Peter Bull Resorts have introduced flexible booking across all of its holiday parks for 2019. The change will allow customers to check in to holiday accommodation on any day and choose their own length of stay.
Traditionally holiday parks have offered a choice of three check in days throughout the week and a limited choice of stay lengths, most usually 3, 4 or 7 nights. However, in order to offer customers greater flexibility Peter Bull Resorts has decided to move away from the traditional booking model.
The Group, formed in 2014, which now owns three holiday parks on the North Coast of Cornwall said that they have made the transition in response to customer demand, particularly customers who might visit the area in the shoulder months. Director Barry McGregor said:
“Our parks are open for 12 months of the year, so we need to make sure that we are catering for people who aren’t restricted to taking breaks in the school holidays as well as our traditional family market.”
In recent years holiday lengths have been decreasing with trade sources reporting this year that Brits are taking 4 million more short breaks, than they did ten years ago, a trend which has been confirmed by the Office of National Statistics:
“One of the biggest changes we’ve seen over the last 20 years is the rise of short breaks and second and third holidays.”
Short breaks take less planning, generally involve less travel and allow consumers to take more breaks in the year and therefore cover more wish list destinations. Peter Bull Resorts have seen evidence of this change in their own bookings data. Mr McGregor explained:
“This year we have seen an 8% reduction in the 7-night caravan break compared to last season, but overall our bookings have increased. During the 2018 season we trialled flexible booking at our two largest parks and have already started to see the results. In 2017 60% of our bookings were for 5-night stays or less but in 2018 it had risen to 64% with a 10% increase in two-night stays. Through rolling this out across the Group and throughout the whole year we fully expect to see short breaks increase even more in 2019.”
Mr McGregor continued:
“Today’s price sensitive customers are very open as to which type of holiday accommodation they book and they aren’t necessarily setting out with a clear preference between hotels, apartments and holiday parks.”
“The rise in popularity and availability of self-catering accommodation, mean that the self-catering options that we offer are ideal for today’s consumer and are excellent value as they can sleep up to eight people. This all means that we need to ensure that we are competitive with the service that we provide too and availability is a big part of that.”
As well as a market trend of reducing holiday lengths there has also been an increase in later bookers with Google reporting a 150% increase in travel searches for “today” or “tonight”. The rise of the Smart Phone has seen people increasingly become more used to an “on demand” marketplace and travel customers are no exception. Peter Bull Resorts hope that their flexible new approach will be attractive to the more spontaneous traveller:
Mr McGregor concluded:
“Our customers have many different aspects to consider when booking a holiday, differing work patterns, varying school holiday dates and of course budget, are all big influencers on the decision of when and where to take a holiday. We want to make sure that our customers can really get the holiday that best suits them, by being as flexible as possible.”
The Group are also still ensuring that they cater for their traditional market by reducing nightly rates for longer length bookings; and developments like these are helping to ensure that Holiday Parks remain strong contenders in the leisure and tourism industry.