THE DIVERSIFICATION JOURNEY

THE DIVERSIFICATION JOURNEY

 

FOLLY FARM’S new lodge offering blends seamlessly with the attraction side of the business.

 

Families who holiday in South Wales will typically include a trip to Pembrokeshire’s fabulous Folly Farm Adventure Park. Located just 15 minutes from the popular seaside resort of Tenby, this fun-filled destination, complete with vintage fairground and world-class zoo, is now the largest privately-run, paid for visitor attraction in Wales.

A working dairy farm until the late 1980s, Folly Farm has expanded so much over the last 30 years that it’s now a shining example of what can be achieved with a clear commercial vision and a diversification strategy to match.

 

 

TAKE THE PLUNGE
And it was this never-stand-still spirit that led Managing Director, Chris Ebsworth, to take the plunge and open a holiday park next to the visitor attraction just after the first lockdown. This 43-pitch five-star touring park and campsite - complete with four cool and quirky Showman’s Wagons - has been so popular over the last two years that Chris has now decided to diversify further into the holiday let market with the addition of six fairground-themed luxury lodges with hot tubs.

Chris knew introducing lodge accommodation was something he wanted to do to capitalise on continuing strong demand for UK breaks, but he also knew it would be prudent to call on the advice, guidance and support of a trusted expert partner to help bring his vision to life, his product to market and crucially to ensure the best possible return on his investment.

That’s when he turned to Luke Hansford, Vice President Business Development at Awaze – the parent company of staycation specialist Hoseasons – a decision Chris says has ensured the location’s new lodge offering blends seamlessly with the attraction side of the business as part of an all-round ‘stay and play’ package perfect for families looking for experiential breaks.

 

FOLLY FARM is a shining example of what can be achieved with a clear diversification strategy.

 

“We’ve always been farmers, it’s in our blood, but diversification is what keeps us thriving as a privately owned, family run business,” says Chris, adding: “We could see the lodges were a good idea, but it quickly became apparent as a relatively new accommodation business, that we would need to draw on the expertise, knowledge and professionalism of a brand like Hoseasons that has successfully been delivering family holidays for years.”

“We had many meetings with Luke to run through the options, weighing up the pros and cons of different types of accommodation before making our decision. He also supported us to perfect the presentation of our new lodges – from reflecting the Folly Farm brand in the interiors to making sure the landscaping and planting were right.

“Luke was also instrumental in bringing to our attention the importance of an arrival experience for our guests – something which has resulted in a brand new customer reception, along with plans for an onsite shop selling local produce, which we are hoping to open next year.”

 

FOLLY FARM opened a holiday park next to the visitor attraction just after the first lockdown.

 

PAYING DIVIDENDS
Luke believes the care and attention Folly Farm have put into their new development will pay dividends over the next few years as families see the value of staying somewhere aspirational with fantastic facilities, activities and entertainment on their doorstep.

He says: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Chris to bring his vision to market. He really understands the importance of continuing to evolve the offer so that they stay relevant in an ever-changing market. “Pressures on family budgets mean people will be looking to get the most out of their UK breaks over the next few years – something that bodes well for locations like Folly Farm Adventure Park who know they need to invest and innovate to keep pace with guest expectations.

 

CHRIS EBSWORTH worked with Hoseasons to fill his lodges and showman’s wagons.

 

“You only have to look at their high occupancy rates and average 9.6 out of 10 rating on our independent review system Revoo to see their approach is working.” Working with Hoseasons to fill his lodges and showman’s wagons has given Chris the confidence to push on with the next phase of development, including rhino-themed lodges overlooking the black rhino enclosure, lion-themed lodges and giraffe-themed safari tents – all of which are expected to be up and running by Spring next year. All the new lodges and showman’s wagons at Folly Farm Adventure Park are exclusively available to book via Hoseasons.

www.hoseasons.co.uk

PLAY AWAY

PLAY AWAY

A wealth of inspiration for outdoor holiday location play...

CLIMBING WALLS are all the trend for both adults and children. Pic. Innovative Leisure

 

The last three years have posed some unique challenges to all sectors of the leisure industry, not least for the provision of play facilities in holiday parks and resorts. So ideal timing, for the presentation of some inspirational ideas, to reinvigorate play offerings at Europe’s premier international attractions conference and trade show at London’s Excel from September 12. Attendees at this year’s IAAPA Expo Europe can expect to discover the industry’s latest products and services, including play equipment, water slides, play structures, and much more. IAAPA - it stands for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions – boasts a worldwide membership of nearly 5,000.

The trade show will feature IAAPA’s signature combination of exhibits from manufacturers and suppliers, food and beverage vendors, merchandising specialists, and innovation leaders that strive to develop the attractions and theme parks of tomorrow. When the education conference opens September 12, it will mark the first return of IAAPA Expo Europe to London since 2011. “We are bringing a jam-packed programme, full of inspiration, top-notch education, and ideas regarding the issues that the attractions industry is facing—such as energy costs, labour shortages, revenue streams, and more,” promises Peter van der Schans, Executive Director and Vice President of IAAPA.

 

A WEALTH OF INSPIRATION is on offer at the IAPPA Expo Europe at Excel this September.

 

JAM-PACKED
“We will showcase the opportunities our members can gain from these challenges, as well as explore trends in technology, sustainability, and guest experience,” Peter continues. “Attendees will learn the latest industry trends from leaders across the world and discover insights to improve campground operations, address holiday resort needs and enhance caravan park offerings.” While targeted events like IAAPA Expo Europe help focus the mind, another vital source of learning is from our fellow holiday park operators.

With the current boom in British staycations following the pandemic and the ensuing travel chaos, many parks are choosing to add to their adventure activities which involve the whole family and attractions such as high ropes and climbing towers are perfect for keeping everyone active whilst having fun and creating perfect holiday memories. The key message is: invest in outdoor play and you will be rewarded with happy families who are much more likely to return to your park – and tell their friends about it.

 

 

EARTH-FRIENDLY
Standing out from the crowd for its eco-credentials, play specialists, Kompan can now deliver a full circular playground using sustainable materials, including ocean waste. Green panels on the company’s BLOQX range are made of 75% post- consumer ocean recycled waste. The dark teal panels on their green play units and freestanding items are made of 100% post-consumer recycled waste.

All decks for our largest product series are made of 75% post-consumer ocean recycled waste. “We don’t just claim we are green,” declares Kompan’s Gary Wallis. “We want to validate our claims with a third party to be as open and transparent as possible about our green initiatives. “Therefore, we have worked with Bureau Veritas, the organisation behind the global ISO certifications, to verify our calculations of recycling and carbon emission.”

As a member of The British Holiday and Home Parks Association, Sovereign Play understand how important it is to stand-out in such a competitive staycation and leisure market. A Sovereign play area will do just that. Together with construction companies and architects, Sovereign work diligently transform open spaces and dull tarmac areas into exciting environments for all ages and abilities to enjoy. Parents will often take into consideration the available facilities when deciding on where to stay, and research shows that families are significantly more likely to visit a site with a playground. “Having a safe and secure play area for children to socialise, have fun and stay active will keep families on site for a larger portion of their stay with you and increase your value to customers,” advises Sovereign’s Jordan Randall. “If you are unable to find the perfect equipment for your space, we can also work with you to create bespoke and one-of-a-kind items that fit your space and clientele.”

 

SECONDARY SPEND
The perfect business recipe for play success is to create ‘stay and play’ zones where all the secondary spend benefits such as a café and ice cream bar are close at hand and reaching their full potential. During May, June and into July of 2022 the Innovative Leisure team have been busy around the UK coastline installing a whole variety of adventure equipment at UK resorts. Many of these are now open and being enjoyed by customers. Back in 2020, Innovative Leisure were part way through installing their Sky Trail High Ropes and Sky Tykes Junior Ropes Courses at two Haven Holiday Parks when COVID-19 first struck.

Despite the pandemic, the new attractions were well received by guests when the parks were able to open. Simon Palmer, Head of Activities and Leisure at Bourne Leisure explains: “These new high ropes activities fit in with our strategy of improving the on-site offering to our owners and guests. They create an exciting focal point for family groups and allow us to do more hourly capacity than previous traditional versions. “The junior courses have already performed well at two other Haven sites. Innovative Leisure has supported us throughout the projects and helped overcome some unique pandemic challenges.” The high ropes courses each have a capacity of 25 participants, allowing for approximately 50 people per hour throughout the day, and are suitable for all but the very youngest of visitors. The Sky Tykes junior ropes courses are seven pole courses and feature the exciting Sky Rail Zip element.

With a capacity of 15 participants at any one time, the Sky Tykes low ropes courses offer a fun, safe experience for adventurers as young as two-years- old, as well as being an excellent introduction to the excitement and challenges of ropes course attractions. Park Holidays have introduced Innovative Leisure Climbing Towers into their range of attractions at two sites and John Flack, Head of Entertainment and Security comments: “Bringing climbing walls to our holiday parks, has brought new energy and excitement to what we can offer our guests at our parks.” John shares: “The value the walls have brought to our entertainment programme has been immense and it is wonderful to see three generations of families enjoying the climbing walls. Innovative Leisure have made the process so simple and helped us at each step of the way.”

 

Due to the high demand for exciting new attractions and experiences,World of Rides have upgraded their twin seat soft-Impact Bumper Cars and Bumper Boats, which are recommended to be suitable for use by eight-year-olds and upwards or as a ‘Parent & Child’ family ride. Bumper Boat Aqua-Football and Bumper Car Bumper-Ball are also a very popular variation game, by including a large inflatable ball into the pool or track and erecting goal areas at either end. The Bumper Splash Boats can either be used in a free-standing above-ground pool or on roped-off area of an existing lake or pool. The self-programmable digital timer unit can easily program the speeds, length of time of ride, and price of play as well as alter the volume of the sound effects. They can also be run on cash or tokens, cashless, or on free play at all-inclusive priced parties, and the current UK price of play is £2 to £3 per three-minute ride! However, a number of major UK resort and holiday park operators have been testing the market at £4 per three-minute ride since Easter 2022.

 

FUN FACTOR
Meanwhile, Devon-based Beverley Holidays has upped the fun factor with the opening on its brand new £300k Land Ahoy Adventure Island, complete with seaside-inspired play park and mini golf course. The all-new £300k attraction is a welcome addition to the family run holiday park group in Paignton, where guests can practice their putting skills surrounded by giant ice creams or slide down a life-size lighthouse.

Designed by Greenspan Projects Ltd, Land Ahoy Adventure Island allows little ones to let their hair down on a selection of slides, swings and climbing nets, or pose for a picture on the giant Beverley deckchairs. The accompanying mini golf course scores highly in the fun stakes, with putters put through their paces around a seaside-inspired course complete with a giant sandcastle and other beach- themed favourites. Beverley Holidays director Claire Flower tells us: “It’s great to see our guests making a beeline for our brilliant new Land Ahoy Adventure Island which opened just in time for Easter, with our very own Beverley Bear and Sandy Starfish mascots being the first to give it a whirl.

“It’s a great addition to our holiday parks, providing a safe and secure space where families can get out in the fresh sea air and create holiday memories they’ll treasure forever away from iPads and TV screens. The feedback has been fantastic and the mini golf really is the best by par.” Project consultant Matt Young of Greenspan Projects Ltd says: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with the team at Beverley to design and build such and inspiring play space, not just for young ones, but for all ages to enjoy.”

 

 

GREAT TIMES
The project concept was developed around the history of Beverley Holidays’ from when they started out in the late 1950s, by incorporating nostalgic seaside elements from that era, into both the golf and play areas. Matt adds; “We are extremely pleased that the launch has been a huge success and hope that the attraction will provide fun and enjoyment to all for many years to come.”

Claire, whose family has owned Beverley Holidays for almost 65 years, continues: “Holidays are all about creating memorable experiences that stay with you forever.” “There’s absolutely no doubt that letting your hair down and enjoying the company of other youngsters in a safe environment has a massive part to play. “That’s why we have always put a big emphasis on giving children a great time, be it joining our organised park activities or having fun in the pools. Claire adds: “Our new play zone was a big investment, but we’re delighted with the results – and happy that it also gives parents the chance to enjoy a well-earned breather!”

Unfortunately, the days when children played out on the street all day are long gone. For many children today – especially families without gardens – outdoor play only happens on trips to the park or on holidays. From conventional playgrounds and rides to more nature-based facilities, the onus is on holiday park owners and operators to ensure the play facilities they offer are the best they can be.

 

Adam Henson, of Countryfile fame, heads a rural business portfolio initially started by his father, Joe in the 1940s. The award-winning Cotswold Farm Park boasts a variety of outdoor play equipment such as pedal tractors, swings and two large sandpits – one for the smaller tots and one for the bigger kids. Visitors can climb through a combine harvester attraction and test their balance across a log assault course. They offer heaps of fun to be had in two new areas broadly termed as Aerial Play and Quarry Play. Whilst the grown-ups grab a coffee and an ice cream from Dolly’s, the kids can work on their acrobatic skills on the popular Bouncy Pillows feature - gauging who can jump the highest and who has the best star-jump form!

Beverley Holidays
Tel. 01803 843887
www.beverley-holidays.co.uk

Cotswold Farm Park
Tel. 01451 850307
www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk

IAAPA Expo Europe
Education Conference: Sept. 12-15, 2022
Trade Show: Sept. 13-15, 2022
www.iaapa.org/iaapaexpoeurope

Innovative Leisure
Tel: 0116 271 3095
www.innovativeleisure.co.uk

KOMPAN
Tel: 01908 201002
www.kompan.co.uk/sustainability

Sovereign Design Play Systems Ltd
Tel. 01702 804299
www.sovereignplayequipment.co.uk

World Of Rides
Tel. 0191 492 0999
www.worldofrides.com