Return On Investment Sue Hollingwood reveals the latest accommodation trends…
One thing is for certain, the current Staycation trend is here to stay for the immediate future with significant year-on-year growth and no sign of it diminishing. Hoseasons, the UK’s largest domestic operator, had a record two million customers booking holidays with them last year announcing a 10% growth for 2019, and has reported that they started 2020 with the positive trend continuing.
The self-catering specialist smashed its previous single day sales high by 11% on January 7th and achieved a 42% share of lodges and parks market traffic – the best it’s ever recorded according to Hitwise monitoring. This in itself is a good indicator for the future with lodges being in high demand, not forgetting glamping, with the luxurious versions of glamping pods and quirky accommodation options also high on the list.
Whether you opt for lodges, statics, glamping pods or one of the many quirky options available, there is much to consider when making the investment and balancing that with ROI (Return on Investment).
It doesn’t happen overnight and you will be considering everything from groundworks, infrastructure, product investment, through to the rental price point and marketing.
There is a lot to consider and it is important to take time to embrace all aspects, and to also take advice. For example, which accommodation to offer? Is it two bedrooms or even three for families, or one bedroom for couples? What does the location offer and therefore who is the target audience? How much investment now and at what stage to invest further? What percentage of occupancy can be achieved?
Jon Moxon, Senior Business Development Manager, at Hoseasons can offer some sound advice on these topics and comments: “We are uniquely positioned to advise owners on accommodation trends and occupancy because of our unparalleled penetration in the market. This give us great insight into what is achieving the best rental values and allows us to advise on an area’s suitability based on likely future trends.”
Once established it is then vital to ensure excellence in the eyes of the customer, and to achieve that a dedicated ongoing programme is required to replace and repair as necessary items such as mattresses, sofas, carpets, kitchens. Keeping the park and accommodation maintained is also key along with the importance of cleanliness. Jon advises: “Later check-outs and earlier check-ins mean cleaning teams are increasingly up against it when it comes to keeping up appearance, and this is where the open plan style of rental lodges and caravans can work in the owner’s favour.
Simple features, such as installing quality hard floors in preference to carpets, can improve the efficiency of changeovers”. Darwin Escapes have been leading the way with park rental fleets over recent years. Simon Spencer, Head of Lodge and Caravan Procurement and Stock Control, has many years of experience designing lodges that are fit for purpose.
Simon comments: “The lodge design is very important. Consideration on how a lodge will stand up to constant use and the maintenance required is a vital aspect. The design can iron out many issues before they exist, such as hard floors instead of carpet for ease of cleaning, especially in dog friendly buildings, which have been in high demand from visitors. Quality white goods for reliability and commercial furniture instead of retail, including a hotel grade mattress for the ‘good nights sleep’ expected by customers.
None of the practical aspects however should hinder the customer experience which needs to be second-to-none, we are aiming to WOW the customer, so a good layout and features within the home aimed to enhance their experience are all important.
Outdoor space is also important and hot tubs have been a must for parks over recent years, however it is not for everyone, so a balance throughout the park is generally a good idea especially taking the management of hot tubs into consideration. Darwin Escapes give a lot of consideration to the customer experience and with that the community areas that we provide, whether that includes bar and eating area, swimming pool, spa or children’s play area, they are all part of the strategy.”
Jon Moxon adds: “Modern accommodation is built to a fantastic standard, but rising customer expectations mean it’s important to keep on top of key design tends and features.
Keeping wall colours neutral and focusing on furnishings and accent colours means owners can keep things fresh without having to spend a fortune. Branded kitchen equipment and white goods are also important as customers look for that ‘better than at home’ experience.”
Keeping things fresh is just part of the strategy, introducing exciting new aspects to the interiors is another challenge. Going back a number of years, a lodge was a lodge, that was it, however now it is a Holiday Retreat Experience, and park owners and manufacturers alike have had to raise the bar considerably, to entice the customer to keep coming back, and to feed the Staycation.
We have seen the introduction of decking, then decking with hot tubs. We have seen the interiors being refined from basic, to luxurious, from a ‘lodge’, to a ‘superior modern environment’ that people don’t want to leave. Visitor’s expectations have driven the change, along with the imagination of parks. We are now seeing roof terraces over the full lodge roof creating a new outdoor living experience.
Cinema type lounges, deluxe raised bathrooms with fancy baths, luxury showers and fully equipped kitchens that match our everyday home. We often say ‘home from home’ however the accommodation must somehow exceed that, which creates the challenge for the future.
Even Glamping Pods have changed from a shell with minimal interior, which is what you would have expected a few years ago, to now offer an interior expertly designed to include kitchen, bathroom, living area, all within the same footprint.
Jon Moxon again: “When it comes to the future, it’s clear that technology will have an important role to play for environmentally-aware customers. App-based heating controls are just one example of how technical advancements are giving customers more choice over how they impact the planet while on holiday.”
The environmental aspect of how we live our lives, will certainly follow through and impact on holidays, so we can expect aspects that Jon has outlined to be part of the Staycation for the future. We can also expect to see a lot more innovation within the designs, which certainly puts the onus on manufacturers and owners to amaze us further.
Tel 01745 341 887
Lesko Leisure and Glamping