GREAT EXPECTATIONS

great expectationsGREAT EXPECTATIONS

Boosted by what was the hottest summer on record, the UK’s holiday park sector has never been so appealing. More Brits each year are continuing to enjoy all that the country’s parks have to offer - and what an offering it is. From quirky wigwams and shepherds tents to deluxe lodges and cabins, today’s holiday parks and campsites are better equipped than ever before for their increasingly discerning guests. Accommodation features that were once considered luxurious are now seen as the norm. Take glamping as an example. Nobody needs to be reminded of the rise and rise of glamping, but what is noteworthy is how such accommodation is fast moving from fringe to mainstream. Rather than just providing a handful of pods alongside their traditional holiday homes, some parks are now dedicating large sections of their grounds to a variety of glamping modules, creating in effect a mini-village for guests seeking this type of experience. There are also instances of parks swapping a number of their seasonal or touring pitches for this style of accommodation, purely as a response to customer preference.

BROAD APPEAL

Glamping is also broadening the appeal of taking a holiday on a park to couples and families who might otherwise not have considered the option. In many cases, this might have been because they hadn’t quite grasped the concept of what a park offers in terms of its rented accommodation, or simply because the guests weren’t keen on camping. By contrast, the idea of staying in a shepherd’s hut, safari tent or hobbit house is easy to understand, and provides an element of adventure and fun with which it is easy to engage. “If glamping is an example of camping on an upward trajectory as far as quality is concerned, then the same can also be said of caravan holiday homes,” comments Jon Boston, a spokesperson for the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA). “Many of these now have levels of refinement far beyond what a customer would expect as standard a decade ago, including features such as en-suite bathrooms, exterior decking, wide-screen TVs and sophisticated sound systems.” Jon adds: “UK manufacturers have proved themselves adept at constantly refining their product, but there may be some evidence that holiday lodges will become more dominant in the future. Some park groups are now favouring lodges over holiday caravans when developing new pitches, both for sales and rental.”

COMFORT FACTOR

Great Expectations 2The extra space in a lodge can make for a more comfortable stay, especially if the customer is holidaying with an extended family or friends. For rental purposes, lodges also enable parks to offer a more luxurious experience. Some lodge breaks are now being styled along the lines of a boutique hotel with added features such as robes and slippers, upscale toiletries, bubbly in the fridge, and even fresh croissants delivered in the morning. Says Jon: “The trend towards more highly specified caravan holiday homes and lodges is also consistent with the move by many parks to extend their opening seasons. Local authorities would appear to be increasingly more accommodating when faced with such requests from parks, recognising the wider economic benefits to be gained from lengthening the holiday year, not least among the many businesses in their area which depend on visitor spending.” He adds: “With modern holiday homes now providing highly efficient central heating systems as well as double glazing and increased levels of insulation, holidays throughout the four seasons become much more practical.”

PARK PRODUCT

At Skelwith Fold caravan park in the Lake District, new accommodation trends are enabling park owner Henry Wild to broaden his customer base. The Ambleside park has around 450 pitches for holiday home owners and touring guests – but camping is not permitted: “This once meant that Skelwith Fold was only open to people with a touring caravan or motorhome, so we were limiting our guests to people who already understood the park product,” comments Henry. “A few years ago, however, we decided to remedy that by introducing top-end glamping modules for hire, based on the Swift S-Pod. This immediately extended our appeal to couples who might never before have considered using a park for a holiday.” He adds: “Their success encouraged us this year to invest in two safari tents, fully furnished and kitted-out, which are also proving immensely popular, especially with younger families.” While glamping is great for generating additional revenue, Henry believes that the real value of this accommodation is in generating interest in holiday home ownership. At least fifteen sales of holiday homes on the park over the past few years can be attributed to glamping stays.

TASTER BREAKS

Great Expectations 3“Many people typically book for three or four nights and that is sufficient for them to get an idea of what life could be like for them as owners. It’s surprising just how many on their last day ask if they can just take a quick look at one of our show homes before they leave!” says Henry. He adds: “As an industry, we have always known that a better understanding by consumers of what we offer could widen considerably our market potential. Glamping is doing the job far more effectively and economically than any amount of advertising could achieve.”
Switched on park owners who want to keep abreast of the everevolving world of park accommodation can get a first glimpse of the new 2019 models at the HERCMA Shows at The Lawns and Beaulieu this Autumn. Some 300 models of touring caravans, holiday homes, lodges and park homes will be on display at the shows, which run from September 4th – 6th (The Lawns) and September 21st – 23rd (Beaulieu).

RETAIL SALES

“The industry overall is enjoying a good year with retail sales on the rise in all sectors, in particular with holiday homes and park homes,” explains Michael Ritchie, Event Manager of the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Caravan Manufacturers’ Association (HERCMA) Shows. “Customers want more and more creature comforts in their holiday homes and manufacturers strive to keep pace. Electronic gadgetry is now common in many of the higher priced units and in recent years there has been a rise in the popularity of twin units for both holiday and residential use. In fact, there will be a record number of twin units on display at The Lawns show this year – nearly 40 of them from 13 different manufacturers.”The Lawns show has been running for more than 40 years at The Lawns in Cottingham. It is run by HERCMA, which comprises five manufacturers from the region: ABI, Carnaby, Coachman, Swift and Willerby. Open to the public, the show attracts well over 20,000 visitors each year. “There will be numerous new product launches – as always at The Lawns,” promises Michael. “ABI and Swift are unveiling additional twin units with highly imaginative layouts; Willerby will be unveiling its range of park homes; and companies such as Pathfinder, Prestige-Homeseeker and Omar-Wessex always have stunning new designs on show and are promising the same this time.” Commenting on the future of holiday park accommodation, Michael adds: “I think that holiday caravans, lodges and park homes will continue to evolve, according to customer requirements, becoming, along with parks, more and more energy efficient, providing some of greenest and most environmentally holidays and residential accommodation available. While there may be short-term problems with issues such as Brexit, the longer-term future looks pretty good.”

Company Contacts

ASSOCIATION
Tel. 01452 526911
www.bhhpa.org.uk

COMPASS INSURANCE
Tel. 01452 511430
www.compass.co.uk

THE LAWNS AND BEAULIEU SHOWS 2018
www.lawnsandbeaulieushows.com

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

Park Acquisition Trail

park aquisition trailPark Acquisition Trail

The famous Somerset tourist attraction Wookey Hole Caves has expanded its business with the purchase of its second caravan park. Wookey Hole Ltd has bought Homestead Caravan Park in Wells – a residential park with campsite and holiday lodges. The move comes just over a year after Wookey Hole bought Bucklegrove Holiday Park in the Cheddar Valley – a seven acre mixed holiday park. The site has been extensively upgraded and business has doubled since Wookey Hole bought the site. Wookey Hole is a popular tourist attraction with over 20 attractions, including the famous caves, a 4D cinema, circus shows and a mirror maze. The business also runs a 58 bed hotel and 10 lodges at its Wookey Hole site. Stephens Scown LLP advised Wookey Hole Ltd on the six figure deal and funding came from Handelsbanken

Wookey Hole Ltd
Tel.01749 672243 
www.wookeyhotel.co.uk

Holiday Habits Revealed

Holiday Habits Revealed

holiday habits revealed

New survey data reveals the truth behind the nation’s holiday habits, and exposes exactly just how and what we’re spending on those all-important holidays. When it comes to holidays, the people of the UK certainly aren’t holding back on their spending. Ocean Florida’s data reveals that 16% of people in the UK are splurging between £3,000 and £10,000 on their summer getaway. It’s not just money, but time that people are willing to give as just under a third of holiday makers (31%) are opting to go on holiday, not once, but twice a year. Those with children are actually far more likely to take multiple holidays a year, with 34% of families taking two holidays a year, as opposed to only 28% of households without children. Millennials were also taking less holidays each year compared to families with kids, as only 32% stated they take two holidays a year. So, although it may be thought that millennials have more disposable income and time, it’s not always being spent on holidays. When it comes to spending money on holiday accessories, such as clothes, it’s those without children who are spending more. A third (30%) of respondents without kids spent between £101 and £250, compared to only a quarter of those with children.

For more information please visit www.ocean-florida.co.uk

Camping On NHS Prescription

Camping On NHS Prescription

camping on nhs prescription

The managing director of a multi award-winning caravan dealership believes doctors should be prescribing camping and caravanning as an alternative to medication for stress related conditions. Mark Bebb from Shrewsbury-based Salop Leisure has welcomed a pledge by Government’s new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, o reduce people’s reliance on ‘unsophisticated drugs’. The comments came after it was revealed that 7.3 million people in the UK were given antidepressant drugs last year and 70,000 of them were children. Mr Hancock plans to give GPs alternatives and pledged to expand schemes to treat patients with mental health problems through social activities. “Evidence has shown the potential benefits of approaches like social prescribing, which addresses people’s physical and mental wellbeing and has been shown to both improve patients’ quality of life and reduce pressure on other NHS services.”

PATIENT REFERRALS

Social prescribing, which aims to improve people’s overall health and wellbeing rather than medicating a single condition, entails referring patients to community activities, volunteering, arts groups, gardening and cooking classes. Now Mr Bebb wants camping and caravanning added to the list, as he believes that both have been proven to possess therapeutic benefits. Salop Leisure has developed its Love2Stay caravanning and glamping resort in Shrewsbury to be “at one with nature” and to instil a feeling of well-being and tranquillity in visitors.

Experts have said that medicine is being used  a first resort too often in mental health care and doctors must explore more options before handing out pills. One in six adults took antidepressants last year, according to NHS figures, which is 500,000 more than in 2015. Previous research has suggested that that while nearly two thirds (57%) of non-campers are stressed or anxious on an average day, just a third of campers (35%) are stressed out.

Camping On NHS 2HAPPY CAMPERS

A study by outdoor holiday specialists Camping in the Forest found that campers (77%) are much more satisfied with their quality of life than noncampers (59%), while research by the Camping and Caravanning Club discovered that 93% of campers say camping can make you happier. Bob Hill, from Camping in the Forest, said: “With the advent of technology in all aspects of our personal and professional lives, the reality is that it can be very difficult for people to switch off. Unfortunately, this can make life very stressful as we need time out to relax, rejuvenate and just be.”
Researchers at the University of Essex found that nine out of 10 patients suffering from depression felt ‘higher self-esteem’ after a walk through a park. Almost three-quarters reported feeling less depressed and the researchers found that people recovered faster from illnesses through an ‘immunising’ effect that protected them from future stresses. Ecotherapy is the name given to a wide range of treatment programmes which aim to improve mental and physical wellbeing through doing outdoor activities in nature.

 

Brexit Bonus For UK Holiday Sector

Brexit Bonus For UK Holiday Sector

brexit bonus for uk holiday sector

A record number of Britons are choosing to take their holidays in this country, early reports on 2018 trends suggest. The Brexit decision fall-out, implicit in the the falling value of the pound, means holiday makers are being turned off the stress and strain associated with overseas trips. A survey published last month suggested that more than four out of five Britons would rather stay at home than suffer the stresses of traveling abroad. At the same time, they are being lured to stay closer to home by the extended spell of sizzling summer weather. Research, by Barclays, has found that more than a third of Britons will have taken holidays closer to home this year, with 21 per cent using this as their main holiday. Rural areas are expected to benefit most, with southwest England attracting 30 per cent of holidaymakers and Scotland drawing 22 per cent. This growing trend for staycations has led to a nine per cent rise in revenue at Britain’s biggest holiday parks, according to research by the lender Ortus Secured Finance. Turnover at the 100 largest operators reached £2.7 billion last year, up from £2.46 billion in 2012. “Caravan, camping and holiday parks are going from strength to strength,” Jon Salisbury, OSF’s managing director, told The Times.

TRAVEL STRESS

Parkdean Resorts, which was the UK’s largest holiday park operator, was sold to Onex, a Canadian private equity company, for £1.35 billion in December. Rivals, Park Leisure 2000, was sold for £103 million to a consortium led by Midlothian Capital Partners in February, and Intermediate Capital bought Park Holidays for £362 million last year. A rise in overseas visitors and the growing popularity of staycations have helped boost UK tourism. Inbound tourism to Britain is also booming, with foreign tourists attracted by the weak pound. According to Visit Britain, inbound flight bookings for April to September surged by 21 per cent compared with the same period last year. Patricia Yates, strategy and communications director of Visit Britain, said that there was “particularly strong demand from our long-haul, high-spending markets, China and the US”. However, foreign visitors prefer city breaks, with 67 per cent visiting only London while in the UK. About 30 million British citizens holiday in other EU countries every year, accounting for 76 per cent of the outbound travel market. However, John Lennon of Glasgow Caledonian University has forecast that the costs of flying, travel insurance and mobile data usage could soar after Britain leaves the EU. A legal framework for flights after Brexit has yet to be agreed and airlines warned that with more than 60 agreements to be renegotiated, planes could be grounded until a deal is reached.

Hassle Free Part Ex

Hassle Free Part Ex

Hassle Free Part ExCelebrating 20 years in 2018, Quickmove help people buy on parks with speed, convenience and certainty. They specialise in property part exchange so that buyers avoid all the uncertainty and up- front costs of selling an existing property on the open market. Quickmove services are delivered by a dedicated team of in-house property specialists, with significant experience in dealing with park operators, park home manufacturers, customers, estate agents and solicitors, making the process smooth and hassle-free for all. To request a site visit from one of our area sales managers please get in touch.

Quick Move Properties
Tel. 0800 328 2168
www.quickmoveproperties.co.uk

More For Less

More For Less

More For LessIncrease bookings, automate tasks and effortlessly manage your glampsite with GlampManager GlampManager is an easy to use management and booking system designed specifically for glampsites. The software lets you create and manage your own bookings, process payments and send out email confirmations. Take commission-free bookings through your website and automatically remind customers when to pay their holiday balances online. GlampManager’s Channel Management system helps you to increase exposure and bookings by integrating with 3rd parties such as Glampsites.com, PitchUp, Booking.com and AirBnB, reducing the risk of double bookings. Get a free 30 day trial by visiting our website!

GlampManager
Tel: 02081 331 005
www.glampmanager.com

Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge

Cutting EdgeDesigned with simplicity, performance and reliability at its core, the ProCut 53 rotary mower from Trimax comes in four cutting widths. All can match the finish of a cylinder mower in a range of conditions while completely outclassing them on rougher terrain. The mowers can stripe, spread clippings, perform exceptionally in wet conditions, cope with rough ground and debris, cut cleanly at high ground speeds and mow in reverse. If you are interested in a demonstration get in touch with Trimax today.

Trimax Mowing Systems
Tel. 01933 652235
www.trimaxmowers.co.uk

Sign Up Today

Sign Up Today

Sign Up TodayYou can create a patch of paradise wherever you are designing a garden space with Garden Paradise’s range of sturdy UK manufactured wooden planters, ponds and sandpits. The pressure treated timber is guaranteed on grass, soil, concrete, above ground or in ground and comes in many shapes and sizes to suit your needs. To get you started, we are offering one of our solid raised bed planters for FREE! All you need to do to is sign up to our monthly newsletter, via our website to be entered into our prize draw on 14/10/18. Terms and conditions apply, see website for details.

Garden Paradise
Tel. 0800 043 0880
www.gardenparadise.net