Making It Count
Never under estimate the value of first impressions, advises Ashleigh Bissett…
You’ve heard it said that you never get a second chance to make a good, first impression. Not only are first impressions registered with lightning speed, but they also last a surprisingly long time. As we head into winter, what better time to evaluate your outdoor areas and carry out the necessary modifications to make your guests’ first impressions count in time for the 2019 season. Quick fixes could be something as simple as adding more benches or sprucing up your 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. “We believe it’s important to keep outdoor spaces well maintained as this is one of the first impressions visitors will experience at your park,” comments Stephen Toone, Managing Director of Fordingbridge – a leading manufacturer of canopies, walkways and inspiring buildings. “Your clientele are more likely t o return to your site and recommend to their friends and family if the external appearance is tidy and up together.” He adds: “With more competition than ever before within the holiday park and leisure sector, attracting customers with new and engaging ideas are vital to achieve this.”
Experts in creating communal spaces, Fordingbridge has supplied the holiday and leisure sector for many years. Their range of canopies and walkways provide rain and sunshine protection, to ensure that outdoor areas can be used all year round. “Downpours are not a problem with our canopies and walkways,” explains Stephen. “This will provide you with a competitive advantage and provoke word of mouth about how versatile your park is in all weathers. “Likewise, our statement buildings can be designed and built to any purpose. For instance, if you are planning an on-site café or perhaps a crèche for children, one of our buildings will fulfil that criteria.
With offsite construction methods, it shortens the lead time over traditional bricks and mortar.” Hoburne Holidays operates seven holiday parks in the South East, the outdoor areas of which are maintained by in-house teams of maintenance and leisure staff. Hoburne’s parks with activity areas were re-designed in time for the 2018 season and the company regularly monitors customer feedback to ensure its parks meet customer expectations. “A Hoburne holiday is about doing what you want at your own pace and we want to provide outdoor spaces where there is plenty to keep everyone busy and bring families together in one area to have fun,” explains Jake Harrison, Group Operations Manager for Hoburne Holidays.
“Therefore it’s essential to keep these areas well maintained so customers want to use them and feel safe whilst on holiday. We also ensure all our planting and green spaces are well maintained at all times to ensure a lasting impression.” The company maximises the outdoor space available at each park to its full potential by putting all the activities in one area and having a mixture of activities for all ages. The younger children can be entertained in the play areas whilst not far away the teenagers can be using the adventure golf or the multiuse games areas for football or basketball. The spokesperson explains that the biggest challenges faced with the parks’ outdoor spaces is the unpredictable weather, staffing, and making them low maintenance but suitable for high usage. “Our objective has been to make sure there is plenty to keep everyone busy but in one area meaning something for the whole family. We wanted our outside spaces to provide a fun and healthy environment for our guests,” says Jake. “My advice is to offer food and drink amenities where possible and make sure you have plenty of seating available.”
In contrast to some of the larger holiday operators, Park Owner Victoria Bowrey runs Back of Beyond Touring Park in Dorset and does all of the grounds maintenance herself to keep costs at a minimum. “To employ landscapers is costly, so I am learning as I go along and have taken advice from professional landscapers and garden centre staff along the way who have made suggestions as to what to plant,” says Victoria. “Well-kept outdoor areas are essential as it reflects the overall image of the park. If the flowerbeds and grounds are not maintained to a high standard then that immediately suggests that the park is not cared for or well managed.” Open to adults only,
Back of Beyond Touring Park is set in rural Dorset and boasts 80 pitches with electric hook-ups, 40 camping pitches and a glamping village, as well as an amenities block, reception and shop. Victoria takes pride in the park’s outdoor areas and keeping them well looked after is a high priority all year round. She comments: “As we are 30 acres we can't possible compete with beautiful natural foliage, however, we make the most of the busy areas of the park, such as the reception and shower blocks by planting carefully selected flowers, bushes and trees.
“We have learned to choose plants that blend into the environment and that come back every year. We are also particularly conscious of helping the bees at our park. We plant very few bedding out plants in favour of lavenders, alliums, verbena, ornamental grasses and easy care plants such as sedums. My advice is to go for plants that make a statement and also not to be scared to try out new things - even if they don't work!” Victoria says that time is the biggest challenge she faces in maintaining the park’s outdoor spaces: “Having enough time to keep the park’s outside areas ship-shape can be difficult, which is why we tend to choose easy-care plants that come back each year. At the moment we are still new so we are building up on what we have but we do try and add new plants to the landscaped areas every year.”
BACK OF BEYOND TOURING PARK
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