It is encouraging to see that since 2010, tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms and Britain is forecast to have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025, with the holiday park and hospitality industry accounting for a large proportion of this growth. The modern holiday park industry is changing.
The increase in popularity of the staycation
Park operators reported an increase in the popularity of the staycation. According to the Great Britain Tourism Survey, in 2015, British residents took 102.7 million overnight trips in England, totalling 300 million nights away from home, with an expenditure of £19.6 billion.
Shorter, but more frequent stays are now becoming more popular. In 2016 research by QHotels, they found that “short breaks are now almost as popular as one-week or two-week holidays. Two thirds (66 per cent) booked at least one short break in the UK or Europe last year, while 68 per cent had a holiday of at least a week.”
This increase in frequency has impacts on the operational side of the holiday park business; with the need to manage changeovers in a more efficient and streamlined manner. With wear and tear rates rising as a result, the need to keep on top of maintenance in a profitable way is imperative.
According to BDRC Continental’s Holiday Trends survey in 2016, 77% of respondents said that safety is now a consideration when planning a holiday abroad. This report’s findings of a more cautious UK holiday maker, twinned with a narrowing of considerations when shortlisting destinations and a higher propensity to use personal recommendations provides a great opportunity for the modern holiday park sector. However, this means that repeat business becomes more important in a focussed market, so the customer as advocate is of primary concern to park operators.
Changing demographics – millennials and the modern holiday park
Many holiday park operators are looking to engage with a new customer demographic, the millennials; but by 2020, millennials will also form 50% of the global workforce. Millennials’ use of digital tools and their affinity with technology means they expect instant access to information, anywhere, anytime.
In the UK Holiday Planning and Booking Trend Report 2016 by Mediahawk “60% of respondents said they engaged with up to eight marketing touchpoints, including paid search ads, holiday brochures, brand website, travel review sites and social media.” Holiday park operators need to link up these touch points to provide consistent experiences and get a full overview of customer contact including historical data.
Although most research is done on a desktop, according to Visit Britain mobile devices are used at some point by 25% of bookers; highlighting the importance of having information easily accessible from all devices.
Nearly one third of all Britons are in some way influenced by social media in their holiday decision making, the BDRC Continental Holiday Trends report claims. Social media is a channel that is fast growing but one where many holiday parks often fail to capitalise on the true potential of using it as a selling and service tool that integrates with other activities.
According to Microsoft when discussing their “Connected Room” on Windows 10 technology concept, it takes on average 12 minutes for a traveller to set up their room on arrival (lights, temperature, TV, navigating amenities). If park operators could also offer this concept to their customers, not only will they improve and personalise the on-site experience; but it will also make cross and up-sell that much easier.
Choosing future proof technology to support growth in a changing sector
The question for modern holiday park operators is how to best capitalise on these opportunities in order to progress in a changing and challenging market. The customer experience spans pre-stay, on-site and follow up. Operators need to provide a joined up, competitive and of course, positive offering.
For further information on how park operators can harness technology to support this customer experience, and for further research on the points raised in this article; please download the Prodware whitepaper “The Modern Traveller | Opportunities facing UK holiday parks”.