No Quick Fix

no quick fixNo Quick Fix

I will start with a confession. Wisper it quietly, but there is no ‘quick fix’ that will instantly fill your holiday park with customers, especially in the quieter months. That magic button for your website – the one that will send bookings through the roof is, well, I’m afraid just a myth…
So, it’s time for a reality check. The only way to ensure your park is best placed to turn those clicks and enquiries into bookings and sales is to have a proper strategy in place. It can be really frustrating to see large volumes of traffic coming to your website but so few of those continuing to book their holidays. Abandoned bookings and poor conversions rates are an obvious sign that all is not well somewhere in the online booking process.

JIGSAW PIECES

Whether you own a large group of holiday parks or you’re just starting out with a few touring pitches, your online booking platform is arguably the most important piece of the jigsaw. You can spend thousands of pounds per month on marketing but, if it’s all let down by a process that inhibits the booking process then you’re wasting all your hard-earned cash. Online booking systems vary greatly from one another - and the most expensive one may not necessarily be the best for your park. You need a system that not only fulfils your requirements from a park management perspective but is, crucially, easy for your customers to navigate and book online.

It is too easy to forget the customer booking journey with parks too often spending more time focusing on the back-office functionality of an online booking system. But these online booking steps are, potentially, far more important than whether the system can produce all your different financial reports. Most systems (but not all) on the market will come with a set of online booking steps that will be the link between your website and booking system. It is crucial that you choose a system that has booking steps that are clear, straightforward and easily navigable for your customers.Why not take the journey yourself, as a customer would (we recommend trying this on a mobile too). If you find yourself getting frustrated then multiply this by the average number of people who visit your website and you’ll soon see why so many people abandon their bookings.

GDPR COMPLIANCE

hate to be the bearer of bad news but complying with GDPR wasn’t just sending out a few re-subscribe emails to your database at the end of May. It’s fair to say that it’s had (and will continue to have) a big impact on the holiday park industry. One thing’s for sure – it’s already had a big impact on the online booking sector, with many changes having been made to systems to comply as best they can with the new regulations. A cornerstone element of GDPR is customer data. Your online booking system is, potentially, storing thousands of customer records, accounts and, in some cases, payment details too.

Do you know for sure where all that customer data is? Is it stored directly on the computer in your office – and is this vulnerable to hackers? Or is the data stored in the cloud? Is it encrypted to the highest level? Are your online booking steps collecting marketing information even from those who don’t complete a booking? If so, what’s being done with all that data? All these are vitally important questions you should ask your current provider or ask yourself before changing to a new system as you will be liable, should the worst happen.If your online booking is the final part of the jigsaw, then getting your customers into that booking process, is the first. How do you attract the right sort of customer to your park to begin with?
Before you commit to spending hundreds or thousands of pounds per month on a Google AdWords PPC campaign or such like you need to ask yourself one fundamental question – who are your customers? How old are they? Where do they live? What interests do they have? What do they spend on an average holiday? Once you have a clear idea of the people you’re targeting then you’re more likely to achieve the desired result. Depending on the sort of customer you’re targeting, your marketing can be grouped into various activities, including your website, email, social media, pay per click (PPC) or printed media. All of this will filter back to the online booking process.

KEY WORDS

A good website that’s well optimised for all the relevant keywords is certainly a good start and will be integral for just about everything you do but it will not, necessarily, be the huge driver of traffic on its own, that it once was. Things are ever-changing in the world of the web and the level of competition has gone from stiff to fierce, especially in popular holiday destinations such as the South West of England.

That being said, there are some key things to consider with your current website to help it work best for you:

• Does it stand out from the crowd? Does it have a ‘wow’ factor?
• Is it quick and easy to use on a mobile device?
• Do the images properly showcase your setting and accommodation range?
• Are your CTAs (calls to action) clear and consistent – ‘book now’ ‘check prices & availability’ ‘call now’

How much do you spend on your marketing and what sort of Return on Investment (ROI) are you getting? Do you know? If the answer to this last question is a resounding ‘no’ then it’s time to take stock of your current activity…and think again. If, for whatever reason, you are not able to apportion revenue against your marketing then you are working with one hand behind your back.

MEASURE SUCCESS

E-commerce tracking really is the cornerstone of measuring a campaign’s success, whether it be a promotional email or a Google AdWords campaign. Without this knowledge it’s almost impossible to know if what you’re doing is right. So many people are obsessed with the volume of clicks and traffic that a campaign sends to their website but this can often be very misleading. Always think – quality over quantity! You’re aiming for ‘qualified’ clicks; those that come from an audience who are in-tune and interested in your product, not those who may have clicked your banner ad by mistake. To this end, your external marketing should follow the same premise. As mentioned, know your audience and aim your marketing at this focused bunch of people, don’t waste your time and money on a scattergun approach because it simply won’t work.

Pitched
Tel. 01726 418118
Pitched.co.uk

Butlin’s Plans For ‘Best Pool In The Country’

Butlin’s Plans For ‘Best Pool In The Country’

Holiday park operator Butlin’s says that their swimming pools, like the one at Butlins Minehead, are the second main reason that guests return each year.

Holiday park operator Butlin’s says that their swimming pools, like the one at Butlins Minehead, are the second main reason that guests return each year.

UK holiday operator Butlin’s has unveiled ambitious plans to build a new state-of-the-art swimming facility at its Bognor Regis resort.

If given the go ahead, the new £30million aquatic complex would include a lido, an indoor wave pool, a toddler pool, two flumes and a brand new outdoor rapid river, as well as new changing facilities. It would replace the resort’s existing pool, which is more than 30 years old.

A planning application will soon be submitted to relocate the pool from the west of the holiday resort to the east.

If granted planning permission, Butlin’s hopes to open its new pool in the summer of 2018. The current pool will remain in use until then.

Jeremy Pardey, resort director, commented: “Our customer surveys regularly tell us that our guests place much importance on our splash swimming pools. As a result of this and with the existing pool here at Bognor Regis reaching the end of its operational life, it was felt that the best option was to develop a new, replacement pool.”

Jeremy added: “After carrying out much work over recent months in the preparation of these plans, it’s great to have now reached this stage. We only thought it was right, however, that we provided a chance for residents to understand our proposals and importantly had time to discuss them with us.”

Butlins Enforces Pool Safety Policy

butlins

Butlins stand by their swimming pool safety policy which states that every two children must be accompanied by an adult.

Butlins Enforces Pool Safety Policy

Holiday park operator Butlins came under fire recently, after a mother-of-four was asked to leave the swimming pool at Butlins’ Skegness resort for having too many children.

Kelly Noble was approached by a lifeguard while swimming with her four children and advised of the company’s swimming pool safety policy which states that every two children aged eight years old and under must be accompanied by at least one adult – a policy which is mirrored by many other commercial pool operators.

While Ms Noble was clearly outraged, Butlins insists that the policy is in place to ensure the safety of its guests.

A spokesperson for Butlins commented: “When guests book with us, our telephone advisors make them aware of our policies with regard to child supervision in our pools and at our fairgrounds. The same information is available on our website.

“Due to Ms Noble’s eldest children also requiring additional supervision, they were unable to be responsible for the younger children, which is why they would have not been able to use the pool.”

The spokesperson added: “The safety of all our guests is our absolute priority at all times and we cannot compromise that.”

Holiday Bookings Enjoy Seasonal Boost

Holiday Bookings Enjoy Seasonal Boost

High-temps

High July temperatures have boosted domestic holiday figures, across the UK, with operators reporting strong demand and an increase in last-minute bookings.

Sustained hot weather provided a boost for the country’s holiday businesses, as holidaymakers lapped up the good weather with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for last minute domestic breaks.

Hoseasons reported a sharp rise in bookings boosted by the beautiful weather, recording an 11 per cent increase in bookings for the school summer holidays compared to last year’s figures, with a reported rise also in last minute holidays as people decided to make the most of the sunshine.

“These figures clearly demonstrate the continued appeal of the domestic holiday among UK consumers,” said Simon Altham, managing director of Hoseasons. “The convenience and ease of just being able to pack up the car and go and grab a late deal seems to be an ever more attractive trend amongst Brits.”

WARM SUNSHINE

Temperatures for July and August were above average across the UK, reaching a scorching 32.3 °C in Kent in mid-July.

Simon continues: “The warm sunshine obviously helps when it comes to the ‘book and go’ culture, but the weather was good last year so it’s not the only factor. We firmly believe that continued innovation in the quality and range of accommodation styles available is also playing its part alongside the growing investment in major UK tourist attractions which combined are making the UK a convenient and hassle-free choice for many Brits this year.”

Beach-jump

Record numbers of Brits took to the beach this summer, with Cornwall, Blackpool and Brighton proving to be popular hotspots. Pic: VisitBritain

Bookings across Butlins resorts have also been up this season, and the company has been operating at nearly 100 per cent occupancy through the summer period. Butlins spokesperson James Silverstone commented: “We always see an increase in demand during good weather and this year has been no different. However, all our resorts are geared up for all seasons, so even if it does rain we can still accommodate our guests without spoiling any fun!”

As record numbers of British holidaymakers chose to stay at home for their summer break this year, coastal locations such as Cornwall, Blackpool and Brighton were especially popular, as well as city breaks in London, Edinburgh and York.

Beverley Holidays and Whitehill Country Park, two sister holiday parks in Paignton saw a rush in bookings as visitors flocked to the English Riviera to revel in the heat wave. Numbers were up at both parks by more than 10 per cent compared to the previous year, and the parks were also benefitting from the news that the area is fast becoming the top seaside destination in the UK.

Claire Jeavons, head of marketing for Beverley Holidays and Whitehill Park, is thrilled with how the businesses are performing: “How customers choose and book their holidays has changed dramatically over the years. We have invested heavily in digital marketing with online channels such as social media campaigns and e-blasts, and this has really paid off.”

Claire added: “The recent hot weather looks set to stay and our outdoor and indoor pools are proving very popular among those looking to bask in the Great British sunshine, with plenty more visitors expected.”

Further good news for the industry is that tourism spend is up by 6 per cent on last year, according to the latest research by VisitEngland.

Butlins Defends Holidaymakers’ Legal Action

BUTLINS

Over 200 holidaymakers are suing Butlins after suffering a gastric illness while staying at the Bognor Regis resort between May and July 2011.

Butlins Defends Holidaymakers’ Legal Action

Butlins’ parent company Bourne Leisure says it will ‘robustly defend’ legal action being taken by more than 200 holidaymakers in relation to problems at their Bognor Regis resort in 2011.

Legal firm Irwin Mitchell is representing more than 215 holidaymakers following a denial of liability by Bourne Leisure. Court proceedings relate to an outbreak of illness at the Bognor Regis resort between May and July 2011.

The holidaymakers are said to have cited a range of issues at the resort, including undercooked food, flies seen on and around food, pigeons on tables, rude staff, managers ignoring requests for help and asking ill guests to leave early, sewage smells around the resort, a cloudy swimming pool with slime around the edges, and failure to clean communal areas.

Elizabeth Tetzner, at Irwin Mitchell, who is representing the holidaymakers said: “Our clients have given us worrying accounts of their stays, including concerns regarding cleanliness, standards of food preparation and service as well as their treatment by staff.

"Bourne Leisure has denied liability and as such our clients have been left with no other option than to issue court proceedings as they seek justice for their ruined holidays.

“Gastric illness can have a devastating impact on people’s health and the effects of it cannot be underestimated,” she said.

In response, Butlins issued a statement, which read: “We will robustly defend this speculative action raised at the High Court in Birmingham. We operate our resorts to the highest health and safety standards and work closely with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that our guests’ safety takes priority.

“Our standards of cleanliness and hygiene are recognised throughout the tourist industry worldwide. Such is our reputation on health issues that environmental officers from around the UK have described our policies and procedure as outstanding.”

Riding The Waves

waves

A highlight at Golden Coast is the Wavesurfer simulator, allowing guests to brush up on their surfing and body boarding skills.

Riding The Waves

Capitalising on a prime seaside location, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks own and operate four 4-star holiday parks around the village of Woolacombe in North Devon.

Frequently voted the best beach in Britain, the location is a unique mix of sandy beaches, rolling fields and the rugged beauty of Exmoor National Park, all within a stone’s throw of the Woolacombe Bay sites.

Kevin Darvill, sales and marketing director at Woolacombe Bay comments: “The most crucial aspect to the success of our parks has to be the beach. Woolacombe’s beach is quite simply gorgeous and offers everything from a traditional bucket and spade holiday to surfing. Of course the beach alone isn’t enough to encourage customers to stay with us and for that we try to ensure we offer lots for every age to do and great places to stay.”

The family run business was established over 50 years ago, and the four parks now welcome international and UK guests from February to November each year. The parks are hire fleet only, meaning that there are no caravan sales activities, but the company does offer caravans, lodges, villas, apartments and traditional farmhouses along with high quality camping and touring facilities at all four parks.

“We’ve seen big changes in where customers want to stay,” explains Kevin. “A few years ago smaller, older caravans were in demand as budget options, but over the past couple of years there really has been a trend for extended families with several generations or two families sharing higher quality caravans. In response to this, we recently replaced a fifth of all our caravans, meaning our average caravan age is now just 3 years old.” He adds: “Then there’s the rise in popularity of the short break. A week’s holiday in July and August is still the mainstay at those times, but in term time we’ve had to adapt to more short breaks and change the offering to suit the demographic.”

Golden Coast is the company’s biggest park, offering 342 rental units and 93 touring pitches, plus the widest range of leisure facilities, including a ten lane bowling alley, a 17th Century pub and a high ropes course. Making the most of the park’s Atlantic facing location, a surf school and unique surfing simulator enables guests to try surfing no matter what their ability.

“Customers are always looking for something new and different, wanting the best experience they can get for their hard earned holiday time. There’s a continuous demand for new activities, particularly those that can be used whatever the weather. In the run up to and after the Olympics we saw a big demand for more sports activities to, so we’ve introduced sports complexes at all our parks,” says Kevin.

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Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks
Tel. 0843 2080 377
www.woolacombe.co.uk

Park Focus: Hendra Holiday Park

Hendra

Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay is one of Cornwall’s largest parks, welcoming 380,000 visitors per year.

Park Focus: Hendra Holiday Park

For over 42 years, Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay has been a popular tourist destination for families and couples looking to explore the Cornwall coastline from the comfort of a 5-star caravan and camping site.

The family-run park has been owned and operated by three generations of the May and Hyatt families since it opened as a touring and camping park in 1972. Static holiday homes were added to the site in the mid 80’s and the park now boasts over 300 holiday homes and 500 touring, camping and motorhome pitches. Both May and Hyatt families still live on the site and are actively involved in the day to day running of the park.

Jon Hyatt, director at Hendra Holiday Park comments: “Our philosophy is to offer great family holidays for all budgets at the highest, 5 star quality standard. We invest heavily on an annual basis to improve, upgrade, build and install new facilities for our guests, to not only fulfil, but surpass their expectations.”

The park has a high profile among holidaymakers and is one of the largest in the county. The 80 acre site provides guests with various catering options, a supermarket, indoor and outdoor children’s play facilities as well as sports and entertainment activities. But as Jon explains, the park must constantly evolve to keep up with customer demand: “I would say the biggest challenge we face is continuing to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated market with higher and higher expectations from a holiday.” He adds: “Whilst Cornwall remains the UK’s favourite holiday destination, household spending on holidays has been reduced and competition from cheap overseas destinations with guaranteed weather is very strong.”

Continuous development and investment into the facilities and services has won Hendra numerous awards and accreditations including a National Quality Assured Scheme 5 star grading, an AA 5 Pennant award, and a Cornwall Tourism Award for Holiday Park of the Year and Sustainable Tourism. Most recently Hendra’s Fish & Chip Takeaway won Seasonal Fish & Chip Operator of the Year at the Seafish National Fish & Chip Awards.

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Hendra Holiday Park
Tel. 01637 875778
www.hendra-holidays.com

 

Make ‘Em Smile!

Butlins holiday resorts have always been known for their entertainment including seasonal pantomime performances.

Butlins holiday resorts have always been known for their entertainment including seasonal pantomime performances.

Make ‘Em Smile!

Television is largely responsible for the public view today of holiday parks with some thinking the image of Hi-De-Hi and “Hello Campers” is still the style.
But today’s holiday parks are far more sophisticated, while still aiming to provide ‘fun for everybody’ – including the thousands of staff and entertainers across the UK who make holidays unforgettable for families.
We are probably all familiar with the colour codes of those in charge of entertaining at the biggest venues in Britain.
Redcoats for Butlins, Bluecoats for Pontins and Greencoats for Warners.
And then there’s the Yellowcoats of Haven Holidays staff – 300 FunStar entertainers .
Haven Holidays entertain over three million guests and owners during a 34 week season across their 35 family holiday parks.
Daytime children’s clubs and nightly entertainment are all included in the price of a Haven holiday and each year they introduce new elements to keep it fresh and exciting and for this they need bright new talent.
Steve Donnelly, head of entertainment, says: “My vision has been to embrace entertainment concepts that are current and in tune, such as The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, and Britain’s Got Talent.

SPARKLY FROCKS

“In particular it has been really important to identify current and future trends that will engage and delight the whole family. The days of jazz hands and sparkly frocks are gone for Haven.
“We want dynamic young cast members who can, aside from performing, interact meaningfully with the guests and take an interest in how they are enjoying their holiday.
“By developing and improving what’s on offer to them in terms of entertainment and events, we can enhance their time at Haven and they’ll want to come back again and again.”
Butlins holiday resorts have always been known for their entertainment.
Many big names in the world of showbiz started their careers at the ‘seaside camps’, as they used to be known.
Sir Cliff Richard started his career playing with The Drifters at the Clacton-On-Sea camp.
In 1962 the Skegness camp played its part in the formation of The Beatles, when Paul McCartney and John Lennon visited to meet Ringo Starr who was playing drums with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes at the time.
They offered Ringo the drummer’s position with The Beatles, because they had just secured a recording contract. The first song McCartney himself ever sang in public was “Long Tall Sally”, at a Butlins talent competition.
As well as the many other famous names to come through the Butlins doors, they’re probably most famous for their Redcoats. Employed originally by Sir Billy Butlin to help guests find their way around the resort and entertain them through their stay, Butlin’s Redcoats are just as big a part of the Butlins experience today as they were back at the start in 1939.
Many famous faces started life as Butlins Redcoats, including Stephen Mulhern (Britain’s Got More Talent, Catchphrase), Shane Ritchie (Eastenders), Johnny Ball (Think of a Number, Playschool), Des O’Connor, Jimmy Tarbuck and Dave Allen to name but a few.
Today Butlins entertainment and entertainers are still at the heart of any visit to the three remaining seaside resorts in West Sussex (Bognor Regis), Somerset (Minehead) and Lincolnshire (Skegness).
With more than 1.5 million guests visiting each year, the Butlins team work endlessly to discover new shows, ideas and talented people to entertain the visitors.

Haven FunStars are chosen for their good work ethic and great customer focus.

Haven FunStars are chosen for their good work ethic and great
customer focus.

This year Butlins is putting on a wide variety of brand new shows. Starting in February half term guests will be treated to the premiere of Scooby Doo Live, which combines live actors and characters in a musical mystery tour with monsters and ghouls!
Also making their 2014 debut in February are TV presenters and all round cheeky chaps Dick and Dom, who are bringing their unique style of mayhem into a live show for the whole family during all school holidays this year.
There will also be new live shows such as Freddie - a musical tribute to the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen - Cirque Du Hilarious, Titan The Robot and character shows from Angelina Ballerina, Mike The Knight, Thomas and Friends, Bob The Builder and Fireman Sam.
During the summer holidays Butlins will have a purpose built Big Top Circus at each of their resorts playing host to amazing aerial gymnasts, trapeze artists and comedy routines from around the world.
Mister Maker (CBeebies) will be playing all Butlins resorts over the summer with an exclusive live show, featuring music and special guests. Other summer entertainment includes The Wheel Of Death stunt team, live music, Redcoat shows and a spectacular acrobatics show.

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Work Hard, Play Hard

 Work Hard, Play Hard

work hard

Butlins are continuously investing to make sure that their resorts are up to the standards that modern British families expect.

Celebrating its 78th birthday this year, Butlins has successfully stood the test of time and remains a firm favourite among families and holidaymakers looking for a break a little closer to home.

Owned by Bourne Leisure, Butlins welcome more than 1.6million guests to their three resorts each year, spread acrossthe season from February half term through to New Year’s Eve. Around half of the guests that visit each year are repeat visitors, illustrating a strongsense of brand loyalty. The company attributes its success to being a family inclusive resort, offering a huge variety of shows, entertainment, activities and dining and accommodation choices at affordable prices. Dermot King, managing director at Butlins reveals: “We know that the key to success is continuous investment into the resorts to make sure that we keep the standard that modern British holidaymakers expect.

Our aim is to provide holiday resorts where families can happily enjoy a holiday in a safe, secure and appealing environment. Families work hard to come away and we aim to give them a break from the daily routine of normal life and let them spend quality time together, whilst we take care of the hard work.”

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Butlins Plans Resort Hotel At Minehead

Butlins Plans Resort Hotel At Minehead

Butlins are upgrading the accommodation at their Minehead site to appeal to families all year round.

Butlins is developing plans to regenerate a further part of its Minehead site by replacing some older holiday accommodation with a modern resort hotel.

The proposals, which represent a £20 million development creating up to 100 new jobs, will be displayed at a public exhibition in Minehead.

Butlins Minehead’s managing director, Julian Highfield, said: “Visitors tell us that they would welcome the flexibility and convenience of holiday accommodation in the form of a resort hotel on the Minehead site. We are proposing a character hotel that would appeal to those with pre-school children outside school holidays, as well as families during traditional holiday periods.”

Work has recently started on a £16 million redevelopment project on the Minehead site to provide improved holiday accommodation. It is hoped that the new resort hotel will complement this development by providing a greater variety of accommodation and an improved experience for visitors.

Julian added: “The type of hotel we are proposing has worked well at our resort in Bognor Regis and we think Minehead would also benefit from a modern resort hotel that will help to turn Butlins into an all year round destination.”