Fool’s Gold

Giving Visitors value for money pays off, reports Damien Corbet

FOOL'S GOLD

Giving Visitors value for money pays off, reports Damien Corbet

With the holiday park market as robust as it is, the biggest mistake operators can make is to cut corners. “Customers are increasingly aspirational and are looking for a ‘better than home’ experience” says Jon Moxon, Hoseasons’ Business Development Manager. “People are happy to pay for their UK short break or summer holiday but want to know they’re getting value for money. “So, to ensure the longevity of your cabin or lodge – and to sustain the price – I’d advise any owner to buy on quality, not price and furnish the unit to the highest standard they can.” This sentiment is echoed across the industry. The popularity of the UK ‘staycation’ has been on an upward trend for many years and shows no sign of slowing down. Less travelling time, no language issues, no currency exchange – and safety – are all factors encouraging increasing numbers of Brits to holiday at home. “All these factors have increased demand, with a trend emerging for shorter but more frequent breaks. With all this, guests are also expecting a lot more from their accommodation,” adds Pathfinder Homes’ Kelly Martyr.

In 2018, the winners will be those owners who meet the value for money proposition. Jon Moxon again: “Typically, I would expect these units to be open plan, light and airy with a great sense of space – and packed with features. The accommodation should be fitted out with branded equipment, large TV in the lounge and TVs in the bedrooms, and ideally a hot tub on the deck! Other features customers are looking for are wine coolers, wood burners and of course free wi-fi.

The striking exterior of North Lakes Lodges in Cumbria, part of Hoseasons' Evermore range.

The striking exterior of North Lakes Lodges in Cumbria, part of Hoseasons' Evermore range.

 

BOUTIQUE SITES

“We know space is at a premium on a park, but privacy is a rare commodity and the more space that can be provided between neighbours the better. There are several parks that are comfortably achieving this across the country, from the smaller quirky boutique sites such as Mallory Meadows in Leicestershire and Blossom Plantation in Northumberland, to sites offering activities such as shooting and fishing. Westlands Country Park in Scotland is a great example of a new site mixing traditional outdoor pursuits and contemporary comfort. Overall, it’s a combination of factors that make any unit and park stand out from the crowd. It’s about having a sense of identity and providing a quality lodge experience that is as good, if not better, than home,” added Jon. Another trend Pathfinder Homes is seeing is a strong rise in ‘romantic style’ designs. “We have recently created a bespoke Tuscany design specifically for the romantic rental market,” says Kelly. “This cabin measures at 40 x 22 and is a luxurious onebedroom home with an open plan layout featuring a freestanding bath sharing the same room as the huge super king size bed.” Operators should always be thinking about new ways to market their parks. If your park is situated in the right kind settings, you should certainly consider adapting a proportion of your site to meet this growing romantic break market.

Pathfinder's new 'Retreat' has a carefully planned layout and stunning internal design, utilising a combination of unfurnished style wood and red brick.

Pathfinder's new 'Retreat' has a carefully planned layout and stunning internal design, utilising a combination of unfurnished style wood and red brick.

SMART SWITCH

The growing demand for better value for money, with guests expecting more from their accommodation, are just some of the factors that should encourage operators to consider switching from caravans to lodges. According to Robert Sheridan, Managing Director of Finlog, their log cabins are always more popular than other types of accommodation: “They get more repeat bookings, always book out first and demand higher rents. “From an ecological point of view, you also can’t beat a log cabin. They last for generations, so you won’t need to waste money, time, energy and down-time replacing them every five years or so. As they never go out of fashion, revenues stay strong; they are also far more-energy efficient than a standard holiday mobile home.” Robert also stressed that log cabins don’t really have a ‘season’ and are not influenced by current trends, so their ‘shelf life’ is far longer than a factory-made cabin or lodge. When it comes to payback for your investment, it’s not always a straightforward calculation and there are many factors to take into consideration. The purchase price of lodges varies tremendously depending on model and finish, and the addition of key features for the rental market such as hot tubs. “For the rental market we would typically target a four-year ROI, possibly less given the continued buoyancy in the market,” added Jon Moxon.

Finlog’s log cabins are available in a choice of contemporary or traditional interiors.

Finlog’s log cabins are available in a choice of contemporary or traditional interiors.

ROBUST RENTALS

“With the rental market being as robust as it has been, the main pitfall is not to cut corners,” explains Jon. “As already mentioned, customers are increasingly aspirational and looking for a ‘better than home’ experience. So, for the longevity of the product and sustaining the price, I’d certainly advise any owner to buy on quality, not price, and furnish the unit to the highest standard they can. “It’s also important that the accommodation has a sense of place and fits its location. A white-washed, beach-style lodge in the Yorkshire Dales, flor example would feel out of place! Similarly, if your park has great views, take advantage of them – have a gable window or a central living layout so the bedrooms have an equally good view as the lounge. “Remember the accommodation is a rental unit, so fit it to the highest standard possible and use branded products, but also make sure it can take the hard work of two changeovers a week for 32+ weeks a year.” The message coming from the industry is loud and clear: Don’t cut corners, give visitors value for money and provide the best quality you can afford. The payback will be handsome.

 

 

Kent Seaside Park Reveals £4m Revamp

Kent Seaside Park Reveals £4m Revamp

Holiday home owners and staff at a popular Kent holiday park are celebrating after the curtains went up on a £4 million makeover which took place over winter.
It means that New Beach Holiday Park near Dymchurch is now ready for the 2018 season with facilities described as ‘wholly unrivalled’ in South East England.  Park Holidays UK, which owns New Beach, said the on-time completion of such a major project was a fantastic team effort for which everyone deserved credit. Kent SeasideIn just a few months, the park’s former clubhouse has been demolished and replaced with a modern new complex, fully equipped with the latest showbiz technology. The high-tech lighting and sound systems will allow New Beach to stage West End standard live shows as part of the free entertainment provided to guests. Park Holidays UK has also equipped the complex’s arcade area with world-class video and electronic gaming systems suitable for all ages and levels of skill. There’s also a complex bar with supersize TV screens, a restaurant serving meals throughout the day and evening, a mini-supermarket, and a sales administration centre. Also just opened is a new development of leisure homes to buy, ranging from starter caravan holiday homes at around £15,995.00 to fully specified extra-wide luxury lodges. According to Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish, the decision to invest substantially in New Beach is a reflection of the confidence the company has in the park’s future: “New Beach has long been one of the most popular of our 28 parks, and we are determined to ensure it continues offering guests the best possible experience,” he said. “The park is open for 50 weeks of the year for leisure homeowners, so there’s always a great holiday atmosphere and plenty of indoor activities such as a swimming pool. “Park Holidays UK is especially well known for the quality of our free entertainment, and we spend literally millions each year securing first-class acts.

“I am confident that our investment will help attract even more visitors in the future, and this will also benefit the many other businesses in this part of Kent which rely on tourism.”

Put Fun Into Fundraising

Put Fun Into Fundraising

Put Fun into Fundraising

Big-hearted team members at Paignton’s Beverley Holidays are being celebrated as charity champions after creating a £7,500-plus windfall for good causes in 2017.
They raised not just cash but also smiles a-plenty through a raft of fun activities in which staff and often holiday guests took part.
The charity total will be split between the park’s chosen charities which include Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK, the Marfan Trust, and Ovarian Cancer Action.
Receptionists, entertainers and other members of the holiday park’s award winning team all took part in a series of imaginative money-raising initiatives.

Camping Education Boost

Camping Education Boost

ABOVE: Children receive education boost from camping experience.

A recent study for The Camping and Caravanning Club reports four out of five parents believe camping has a positive effect on their children’s education, with 59 percent agreeing it should be added to the national curriculum.
The One Poll Survey revealed one in three adult campers believe children are happier when camping, and 64 percent agreeing camping holidays can improve a child’s social skills and mental health.
Geography, history and science were flagged as the subject areas most likely to be positively affected by nights under canvas, a result of children experiencing time closer to nature.
Encouraging youngsters to experience camping first-hand, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) gives 14 to 24 year olds the chance to explore the great outdoors, learn valuable skills and enjoy life-enhancing experiences.

Motorhome Lifestyle Trend Continues

Motorhome Lifestyle Trend Continues

A Somerset touring park, which saw motorhome visitors leap by almost20 percent last year, predicts the passion for freewheeling lifestyles will continue in 2018.

Bath Chew Valley is making itself even more motorhome friendly.

Bath Chew Valley is making itself even more motorhome friendly.

But Bath Chew Valley Caravan Park, set in the tranquil Mendip Hills, says the on-trend image of motorhomes is not just driving up bookings. It’s also bringing down the average age of guests as younger couples increasingly view them as a way of making holidays more of an adventure at any time of the year.
Now the family-run park has moved to make itself even more motorhome friendly by providing pitch facilities for campervans and motorhomes up to nine metres long.
It’s also introduced its own by-the-hour car hire facility so that guests can explore the countryside in greater comfort, and park more easily in nearby destinations such as Bath and Cheddar Gorge.
Director Keith Betton says that in contrast to when the park first started, almost half of his park’s pitches are now occupied each night by motorhomes:  “Motorhomes enjoy a very chic image, and I’m sure that’s helped by their association with music festivals, film sets, and the spirit of laid-back living,”said Keith.  “Add to this the fact that motorhomes are all about discovery with ever changing horizons to enjoy, and you can see why they appeal especially to younger couples.
“And there’s no need to sacrifice comfort these days, thanks to recent design innovations. Even compact motorhomes now boast home comforts such as full-size beds, luxury shower-rooms, fully-equipped kitchens and central heating.
“We’re seeing an ever-widening range of ages on the park, and motorhome owners are just as keen as our touring caravan guests to enjoy socialising together!” added Keith.
Based in picture-postcard countryside near Bishop Sutton, five-star Bath Chew Valley is an adults-only park which has scooped a raft of awards for its quality standards. They include previous firsts in the adults-only category of the annual “Top 100 Sites” survey, as voted for by readers of Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome.  World-famous botanist David Bellamy has also praised the park’s care for its abundant wildlife, and honoured Bath Chew with his Conservation Award at its top gold level.  The park’s 45 pitches are spread across more than four acres of landscaped grounds, and has been owned by the Betton family for over 20 years.

Sara Scoops Prestigious Business Award

Sara Scoops Prestigious Business Award

Sara Scoops PrestigiousSara Bertin, Finance Director at Shorefield Holidays, has been named Board Level and Senior Executive of the Year at the prestigious Women in Business Awards. Now in its fourth year, The Business Magazine’s 2017 WiB Awards aim to celebrate, encourage and inspire successful and aspiring business women in the south.

Simon Pollock, Chairman and Managing Director of Dorset and Hampshire-based Shorefield Holidays, says: “We are delighted that Sara’s commitment and dedication have been recognised with this award. “Two-thirds of our management team and half of our whole team are women, and learning and development are encouraged at all levels throughout the business.”

Sara joined the family-run company specialising in holiday homes and holidays on the south coast in 1980, after qualifying as a chartered accountant with Grant Thornton, and is the daughter of Dr Robert Pollock, who founded the park in 1958. At that time, Shorefield owned one park and over the years this has grown to seven parks.

Generation Game

Generation Game Generation Game

In a sector still dominated by family-run businesses, the Barton Homes Group is the very definition of a close-knit family concern. Managed by a father and son team, the group has 40 years’ experience of managing high quality residential parks across the UK.

Their parks in Devon, Somerset and Lancashire are well run havens of peace, convenience and security for a retired and semiretired clientele. Barton Homes Group also has significant plans for expansion, recently adding the prestigious Seascapes Park, at Clevedon, to their portfolio. Barton Park Homes was established in 1978 when the Barton family opened their first residential park in Morecambe, Lancashire. At that time, there were just 20 traditional static caravans on the site.

The family completely redeveloped the site, replacing the caravans with stylish residential park homes. Since 1978, Barton Park Homes has gone from strength to strength, acquiring and developing residential parks all over the country. The current portfolio of parks consists of four parks (one currently undeveloped), each in a carefully chosen location in Devon, Somerset, Lancashire and North Yorkshire. The company head office is located in Lancashire, reflecting their roots in the North West.

Generation Game 2The Barton family enjoys building personal relationships with all their clients. Father and son owners of the Barton Homes Group, Charlie Senior and Charlie Junior, personally visit each park on a regular basis to ensure that everything is up to standard and, most importantly, that their residents are happy. “I have been visiting the parks with my father since I was a boy. Now I am proud to have taken over the reins and work alongside Charlie Senior keeping up the family traditions,” says Charlie Barton Junior.

Willowgrove Leisure Park and Fishery in Lancashire is Barton Park Homes’ northern flagship park, situated in the attractive Wyre Valley on the Fylde Coast. Voted one of the top ten places to live in the North West, this area is close to the shops and facilities of picturesque Preesall and Knott End-On-Sea, and only ten minutes drive from the attractions of Blackpool. The scenery of the beautiful Lake District is just an hour away.

To read more of this story please subscribe online

 

British Tourism Oscars

British Tourism Oscars

Contenders for the British Travel Awards - which include entries from the leading holiday parks nationwide – have now been whittled down toBritish Tourism Oscars the finalists. The awards, dubbed Britain’s ‘Tourism Oscars’ attracted 1.3 million public votes last year, with Devon’s Beverley Holidays amongst the select final seven in the “Best UK Family Holiday / Holiday Park Operator” category. Director of Beverley Holidays, Nicola Furneaux, said news of its shortlisting is a thrilling climax to a very successful summer at the park: “Here at Beverley we have been welcoming guests to the English Riviera for almost sixty years, and our big-hearted team are passionate about providing holiday memories that last a lifetime.

“We are committed to offering our guests a seaside escape like no other, and have invested heavily in our accommodation and facilities this year to ensure we offer the best possible holiday experience,” said Nicola.The British Travel Awards are the largest and most influential poll of consumer opinion on tourism providers, with high quality standards and service being the main criteria.

Show Time

Show Time

Show TimeHoliday park entertainment has significantly evolved from the first Redcoats of the 1930 and the Hi-De-Hi era of the Sixties. Operators of parks, large and small, still agree that getting the entertainment recipe right remains crucial to ensure happy, satisfied customers.

Celebrating their 75th year in 2018, Ladram Bay Holiday Park in Devon offers a packed family entertainment programme that would put any corporate chain to shame. “We do our best to make sure there’s plenty for families to enjoy all together,” explains Carla Newman, Marketing and Events Manager at Ladram Bay.

“As a family-run business, we know that spending quality time as a family is what really matters.” An entertainments team of five plus and an Entertainments Manager run all the daily entertainment at the park. This includes kids’ club sessions, activities and a full programme of family friendly entertainment from six until midnight in high season. Most evenings end with a spectacular team show.

AUTUMN AUDITIONS

As a former Entertainments Manager at Ladram Bay herself, Carla is well placed to explain how their entertainment ethos works. “We audition for team members in November and rehearsals start in January,” explains Carla. “We like to get our team in place early and design our shows around their skills. In this, our approach at Ladram Bay is very different to a corporate group.” Personalising the shows around the team is a positive step for both customers and staff. “We develop the programme together. All the team are involved in the creative process which helps everyone to perform at their best for our customers,” says Carla. Entertainments Manager Kelly works with an agency to source external acts such as bands, cabaret, singers and magicians that perform at the park every Saturday night and on Tuesdays in peak season.Show Time 2

The team at Ladram Bay work so closely with the Vern Allen Group that the park even hosts the agency’s Showcase event each November. Management teams from other parks often visit the Showcase to select their own acts for the new season. “We do get a good return on investment but it’s really not about the money,” says Anna. “It’s about creating an enjoyable experience for all of our guests. If we didn’t have this level of entertainment, Ladram Bay wouldn’t be the five star park we are today.” Searles in Norfolk, owned and managed by the same family for 83 years, boasts an entertainment programme created and managed by Entertainment Manager Anna Hallard of Resort Entertainments. She oversees an in-house entertainments team and is responsible for booking external acts. Through this connection, Searles also benefits from close links to the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton of which Anna’s father-in-law Brian Hallard and Paul and Andrew Searle are Directors.

To find out more about putting on a show, subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.

Stitch In Time – Landscaping

Stitch In Time - Landscaping Focus

Stitch In TimeThey say planning is the key to success and in the case of outdoor space and landscaping – a well thought-out strategy will pay huge dividends not least by avoiding costly mistakes. A useful starting point is to focus on the ‘unique selling point’ of your park or for types of clientele.

If a significant proportion of your guests are young adults on a short stay, you will want to provide ‘robust’ spaces with plenty of secure seating. Clever use of security-style planting such as prickly or thorny plants, will deter access to other protected areas. On the other hand, if the bulk of your long-term residents are more mature, ensure that there are safe and attractive ornamental spaces immediately around the living areas and communal spaces, but keep them clear from debris and obstacles and use non-slip surfaces.

DUTY OF CARE

For younger guests, preparing suitable landscaping options can prove even more challenging, ensuring that play areas are safety compliant and you can demonstrate appropriate ‘duty of care’. “People often stay in a holiday park to feel more connected with the local outdoor environment, explains Martin Howe of Wykeham Mature Plants, “But it is the holiday park itself that will bring repeat custom.

“A holiday park business cannot rely solely on their location or the surrounding countryside and must provide attractive, functional spaces,” advises Martin. “Why would you stay on a site, even if there are amazing views of the surrounding countryside, if the site itself is untidy, unloved, looks unprofessional, and even potentially dangerous?” Martin encourages holiday parks to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and how it will benefit the business and customers alike.

“Prioritise key areas and the timescale in which you need to address them,” he advises, “Large planting schemes, as well as needing significant initial outlay, will also require maintenance, so plan for this from the start and don’t take on more than you can handle in one go,” he continues. Stitch In Time 2

“Balance this with the logistical benefits (lower transport costs, less disruption in the long term, etc) of larger jobs and decide whether to undertake a single, major project or whether to break it into smaller, more manageable chunks,” Martin adds.

Knowledge of site conditions are also essential before preparing large scale landscaping works, specifically the growing conditions in each location (drainage, soil type, exposure, etc) as well as any other limiting factors, such as access by children and proximity to grazing animals. “Select plants accordingly – planting the right plant in the right place will avoid problems later,” warns Martin.

PLANTING SEASON

There is often a wider, or cheaper, selection of suitable plants available during the traditional planting season, which is during dormancy (November to March); for many holiday parks this coincides with the off-season, so this is the ideal time to plant horticulturally, commercially, and logistically to minimise disturbance to your customers. Naturally, demand for planting services at this time of year is high so plan ahead.

To read more about prepping and planning for landscaping work please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.

COMPANY CONTACTS

FORDINGBRIDGE Tel.01243 55 44 55 www.fordingbridge.co.uk

WOODLAND HORTICULTURE LTD Tel. 01458 441122 www.woodlandhp.co.uk

WYKEHAM MATURE PLANTS Tel. 01723 862406 www.wykehammatureplants.co.uk