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.

JIGSAW PIECES

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.

GDPR COMPLIANCE

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.

KEY WORDS

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.

MEASURE SUCCESS

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.

Pitched
Tel. 01726 418118
Pitched.co.uk

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