How to ensure your site is always keeping up appearances reports Emily Martin…
Holiday parks have to keep many plates spinning but you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and, as they say, the devil is often in the detail.
Creating the perfect holiday experience for guests is a lot of work but, to get that wow-factor on arrival, you need simple, smart and effective ideas that don’t take up lots of time or resources.
Holiday Park Scene has spoken to some of the holiday park industry’s top services and suppliers and they’ve given us some tips on how to ensure that, for your guests, it’s always love at first sight.
The 2021 winners of ‘Grounds Maintenance Company of the Year’ at the Pro Landscaper Business Awards was Glendale. A company offering an all-encompassing green-space management and maintenance service and Matt Gavin, Head of Commercial Sales and Development, says landscaping and grounds maintenance is crucial to keeping things looking their best.
Matt says: “Due to parks now hosting guests more accustomed to international holidays, Glendale has seen a 95% increase in the level of enquiries from camping and caravanning sites looking to undertake signifcant landscaping and grounds maintenance work to keep the sites pristine.”
Matt reveals that sites are specifically requesting tree management services, commercial grass cutting and invasive specials control alongside general grounds maintenance.
Matt continues: “The demand from the camping sector started as early as January 2021 when confidence started to rise at the prospect of a roadmap out of Covid restrictions. Since the government announcement was made regarding lockdown potentially ending in late June, the level of enquiries about our landscaping services surpassed all expectations.”
Martin Lucas of GreenMech agrees about the importance of landscaping. He says: “The setting and landscape of a holiday park often provides the frame for a picture-postcard holiday. Keeping on top of the site’s surroundings will provide great aesthetic benefits, but woodland maintenance shouldn’t be forgotten on the list of landscaping tasks.”
Martin goes on: “The benefits of a striking first-impression continues to be a key driver behind keeping on top of site maintenance. The look and feel of a site should be fitting within its surroundings - a dense tree belt for example may be fitting for a countryside venue, but less so in an open landscape.
“Trees present a fantastic way to integrate or soften the appearance of ancillary buildings and other site facilities but also have the functional benefit of creating boundaries, shelter and screening between public and private areas.
“Key woodland management tasks could include regular examination of tree roots and overhanging branches as these can quickly cause problems overhead or underground, as well as posing health and safety risks to guests,” advises Martin. “Also, removing density in the upper and lower canopies to promote a better flow of air and light to site which, in turn, will optimise the health of any turf, pruning and thinning of brush and disposing of any dead, damaged or diseased wood or brash.”
But holiday parks keen to keep on top of landscaping and forestry need to be mindful of the pitfalls it can create. Especially what they do with the debris they create as Martin explains: “The Environmental Protection Act, along with the Clean Air Act, considers the burning of waste as inappropriate. Anyone found improperly disposing of waste risks being prosecuted by The Environment Agency, Local Council or Police – with a typical fine likely to be in the region of £2000.”
GreenMech have a woodchipper portfolio that spans 20 models of various sizes and chipping capacities, with a pedestrian range built with the professional landscaper and parks manager in mind. Chipping is a fantastic way to quickly and easily remove unwanted material. The chip that is produced can then be used in other beneficial ways - as a weed suppressant on pathways and in flowers beds or scattered around trees to help with moisture retention in the summer months.
Once you’ve sorted the landscaping and forest management you need to start adding strategic items that will enhance the useability and aesthetics of your outdoor space.
AL FRESCO AREAS
Martyn Bright from NBB Recycled Furniture says: “Research continues to validate that meeting outdoors comes with a reduced risk of coronavirus transmission and introducing furniture outside to optimise your available space is a great way to stay compliant with government advice, whilst creating comfortable al fresco areas for your expectant returning customers to enjoy.
Martyn continues: “When considering your outdoor furniture, recycled plastic is the perfect choice, as the material looks like timber but can last outside all year round without the need for annual maintenance.
“Recycled plastic can last up to five times longer than the timber equivalent. The longevity of recycled plastic makes it the perfect cost-effective alternative for use within the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries, where heavy use is expected.”
Doug Barr is the Sales Manager at Woodberry of Lemington Spa and agrees that clean and well-maintained outdoor furniture is a must when ensuring a site looks presentable. Doug advises: “If your furniture is broken or covered in algae, customers will judge the standards of the park on it.
“Look for quality wooden furniture to withstand the wear and tear of heavy use. Or choose metal/plastic and laminate furniture that is easy to wipe down and dry of,” he adds.
Woodberry offer a range of picnic tables, outdoor dining tables, chairs and benches in wood, metal, plastic and synthetic rattan. Recycled plastic picnic tables are very easy to keep looking neat and come with 25-year structural guarantees as well as green credentials.”
But don’t neglect your flowers! Doug says: “Keep any flower or shrub borders looking tidy with raised planters which also come in handy for directing the flow of customers at reception areas or sectioning of café and bar areas.
“Also, if litter bins are well maintained, emptied regularly and visible to customers then they will be encouraged to use them,” Doug continues.
“Recycling bins with different sections can also help show your green credentials and encourage customers to recycle,” Doug emphasises. “Branded barrier screens can help keep areas looking tidy and sectioned plus provide clear branding and signage.”
But how can parks maximise the usability of outdoor space without things looking messy and unkempt? Doug says: “Outdoor shelters, patio heaters, and lighting certainly helps in wet and cold weather. That also encourages your customers to enjoy al fresco hospitality. Parks have to think ‘Have I got the right sized outdoor furniture for my customer groups?’ ‘Should I offer a mix of sizes so that smaller groups don’t take up larger tables?’”
And where can it all go wrong? Doug has some tips on how to avoid some classic pitfalls. He says: “Not cleaning and clearing up tables quickly enough or having overflowing rubbish bins on the site. Also watch out for wet, broken, algae covered outdoor furniture.
So that takes care of landscaping and furniture, but what else can you do to keep things looking extra neat and tidy? Darren North of Rolec says you also need to think about power. He says: “Rolec have been manufacturing and supplying electrical hook-up equipment for the leisure industry for over 30 years and the Quantum Touring Pedestal brings caravan and holiday parks an alternative solution to their everyday hook-up equipment.
Darren continues: “First impressions are indeed important and with the Quantum Touring Pedestal, park operators can offer their visitors a simple and seamless electric hook-up solution, with aesthetic appeal as an added benefit.”
For enhanced first impressions, the Quantum Touring Pedestal is also complete with LED louvered lighting, providing visitors with greater visibility, particularly during the dark nights.
Alongside the Quantum Touring Pedestal there is Rolec’s Quantum:EV charging pedestal, perfect for communal electric vehicle charging facilities and it’s also equipped with LED louvered lighting, ensuring that EV driving visitors are able to spot your charging points throughout the day and night.
On-site storage is also a place you can easily go wrong. Lily Hadden is a Team Leader at Arleigh which has supplied the static caravan industry for more than 50 years. Lily says: “Ensuring parks look clean and respectable is crucial for good first impressions and returning customers.”
To help park owners create the accommodation and spaces required for their visitors, Arleigh stock everything from indoor and outdoor furniture to storage solutions and lighting.
Made of PVC-coated galvanised steel, Arleigh’s durable storage boxes are ideal for keeping outdoor areas tidy and are even built to withstand coastal environments. There are different size and style options ranging from bike and garden stores to gas storage units.
“Arleigh’s ever-growing range of solar lights and bollards offer a great renewable alternative to traditional lighting and are the perfect choice for illuminating park driveways, paths and car parks.
Adam Collier is the Technical Sales Manager at Fordingbridge which offers a range of canopies, walkways and statement builds to the holiday park sector and others. Adam says: “Tidiness in parks goes well beyond having bins and other street furniture in well thought out locations, or ensuring your soft landscaping is on point. Organising parks so they make sense has a massive bearing on visitor experience too; no guests want to spoil their initial arrival with the stress of finding reception or arranging a suitable meeting point for friends and family.
NEAT AND TIDY
“We have installed a number of canopies adjacent to reception areas (and subsequently cafes/bars) which act as clear wayfnders, as well as the added benefit of providing covered space to wait and meet with friends. Clearly arranging and organising equipment is also a key consideration. This could be providing sensible racking for bikes, hire karts and mobility equipment.”
What are some practical ways to maximise the usability of outdoor space? Adam says: “In the UK, weather is the key consideration, so allowing for this, or rather counteracting it, is by far the best way of increasing the year-round usability of outside space. We have seen parks installing canopies over MUGAs, courts and other play areas to act as both a form of shade in the summer, and allowing for play in wet weather.
“The same is true of covered areas adjacent to restaurants, bars and cafes. Providing a cover instantly turns the outdoor space into an extension of that facility, allowing for greater number of covers throughout the year. Adam continues: “Living roofs are also a benefit in both the customer journey and enforcing company ethos. They further the green credentials of the park and provide a further natural aesthetic to merge any structure with existing soft landscaping.”