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.


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.”


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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Playing It Safe

Playing It Safe

Pic: RSS (Playground Inspection Maintenance)

Pic: RSS (Playground Inspection Maintenance)

A state-of-the-art outdoor playground may look the part, but keeping it in tip-top condition is sometimes overlooked.

From ropes and wooden frames to nuts and bolts, there are a large number of components on play equipment that require routine checks and an annual inspection.

A leading supplier of outdoor play equipment is urging holiday park operators to show duty of care towards their play equipment. RSS (Playground Inspection and Maintenance) stresses the importance of ongoing compliance to EN1176, even with newly purchased equipment, by inspecting the equipment on a regular basis.

Andy Readman, director of RSS comments: “In the unfortunate event of an accident you must be able demonstrate compliance to avoid expensive litigation and bad publicity. When purchasing a new playground you can specify equipment that is certified for compliance to EN1176, the European Playground safety standard.

“But what do you do when your equipment is many years old, was never certified for compliance when manufactured and the original equipment manufacturer is no longer trading?” says Andy.

“Well, you still have the same obligations regarding safety of the users but it is unlikely that an item of equipment that wasn’t designed to comply can be successfully modified to comply,” he explains.

Wicksteed Playgrounds3RSS (Playground Inspection and Maintenance) have worked with holiday parks and visitor attractions for many years and can offer independent advice backed up by over 25 years’ experience in this specialised field.

Andy adds: “Remember, if you inspect regularly and repair defects your play area will continue to provide years of safe and trouble free use.”

Following a successful refurbishment of the playground equipment in 2013 to address non-compliances and extend the life of the equipment, Cosgrove Park in Milton Keynes has implemented a seasonal inspection regime based on the opening schedule for the park.

RSS have worked with Cosgrove Park to ensure that the regime reduces the number of inspections but ensures the park is inspected more frequently during the periods of highest use.

How often outdoor play equipment should be changed or updated all depends on the warranties of the equipment and its usage. The more the equipment is used, the quicker it may suffer from wear and tear. You can expect at least ten years use from any play area - and a lot more if it is well maintained. Sovereign Play Equipment has installed in excess of 10,000 play areas nationwide over the last 22 years.

Sovereign Play Equipment

Sovereign Play Equipment

In terms of price points, Justin Mottaz of Sovereign advises that a modest adventure trail could start from as little as £2,500 and an adventure tower with safer surfacing from around £5,000. “I would suggest that a sensible amount, to get a reasonable sized play area from the start, would be in the region of £10,000,” he says. “Remember that the cheaper option is often that way for a reason.”

Dominique Lloyd-Roberts of Playforce agrees: “When designing a playground, health and safety and durability should also be a priority. Look carefully at your quotations, guarantees, aftersales service and the longevity of the proposed designs – think about getting the best value for money, rather than just the lowest price.”

Playforce is a long-standing member of the API, all equipment complies with BS EN1176 and 1177 and is RoSPA tested. The company provides a full maintenance service with advice on routine maintenance, post installation, yearly and three yearly packages that include full reports, training and consultation sessions.

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