True Value of UK Holiday Park Sector

True Value Of UK Holiday Park Sector

A similar survey in Scotland put the gross holiday park visitor expenditure at £700 million

A similar survey in Scotland put the gross holiday park visitor expenditure at £700 million

The leading players in the holiday park sector are banking on the support of holiday park operators with a major study into the value of the holiday-park sector to the UK economy. This is the first time that such a survey has been undertaken and it follows the study done in Scotland in 2014, which revealed just how important the sector is; the gross visitor expenditure was £700 million and the gross FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs were 13,000. The report was invaluable to parkowners in Scotland because it enabled them to support planning and funding applications with hard facts and, in general terms, the report was used to lobby the Scottish Government, local authorities and VisitScotland. The BH&HPA, the Caravan and Motorhome Club, the Camping and Caravanning Club, and the National Caravan Council have formed a working group, the Economic Impact Research Group (EIRG) and engaged Frontline Consultants to undertake the research in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland during 2018, with the aim of publishing the report at the end of the year.

• Park-Owners and Operators, will be surveyed online between March and April to ascertain their expenditure on wages, maintenance, capital investment, etc, via an online questionnaire. A small, but representative, number of park-owners will be invited to undertake a more detailed survey by telephone. Parkowners will be contacted by email or telephone by Frontline Consultants .

• Visitors, who will be asked to complete an online survey between Easter and the end of September, in order to ascertain their spend, both on the park and in the local area, length of stay, kind of accommodation used, etc. The EIRG will seek your help to publicise the survey via your website and newsletters and at reception.

Without the participation of parkowners it will be difficult for the EIRG to get robust data and the funding organisations would be grateful if you could give your active support. On behalf of the EIRG, Nick Lomas, Director General, Caravan and Motorhome Club, said: “Committing to this major survey not only demonstrates our enthusiasm in working together for the benefit of the sector, but, importantly, the survey will generate some powerful, robust evidence which will help parks and organisations across the country.”

The report will establish the value of the holiday-park sector to the UK economy, enable comparisons to be made across the four countries, and provide statistics covering various categories, e.g. by area and by type of accommodation. The resulting report will be immensely important to the sector, especially as such a survey has not been done before and it will therefore establish a benchmark as well as identify the overall economic value. In Scotland, the overall profile of the sector was raised in both the public and private sectors, with key organisations and decision-makers being sent a copy of the report and publicity in the national media. The EIRG will ensure that the report is put into the hands of relevant key organisations across the UK. And, of course, you will be able to access the full report for your own information and use.

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.”

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

Defibrillator Coverage

Defibrillator Coverage

DefibrillatorTingdene Parks have installed an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at their 80-home Bedwell Park residential site in Witchford, near Ely, Cambridgeshire. Defibrillators are simple to use and can restart someone’s heart if it stops. They will not work if there is a pulse.

Bedwell Park is one of the first residential parks within Tingdene’s 20 sites and 1500 homes, to see the installations of defibrillators. The unit is due to be officially unveiled by local MP Lucy Frazer in the near future, however, the potentially life-saving kit, easily accessible at the park office, is already available for use.

Founded in 1969 the Tingdene Group of companies first established itself as the leading Park Home manufacturer in the country and since then has expanded its range of operations into becoming one of the UK’s largest operators and owners of residential Park Homes Estates, Inland Marinas, Caravan Parks, Lodge Parks and Chalet Parks.

Acclaim For Former Dairy Farmers

Acclaim For Former Dairy Farmers

Acclaim For Former Dairy FarmersA family-run holiday business has claimed a double victory at this year’s Rural Business Awards (RBA’s).
Not only did Hoe Grange win the Best Rural Tourism Business category, it also pipped 12 other category winners to be crowned as the Champion of Champions. The Derbyshire farm, which specialises in high quality disabled access, was awarded the prize by Harper Adams University, ahead of runners-up Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village in the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses.
David Brown from Hoe Grange Holidays said: “We started out as dairy farmers but spotted an opportunity to diversify our business and offer a positive experience for people to enjoy the Derbyshire countryside.
“To have our success acknowledged at the Rural Business Awards is testament to all our hard work and to the people who have supported us along the way. It’s obviously a great honour to be named as Champion of Champions at this year’s ceremony and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our business.”
When David and Felicity Brown first investigated self-catering tourism to supplement their dairy farm income in 2005, market research showed there was a large supply of standard self-catering properties in the Peak District but a lack of accessible accommodation. Over the past decade Hoe Grange Holidays has become a specialist in accessible accommodation, winning many national awards.

New Seaside Star For Park Holidays UK

PevenseyNew Seaside Star For Park Holidays UK

Park Holidays UK has completed the acquisition of Pevensey Bay Holiday Park near Eastbourne in Sussex. Formerly known as Martello Beach Holiday Park, the site boasts private beach access and a jetty for boats and jet-skis, and is the 28th park to join the Park Holidays UK group.

The site presently provides 265 holiday homes, both privately owned and available to rent, all set in picturesque landscaped grounds amid the countryside of the Sussex Weald. Owners and holiday guests are provided with a long line-up of leisure facilities including an indoor swimming pool, spa pool and sauna, and a fully equipped gym and fitness centre. Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the Pevensey Bay’s previous owners had done a magnificent job in creating a park which provides a true sense of privilege: “The lovely setting obviously gives Pevensey Bay a head start, but the park and its superbly high standards is a perfect match for its surroundings,” said Tony.

“As a group, we have always been committed to operating parks which offer only the very best customer experiences and the best value in their class. “That’s why we will ensure that Pevensey Bay continues as an ideal base for families and those who enjoy activities such as sailing, rowing, jet-skiing and sea fishing. “All of our parks make important and substantial contributions to the local economies where they are based by generating millions of pounds of visitor spending,” said Tony. “Our intention is that Pevensey Bay will build even further on the support it already provides to many local small businesses and the people they employ,” he added.

Web Wise

Web Wise - Online Bookings

The sense that many potential customers are just looking, not booking is common. Web visitors often just want to get a picture of what’s available. At other times they’re unable to commit to plans until they’ve settled on exact dates with friends and family.

Whatever the reason, conversion rates in the travel industry are surprisingly low, and that’s why it is crucial for holiday park owners to get the booking process right. More people are using the web to shop around for holidays than ever before, and this WEb Wise 1means they’re only a swipe away from comparing prices with a competitor.

Research has shown that 37 per cent of consumers abandon travel purchases at the last minute because they want to do further research or find a cheaper price. But when margins in the industry are low, competing on price is difficult. Instead, holiday park owners should focus on delivering a streamlined shopping experience and a fuss-free checkout process. With so many holiday options on offer, it’s vital that potential customers don’t vanish at the finish line.

Choosing the most appropriate booking system requires park owners and managers to match their needs with the features of a product. But no two holiday parks are identical and it might seem difficult to find a system with all the necessary functions and flexibility. This is why CampManager, a leading Park Management Software provider, assists more than 300 campsites and caravan parks throughout the UK and Ireland with an online booking solution suited to the individual parks’ requirements.

“There are many different booking systems in the market, some of which have been adapted from hotel booking systems, which may not provide you with the pricing functionality that you require,” says Niall Norris of CampManager. “It’s important to select a booking system which is specifically designed to manage all your different pricing requirements – season dates, minimum stays and set arrival dates – and all your different rental accommodation and touring pitch characteristics.”

However, park owners should realise that the best solution may not come right out of a box. Sometimes choosing a booking system is more about modifying an existing offering to fit a park’s individual specifications. For Dafydd Lawrence, head of information systems at Bluestone National Park Resort, an award-winning retreat in the rolling Pembrokeshire countryside, it was important to create a bespoke solution that would fit with the park’s existing digital infrastructure. WEb Wise 2

“Having a web API in our main booking system allowed us to write our own online platform that talks directly to our booking system,” Lawrence explains. “Any system that makes you use an ‘off-the-shelf’ website or their own web booking engine can severely limit how much you can customise the experience for your guests.” The most obvious step to making booking on your site easy is to ensure that it works well on mobile devices.

To read more about getting 'Web Wise' please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.

COMPANY CONTACTS

CAMPMANAGER - Tel. 02081 331 005 -  www.campmanager.com
GEMAPARK -  Tel. 01983 282 420 - www.gemapark.co.uk
PITCHED - Tel. 01726 418 118 - www.pitched.co.uk

Pick Of The Crop

OrchardsPick Of The Crop

Beginning life as farmland, the Orchards took its name from the array of apple trees on the land. It began its transition into a holiday park in 1952 when eight caravans were added to the site.

After 15 years in charge of Orchards Holiday Park, Tim and Julie Gray are continuing to improve the Isle of Wight based business, with the help of long serving staff and loyal employees. Situated in Newbridge, a small village on the west side of the island, the site covers roughly 13 acres on the edge of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that the Isle of Wight can offer. “You can’t fail to be impressed with our facilities centre,” says owner Julie Gray, “It houses all of your touring needs with amazing views.

“It has a very spacious washing up, ironing and laundry area, accessible facilities, all with the luxury of under floor heating, to make your holiday more comfortable.”

To read more about our Orchards Holiday Park, subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.

Would-Be Owners Can Try Before They Buy

Would-Be Owners Can Try Before They Buy

A Shropshire Holiday Park site has started its expansion project following increased demand from staycationers and is offering a new ‘try before you buy’ scheme for potential customers. The scheme allows customer who decide to buy a holiday home or luxury lodge on the park following a two-night stay, to have the cost deducted from the purchase price.

Try Before25 pitches are being created a Bow House Country Park, near Bishops Castle, which already has 62 caravans and 15 luxury lodges. 14 new pitches are being created in the first phase of the expansion with the picturesque caravan holiday home park in the South Shropshire Hills already popular with guests who live within two hours travelling distance of Bishops Castle.

Three of the new pitches have already been reserved and 15 holiday homes and lodges had been sold in the past 12 months. Many of the sales were secured from buyers who had been tempted to stop at the park whilst driving past. “Bow House Country Park is a wonderful place to get away from the stresses and strains of modern living, an idyllic, secluded location for a holiday retreat.

“We appreciate that buying a holiday home is a big deal and we want to ensure that customers make the right decision,” said Edward Goddard, managing director of Morris Leisure. “That’s why we offer them the opportunity to experience holiday home ownership at Bow House Country Park before they invest their hard-earned money.”