KNOWLEDGE IS PLAY POWER

KNOWLEDGE IS PLAY POWER

Knowledge is power in all facets of our holiday park provision but especially in the key aspects of play. Getting the play recipe right means the best use of precious revenue and increased customer loyalty for those that include play as part of their offering. Recent research is therefore vital as it arms decision makers with key clues about the opportunities that exist in play solutions. That research, by leading play providers, Proludic, reveals a whopping 89% of parents and carers are more likely to be drawn to a leisure destination with a good quality play space.

GETTING OUTDOORS

The findings show, for the UK population, play is about the child being outdoors, expending energy and expressing themselves. For families and those with closer ties to the child’s development, it is also about spending time together, something which the leisure sector is a big proponent of. It is also viewed as time spent away from digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets. For those with junior aged children, it represents an opportunity for their child to make friends. Due to the impact on overseas travel because of the global pandemic, this year is set to be another recordbreaking year for the UK’s hospitality and leisure sector with both domestic tourist expenditure. “This presents a great opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the increased revenue and grow their market share,” says Anne Parkin, Key Accounts Manager for Proludic, who says holiday destinations are reviewing the play facilities they offer. As providers of creative play, outdoor gyms and sports areas to the leisure sector, leading suppliers, Proludic, carried out their research into the type of play facilities are most desired during their leisure time. “When planning your on-site facilities understanding what families want is vital, whether your business is a holiday destination, pub, restaurant or visitor attraction,” says Anne. “To aid in this, Proludic has undertaken some primary research to discover the key factors involved when selecting a place to visit, and also to understand what will ensure your visitors return.”

DWELL TIME

The Proludic research evidences the importance of attracting custom, extending dwell time and the financial consequences of that for your business. It identifies the importance of targeting the family market and addressing the diversity of ages. This allows you to plan appropriately for future years to keep pace with the increasingly competitive leisure market. With its extensive range of play equipment for all ages, Proludic offers a varied material palette,” says Anne. “We can also provide bespoke play features to suit your environment to suit space and budget. “We also offer a free design service, which will realise your dreams and work towards ensuring your business stands out in the crowd.” One in three (35%) agreed that they would be happy to travel further to a destination with a good play space. Play also appears to be a good way to build customer relationships and encourage repeat business, with nearly half (46%) stating that they are more likely to return. The research also tells us that half of all leisure customers (48%) would be more inclined to stay longer if a good playground for children was evident. This figure rises to 76% when family customers are taken into account.

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Play Pays

Play Pays

play pays main pic

Because happy and entertained children equal content and relaxed parents, play facilities fulfil a vital ingredient for successful holiday parks, both attracting and retaining the family spend. With sufficient pre-planning and attention to detail, the initial investment will definitely pay back, triggering a large percentage of repeat visitors, as well as attracting fi rst-time bookers. Installing a play area close to the holiday park site reception makes a lot of sense, as it allows for natural supervision. Thinking of added revenue opportunities, ideally, the play area would also be close to the café. This allows parents to have a drink while the kids play, therefore increasing secondary spend.

FUN AND CHALLENGING
The more attractive, enticing, challenging and fun the outdoor play equipment is, the more likely it will be that visitors to the play area will continue to visit and enjoy all the facilities on offer; generally acknowledged as one of the deciding factors on choice of holiday destination. It’s important for guests to be reassured that faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behaviour won’t spoil the fun. It is estimated that there are approximately 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds each year which result in a hospital visit. Not all accidents are related to the equipment - perhaps as few as 40% - and of these 80% result in a fall to the surface. Of the remaining accidents, at least 4% involve children being struck by a swing seat (although the resultant injury is usually not serious. A similar number being bitten by dogs and being cut by glass within the designated play area.

FALL INJURIES
play pays pic 3Of the equipment involved in fall injuries the figures suggest these percentages: • Swings 40% • Climbers 23% • Slides 21% This does not mean swings are more dangerous - just that there are more of them and they are more popular. One of the most dangerous items on the playground are overhead bars which rotate. The most important factors, in evaluating the safety of any playground, are proper surface, design and spacing, and equipment inspection and maintenance. An appropriate playground surface is one of the most important factors in reducing injuries — and the severity of injuries — that occur when kids fall from equipment. The surface under the playground equipment should be soft enough and thick enough to soften the impact of a child’s fall. Keep in mind that even proper surfacing can’t prevent all injuries. Also, the greater the height of the equipment, the more likely kids may get injured if they fall from it. When planning your play area be age aware. Playground equipment should be designed for three different age groups: infants and toddlers under two, then two to five-year-olds (pre-schoolers), and five to 12-yearolds (school-age kids).

 

AGE DIFFERENCE
In the safest playgrounds, play areas for younger children are separated from those meant for older kids and signs should clearly designate each area to prevent confusion. Younger children should not play on equipment designed for older kids because the equipment sizes and proportions won’t be right for small kids, and this can lead to injury. Likewise, older kids shouldn’t play on equipment designed for younger ones. Smaller equipment and spaces can cause problems for bigger kids. Select a material for the play area that is not only durable, but that also suits the theme and location of the holiday park. Those products should comply with the European safety regulations for outdoor play equipment EN1176. Having selected equipment and surfacing which meets the Standards and have a post-installation inspection carried out by an independent body.

BE PREPARED
play pays pic 4When planning a play area or a refurbishment of a playground it always makes sense to obtain professional design and layout advice. It is essential to inspect the playground and equipment regularly weekly, quarterly and annually. If you are carrying out in-house inspections, find a training course, to ensure you or your staff are adequately qualified. Either way, the annual inspection should be carried out by an independent specialist. Have an effective maintenance programme which repairs faults quickly. Don’t rest on your laurels either and have a timescale for improving and up-dating playgrounds, ideally, every season. A clear evidence trail to demonstrate your due diligence will uphold the demonstration of your duty of care should an incident occur. The safety of children on their playgrounds doesn’t just depend upon the initial design of the area and the selection of equipment within it. Its continued management and the delivery of high quality inspection and maintenance schedules are crucial if the safe opportunities for children to play creatively are to be preserved. Of course, a good maintenance regime will significantly extend the life of your equipment and reduce the likelihood of accidents. Regular servicing and replacement of worn out parts is essential to keep your play area safe and compliant.

CLEAR CHECKLISTS
There are some clear checklists available, to ensure the equipment is designed and spaced to be safe such as guardrails and protective barriers should be in place for elevated surfaces, including platforms and ramps. Play structures more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least nine feet apart while swings, seesaws, and other equipment with moving parts should be located in an area separate from the rest of the playground. Swings should be limited to two per bay and tot swings with full bucket seats should have their own bay. Swings should be spaced at least 24 inches apart and 30 inches between a swing and the support frame. Be sure there are no spaces that could trap a child’s head, arm, or any other body part. All openings on equipment (for example, rungs on a ladder or bars on a guardrail) should measure less than 3½ inches or they should be wider than nine inches. Climbing nets should have openings that are either too small to allow a child’s body through or large enough to prevent entrapment of the head. Net perimeters which are 17-18 inches pose entrapment hazards. Playground equipment with moving parts — like seesaws and merry-gorounds — should be checked for pinch points that could pinch or crush a child’s finger or hand. Remember, not to become a victim of your own success. Too many kids on the equipment at one time can be dangerous. Everyone should start on the same side of the equipment and move across it in the same direction. Play is an important part of kids’ physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. Following these safety tips will help your guests enjoy their holiday visit, and keep them coming back year, after year, for more.

In The Fun Driving Seat
In The Fun Driving seatWorld of Rides have served the holiday park industry with a fully comprehensive range of coin-operated leisure rides and equipment for nearly five decades, ranging from battery rides and static rides to quadricycles and rowing boats. “2019 is going to be a milestone year for the UK’s holiday parks, as Brexit and the fluctuating exchange rates are making more and more families stay at home in the UK for their holidays,” says David Robinson of World of Leisure. “However, if operators do not invest in new equipment to entertain their visitors and guests during this exceptional year, then they may not return in future years,” David advises. “For the past few years our Go-Karts, Super Hero Trikes and licensed character static rides have been the firm favorites with children, but for holiday park operators are suddenly asking for our driving school cars and above ground pools with bumper boats, in order to satisfy the demand of their customers for new experiences,” he adds.

World Of Rides
Tel. 0191 49 20 999
www. worldofrides.com

On A Play Mission
On A Play MissionIf you are looking for expert guidance on creating or refurbishing a holiday park play area, then, look no further than Fenland Leisure Products. The fun areas that are created by Fenland Leisure Products team will be safe and happy places for family members of all ages to play, stay active and aid in the building of healthy relationships. To do this, the Fenland Leisure Products team will design, manufacture, supply and install quality commercial playground equipment and associated components with care and professionalism at all times. Fenland Leisure Products create a welcome and happy working conditions for all of staff members; this aids in the provision of excellent customer service to all who are in contact with them. For project assistance or any playground product information call to discuss your project plans, however far in the future.

Fenland Leisure Products
Tel. 01354 638 359
www.fenlandleisure.co.uk

 

Kids That Play, Stay

Kids That Play, Stay

ABOVE: Wear out the youngsters with fun play opportunities such as this one from Brean Play.

ABOVE: Wear out the youngsters with fun play opportunities such as this one from Brean Play.

The UK’s notoriously unpredictable weather means that indoor play and amusement facilities can provide an essential ‘get out of a jail’ card for holiday parks. From soft play zones to amusement arcades, parks that offer exciting indoor entertainment are sure to stand out from the crowd. “For our commercial customers we have, for many years, had a mantra ‘kids that play, stay’ because when kids enjoy the play offering, the parents will stay longer and come back more frequently,” advises Mike Black SLKids – a division of Sound Leisure Ltd. “Where you increase the dwell time, you increase the pro rata spend per head,” he adds. David Robinson of World of Leisure agrees but cautions: “The price of play is very important in holiday parks, as a captive audience, who have to pay over and over again during their holiday, will choose to leave the park each day to fi nd their amusement and fun elsewhere, especially if park prices are seen as being too high. “Three to twelve year old children are still the biggest influence on a family holiday destination, and if holiday parks cater for this age group by giving them exciting and fully interactive rides, then they will always enjoy being fully booked,” David continues. “If the weather is inclement, then all our rides can be operated either indoors or outdoors, so no disappointed younger children, whatever the weather.”

ABOVE: A sure fire winner is this driving school by SLkids.

ABOVE: A sure fire winner is this driving school by World of Rides

World of Rides has been involved with the delivery of battery operated parent and child rides since 1969. “Always buy the best rides and play equipment that you can afford, as cheap equipment will always breakdown during your busiest periods,” advises David Robinson of World of Rides.

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Red Letter Year For Center Parcs

Red Letter Year For Center Parcs

The Subtropical Swimming Paradise will be one of the highlights at the new Woburn Forest Center Parcs site.

2014 is set to be a red letter year for Center Parcs as it takes the wraps off its new 365 acre site at Woburn Forest, the fifth of its UK villages.
The £250 million Woburn Forest village will comprise of 625 forest lodges, a 75 bedroom hotel, a spa with associated spa suites and two leisure buildings including indoor sports facilities, restaurants and retail outlets. It will also include outdoor sports and leisure facilities and a 17,000m² lake.

A spokesperson for Center Parcs reveals: “Each of our villages have their own distinct characteristics and Woburn Forest is no different – it is an undulating area of forest and its own unique mixture of local wildlife.

“All of the leisure buildings and lodges are uniquely designed and built to nestle into the landscape to be close to nature. The subtropical swimming paradise is a completely new design, with a glazed front and curved shape to fit into the land behind it.”

An iconic part of all Center Parcs villages, the subtropical swimming paradises are one of the most popular elements of a Center Parcs break, with over 90% of guests visiting the swimming venue during their stay.

In spite of Woburn Forest being the smallest Center Parcs village, it will have the largest subtropical pool facility in the UK, featuring the Wild Water Rapids outside with views of the forest landscape. The Woburn water facilities will include a wave pool, toddler pool, family play area, lazy river and three new water rides that will be unique to Woburn Forest.

The completion date for the leisure buildings is January 2014.

The completion date for the leisure buildings is January 2014.

Charles Neuman of Water Technology Inc. who designed the Woburn Forest pool said: “The designs of the new subtropical swimming paradise are the result of a culmination of 25 years of experience and lots of research into what modern families want. We have taken the best from the existing four villages and added new exciting elements to give guests at Woburn Forest a unique and special water experience.”

Construction of the village began in September 2012 and has remained on track, despite the challenging winter weather conditions. The buildings will all be water-tight by the end of the year with many of the final touches and preparations happening in early 2014.
Once completed in the spring, Woburn Forest is expected to welcome over 400,000 visitors per year and will employ 1,500 staff on a permanent basis, the majority of whom, from the local area.