STEPPING UP THEIR GAME
A personal view by Jamaine Campbell of MD Elite Dynamics
Solely from an industry viewpoint, if two years of Covid have shown us anything it’s that holiday parks are an increasingly attractive proposition. In the last 12 months we’ve seen huge international conglomerates want a piece of the pie with CVC Capital Partners acquiring Away Resorts & Coppergreen Leisure Resorts, Sun Communities acquiring Park Holidays and Cove Communities acquiring Argyll Holidays – the value of those three combined deals alone close to £1.5bn.
Manufacturers have been responding to record demand for caravans and lodges and holiday parks have had a strong 2021 on the back of what was a challenging 2020 for everyone within the travel and hospitality industry. Almost every week, there’s a new report about land somewhere in the UK being turned into new holiday parks.
Added to that, there’s some pretty impressive amounts of money being invested by holiday park operators to improve, enhance, and introduce new facilities to existing holiday parks and resorts. There will inevitably be people who are desperate to board a plane and fly off to the sun at the first opportunity -- we’ve seen the photographs from UK airports at Easter to prove it! However, for every one of those people, there will be another who can’t face the hassle or who still feels apprehensive or vulnerable travelling anywhere.
The pandemic introduced a new audience of people to caravan and lodge holidays, and for the first time in their lives they’ve had their eyes opened to how great they can be and can’t wait to go back. If someone has paid thousands of pounds out for an amazing lodge with a hot tub, they’ll be going back to that park time and time again. Like anything in business… you’ll win some customers, and you’ll lose some, but the demand is still there, and the forecast is still bright. Thanks in part to that demand and in response to new players entering the market, holiday parks are stepping up their game on all levels - investing in facilities and investing in technology.
For many, it’s more than a holiday park now, they’re growing into holiday resorts with multiple revenue streams; everything from golf courses to spa treatments to a range of added value activities. They’re branching out and at the same time coming to understand the benefits of modern business software solutions that can handle multiple revenue streams and growth to multiple parks. Yes, they need a park management system that manages bookings and owners. But now, they also need an integrated CRM system and an Owners App as everyone knows how important it is to engage with customers and owners.
They want a membership module if they’ve got any type of leisure facility, they want an Events module if they offer weddings and conferences, they want an activities module if they do yoga or bookable kid’s activities. Then they want key integrations to EPOS and Digital signature and to third-party payment gateways like WorldPay or Sage Pay. The more revenue streams a holiday park has, the more they need a software solution that can bring it all together. For us at Elite Dynamics, the future is more integration and deeper integration to the Microsoft platforms our products are built on.
There are so many exciting third-party integrations and power apps available that can change the way holiday parks operate in terms of efficiencies and exceeding customer expectations; from contactless check-ins and payments to RFID tagging of caravans to scan them on and off parks. For the last six years we’ve been doing what we can to help educate the holiday park industry on the benefits of technology. Although as an industry we’re still several years behind the hotel market on adopting technology, we’re definitely moving in the right direction.
I love this industry. From the first moment I set foot on a holiday park, I loved it. That’s why the driver for everyone at Elite Dynamics is to get the industry to move toward a position where technology isn’t something to be feared, but part of a strategic move to improve business. With dedication, commitment, and focus everyone connected to the industry can benefit from adopting technology and have a greater awareness of what is possible.