VERDANT CELEBRATE IN STYLE

VERDANT CELEBRATE IN STYLE

Bespoke holiday park operator Verdant Leisure recently celebrated its 10th birthday in style with gifts for staff and holiday homeowners. Through its social media pages, Verdant gave away 10 holidays to one lucky family who has a child that turned 10 years old in September. Verdant Leisure runs ten UK holiday parks in spectacular locations across South East Scotland, Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Perthshire & North East England offering a wide range of accommodation from self-catering caravans, deluxe lodges to camping pods, glamping pods and touring pitches at selected parks.

BEATING HEART

Customers and staff have been at the heart of the business since it was born in 2010 – the brainchild of founders CEO Graham Hodgson, Commercial Director Bev Dixon and Finance Director Andrew Wall. The company employs over 300 staff and is passionate about building a solid team, who are invested in the brand and deliver exceptionally high customer service. As a testament to their engaged and happy employees, Verdant Leisure were awarded 13th Best Company toWork For in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies List in 2020, 3rd in the North East and 9th Best Company in Scotland. “We value all members of the Verdant Leisure team and really treasure the people who make our company what it is. It has been the same since 2010 and each and every one of them has played a large part in our success, today is really about them and our customers – both new and existing,” says CEO Graham Hodgson. Verdant Leisure’s service levels ensured that 2019 saw 60% of guests booking again and the latest customer satisfaction survey results show that 95% of holiday guests would recommend Verdant Leisure to family and friends. “The 2020 customer base has shifted slightly, we’re welcoming lots of new customers into the Verdant family, many of whom may not have enjoyed a British holiday park break for a number of years,” continues Graham.

A significant number of new customers are also deciding to purchase holiday homes on Verdant Leisure’s parks as the post-Lockdown staycation uplift sees no signs of abating. Verdant Leisure was founded in September 2010 following a management buy-in of Dunham Leisure Limited, owners of Pease Bay and Thurston Manor Leisure Parks in South East Scotland. Verdant went on to purchase Viewfield Manor Leisure Park in Ayrshire in July 2011 and Riverside Leisure Park in Northumberland in 2012. Kingfisher and Heather View Leisure parks in Wear Valley, and Coldingham Bay were then acquired. Scoutscroft Leisure Park was purchased in February 2018 followed by Queensberry Bay in Dumfriesshire in October 2018. In January 2020 Verdant Leisure purchased Erigmore in Perthshire bringing Verdant Leisure’s portfolio to ten parks across Scotland and North East England. This deal continued the company’s growth strategy to create a strong regional group with significant scale, and Verdant Leisure remains keen to add further parks to its group over the next 18 months.

Verdant Leisure
Tel. 03300 535524
www.verdantleisure.co.uk

TAKE COVER

TAKE COVER

Timber, steel or tensile, Fordingbridge canopies provide quick, permanent solutions to allow year-round covered space at UK holiday parks.
UK holidaymakers now wish to enjoy more time outside, and Fordingbridge are here to help holiday park operators adapt, ensuring their facility can provide this extra weather protected space throughout the year.
If you are looking to provide shade and rain protection for your guests, contact us today to see how we can help your park.

Fordingbridge
01243 554455
www.fordingbridge.co.uk

ALL POINTS COVERED

ALL POINTS COVERED

Compass are specialist insurance providers to the holiday and residential parks industry and operate in unique alliance with BH&HPA.

Our park business policy rolls covers together to keep things simple and can protect everything from your park’s liabilities, buildings, infrastructure, facilities, machinery, employees and members of the public to your own home and its contents.

We also help parks sell or introduce our carefully designed private owners’ cover, because we know that a customer’s loss can impact on your business.

Compass Insurance
0344 274 0276
www.compassparks.co.uk

WISH YOU WERE HERE – Golden Cap Holiday Park

WISH YOU WERE HERE

Picture postcards from Dorset's Golden Cap Holiday Park

Guests to the real-life Jurassic Park on the scenic Dorset coast are unlikely to get bored of the scenery in a hurry. Even after the sunset, Golden Cap Holiday Park have some of the most breath-taking views from their popular Stargazer tents. Marketed under the West Dorset Leisure Holidays banner, Golden Cap Holiday Park has a picturesque location on the Jurassic Coast, just 150 yards from Seatown Beach and surrounded by 2,000 acres of National Trust land. Ideally situated for walkers, dog owners and families, the park is nestled in a quiet valley next to a stream and is surrounded by footpaths. Boasting a fantastic location next to Seatown Beach the Park is a paradise for walkers and dog owners.

There is a peaceful fishing lake on the park as well as a reception, pizza takeaway and visitor information, while the South West Coast Path runs right past the park Just a short drive from the park are Lyme Regis and Charmouth - worldrenowned for fossil hunting and breathtaking scenery. And for those wanting to stay a bit closer to home.

Family-run, Golden Cap welcomes families, friends and couples with a range of accommodation – luxury two and three-bedroom Lodges with sea and countryside views, two and three bedroom holiday homes, glamping units including a Stargazer Belle Tent, Safari tent and camping and glamping options, pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and camping as well as holiday homes for sale. In 2018, the park celebrated 40 years under the ownership of the Cox Family.

The occasion coincides with the arrival of some brand new modern camping pods, perfect for families, couples and groups. These pods expand the popular glamping range to nine units, some of which are dog-friendly.

Golden Cap Holiday Park
Tel. 01308 442139
www.goldencapholidaypark.co.uk

ADAPTING TO COVID-19 IMPACT

ADAPTING TO COVID-19 IMPACT

Woodberry is a leading supplier of outdoor furniture to the UK hospitality industry, with over 100 years combined experience in the family team. As a family run company, Woodberry was fortunate that it didn’t have to shut during lockdown but the company has certainly diversified. With all customers closed, Woodberry quickly diversified their workshop to manufacture temporary hospital doors for the NHS Nightingale Hospitals.

During March and April, the seven-strong family team produced 200 doors per week. In May, it started to supply Covid-19 secure products, such as perspex screens, hand sanitisers and outdoor serveries, to help prepare hospitality customers for reopening. Woodberry also started to run webinars cohosted by industry experts to help prepare customers and interpret the guidelines issued by the government. Speed of delivery for customers was crucial in June as we all finally got confirmation of a reopening date.

Woodberry has good levels of stock and was and is able to delivery within 1-2 weeks of order (or quicker given the need). “We have been incredibly fortunate to be able to remain open and support our customers during lockdown,” says Tim Barr, General Manager at Woodberry. “As a small company we can respond quickly to change. By constantly talking to our customers we have been able to understand their needs and to help their businesses get back up and running quickly, easily and most cost effectively.”

QUIET SITE SECURES TOP AWARD

QUIET SITE SECURES TOP AWARD

DANIEL HOLDER with fresh produce from The Quiet Site’s “zero waste” food shop

Family and team members at The Quiet Site in Cumbria are celebrating their triumph in the finals of the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2020. The Watermillock Park was named as the Silver winner in the category for sustainable tourism businesses which bring benefits to the environment and local communities. This year’s award ceremony, hosted by popular TV presenter Julia Bradbury, was a “virtual” event streamed live. It was watched at The Quiet Site by Daniel Holder and his wife Anne along with family, friends, holiday guests and members of the Quiet team.

“We were thrilled when it was announced that The Quiet Site is among England’s top three tourism businesses championing sustainability,” said Daniel. “The VisitEngland awards are known as the Oscars for the holiday industry, and we’re very proud to be able to bring this silver award home to Cumbria. “I hope it will help put the national spotlight on our county as a place where visitors can enjoy the world’s most beautiful scenery without impacting negatively on the environment. “After what has been a very testing time for tourism enterprises everywhere, this is a wonderful way to show that the Lake District is truly back in business,” added Daniel.

The Quiet Site has invested heavily in sustainable technologies including solar panels and biomass heating, as well as banning single-use plastics, and implementing a “buy local” policy. Last year, the park opened a “zero waste” food shop which specialises in Cumbrian produce free from unnecessary packaging, and with the fewest possible food miles under its belt.

TRIPLE TRIUMPH FOR OLD OAKS

TRIPLE TRIUMPH FOR OLD OAKS

Glastonbury’s Old Oaks Touring and Glamping Park has scored hat-trick of awards in a national poll carried out by the UK’s two top touring magazines. The readers of Practical Caravan and has scored a hat-trick of awards in a national poll carried out by the UK’s two top touring magazines.

The readers of Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome voted Old Oaks as their favourite park on which to stay in Somerset, Avon and Wiltshire Dorset. In the same annual poll, readers also named Old Oaks as Britain’s best park for enjoying adults-only stays which are free from the patter of tiny feet.

Completing the hat trick of honours, the publication presented the park with its national award for the Best Green Site in the UK for eco-friendly holidays. Old Oaks has been in the same family’s ownership for over 30 years, and is managed by family members Tara White and her husband James. As well as touring pitches, the park provides a range of exciting glamping options including luxurious fully-equipped mini cedar lodges, shepherds huts and cosy camping cabins.

WELCOME FOR FIRST TIMERS

WELCOME FOR FIRST TIMERS

First-time motorhome users are being promised a soft and sympathetic landing when they pull into one of the Lakes District’s most popular parks for tourers. Skelwith Fold in Ambleside is going all out to win the confidence of couples and families taking their debut drive in a motorhome this year. “It’s clear that many people during lockdown were dreaming of experiencing just such a holiday, and now their chance has come,” said park director Henry Wild. “Hiring a motorhome is now very much on trend with younger guests, and we want to ensure that their first taste of this lifestyle will give them an appetite for more.” Guests arriving at the 130-acre park for the contactless fast check-in will be asked by staff if they have visited before, and offered help if this is their first motorhome outing. “Motorhome hire firms usually do an excellent job of explaining everything during handover, but after that you are on your own and it can feel a little daunting,” Henry said. “Our message is, never be afraid to ask for help at the park – if it hasn’t already been offered by other more experienced motorhome users nearby, which often happens. “Some of our first-timers have already become second-timers, so we’re delighted that those lockdown dreams are living up to expectations!” added Henry.

THE NEW NORMAL

THE NEW NORMAL - Swimming Pool Focus

Step up your duty of care pool protocols in light of the pandemic…
In the light of the global pandemic, it has never been more vital to show duty of care for your holiday park swimming pool users. You don’t just need to follow the guidance. You need to evidence you are following that guidance. Swim England has published and is constantly updating comprehensive Return to Pools Guidance to coincide with the government controlling lockdown measures. All available through the Swim England website and easily downloadable, five detailed documents have been created and are based on the latest scientific advice and government guidelines. The guidance includes robust recommendations for operators, casual swimmers, lane swimming, family-fun sessions, club activity, teachers and those attending swimming lessons. “As pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different, but if we are to play our part in protecting the NHS from another wave of Covid-19 admissions, it is important we follow the latest guidance and adjust to the new ‘normal’,” comments Jane Nickerson, Chief Executive, Swim England The Swim England information aims to support operators in re-opening swimming facilities following the period of closure, due to Covid-19, and provides guidance on reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission within the swimming pool environment.

 

HYGIENE REGIMES

The information highlights the continued requirements for safe social distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes, along with guidance on how this will impact on the operational management of swimming facilities. The guide also includes details on getting pools back to operational requirements, certification, programming, understanding the new needs of users coming out of isolation (especially the most vulnerable) and protecting and training the workforce. Operators should have a dedicated officer responsible for Covid-19 considerations, making sure that they are up to date with central or local government recommendations. If your pool water is chlorine-treated to Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) guidelines, you can state, with confidence, that Covid-19 should not be transmissible through the swimming pool water. It is worth noting that most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, Swim England advises, however where systems serve multiple buildings, or operators are unsure, advice should be sought from an appropriate heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineer or adviser.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Maintaining social distancing is paramount in order to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid 19 between participants, this is important both whilst in and out of the water.
Distance: The greater the distance between participants the lower the level of risk of transmission via air droplets.
Activity: The way in which participants move during the activity will determine how you can control the above two parameters, for example lane swimming is a controlled setting where participants are guided to swim in a set direction.

THE BREAN SPLASH POOL not only serves holiday park guests, but also to the local community.

The swimming pool industry is urging holiday park operators to urgently have their swimming pool check plantrooms and water testing systems by appropriately qualified specialists. “Following extended shutdowns, we have to warn holiday swimming pool operators, they are potentially returning to the most dangerous pathogens lurking in pool water,” warns Dyfed Thompson-Smith of leading supplier, AstralPool UK. “Follow correct procedures including bacteriological tests in case there has been any significant break in disinfection. “It is not scare-mongering,” he emphasises. “It is just being sensible.” Pool users too are being urged to comply with guidance including arriving ready to swim, showering away from the pool and changing rooms, and leaving he pool as soon as possible after swimming. Pool users are reminded to respect people of different swimming standards and abilities, always maintaining appropriate social distance between yourself and another swimmer.

Swimmers need reminding that if they change their pace, by opting for a slower stroke, they may have to switch designated speed lanes while staying hydrated by bringing their own ‘prefilled’ water bottle on to poolside during your swim. Meanwhile, Swim England has pleaded with the Government to ensure swimming doesn’t become leisure’s ‘forgotten activity’ – after it was revealed almost a third of public pools could remain closed for another six months. However, less than 20 per cent of local authority-owned facilities will welcome swimmers back into the water on reopening day – and many of those will be at a reduced capacity. New research also shows 30 per cent of public pools may remain closed into 2021 due to the exceptional costs councils face to reopen facilities – coupled with the income lost during the lockdown period.

 

BLUE SKY THINKING

BLUE SKY THINKING

The cloud holds the power for switched on holiday business...

If we have learned anything from the global pandemic crisis, and its impact on our holiday business, it is surely the importance of access to user-friendly, joined-up management systems. From on-line marketing to ‘click to confirm’ buttons, as the Covid-19 curtain was raised, a booking stampede was triggered with demand exceeding availability by an estimated three-fold. Switched-on operators now boast sophisticated monitoring systems to alert them to booking trends. The big players will know from geographic triggers which destinations are top of the holiday pops. Equally, from tourer pitches to luxury lodges, they will have a close eye on the trends for holiday accommodation requests. Like all aspects of business, knowledge is the key to success. Capitalising on the gold rush, those operators were quick to raise prices as demand spiralled. Constantly monitoring those graphs, with performance alerts, they are more akin to stock market traders than the traditional bucket and spade brigade. It’s more important than ever that park operators keep pace with technology – especially when it comes to maximising online bookings and sales.

USER-FRIENDLY

In today’s post Covid-19 market, sharp and effective websites with user-friendly online booking systems, search engine optimisation, e-blasts, apps and cookie-based promotion – the e-marketing revolution is in full flow with the majority of holiday businesses investing or ignoring at their peril. Net Guides are the brains behind one of the market’s most popular systems, GemaPark.

“Online bookings are so important in saving time and increasing revenue,” advises Netguides Managing Director, Dawn Bee. “In the new socially distanced world of today the system should provide online check-in, easy ways to keep in touch with customers if things change, and the ability for customers to manage their bookings and rebook if required,” Dawn adds. “Make sure they are easy for your customers, integrate well with your website, and give you the flexibility to sell what you want.”

Still not convinced? A huge proportion research their holidays on line before going on to click booking links to confirm their holidays. Google data shows that 45% of UK travellers feel comfortable researching, planning and booking trips to new destinations using only their mobile smart phone. More than a third, 33%, of consumers say they’ve used a virtual travel assistant to help organise and plan their next trip. 72% of mobile phone bookings happen within 48 hours of last-minute Google searches. Those booking systems cannot just be business-friendly they need to be user-friendly. For a visitor to the website, the online booking system should be straightforward and easy to use, and clearly provide the visitor with all the information they need to book their stay. It must be logical, with quality pictures and descriptions so that customers can make their preferred selection.

LOOKS MATTER

Having the booking page designed in the same style as the website and having the payment taken directly from the website page considerably helps this, and directly increases the number of online bookings made. Customers like to feel comfortable and secure as they navigate around the website booking pages. Equally, the system should be just as simple for the reservation team to use, making it easy for them to carry out tasks such as taking payment, amend bookings, calculate tariffs, generate ‘remote access’ arrival and departure reports and undertake online marketing initiatives. A key advantage of having a webbased booking system that operates off one platform, is that when an online booking is made it immediately goes into the management system, therefore avoiding mistakes and errors.

CASHING IN

Another area technology that has started to see major take up by caravan and holiday parks, arcades and family entertainment centres worldwide is the cashless payment system. The system replaces traditional methods of transaction like tokens, coins, and admission tickets with a simple card. Guests use the plastic card, similar to a credit card, to make all of their transactions on site. The cards can be loaded with any amount, and once swiped at an activity, the appropriate value is deducted. The card system goes well beyond a payment method, but includes a full suite of products designed to handle all the pay to play activities, as well as the monitoring of customers activity and games performance. Park operators benefit from the endless marketing and pricing opportunities that become available, while at the same time reduce operating costs and improve cash control. With all customers using cards for their activity within the site or across multiple sites of the same chain, operators have the opportunity to profile their customers and create marketing promotions and packages based on the real spending habits. This in turn can generate more return visits and higher spend during each visit. Ignorance may be bliss but it will be the switched-on holiday park businesses, who embrace new technology, that stand to reap the rewards and benefits of multiple net gains.