Making It Count

Making It Count - Title Pic

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.”

Making It Count 2WEATHER-PROOF

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.

Making It Count 3LASTING IMPRESSION

“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,

Making It Count 5Back 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.”

COMPANY CONTACTS

BACK OF BEYOND TOURING PARK
Tel: 01202 876968
www.backofbeyondtouringpark.co.uk

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

GREENMECH
Tel: 01789 400 044
www.greenmech.co.uk

HOBURNE HOLIDAYS
Tel: 01425 689293
www.hoburne.com

NBB Recycled Furniture
Tel: 0800 1777 052
www.recycledfurniture.co.uk

THE UK RAMP CO.
Tel: 01923 678432
www.modularpumptracksuk.com

The Extra Factor

The Extra Factor - Title Pic

The Extra Factor

Under new ownership at Scottish resort…

Summer has seen the launch of a substantial investment project at Callander Woods Holiday Park, following its acquisition earlier this year by Wood Leisure. Located in the popular tourist town of Callander, the Scottish holiday park is at the Eastern gateway to the Trossachs National Park and the dramatic Loch Lomond. It is also on the Rob Roy Way and the Birds of Prey Trail and is close to the famous Bracklinn Falls and the stunning Loch Katrine – meaning holiday makers can enjoy a great range of activities in the area. Within the upgrade plan, the majority of older static caravans have been upgraded to meet the high standards set within the holiday park group. In addition, brand new 2018 caravan holiday homes were introduced to the park. Boasting an airy open plan living and dining area, spacious double bedrooms, modern kitchen and ample storage space, these modern homes are providing luxurious holiday experience to families from the UK and beyond. To meet the ever-rising demand in glamping and camping in Scotland, brand new camping pods have been installed on the park sleeping up to four and up to six people. These pods are fully insulated and come complete with a small fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle. They are well suited to couples and families looking for a little break in nature away from hustle and bustle of busy cities.

FURTHER INVESTMENT

The Extra Factor 4The park is set to benefit from further investment as Group’s Operation Manager Bruce Thomson explained: “We are excited to be upgrading facilities at the park. We will create 10 new fully serviced pitches with new state-of-the-art touring bollards as well as increasing the number of hard standing pitches available for use throughout the Winter months. “We would like to welcome families from Scotland and beyond to come and make this park their second home,” adds Bruce. Guests seem to have appreciated the makeover. This is what Steven said in his review on TripAdvisor having stayed at the park in July: “Having only stayed at Lomond woods holiday park before we were sceptical about trying somewhere new. But were we delighted with our stay in Callander. “We were greeted by Cameron, really friendly and he explained all about the park and the area. Our caravan was brand new and it was perfect, stocked with everything you could need. “The park is large and the caravans are sited in a lovely spot at the back of the site, really quiet and peacefully, perfect for a relaxing stay. We travelled into Sterling on the bus which stops just outside the park, also travelled to the safari park which is just a short drive from the park. A wonderful site that we will visit again, good luck and best wishes to the Wood family on their new site.”

PARK ROOTS

The Extra Factor 5Some of touring guests have chosen to put down roots at the park. This is what a lady called Lynn said in her review on TripAdvisor after she stayed at the park in July: “We came here for two weeks in a tourer and loved it so much that we bought a static from the new owners. The site is extremely clean and well ran. The shower block is lovely and lots of showers so u don’t have to queue. The play is wonderful for the kids - they had a ball. I would very highly recommend this caravan park, you will come back again and again. Within the proposed plan for 2019, in line with other Wood Leisure holiday parks, the family are enthusiastic to extend the opening at Callander Woods to give holiday guests greater flexibility. They will be adding ten extra weeks to the holiday year and remain open until the end of December, instead of closing for the season in mid-October. Wood Leisure is a family-owned holiday park group that has been welcoming visitors from the UK and beyond since 1981. Committed to maintaining and upgrading their holiday parks to meet customer expectations, Wood Leisure’s efforts have been recognised with a number of awards including ‘Family Business of the Year’ at the Scottish Outdoor Leisure Awards, Best Caravan Park Group and Best Glamping to name just a few.

Callander Woods Holiday Park
Tel. 01250 878123
www.woodleisure.co.uk/our-parks/callander-woods

AT A GLANCE

Location: Stirling Rd, Callander FK17 8LE
Season: March - December
Accommodation: Caravan rental, glamping, touring and camping pitches, residential park homes, lodges.
Amenities: Bar and bistro, small shop, children's outdoor play area, salmon and trout fishing, dog walking area, cot hire and high chair hire, laundry facilities, putting green, heated pool from March to October. Attractions: Nearby historic castles, swimming pools, Red Kite nature reserve, golf, fishing, Adventure Planet, children’s activities.

Make ‘Em Laugh

Make Em Laugh - Title Pic

Make 'Em Laugh

Entertain to gain, advises Karen Cotton…

With more Britons choosing to holiday in the UK, according to research from Travelodge, the pressure is on park operators to attract and retain this new business. Guests expect great facilities and food, but they also are hoping for great entertainment. For many, it’s the nightlife and shows which add value to their break – making it truly memorable. Nowhere is this truer than at Bunn Leisure in Dorset, where four parks on one combined site cater to different tastes and budgets. Head of Entertainment Adrian Douthwaite explains: “Our clients expect a consistent, high quality and diverse range of entertainment.” He adds: “As technology has drastically advanced in recent years, so have expectations as to the ‘look and feel’ of the entertainment, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising.”

Make Em Laugh 3STAR CAST

In recent months, the Dorset holiday park has hosted names including Pop Idol alum Gareth Gates and X-Factor star Sam Bailey. Names like these deliver real value, as Adrian explains. “Big named artists and shows that create a ‘buzz’ have more impact than ever before, as the use of social media amplifies the desired value of the entertainment.” Careful planning is essential to ensure you hit the right note with all your guests. Stephen Pearce, Marketing Manager at Beverley Holidays says: “Entertainment really is the most subjective thing in the world, as trends and people’s expectations and perceptions of entertainment change… “Whilst not everyone will absolutely love everything we do, by having an exciting range on offer we aim to ensure that whilst somebody may not like something, there will, within the product, be something they do like.”

 

Make Em Laugh 2MULTI-APPEAL

The aim for the park on the English Riviera, is to keep its entertainment fresh and current… but there is a space for oldies-but-goodies, too. Stephen continues: “There will be nostalgic moments, games and concepts, however these must be delivered appropriately to an audience in 2018. A knobbly knees contest doesn’t go down as well now as it may have done in the ‘80s.” At Beverley Holidays, near Torquay, guests have a wide range of daytime activities to choose from. Its ‘Be-Active’ umbrella houses high-energy sessions that are popular with guests of all ages, with soft archery, Water Walkerz and body Zorbing. The Kids Be-Active programme allows younger guests to find their inner princess, pirate or superhero. “These sessions aim to capture the creativity and imagination of our younger guests,” says Stephen. “For our older guests, we offer something a little bit more laid back – whether it be a poolside quiz, coffee morning, line dance or darts tournament, we have it all covered.” Bunn Leisure also sources a wide range of entertainment spanning all areas and tastes. For Head of Entertainment Adrian, this can be tricky. He says: “The teenage and young adult market consistently proves difficult, whereas the children and 50+ age group are much easier to cater for as there is much more product to choose from when buying in.”

Make Em Laugh 4BEST VALUE

Working with an annual budget of approximately £1.5 million, Bunn Leisure’s in-house product offering is generated and produced internally – with little to no outsourcing of services. “This, in turn, helps to control quality and costs,” adds Adrian. “Routing and increased frequency of appearances for outsourced artists and shows can also help a little with regards to value – but isn’t paramount when devising the product offering.” At Beverley Holidays, the secret to getting the most from your budget is simple. Stephen reveals: “The best way to get value for money is to invest in the people who are most passionate about the performance. It is the individuals that are responsible for the delivery of the product, and of course the delivery of the product, on the whole, that creates that experience guests remember forever. “By far, alongside great show concepts and animated daytime activities, bottom line is the ‘coat-style’ entertainer and their approach to the role – as the ‘face of the holiday’ – builds relationships with guests, making them feel welcome and appreciated.”

 

Make Em Laugh 5PLAN AHEAD

While planning at Bunn Leisure begins 18 months in advance, at Beverley Holidays the team plans for the following year each September. By reviewing and evaluating the uptake and successes of the previous year, the team can make the informed decisions necessary to develop their product moving forward. Where visiting acts are involved, timing is everything according to Stephen from Beverley Holidays. He says: “To ensure we are able to book what we want and not just what is available, [our] process is on-going.” This is especially important when operators are looking to secure big-name attractions. Sometimes bookings are required as far as 18 months in advance.
With 20 years’ experience booking acts for holiday parks, Live Music Management has worked with numerous operators across the UK and suggests that bookings be made at least nine months in advance and promoted as part of the offer Managing Director Rick Baines explains: “It’s increasingly difficult to get people into club houses as home drinking has become the norm. But people will come out if there is consistently good entertainment on.” Budgets will differ depending on the size of the venue. If you’re working with smaller budgets, he sagely advises: “It’s better to have a high-quality act once per weekend, then two ‘pub-quality’ acts!” It’s important to widen your scope, too.Make Em Laugh 7
Rick suggests: “Look at who the national companies are booking with and consider them, as well as local agents. You might find better quality at similar prices.” One of the most popular trends he’s spotted is Bandeoke, which is also known as live band karaoke. He says: “It’s still massive. It allows all the family to join in and brings Instagram moments that will stay with the guests.” He adds: “Pop-up entertainment, not necessarily fixed to a stage area, also brings an immersive experience which will thrill guests and lead to social media sharing.”

Which Trip Advisor Reviews Would You Prefer This one?

“Park lovely… entertainment awful” - Natasha L

“Great views, awful entertainment” - Superdave10uk

“Nice grounds, perfect caravan, poor entertainment” - Gwen L.

Or

“Best entertainment, great stay!!!” - Pixie G.

“Entertainment team were amazing!” - Andreacleaton60

“Night life was very good can’t wait to book again for next year” – Janetholmes2724

“Brilliant [80’s] weekend. Everyone dressed up. Looking forward to the next one…” - Biff0r

Company Contacts

BEVERLEY HOLIDAYS www.beverley-holidays.co.uk

BUNN LEISURE www.bunnleisure.co.uk

LIVE MUSIC MANAGEMENT www.lmmuk.co.uk

 

Holiday Snaps – Niall Norris

Holiday Snaps - Niall NorrisHoliday Snaps

Niall Norris is the sales director at CampManager

(www.campmanager.com), a company that provide Park Management and Booking Systems to campsites and holiday parks throughout the UK & Ireland.

What was your career path?

Having spent 29 years in sales within corporate banking, developing client relationships and providing added value solutions for their businesses, the opportunity arose to leave the banking world and work with my brother in CampManager. That was 10 years ago, and the business has grown to have over 400 campsites and holiday parks using the CampManager software solution.

What changes have you seen?

10 years ago, most bookings were being made via the telephone. We have seen significant growth in the number of online bookings, with some of our customers receiving up to 90% of their bookings online. With CampManager you take commission-free bookings on your own website, saving staff valuable time, automating the booking process, and generating more bookings for your business.

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

Customers are tending to go away on breaks more regularly but for shorter periods and are booking last minute. The Glamping market has seen considerable growth with a great selection of luxury and different accommodation types attracting the younger generation.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom? My first sales director said, “Sales are important, but customer retention is more important.” Customers will remain customers if you provide a quality product which is competitively priced, with excellent customer service and always be available to speak to them.

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

A good walk in the countryside followed by a few pints of Guinness. I enjoy good food, having the ‘craic’ and spending time with my family (4 children and three grandchildren).

Your dream dinner guests?

Jack Reacher and his creator, the thriller author Lee Child and Keith Floyd a restaurateur and food writer. I love his humour and alternative approach to cooking. Do you have any claims to fame? Sat beside and chatted to Faye Tozer on a flight from London to Belfast nearly 20 years ago and only realised when I got home and saw them on TV that she was in the band Steps. My daughter didn’t forgive me for some time for not getting her autograph.

Where do take your holidays?

I love the outdoors and have been tenting for over 40 years – nothing better than heading off with my wife in the car with our tent and going where the mood takes us. If I need to get away to the sun – Majorca in the mountains with a good bottle of red wine.

Avoid Huge Out-Of-Hours Claims

Avoid Huge Out Of Hours ClaimsAvoid Huge Out-Of-Hours Claims

An Appeal Court ruling on out-of-hours pay has triggered concerns that the holiday park industry could face substantial claims from employees. Traditionally, holiday parks have provided a 24 hour on-call service as part of their daily role but staff may have only been paid for part of that time. Employment Tribunals have, in the past ruled that employees should be paid at least the minimum wage for the time they are on-call even if they are sleeping. That decision has been recently reversed by the Appeal Court for cases involving the care sector but it may not apply to the holiday park industry who could be open to significant compensation claims. It is estimated it could cost park operators more than £20,000 a year per employee and claims for compensation could go back several years. Now, Hull-based SJP Law, who provide a specialist legal service to the caravan and holiday park industry, have launched a dedicated service to help and advise holiday park owners. Alistair Latham, Director of SJP Law, said: “The Appeal Court ruling applies to the care sector and therefore should be used with great care. Ignoring the law in this area may still have dire consequences for the holiday park industry.” He explained that most holiday parks employ wardens to carry out a range of day time duties and to be on-call during the night should an emergency arise and he urged operators to review their employment contracts and working methods to safeguard against any potential liability. Mr Latham said: “This is a serious situation for park operators and we have set up a dedicated service to help them to assess their risk and to provide them with revised employment documentation and adapt their working requirements where necessary. “If park operators believe that this may be an issue for their business they need to take action sooner rather than later so that steps can be taken to reduce any potential liability.”

Naked Ambitions For Caravanners

Naked AmbitionsNaked Ambitions For Caravanners

Twelve months of bare-it-all bravery by a group of friends at a Flintshire holiday park, are set to swell the funds of the charity Breast Cancer Care. The feisty females stripped-off for a fundraising 2019 calendar at Tree Tops Caravan Park. Ranging in age from 30-plus to over 70, the inspiration for putting the fun into fundraising came from two of the group who own holiday homes at the Holywell park. Rachel Anchors and Wendy Wild said it was back in summer this year when they hit upon the idea of helping a good cause about which they both felt strongly. “Breast cancer is a disease which affects so many women, and Breast Cancer Care does a wonderful job in providing expert information to anyone diagnosed with the illness.” Andy Walker, who runs the park alongside his parents Maureen and Harry, was known by the group to be a talented amateur photographer, whose pictures feature on the park’s website. Andy agreed to photograph the courageous caravanners who posed with carefully placed props ranging from tractors to balls of knitting wool. With advance orders worth over £2,000, copies of the initial calendar print-run are available for £6.50 each. The group has a JustGiving page and a Facebook page @CaravanGirls providing more information.

Great Outdoors ‘On Prescription’ Call

Great Outdoors On Prescription Calls 2Great Outdoors 'On Prescription' Call

Camping, caravan and motorhome holidays can encourage people outdoors and towards a potentially healthier lifestyle, says TV’s Dr Hilary Jones, who appeared at October’s Motorhome and Caravan Show 2018 at Birmingham’s NEC. Dr Hilary says there’s many aspects of camping and leisure vehicle activities that support both mental and physical well-being. “Camping and leisure vehicle holidays provide the perfect opportunity to get up and go on shorter trips and adventures, and encourage family time as well as getting outdoors, exercise, a change of scenery, new adventures and socialising. Dr Hilary suggests scientific evidence shows people also benefit from getting closer to nature, which is a fundamental connection for humans and the opposite of connecting to screens and electronic devices. “The outdoors even impacts on recovery after surgery, concludes Dr Hilary Jones. “In a gall bladder surgery experiment, half the patients post-surgery had a view of hospital walls only, half had a view of the outdoors. The latter group reported less pain during recovery than those looking at just hospital walls.”

The Smart Choice

The SMART ChoiceThe Smart Choice

With the new Energy Controls App, users of the company’s SMART Pre-pay meters can make energy payments from their smartphone, tablet or PC. This dramatically reduces admin and eliminates the need for cash handling for landlords whilst providing a safe, simple and secure way for consumers to purchase electricity credits anytime and from anywhere. Energy Controls is the UK’s leading supplier of SMART meters and pre-payment metering systems. Having been a market leader for over 25 years they are the UK’s exclusive distributor for the world’s largest meter manufacturer, Landis and Gyr. For more details contact the team today or visit the Energy Controls website.

Energy Controls
Tel. 03452 304 535
www.econtrols.co.uk

Hop, Skip and Splash!

Hop Skip And SplashHop, Skip and Splash!

Ustigate’s partner Vortex International, the award- winning Water Journey collection includes Labyrinth, Jet Dance, Race, and Tide Pool; a series of low flow rate concepts that enable children to learn through play via a push pump, water channels, jets, weirs and zero standing water. Mountainside cascades and stepping stones were the playscapes that inspired Vortex to develop Pico, Alto and Hop. While Pico and Alto provide a mountainous play experience, Hop is a formation of non-slip pads that engage children to hop, jump, skip and splash!

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