Improving sales at your holiday park

Now that the essential summer peak is over, are you a holiday park owner looking ahead to 2015 with excitement and passion, or does the thought of yet another season fill you with dread?

For many park owners, the reality of this summer is that holiday and caravan sales were not what they hoped for, they don’t have the finances in place for changes in 2015, and they’ve fallen out of love with their business.

Here Andrew Howe, of holiday park management specialist Bridge Leisure Management, tells us how a disillusioned park owner can look ahead to a successful 2015.

Find the right mix of passion and pounds

Holiday parks need emotion to succeed and owners have to be passionate about their product, but they have to find the correct mix of emotion versus commercial focus to invest their time and money efficiently, or risk being a busy fool.

For holiday park owners who have watched their business grow over many years, there will be pet projects and visions for the future that will fire excitement in them but might not fit in with the requirements of their customers.

Similarly, there might be small faults that have become the accepted norm for the park team but leave guests feeling cold. When I was a park manager I stopped noticing a skip that was handily parked at our entrance, until a guest pointed out how awful it looked – small changes can make a big difference.

For owners, now is the time to take a big step back and review their park, services, facilities and plans from a distance, and ask themselves which ones work, which don’t, and which can be done better. Be ruthless, and drop those that don’t pay.

Make sense of your marketing

Regardless of marketing budget, there are certain things that park owners can do for little cost that will have a very real impact on their business.

Begin a review of your marketing at the start of your potential customers’ journey, with a search on Google. Do you appear in results for the popular search terms your customers will use, such as “holiday park in…” plus your location.

If you don’t appear in the top five, now is the time to consider your marketing approach and how to increase your visibility.

We regularly see holiday parks that have websites that are not optimised for Google, and often some research and simple changes can have a drastic impact on their rankings – one client we work with increased their web traffic by around 15,000 visits every month.

Before you pay an agency to tackle this for you, read through one of the many free tutorials on search engine optimisation. You can often implement these changes yourself, or decide which areas you want an expert company to focus on.

Improve your product range

Over the past few years successful holiday parks have been able to attract customers who might previously have summered abroad but now want the financial benefits of staying closer to home. Yet they still want wow factor with their holiday and will seek out something different to get it – glamping tents, tree houses, spectacular views or ultra-luxurious mobile homes could appeal.

Does your product stand out from the competition and are you making enough money to succeed?

If you have identified a gap in your market, do you have the vision and nerve to bring in investment for new product?

Finance is available for park owners who have a compelling strategy for growth but to get it you must be ready to learn the language of banking to pass the ever more challenging lending criteria that banks have put in place – an experience that is a world away from the day-to-day running of a holiday park.

Take a look at yourself

Owning a holiday park affects your sleep, your relationships, your life – do you still have the hunger and motivation to do the job effectively?

If you don’t, do you have a plan for change? Can you handover the running of your holiday park to family, can you sell, or can you bring in someone else to manage the park for you?

Bridge Leisure Management works with holiday park owners across the UK, providing expert support for managing the park on your behalf, leasing the park from you or providing support for a successful succession within the family.

If you are a holiday park owner who has lost their passion, we can provide a prosperous alternative to another season of struggle.

Andrew Howe is chief executive of Bridge Leisure Management. Find out more by visiting www.bridgeleisure.com/contact-us or call 01908 686 600.