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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Tel. 01726 418118

Holiday Snaps From Gary Molloy

Holiday Snaps From Gary Molloy

Gary Molley

What was your career path into the industry?

Leaving school at the age of 15, I undertook an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering and tool-making before moving to Portugal to sell properties. On my return to the UK, I joined the Haven sales team for eight years, until . I felt I’d gained enough industry knowhow and confidence to go it alone. In 1997, I set up my own company, Park Leisure 2000 Ltd. It’s amazing to think that I started the business from my spare bedroom and ended up selling it 20 years later when we were operating 12 5-star parks and employing more than 350 people across the UK.

What is your current role in the industry?

I set up Leisure Resorts in May 2017. Just over a year later and we have three parks in operation with a fourth scheduled to join the Leisure Resorts portfolio later this year. My mission is to develop Leisure Resorts into a small but perfectly formed group that will concentrate on delivering the very best that the industry has to offer.

How has the market changed during your time in the industry?

As customers’ expectations have increased, the market has listened and adapted. Holiday homes now offer an incredible range of options to suit every taste and budget. Located across the UK in the most desirable and picturesque locations they offer spacious accommodation within easy access of fun things to do, whether you’re eight or 80.

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

Holiday home manufacturers are producing some amazing designs and it’s great to see how far they’ve come and what they’re planning next. The ‘staycation’ is certainly helping our industry and I expect this trend to continue. As more private equity money enters the market, I see the holiday park market going from strength to strength, particularly as the UK is constantly improving its position as a world-leading tourism destination.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your working life?

The biggest challenge is staying ahead of the competition - the better we get, the better they do. What is the best piece of business advice you have been given? I have two pieces of advice that have always been important to me. One, never ask anybody to do something you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself. Two, always pay suppliers on time and if you have the cash to hand, pay them early.

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

Family and friends are, and always will be, the most import thing to me. Work commitments often make it hard to spend as much time with them as I’d like, but I ensure I make the most of the time we do have. I am also a huge Manchester United fan and have followed them through thick and thin ever since I was a little boy in the early 70’s.

If we could give you three guests, who would you most like to sit down to dinner with and why?

My first would be Margaret Thatcher. Love her or loathe her, a truly amazing lady. As a Manchester United fan, how could I not invite Sir Alex Ferguson? In my opinion, the greatest sporting team leader of all time. My final choice would be Carl Pilkington, The Idiot Abroad. He just doesn’t realise how funny he is.

Where do you prefer to take your holidays?

If I am staying in the UK, there’s no better place than the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. I guess it’s my love for these places that has heavily influenced the locations of our Leisure Resorts’ sites.

The Fun Factor

The Fun Factor - Water Play


Think swimming, then think fun, with water leisure attractions one of the biggest draws for the modern holiday park destination.
Consistently one of the top holiday choice markers, a resort that offers the additional splash appeal, will reap the rewards, with not only a booking but those all-important repeat bookings. “More and more facilities are looking for resorts that offer more than just a pool,” explains Simon Smith of World Leisure. “Knowing how crucial it is to customer appeal, pools should be offering so much more than a basic swim,” he emphasises. World Leisure recently completed a £1.5m overhaul of the swimming pool facilities at Ribby Hall Village Holiday Park in Lancashire. Last December Ribby Hall won an unprecedented four Gold Awards at the UK Pool & Spa Awards. The new pool features new slides including a 48m interactive play slide. Swimmers can climb a tower to the top of the slide, which then takes them out of the building and back inside again. As they come down the slide, they can play an interactive touchpad game on the inside of the slide, with scores recorded once the ride is complete. Scores can be uploaded to social media platforms, with the top three scores displayed in the pool area. World Leisure also refurbished the splash pool and added an interactive aqua deck play structure, with tipping buckets and integral slides. A themed GRP (Glass Reinforced Polyester) toddlers’ pool links into the splash pool, with a slide and steps to open the pools up to all ages. World Leisure also installed a new sauna, steam room and feature showers, with all new filtration and controls. Mark Leech, senior manager of Ribby Hall Village, said: “It is important as a business to continually invest and improve the facilities we offer to our customers" Mark added: “We believe the new interactive slide and new splash pool features will be real talking points that will bring family visitors back again and again.”
Park operators need to provide appealing facilities for all age groups, with a typical water leisure offering including cannons, waterfalls, rain curtains, fl oor volcanoes and wall-mounted massage jets to add more attractions to the pools. Achieving this – and still providing an acceptable return on investment – requires very careful planning at the design stage, particularly where space is limited. Water slides and flumes have always been popular, but they require a significant capital investment, huge amounts of energy to drive massive pumps and constant life guarding.

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The main aim of aquatic play equipment is to allow kids to have fun in a safe environment. Playing with water is also a vital part of a child’s development. Hippo Leisure’s modular play equipment, including Water Factories, Interactive Masts and Play Platforms are all extremely versatile products and can be expanded or updated to help to encourage regular, repeat visitors.
“What you’re aiming for in your facility is a way to keeping the whole family entertained, regardless of age or ability,” comments Teresa Metherell, Marketing Coordinator for Hippo Leisure. “This can be achieved by installing a variety of interactive water play features that provide both low level sensory play for toddlers as well as high level anticipatory and big splash play for older children and even adults,” she adds.
“It’s important to keep water play areas fresh and appealing.”

Hippo Leisure
Tel. 01752 771740

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SplashPadOfferFamilyAppealThe naturally inclusive and adaptable nature of a zero-depth splash park makes it an excellent amenity for holiday parks seeking to increase family attendance. Ustigate is a partner of Vortex International of Canada, offering a product portfolio of over 300 aquatic structures specifically designed to meet any specification, from low water consuming products for once use systems to super soaking buckets which create tidal waves.
The range includes many interactive free-standing products, the Water Journey collection, inspired by nature’s streams, and the Elevations range, are play structures that provide great combinations of water features between platforms of varying heights, encouraging children to climb and move between levels while engaging with children on and off the unit. The Elevations can be installed inside or outside, as part of a splash pad scheme or in a wading pool – They are designed to take fun to the max and are offered with a choice of water slides for the ride down.
Vortex is a world leader in aquatic play solutions, having completed 7000 installations in 45 countries, all of the products are renowned for being robust and innovative. Vortex recently announced the Explora collection has won two International Design awards, taking Gold in Leisure Games and Fun and Silver in the Social Impact category. Like all Vortex products, the Explora collection integrates a strong active play component that keeps children moving, pushing, pulling, spinning and exploring. The price of a typical splash pad depends mainly on three factors; size of the scheme, the type of water system – either a once-use or recirculating – and finally the selected water features. A typical once-use system would cost about £100,000 and the majority of recirculating systems are priced from £250,000.
Ustigate’s splash pad designers divide all waterplay installations into three bays; toddler, family and teen, in which they place specific products that are designed for each age group, therefore increasing play value and popularity. “By effective selection, combination and positioning of aquatic play features for your scheme, it will speak for itself and attract and retain customers naturally,” says Ustigate’s Ernie Hemming. “In addition, by using a range of colours, sensations of water and sleek designs, there won’t be any member of the family who will be able to resist playing!”

Ustigate Waterplay
Tel. 01322 424445

Tackling Booking Fraud

Tackling Booking Fraud

Tackle Booking FraudHaven, the holiday firm that runs the Craig Tara site, said it had recently introduced state-of-the-art software that seeks to target and report suspicious pages and listings across social media sites. This follows a report from BBC Scotland which highlighted that dozens of people had paid for holidays in caravan parks, only to discover the real owner knew nothing about their booking.

Fraudsters using fake identities have been using social media channels to book families into caravans they do not own and claiming the money. Jane Clark, from Stevenston in Ayrshire, advised people not to believe what they read and make proper checks after she booked a bank holiday weekend at the Craig Tara caravan and paid £180 plus a £50 deposit – all through Facebook.

A Haven statement said: “Whilst we have only experienced a relatively small number of people who have been duped into making fraudulent bookings, we are committed to proactively targeting these sites where we can.” Haven advised customers to only book through “trusted channels” such as official websites, ABTA agents or affiliated third parties. It said: “We would urge customers not to attempt to make bookings through social media channels.”

A New Level For Haven

A New Level For Haven

Deck Houses have been introduced at Haven’s Caister-on-Sea Holiday Park in Norfolk.

Deck Houses have been introduced at Haven’s Caister-on-Sea Holiday Park in Norfolk.

Haven has expanded its accommodation portfolio with the introduction of brand new Deck Houses exclusive to Caister-on-Sea Holiday Park in Norfolk.

The contemporary Deck Houses are available on the first or second floor and include a large open plan living space and adjoining family dining area. Guests can stay entertained with a 40” flat screen HD TV with DVD and Bluetooth speaker in the lounge, and enjoy the sun on the balcony or patio area.

Gareth Brown, General Manager at Caister-on-Sea Holiday Park said: “Our new Deck Houses are taking accommodation at Caister-on-Sea to the next level. The sheer size and quality of these units is fantastic.

“We’re immensely proud to be Britain’s oldest holiday park and the Deck Houses are the latest exciting chapter in our wonderful history,” he added.

Wish You Were Here…Berwick Holiday Park

Picture postcards from Berwick Holiday Park in Northumberland...


Set on a clifftop, with views overlooking the North Sea, Haven’s Berwick Holiday Park offers the ideal location for exploring the Northumberland coast.

There are two sandy beaches scattered with rock pools, which can be accessed via steps from the park, or guests can discover the rugged coastline via the coastal path.postcard1

Facilities at the park include a convenience shop and a recently refurbished restaurant and bar with a dedicated sports area. Other amenities include a multi-sports court, launderette and the Showbar, not forgetting the 18-hole golf course situated next to the park.

Berwick Holiday Park’s extensive water play facilities are a highlight for holidaymakers.

Facilities include an indoor heat swimming pool with a water chute, a heated outdoor pool and a dancing water play splash zone, which is open from May until the end of August.

Nearly 70 per cent of the caravans on the park are privately owned and owners can make use of their own lounge and health suite, themed parties and events and generous discounts in the shop, restaurant and on all activities.

Berwick Holiday Park - Tel. 0333 202 1463


Recipe For Success

Recipe For Success

Juggler chefPutting together a marketing strategy is a bit like cooking.

If properly mixed and seasoned; the individual ingredients will come together to result in a delicious recipe for success. Carefully balancing the flavours and ingredients to suit the tastes of your target audience is essential.

For that reason, marketing for all businesses, regardless of size, needs to be carefully thought through, and often requires a multi-pronged approach.

“A good marketing strategy is essential for travel businesses that want to sell more holidays,” comments Robbie Davies, head of business development at Hoseasons.

“Parks should pinpoint their audiences, focus on the sales channels they react to and then use these to continuously communicate the benefits of their product. A successful marketing strategy will target the retention of existing customers as well as the acquisition of new ones.”

Middle-aged couple with teenage son reserving tickets and packinSuzanne Hall, head of holidays marketing at Haven agrees: “A good marketing strategy is crucial for holiday parks; being able to understand your target audience and what their needs and wants are is key. “It is important to ensure that the right product and message is being offered to the right audience at the right time to maximise on your impact.”

Suzanne advises that parks should be constantly re-evaluating their marketing in order to remain current and in touch with their audience. It is important to keep moving and not become stagnant in what you are producing, but this is not to say that you should keep changing your strategy just for the sake of it.

“Firstly, you need to know your audience to ensure that what you offering will appeal to them,” says Suzanne. “Secondly, track as much as possible to see what impact your marketing is having. Thirdly, keep on top of current trends and what is happening in the market as a whole to make sure you are not being left behind. Fourthly, fully utilise the resources available to you in terms of budget and personnel to maximise on your effectiveness.”

She adds: “Finally, it is really important to remain clear on your brand values and proposition as this will allow you to have a unified message that you can send to your audience.”

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Industry Returns To The Good Times

Industry Returns To The Good Times

A highly successful year for many, 2015 got off to a good start with an extended spring season and the early onset of summer, which put a spring in the step of many holiday park operators.
Riding the crest of a wave, the holiday park and tourism industries in general are feeling positive and confident as we head into the New Year. Holiday Park Scene magazine asked a selection of leading industry personalities to give their take on 2015 and their predictions and resolutions for the year ahead…

Tim GibsonTim Gibson

Managing director of Haven Holidays

“2015 was very positive for Haven; our business grew by over 6 per cent, with more customers searching out and enjoying their holiday in our luxury end accommodation. As a result, they did pay more for their holiday in 2015 but the improvement in our guest satisfaction scores suggest that they found the extra investment in their holiday well worthwhile.

“The good early season weather certainly helped get the year off to a good start and we were able to maintain the momentum throughout the year. Also, our continued investment in the product both physical and service elements has contributed to an increase in repeat custom which bodes well for the future.

“Looking ahead to 2016, we are already seeing more people choosing to book early to secure their first choice of park and chosen accommodation. Some of our most exclusive units are already very well sold and people will increasingly discover that if they wait, it’ll be too late.

“I hope to spend more time on park this year speaking to our park teams and our guests. I also plan to continue to work smarter, to make sure we continue to deliver our business objectives in the most efficient but also the most enjoyable way possible.”

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Top Of The Pools

Top Of The Pools

The UK Pool & Spa Awards night took place at the new Resorts World in Birmingham and celebrated the achievements of the entire water leisure industry.

The UK Pool & Spa Awards night took place at the new Resorts World in Birmingham and
celebrated the achievements of the entire water leisure industry.

The UK’s multiple water leisure sectors celebrated their biggest night of the year at the hotly-contested UK Pool & Spa Awards.
Overall category winners across 25 categories were each presented with a certificate and a trophy at the special prize giving and networking evening, which was this year held at the brand new Resorts World complex in Birmingham.
New for 2015, the awards recognised the outstanding achievements of the country’s holiday park sector, with the introduction of the Holiday Park Pool of the Year award. Within the category, five holiday parks were awarded a Gold Standard and a further three parks gained a Silver Standard award.
“There is a real feel good factor within the water leisure industry at the moment and the outstanding entries received in this year’s UK Pool & Spa Awards exemplify that,” says Christina Connor, editor of Pool & Spa Scene magazine, the independent publication behind the annual competition.
“Holiday parks play an important role within the sector and we felt that it was about time the efforts and achievements of holiday park pool operators were recognised. We were delighted to welcome entries from a number of stand-out parks, who clearly value their pool facilities and work hard to keep them in top notch condition.”


The pool at Craig Tara Holiday Park was named Holiday Park Pool of the Year at the recent UK Pool & Spa Awards.

The pool at Craig Tara Holiday Park was named Holiday Park Pool of the Year at the recent UK Pool & Spa Awards.

The overall category winner accolade went to Craig Tara Holiday Park in Ayshire, Scotland, following a £3 million refurbishment of the water leisure facilities last year. Billed as ‘the most successful pool in the history of Haven’, the pool at Craig Tara underwent a complete transformation by design company Leisure Concepts. The pool area now features multi-level flumes, tipping buckets, a lazy river ride, water features, new flooring and new pool mosaic finishes. During the peak season, the pool welcomes around 7,000 swimmers each week and approximately 210,000 visitors annually.

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Memory Makers

Memory Makers

Above: Holidaymakers are now more than ever regarding their break as a chance to enjoy a new experience. Pic: Park Resorts

Holiday park operators remain cautiously optimistic as Ashleigh Mackenzie reports…  Above: Holidaymakers are now more than ever regarding their break as a chance to enjoy a new experience. Pic: Park Resorts

2014 was a strong year for UK tourism. Not only did we see record breaking numbers of holidaymakers from abroad visit the country, but tourist spending hit the dizzy heights of £21.7 billion – three per cent up on 2013 and a record in both nominal and real terms.
Building on the success of last year’s tourism boom, the industry has enjoyed a solid start to 2015, but holiday park operators remain cautiously optimistic.
Latest figures from the International Passenger Survey show that overall visitor numbers for the first three months of this year were up by one per cent compared to 2014, while UK-based holidays have seen an increase of four per cent.

ABOVE: Britain’s holiday parks industry, comprising more than 3500 parks in total, plays an important role in the country’s economy. Pic: National Caravan Council

ABOVE: Britain’s holiday parks industry, comprising more than 3500 parks in total, plays an important role in the country’s economy. Pic: National Caravan Council

“The industry in general is reporting steady performance across all business fronts and is optimistic about future prospects in the short to medium term,” says Bob Hill, sites director at The Camping and Caravanning Club.
“There is growth across most aspects of the sector and the majority of operators are reporting an increase in consumer confidence.” “These are very positive times for the holiday park industry,” comments Dan Steadman, sales and marketing director of Hoburne Holiday Parks, that operates seven holiday park sites.
“At Hoburne we have seen booking figures increase every year since 2008 and manufacturers are seeing increases in the numbers of holiday homes built and sold. This is an area we have seen particular growth in with holiday home sales across our seven parks more than doubling in the past year.” “It is shaping up to be a good season for us,” agrees Cathie Higgs of John Fowler Holiday Parks, like Hoburne with parks centred around the south west of England. “We are up on 2014 figures in terms of sales and growth and the reduction of petrol prices has certainly had a positive effect on our business.”

Britain’s holiday parks industry, comprising more than 3500 parks in total, plays an important role in the country’s economy.
The sector provides one in six of all holiday bed-nights in Britain each year and generates a huge £2.26 billion annual turnover - with the vast majority of the cash being funnelled by park visitors into local businesses.

Above: Henry Wild, national chairman of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) says that frequent shorter breaks is the continuing pattern of holiday-taking

Above: Henry Wild, national chairman of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) says that frequent shorter breaks is the
continuing pattern of holiday-taking

For many such local enterprises, tourism is crucial for their survival and ability to sustain jobs. Parks are estimated to provide some fifteen percent – a total of 53,000 - of all full-time and seasonal tourism-dependent jobs in Britain.
The majority, some 95 percent of UK parks are family-owned businesses, some with farming histories stretching back over generations and for which tourism is now a much more realistic alternative to the declining agricultural industry. The sector also comprises a number of extremely successful holiday park groups including Haven Holidays, Park Resorts and Park Holidays UK.
“While it has been a strong start to the year, there is no complacency among BH&HPA; members and nobody assumes that the main factors which influence our sector and UK tourism as a whole – principally the economy and the weather – are always going to take our side,” says Henry Wild, national chairman of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA;).
It should be remembered that the term ‘the industry’ pulls together a diverse range of businesses from small farm-based parks with a handful of touring pitches to major multi-park operators with incomes dependent on holiday homes sales and rentals. Some of these parks may be affected by factors to which others are immune. For example, a touring park in a remote part of the country may see rising car fuel costs as its chief enemy – while parks with holiday homes to buy might find that lending restrictions by banks are putting a ceiling on the number of people able to take out personal loans to fund their second home purchase.
“It’s important to use both experience and common sense to try and determine what changes are likely to be in the park’s long-term interests, and which are unlikely to have any lasting impact,” says Henry.

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BUTLINS Tel. 01442 230300



HAVEN Tel. 08712 301900


JOHN FOWLER HOLIDAYS Tel .01271 866766

PARK HOLIDAYS UK Tel. 01424 751185

PARK RESORTS Tel. 01442 414100