In recent years, the UK holiday market has been really up against it. Soaring fuel prices, the credit crunch and some pretty crummy weather saw holidaymakers tightening their belts and opting for cheap holidays abroad or staying at home altogether. However, the self-catering market has always shown a sense of resilience and as holidaymakers were forced to look for better value in their holidays, the ‘staycation’ factor boomed. A major benefactor was, of course, the holiday park.
In 2016, the phenomenon still breathes life and boasts higher figures than pre-recession. This remains good news for holiday parks. With falling oil prices and international security issues plastered all over the news, leisure-seekers are more likely than ever to put fuel in their car to go on their holidays in the UK, especially for short-breaks.
So, with holidaymakers being driven nicely towards the open arms of UK holiday parks, what are the main issues of the day for holiday park managers?
New behaviour, higher expectations
Guests are more demanding. They have more choice, more flexibility, and more say in a connected world. The domestic tourism market is also changing demographically. The greatest growth areas are the retiree and higher social group (or ABC1) markets. The trend towards staycations is becoming increasingly concentrated at the upper end of the market, while much of the current UK tourist infrastructure is concentrated at the lower end.
Holiday park operators are starting to address this shift; many of them are investing in glamping facilities or other luxury accommodation and products to encourage a new kind of experience on site. Catering with, and selling, local produce is also becoming more important, as is promoting ‘wellness’ to a growing band of new clientele by providing, for example, spa days and a range of life-affirming activities.
More online visibility, more connectivity
Holidaymakers now expect to be able to browse a holiday on a responsive website from their mobile or tablet. They want to see top quality, attractive photography and clear, honest information about what kind of holiday experience they will get. They also expect to be able to book their holiday online there and then through a clear, responsive booking engine. And God forbid if a destination doesn’t have WiFi! Holiday park owners can look into improving their websites and connectivity to dramatically reduce turn-aways from potential guests and therefore any loss of precious revenue.
Operational and administrative overload
If you’re out on the road as much as we are, you will often hear park owners say, “Owning, managing or working on a park is a way of life, not a job.” Life is very demanding; there are copious hours of round the clock admin, year-round stress keeping up occupancy levels, producing effective targeted marketing, and keeping the site itself maintained. Getting a good overview of the operational status of the business while keeping a hand on all the nuts and bolts of running a busy holiday park is paramount to an owner or manager.
So the holiday park environment has become challenging; it’s no longer okay just to receive bookings and carry out general maintenance and upkeep. It’s about really knowing customers, nurturing those relationships, planning smarter, constantly innovating and reacting to trends, and providing a gold star customer experience.
This is where a good PMS needs to step in, and Anytime Booking fits the bill
Anytime Booking is a PMS (property management software) that makes life easier for park owners and the very busy members of staff who work on site, addressing the challenges above.
Designed specifically for this sector, Anytime Booking is a responsive online booking and site management software that enables parks to sell holidays online, market through other channels such as Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Pitch Up, handle payments, manage reception, reduce admin, reduce running costs and produce a whole host of operational reporting and segmented marketing to the customers they want to attract. We also give parks the opportunity to sell activities, courses and any other extras such as fire-pit hire, logs, welcome packs, gift vouchers, tickets to barbecue nights, you name it.
“Not only has Anytime Booking revolutionised how I run my business, and kept it open all year round,” says Andrew Radford of Home Farm Camping and Caravanning Park, “an additional and welcome bonus is that we have had a massive increase in bookings. Before, I was often unable to get back to customers soon enough. Keeping track of payments, receipts, who is on site and who is arriving are all so simple with Anytime Booking – the system even sends out email communication, directions and a map on its own! What better service could you give to your guests?”
If you want Anytime Booking to help your holiday park go the extra mile to deliver a gold standard customer service, please contact us on 01326 574660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.