make this part of their park memorable? “Around 90% of visitors to Hedley Wood come with dogs, so we’ve decided we’re going to tailor our outdoor spaces to suit them. The feedback from pet owners has been terrific – they love the fact that we are putting them first.”

Test Pilots

Test Pilots - Outdoor Essentials

Test Pilots

Let your guests be the judge of your outdoor improvements...

What better time than peak season to carry out an audit of your outdoor amenities. From weather-proofing al fresco entertainment areas, to checking the popularity of new playground features; your guests are the ultimate test pilots. It is your customers who will ultimately decide on the return on investment of your winter improvements; voting with their feet, this year’s – and crucially – next year’s holiday budget. Now is the time to start the appraisal process, You need to spot what look like winners or losers. Modifications may be needed and some may have to wait until the winter months. But it may not be prudent to wait when a stitch in time could reap rich rewards in the form of repeat business and maximising spend.
Quick fix amendments could be something as simple as adding more bins or sprucing up your signage, or garden displays. If outdoor spaces are well maintained, they will encourage user-participation by inspiring visitors to be outdoors in the grounds, making full use of the facilities,” points out Christine Virginie, Marketing Manager for Test Pilots 2Fordingbridge, who are key suppliers when it comes to maximising outdoor space. “This can create great word of mouth and repeat business from visitors having just had a great experience at your park,” Christine continues. “Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing and the best aspect is, it’s free! “If your equipment is covered by a canopy, it also increases the life span and therefore reduces maintenance and replacement costs,” adds Christine.

Offering customer-friendly outdoor dining is a no-brainer. An inviting al fresco experience with smart furniture and heaters for chilly evenings will increase the number of covers you can serve and ultimately increase your bottom line. One of the key decisions when planning to utilise external areas, is whether the space is for activities, that can generate income or that simply add value to your overall offering. “Presentation of all areas is important, whether a playground, a dining area or a wild flower meadow – they all need to be maintained,” says Simon Williams, Commercial Director at Bridge Leisure Parks. According to Simon there is also a growing trend of people wanting to reconnect with nature and to be active outdoors – and this has been an area of focus for Bridge Leisure Parks. “Our recent outdoor developments include foot golf, archery, dog agility courses, pitch and putt and crazy golf. At Ashbourne Heights in Derbyshire, we’ve recently invested in a foot golf course for one of the fields and developed a nature trail through the woods.

Test Pilots 3

Bridge Leisure not only provides active areas on its parks – the operator also promotes ranger activities to take advantage of their parks’ surroundings, providing expert knowledge about the local landscape and wildlife. This is complemented with on-park signage providing more detail about the plants and animals that can be found. There is no better way of enhancing and enriching an outdoor space than by investing in play equipment. Creating an innovative play space that fi res a child’s imagination and creates a pleasant environment for parents to get together is a winning formula for holiday parks. If you are looking to breathe new life into your play offering then HAGS boasts a huge portfolio and bucket-loads of experience. The company provides a turnkey solution with services including landscaping, fencing, decking and even artificial rock faces. The play specialists manufacture a vast range of products including play equipment for all ages, outdoor gym and fitness equipment, multi-use games areas, skating, ‘parkour’ and furniture. Camber Sands Holiday Park is a typical example. The park owners wanted separate areas for toddlers and juniors and a wide range of equipment. HUGE HIT They enlisted the help of HAGS-SMP to design and install the scheme, which included themed multi-play units, dynamic equipment, a zip line, sunken trampolines and a trail with an 8m traverse wall. The play area has proven to be a huge hit with customers, and according to HAGS, the only complaint from site has been to ask how to keep the adults off the equipment! “Theming seems to be a constant favourite with our clients. From pirate ships to fairytale castles you can add real play value to your areas by engaging a child’s imagination,” comments Simon Wright, Head of Sales at HAGS. Simon advises: “If your budget is tight you might consider planning your scheme in phases, this way you can add to the playground over a period of time that suits.” Specialists in recycled furniture, NBB’s furniture designs are enjoying unprecedented interest this season. “They not only look great and are eco-friendly, but they’ll also will save the park owner money in the long run!” exclaims the company’s Group Marketing Manager David Dean. “In today’s world we all need to be more aware of the materials we use and ensure sustainability is on the agenda. “All of NBB’s recycled furniture products are manufactured in the UK from recycled plastic milk bottles. Purchasing a standard A-frame picnic table, for example, will save over 2,000 milk bottles from entering our waste chain,” adds David.

TOP TIPS

Maximising Your Outdoor Space :

Provide weather protected outdoor spaces.
Offer safe and secure bike storage for visitors.
Have all weather sports facilities such as MUGAs and covered green gyms.
Provide shaded areas for seating and dining.
Use walkway canopies to offer weather-protected connections between buildings.

 

WEATHER-PROOF SOLUTIONS

Weather Proof SolutionsSpecialist design and built contractors, Fordingbridge is a one-stop shop when it comes to outdoor weather-proofi ng solutions. A typical installation recently took place at the Cotswold Country Park and Beach provides water sport activities on a wide expanse of lake. The owners wanted to create a weather-protected, outdoor dining/spectating space where friends and family of those participating in the water sports could dine and watch in comfort, sheltered from the elements. After conducting a free site survey, Fordingbridge proposed a twin-span, barrel-vaulted timber canopy to provide 128m2 of covered space overlooking the lake. The Opal 60 fabric roof covering was designed exclusively for Fordingbridge and is known for its longevity, high tear strength and UV resistance. The install team delivered the project in four days, keeping disruption to a minimum.

Fordingbridge
Tel: 01243 554455
www.fordingbridge.co.uk

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PLANET FRIENDLY FURNITURE

Plane Friendly FurnitureGreat for park operators and the planet, increasingly the holiday sector is choosing recycled plastic furniture over traditional wooden furniture. The reasons are clear. Not only will it never rot, splinter or rust but it is guaranteed against rot for 25 years. There are no long-term maintenance commitment such as painting or sanding down. It’s waterproof and not affected by exposure to chemicals, severe weather or intense sunlight, meaning it can be left outside all year round without any effect on its look and feel – and no unsightly green algae. New for this season from NBB is its London Dining Set – a contemporary table and bench set manufactured in grey plastic, seating up to six guests and saving nearly 4,000 plastic milk bottles from going to landfi ll.

NBB
Tel. 0800 1777 052
www.recycledfurniture.co.uk

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CHARGING POINTS DEMAND

Charging PointsRolec Leisure is seeing a growing number of parks installing charging stations for electric vehicles. Something that park operators are probably encountering more and more are visitors with electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs and PHEVs). “Demand for EVs and PHEVs is at an all-time high in the UK, with year-on-year sales having increased by more than 27% explains,” explains Martin Georgeson, Sales Director of Rolec Services, the award-winning company is widely recognised as one of Europe’s leading designers, manufacturers and suppliers of EV charging points and accessories. “We are aware of a number of disgruntled visitors to other leisure parks around the country who have aired their disappointment at the lack of EV charging points on EV internet forums, highlighting the fact that demand is out there,” warns Martin. Rolec’s EV charging points are specially designed to be easy and economical to install, safe, and adaptable to a holiday park requirements.

ROLEC
Tel. 01205 724754
www.rolecserv.com

 

 

Seaside Specials

Seaside Specialsseaside specials

Award-winning holiday park business Bunn Leisure has announced new plans for its 300-acre holiday complex on the stunning Selsey Peninsula in West Sussex.
Midway through a £17m investment programme, the family-run holiday park company is continuing to reap the rewards of a buoyant domestic tourism market, reporting a five per cent increase in turnover from 2016 to 2017.

Split into three holiday villages and a touring park, Bunn Leisure has already built a £5m new head office and reception building and is due to open a £12m new state-of-the-art entertainment complex at the end of the year, which will include a Riviera-style swimming pool and changing village, fully covered multi sports zone, numerous restaurants and bars and an exclusive lounge, a full size 10-pin bowling alley and a new entertainment venue seating 1,250. Boasting a beautiful seaside location in Selsey on the West Sussex coast, happy campers can pitch a tent or roll up in a caravan or camper and enjoy the park’s luxury 5-star facilities – perfect for when the weather doesn’t play ball. Warner Farm offers blue skies and fresh air, backed up by a host of children’s clubs and activities, and a fun leisure complex.

PRIVATE BEACH

Bunn Leisure’s mile-long stretch of sand and shingle beach runs in front of the park, perfect for sandcastle-building, swimming and sunset strolls.Warner Farm
All of the holiday park’s villages and attractions are linked by a free bus service and Bunni Express road train, and there are plenty of activities to make the week fl y by, from a fun leisure pool and spa to tennis, football, go-karts and fairground rides.
Bunn Leisure spends nearly £2m on its entertainment every year, with headline acts such as Billy Ocean, Gareth Gates, Heather Small, Right Said Fred, Robin Windsor and many more.
Managing Director John Bunn has now announced plans for the holiday park’s exclusive mile of private beach, which will include a new fi sh and chip shop, a beach side café and a beach shop to be built next year.
Continued investment across the parks will also see an extended go kart track, introduction of branded quick service restaurants, and further holiday homes sited on a new 92-base development on Claudia’s Field.
John Bunn said: “With the continuing growth of domestic tourism and the rise of the staycation, we are busier than ever, and 2017 was a record-breaking year for us.”
“We are investing in fantastic new facilities across all our parks - clearly demonstrating our ongoing commitment as an innovative leader in the UK family holiday sector.
“The money we are putting into these latest improvements takes the total reinvestment in the parks to over £40m since 2012.”

 

AT A GLANCE

Location : Selsey, West Essex
Season : March To January
Accommodation : 2500 static caravan pitches on a 300 acre site
Owner Occupied : Over 2000 Holiday homes
Other Attractions : Kids's clubs, evening entertainment and access to the Oasis pool complex is completely free.

 

Smart Meters Compliance

Smart Meters Compliance

smart meters compliance

Meters installed by Landlords and Property Managers for submetering must now conform to the exactly the same standards as meters installed by the Electricity Supply Companies. Every new electricity meter or gas meter installed for billing purposes must be approved to MID (Measuring Instruments Directive) regulations. The use of unapproved meters is and to bill electricity or gas with a non-approved meter is classed as a criminal offense. A list of governing bodies, together with the instruments they have been designated to approve, is available on-line. MID approved gas and electricity meters can be identified by their specific markings, as required under the directive.