7 ways to accelerate your park opening plans
2020 has made a massive impact on the holiday park industry; navigating full lockdowns, reduced operations, second waves, border closures, you name it. But with domestic and regional travel being among the first to recover, holiday parks are well placed to take advantage. Following government guidelines and adjusting to the new normal, many park operators are welcoming their guests back with open arms. For those that haven’t already, here are seven ways to ensure a successful holiday park reopening.
1. Spread the news
Nothing beats good old-fashioned communication when it comes to keeping your future guests in the loop. With staycations on the rise, the market is yours for the picking. According to Peter Clay from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, “62% of caravans and campers have said that COVID-19 has made them more likely to take a domestic holiday than before.” This shows just how resilient the park industry can be during a crisis and that guests are still eager for outdoor breaks.
Targeted email and SMS campaigns are a great way to get your brand out there and tell people exactly what you’re doing in response to evolving guest and government needs. Make the most of these tailored customer engagement tools to stimulate demand by inviting guests back, keeping your brand front of mind and reminding them of the steps you’re taking to ensure your park is COVID-safe.
2. Manage your rates
With staycations on the rise, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’ll be plenty of other holiday parks competing for your guests. That’s why it’s crucial to price competitively and accordingly. A powerful rate manager is a great tool that adjusts your rates to reflect occupancy. With many guests booking their stay last-minute, a rate manager combined with a dynamic pricing strategy is essential for maximising your revenue at every opportunity.
3. Boost direct bookings
Multi-park owner and RMS customer, Aaron McFarlane from Shelly Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park in New Zealand, recommends using your internet booking engine (IBE) to deliver your best price, saving you time and money in the long run. “Encourage guests to book directly by offering specials on your IBE channel, like a book online discounted rate, late checkout or free night promotion which they can’t get on the OTAs,” says Aaron. “We also mark all our OTA rates up using the derived tariffs – so our IBE price is the best price the guest can find versus the OTA rates. Often a guest will find us via the OTA, check out our website and then book directly once they see our pricing.”
4. Consider inviting guests and their furry friends
If you’re a park that can accommodate pets, then that’s a significant selling point you’ll want to tell guests about. According to Caroline Robbins from Airbnb, many guests are driving to their destinations and are keen to bring their four-legged family members with them. “We know that it might be uncomfortable—or even impossible—for some hosts to offer a pet-friendly space. But if hosts can, now’s a great time to make the switch.”
5. Go contactless with check-in
One thing that guests are eager to see are contact-free solutions that create a seamless digital experience. Caroline Robbins has noticed that the option to self-check-in is a huge consideration for guests nowadays. “Though guests once appreciated a warm personal welcome, self-check-in has become one of the most popular search filters in the past few months,” says Caroline.
“Self-check-in allows hosts to provide great hospitality even while social distancing."
Caroline Robbins, Connectivity Partnerships Manager for Airbnb
6. Track your cleaning
For parks that offer cabins, lodges, pods or communal areas, there needs to be a strong COVID-safe strategy in place. “Parks need to increase their cleaning regime, encourage good respiratory hygiene, introduce social distancing practices and keep accurate records of those visiting their business for contract tracing,” says Chris Johnson from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia. “Most importantly, the COVID-safe plan will need to be a ‘living’ document, meaning it will need to be updated with actions adjusted in line with your local situation and changing health directives.”
A smart and easy way to record guest visits is to implement a digital health declaration form that guests can fill in during the online check-in process. Completed declarations can then be stored under their reservation in the PMS and sent to the relevant agencies for track and trace purposes.
In terms of sanitation, an interactive staff portal is a great way to track which rooms have received the appropriate cleaning. Holiday park operators can add tasks in real-time and assign them to available housekeepers. It’s an efficient and safety-conscious solution that streamlines all cleaning in-line with COVID requirements.
7. Keep your guests coming back
A loyalty initiative that rewards guests for staying with you is a great incentive to encourage them to make a return visit. Fergus Brown, Chief Executive for Holiday Parks New Zealand, has noticed that holiday parks are doing better than other accommodation sectors. According to his research, August 2020 showed hotel guest stays were down 47.2% whereas holiday parks were up 11.1%. Giving your guests even more reasons to return will keep that percentage rising and your holiday park thriving.
As international travel remains challenging for the foreseeable future, take advantage of those looking for something closer to home. The key insights are that guests want to see that you’ve adjusted to suit their needs, safety is a huge priority and your rates should be reflective of the current climate. Communicating this via marketing will show guests that you’re ticking all the necessary boxes.
Download our free ebook to learn more about reopening strategies.