Hoseasons Conference 2014
There were in excess of 400 delegates at the Conference and it was a great opportunity to meet with operators in the industry and other professionals who provide a wide range of services to park home sites to include luxury Jacuzzi facilities, online booking systems and playgrounds for parks.
The Conference programme was full of interesting speakers and really provided us with food for thought in respect of the issues facing the holiday parks industry today. The key messages from the Conference were threefold:
- In this modern world holidaymakers expect more in the way of technology in their holiday homes whether or not that home is a traditional lodge or a narrow boat. This means connection to a Wi-Fi network that provides a fast and reliable service is expected.
However should that service be offered free of charge? That question was debated during the Panel Session during which Ruth Badger, finalist in the second series of the Apprentice, suggested that Wi-Fi should be free in communal areas but that most holidaymakers expected to pay for access to the internet.
- It is important for holiday parks to carefully monitor residents’ uses of their holiday homes. The well publicised case of the residents at Lakeminster Park has provided all operators in the industry with a salient reminder of the consequences of failing to ensure that residents do not occupy their holiday home on a permanent basis.
The residents on the Lakeminster site are understood to have issued proceedings against the site owner seeking £5.5 million in damages on the grounds of misrepresentation. Humberside Police has also arrested a number of individuals in connection with a fraud investigation.
Operators from Wales will be all too familiar with the Holiday Caravan Park (Wales) Bill which proposes that all site owners carry out a ‘residence test’ which will include maintaining a register of all residents alternative addresses together with corresponding evidence that they live at that address. It is anticipated that the ‘residence test’ will also be implemented in England in due course.
- The current political focus on school holidays and whether or not children should be permitted to go on holiday outside of the normal school holidays is an issue in which the industry is very much interested. Not least because the school holidays affect the pricing structures of all parks but also because a change in holiday times may mean a change in the way seasonal staff operate at a number of the parks.
We shall be focussing on the above topics in our upcoming series of blogs with a view to addressing common issues experienced by holiday park owners.
One message was clear from the Conference, UK holidays are on the rise and there is a real market for the ‘staycation’. Unfortunately the weather in the UK may not always be predictable but the industry is continuing to grow and its achievements should be celebrated.