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

High Praise

High Praise

Center Parcs has achieved double reconition for delivering excellent service.

Center Parcs has achieved double reconition for delivering excellent service.

Short break provider Center Parcs has been recognised by two industry standard organisations for continuing to deliver excellent service to its guests. All five Center Parcs villages retained their five star status from Quality in Tourism whilst the company also maintained its Hospitality Assured Premier position.

Center Parcs achieved an average score of 92 per cent and the Quality in Tourism assessors commented on the high standards of presentation and service throughout and also praised the number of new initiatives and investments made by the business. Paul Kent, Center Parcs Operations & Development Director said: “We’re really pleased to have maintained a five star status from Quality in Tourism across our villages and uphold our Hospitality Assured position. “The recognition from these external industry assessors is really important to Center Parcs and a testament to everyone who works hard to continually deliver excellent service to our guests.”

Low Cost Short Breaks For British Troops

Low Cost Short Breaks For British Troops

Trustees for the Give Us Time charity include Lady Kitty Spencer, pictured here with two British service personnel.

Trustees for the Give Us Time charity include Lady Kitty Spencer, pictured
here with two British service personnel.

A national charity is appealing to holiday park owners to help British troops by donating holiday accommodation during the low season.
Give Us Time helps British military personnel and their families by providing holidays for those in need of rest and rehabilitation.
The charity connects service families with hotels, resorts, holiday cottage owners and timeshare properties that, during low seasons, have empty rooms or accommodation to fill.
A spokesperson for the charity explains: “Family is the support system around a soldier’s rehabilitation, however, re-adjusting to family life while dealing with the triumphs and traumas of an operational tour can be extremely difficult, even more so with physical or psychological damage.
“The scheme is a low cost way of caring for military personnel by nurturing this essential family time with week-long holidays on neutral territory, away from the barracks and comrades, just pure family bonding. The effect this can have on the family cohesion and marriage on these families has been invaluable.”
Give Us Time has over 1,000 soldiers registered to its database, who are in need of rest, rehabilitation and reconnection with their families.
The charity currently already works with several holiday companies, such as Center Parcs in the UK, which donate low-season holidays to the British troops.
For more information, visit www.giveustime.org.uk

New Owners For Center Parcs

New Owners For Center Parcs

CP

Center Parcs UK has been acquired by Canadian investment firm Brookfield Property Partners.

The UK Center Parcs holiday resorts business has been sold to a Canadian investment firm.

Brookfield Property Partners, a Toronto-based company, announced it was buying the UK holiday village company from its private-equity owners, Blackstone for an undisclosed sum of funds.

Brookfield will take ownership of five Center Parcs sites in the UK, each consisting of holiday homes set in 400 acres of woodland. The company’s occupancy levels have averaged approximately 97 per cent over the last five years. The transaction is due to complete by the end of July. Center Parcs Europe will remain a separate business.

Martin Dalby, chief executive of Center Parcs, commented: “This announcement marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Center Parcs. From the first time we met, Brookfield has demonstrated a real understanding of our business and I am absolutely convinced that we can work together to achieve our strategic goals”.

Plans For Irish Center Parcs Village

Center Parcs has announced plans to open a new holiday village in Northern Ireland in 2019.

Center Parcs has announced plans to open a new holiday village in Northern Ireland in 2019.

Plans For Irish Center Parcs Village

Center Parcs has announced plans to develop a holiday village at Newcastle Wood in County Longford, Northern Ireland.

The new development will feature up to 500 lodges, more than 100 indoor and outdoor activities, a spa, a range of restaurants and the iconic subtropical swimming paradise. The 375 acre site is currently owned by Coillte, the state forestry company and Center Parcs has signed an option agreement with the company.

The new Center Parcs, which is expected to open to guests in 2019, will create approximately 750 jobs during construction. Once open, the €200 million development will have capacity for up to 2,500 guests and will employ up to 1,000 people in permanent jobs. Center Parcs estimates that, when operational, the new holiday village will add approximately €32 million to Irish GDP per annum.

Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs, said: “We are thrilled and excited about the prospect of bringing the Center Parcs concept to families in Ireland. “This new Center Parcs will have all of the ingredients that have made us so popular with families in the UK for the last 28 years and I am certain that Center Parcs will be a great success in Longford.

“We look forward to liaising closely with the local community during the next few months to fully share our vision and to explain the huge economic and social benefits that a Center Parcs holiday village will bring to the area.”

Center Parcs Introduces Google 360° Technology

center

Center Parcs villages have been mapped using Google Business View technology, including the first fully operational sauna to be virtually toured.

Center Parcs Introduces Google 360° Technology

Center Parcs has become the first UK holiday resort to be comprehensively mapped using Google Business View technology.

The technology allows visitors to the Center Parcs website to virtually explore every square inch of the villages at the click of a button, whether viewing the subtropical swimming paradise or taking a look inside the range of accommodation options on offer.

It took 20 days, over 180 hours and in excess of 25,000 individual images to create the 140 different virtual tours. All buildings have been captured internally, including each of the different restaurants, leisure facilities and Aqua Sana spa.

In combination with Google Street View of all Center Parcs Villages, this is the most extensive use of this technology within the UK holiday sector. Four of the five Center Parcs Villages have been mapped, with the recently opened Woburn Forest set to follow later this year.

Aqua Sana Takes Top Spot

Aqua Sana Takes Top Spot

spa

Opened in June last year, the spa at Center Parcs Woburn Forest has been named ‘Best Spa to be Social’ at the Good Spa Guide Awards.

Aqua Sana at Center Parcs Woburn Forest has been named ‘Best Spa to be Social’ at the prestigious Good Spa Guide Awards.

The Good Spa Guide Awards are decided by specially appointed Good Spa Spies who review over 100 spas every year and complete a detailed audit sheet, covering all aspects of the spa from service and facilities to cleanliness and maintenance.

Delighted with the win, Aqua Sana group manager Kerry Fenton-Kent said: “Aqua Sana Woburn Forest has only been open since June and to already be recognised as one of the best spas in the country is amazing. The award is testament to the dedication and hard work of the whole team and we’re all thrilled.”

Inspired by nature and combining different approaches from many of the leading European spas, Aqua Sana Woburn Forest encompasses six unique spas, each one with a variety of multi-sensory experience rooms, including two world-first experiences – the Mineral Room and the Sensory Experience.

The Good Spa Guide panel said: “Aqua Sana Woburn Forest is a beautiful, well laid out, well designed spa which is perfect for small social groups. Spa visitors can move around as they wish in whatever way they wish but with cosy areas all around the spa, it offers a private element too. It’s a high standard of spa-ing in a social environment.”

First Guests Arrive At Woburn Center Parcs

woburn

Center Parcs Woburn Forest Village is predicted to inject £20 million into the local economy.

First Guests Arrive At Woburn Center Parcs

The doors were officially opened at the fifth Center Parcs village at the beginning of June, with an estimated 350,000 guests expected to visit each year. It is hoped that the village will inject over £20 million into the regional economy annually.

Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs, said: “After years of hard work, dedication and passion, we’re thrilled to be welcoming our first guests to Woburn Forest and strongly believe the new village has all the ingredients for a very special family break”.

The new village boasts Center Parcs’ largest subtropical swimming paradise, along with an Aqua Sana spa, 625 lodges, a 75 bedroom hotel, six spa suites and a host of restaurants, shops and leisure activities.

Woburn Forest is one of the largest development projects of its kind in Britain for many years and represents a £250 million investment. Center Parcs owners Blackstone invested £100 million in the project whilst the remaining £150 million was financed from four UK lending banks.

“Center Parcs Woburn Forest will provide a massive boost to the area,” says Martin. “In addition to the 1,200 people employed in the construction of Woburn Forest, we have recruited and trained 1,500 employees, most of which live within a 15 mile radius. These are local jobs for young local people.”

Last year Center Parcs welcomed 1.7 million guests to its four existing Villages, the opening of Woburn Forest will increase that figure to over 2 million.

First Guests Arrive At Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Center Parcs

Center Parcs Woburn Forest Village is predicted to inject £20 million into the local economy.

First Guests Arrive At Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Center Parcs has welcomed its first guests to the new Woburn Forest village in Bedfordshire.

The doors were officially opened at the fifth Center Parcs village on Friday June 6th, with an estimated 350,000 guests expected to visit each year. It is hoped that the village will inject over £20 million into the regional economy annually.

Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs, said: “After years of hard work, dedication and passion, we’re thrilled to be welcoming our first guests to Woburn Forest and strongly believe the new village has all the ingredients for a very special family break”

The new village boasts Center Parcs’ largest Subtropical Swimming Paradise, along with an Aqua Sana spa, 625 lodges, a 75 bedroom hotel, six spa suites and a host of restaurants, shops and leisure activities.

Woburn Forest is one of the largest development projects of its kind in Britain for many years and represents a £250 million investment. Center Parcs owners Blackstone invested £100 million in the project whilst the remaining £150 million was financed from four UK lending banks.

“Center Parcs Woburn Forest will provide a massive boost to the area,” says Martin. “In addition to the 1,200 people employed in the construction of Woburn Forest, we have recruited and trained 1,500 employees, most of which live within a 15 mile radius. These are local jobs for young local people.”

Last year Center Parcs welcomed 1.7 million guests to its four existing Villages, the opening of Woburn Forest will increase that figure to over 2 million.

Pedal Power At Woburn Forest

bikes

Thousands of Center Parcs bikes are
geared up to go at the new Woburn Forest Village.

Pedal Power At Woburn Forest

Officially open from Friday June 6, Center Parcs has taken delivery of 2,300 bikes at the newly completed Cycle Centre at Woburn Forest site in time for the village’s official opening later this spring.

Cycling has become synonymous with Center Parcs, with more than 20 per cent of guests choosing to hire a bike during their stay, and many more bringing their own. The new bikes will add to Center Parcs’ fleet of over 10,000 – making Woburn Forest one of the largest fleets in the UK.

A further 300 cycles have been allocated for the site team including housekeepers and technical services. Following a decade of planning and a massive £250 million investment, the new Woburn Forest village will welcome over 400,000 guests per year.

Short break bookings are already being taken for arrival from 30th June 2014 and spring breaks are expected to be released soon.