More Brits than ever took a staycation in 2021 (up 51% from 2020) – and they liked it so much they’re planning to do it again in 2022. Recent research shows that more than eight out of 10 UK holidaymakers who took a staycation in 2021 hope to take another next year. On top of that:
- 28% preferred a staycation over a holiday abroad
- 52% planned to take one staycation and one holiday abroad in 2022
- In a developing trend, 20% are considering taking a winter break in the UK
It means that UK holiday park operators are ideally placed to maximise revenues and widen their target markets, attracting new visitors. At the same time, the pandemic and its aftermath have created challenges. Focusing on finding solutions to these now will help to safeguard holiday park businesses for the future.
Below, we look at some of the ways technology can help operators embrace challenges they face.
1. Increasing customer expectations
Staycationers expect the same quality of vacation as they have experienced abroad, especially if they’re paying similar prices. Expectations of locally sourced food and premium drinks mean operators need to review food and beverage purchasing and look for ways to increase quality and choice without eroding profitability.
Rising expectations also apply to the digital experience, with holidaymakers increasingly demanding a high-quality, easy-to-use and personalised service. For holiday park operators, this means offering a seamless customer journey from booking a stay, to checking in, ordering food, reserving activities, paying bills, and receiving offers and discounts for their current and/or future stay.
A single source of customer data, achieved by joining up customer-facing and back-office systems, is the essential foundation of this seamless customer experience. Removing fragmented systems gives customers convenience and control, which makes them more likely to spend more and come back to stay again.
2. Guest and staff safety
Operators want to open safely, protect guests and staff members from any risks, including but not exclusively Covid, and minimise staff shortages due to sickness or self-isolation. New legislation around allergens, such as Natasha’s Law, now requires businesses to label all ingredients and allergen data on pre-packaged food. Thankfully technology can lend a hand here too.
Solutions businesses should consider, if they are not doing so already, include app-based at-table or in-lodge ordering, click and collect, contactless payment, and allergen data management and monitoring.
3. Keeping them in
If the positive trading predictions come to fruition next year, operators can look forward to another bumper holiday season in 2022. But how can holiday parks capitalise on the opportunity to increase revenues further, ensuring visitors make the most of onsite facilities to increase on-park spend?
Smartly managed loyalty programs will help to encourage rebooking, while integrated marketing and sales systems can help marketing teams reach more prospects in more channels with less budget.
Tech systems help here by giving control to guests. A fully integrated suite of technology solutions can enable them to prebook activities, preselect tables, pre-order food and have it delivered to their accommodation. By making it as easy as possible to browse and book holiday park experiences, guests will be less inclined to look for alternative options.
4. Staff shortages
Staff shortages in hospitality are the worst since records began in 2001, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Between May and July this year there were 117,000 vacant hospitality roles – this represents a 73,000 rise in vacancies from the previous quarter, with many businesses looking to recruit as lockdown restrictions eased.
The Confederation of British Industry predicts that the staffing crisis is set to last at least another two years. Holiday park operators will no doubt be thinking about how best to navigate the crisis whilst maximising occupancy and maintaining safety. Such strategies could include more use of automation and guest self-service. This introduction of further automated services will have the added benefit of freeing up staff from doing time-consuming admin tasks to spending more one-on-one time with guests to deliver services that exceed expectations.
5. Taking stock
Rebuilding after the pandemic has been made even tougher with ongoing supply and delivery challenges.
UKHospitality estimates some hospitality businesses are facing cost inflation of 13% due to rises across food and drink prices, utility bills and wages. Businesses will therefore have to re-evaluate their food and beverage offering to increase margins. Again, efficiency can be helped here with integrated stock control and ordering technology.
Staff wages are also on the up. The new rate for the National Minimum Wage comes into effect in the spring at the beginning of the new season, but wages have already been increasing above and beyond this due to the staffing shortage. Restaurant and retail chain Itsu, for example, announced an 11% increase in September 2021 and others are likely to follow suit.
For holiday park operators, a higher wage bill will significantly eat into profits unless they can find ways to make savings elsewhere. A single source of operational data and a good business integrated solution can surface savings opportunities. Hoburne Leisure, for example saved 11% on food and beverage costs over three years using an integrated purchasing solution, which gave them real-time visibility over the whole supply chain.
Of course, there is no simple silver bullet to the challenges of rising costs, customer expectations and staffing pressures but technology is undoubtedly a key part if the solution. Zonal’s connected suite of hospitality solutions can help to optimise the customer experience, ensure safety, and maximise occupancy and revenues while minimizing costs and admin in your holiday park operation.
Visit our dedicated web page to learn more.
 Opinion Matters on behalf of Hoseasons