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One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to holiday park vacations, is that they are purely designed and created for children and family groups. While there are no doubt a wide selection of holiday parks available on a global scale which target families with young and older children, the industry is also home to a variety of holiday parks which cater to adults and older consumers – both on a large international scale and on a much more local scale. Besides that, a holiday park doesn’t always mean a resort, and it is important to note that the holiday park industry encompasses caravan and campsite parks, local theme parks, large holiday park resorts, and smaller retreats all under its umbrella sector.
A holiday park is essentially a park in which people can enjoy their holidays – often underpinned by a central business model which operates various branches of business including entertainment, food, drink and accommodation which all add up to create a complete experience for the consumer. What this means is that as an industry, the world of holiday parks is supported by various individuals and various concepts which all work together to provide an experience – and what this means for the consumer is that they are often able to enjoy the convenience of knowing that they can get everything they need during their holiday from the comfort and ease of their central holiday park location.
The world today is subject to some of the biggest and most famous holiday parks in the world – top examples including the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts which are situated in various destinations around the world, and the Universal Studios parks which can also be found in a handful of different tourist hotspots around the world. Alongside these big names though, different countries boast their own holiday park provisions – with the UK alone benefitting from 40 Haven Holiday Parks, 6 Center Parcs locations and 3 big Butlins resorts, showing the UK population’s affinity for staycations and enjoying holidays close to home.
A holiday park is somewhere which thrives on convenience and entertainment, with all of the top providers and names in the industry offering accommodation which is supported by a host of entertainment provisions and activities. The main marketing strategy of any holiday park relies on the one thing that most consumers look for in a holiday – enjoyment – with most understanding and targeting their main demographic using clever advertising straplines and visuals.
The evolution of holiday parks is not a single timeline – rather, it is an understanding that the holiday park industry covers such a wide selection of areas that it is impossible to really compare and contrast the growth of its different areas. The typical British holiday park for example is a concept which is ingrained in the very culture of Britain and which has been observed across resorts and tourists hotspots for many decades; with the sector’s evolution mainly resulting from the diversion of holiday parks away from camping and towards more luxurious and high end offerings, utilising more technology and relying on more digitalisation to create high level experiences.
Meanwhile, the evolution of largescale holiday parks on a global scale has been led by a surge in global travel and the rise in package deals and holidays which allow more consumers to indulge in holiday park visits which are bigger and more extravagant.
Another big misconception which plagues the holiday park industry is that a holiday booked in the local area or in the home country of the consumer will be cheap. While there is the inevitable saving on travel, more and more consumers are in fact finding that staycations and trips to their more local holiday parks are in fact likely to cost as much as a holiday abroad to one of the bigger holiday parks – not only as a result of the growth of staycations pushing prices skywards, but also because the vast array of package deals and holiday discounts now offered by third party travel agencies and booking companies means that enjoying a holiday parks overseas has never been more affordable for the average consumer. What this means is that keeping your holiday local may not in fact save any more money than you would by heading abroad, and so holiday parks all over the world are able to enjoy the consistent surge of consumers benefitting from various package deals.
The evolution of these big holiday parks has been just as extravagant as the parks themselves – with providers making their attractions and entertainment sources bigger and better, and with accommodations options becoming more luxurious and offering more as part of each individual stay. Let’s look at a prime example – the Disney holiday parks. One of the biggest evolutions from the Disney Company has been in the expansion of their global footprint across the holiday park industry – with the most recent new park being opened in Shanghai, while parks in Paris and Florida have both enjoyed recent renovations and expansions of their own. As the headquarters park to the four biggest resorts in the franchise, Disney World in Florida is home to the most in terms of evolution and development, though the rise in Disney holiday parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong has opened the franchise and its holiday parks up to a whole new audience of captive consumers. With that, one of the biggest questions to ask is how Disney and its huge scale can ever be compared with the six Center Parcs locations dotted around the UK and Ireland – and the answer lies in the offerings and what is provided to guests.
We have already ascertained that a holiday park is a location where consumers and guests go to enjoy their holidays. And while it is not fair or easy to compare the Walt Disney World resort with a Center Parcs location in the UK with regards to scale and profit, what we can clearly see is a correlation in the offerings that are presented to consumers across both examples. These include the provision of accommodation, food and drinks outlets, transfer vehicles where necessary or safe walkways if the holiday park is smaller enough to get around on foot, entertainment and activities for different age groups, on-site shops and retail spaces, and support through staff members and reception spaces in the case of issues and questions. Of course, each individual holiday parks takes these basics and presents them in different ways – however for the most part, the foundational facilities and services offered are very much the same across all holiday parks, regardless of their size and revenue figures.
Looking at the top providers in the holiday parks industry essentially means breaking the industry down into its various sectors, both in terms of location type and scale, and recognising that both types of park belong under the same umbrella industry.
Some of the biggest names in the holiday park industry include:
This list is joined by a whole array of independent and standalone holiday parks all over the world which tend to be listed on various booking sites where consumers can go to compare different location and different holiday parks in line with their requirements and selected filters.
Online site Booking.com is one of the most successful holiday park and vacation comparison sites out there right now, with the holiday parks page offering consumers a break down of the top rated parks by destination and holiday type, and allowing them to compare the different prices of these holiday parks and holiday deals depending on travel dates and length of stay. Did you know that there are 973 holiday parks listed in the United States on Booking.com? In fact, to look at the sheer quantity available to consumers, the numbers are staggering, with other surprising figures including:
One of the biggest trends in the holiday park industry in fact comes from a different industry altogether – the theme park industry, and its expansion across multiple sites to become recognised as a holiday park rather than a mere day trip experience. Sites such as Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Paultons Parks in the UK have also expanded to become resorts over the last few years, taking their successful theme parks models and turning them into holiday parks where consumers can book stays, enjoy food and drink provisions on site, and receive entrance tickets to the parks included as part of a complete package. This rise in attraction-led holiday parks is essentially designed to meet consumer demand for holidays which are action package and full of entertainment, particularly for families with younger and older children. The fact is that while the biggest parks may be overseas, for consumers who are booking their holiday on a budget, these smaller themed holiday parks offer an opportunity to revel in the same kind of experience on a smaller scale and without the cost of travelling overseas.
Not so much a trend but more of a tip for those browsing the holidays parks industry, it is worth noting that the longer you stay in a location or specific holiday park, the more cost effective the fee is likely to be on a per-night basis. There is a growing trend in the holiday industry, particularly with car hire at an all-time high, which is seeing consumers book several different holiday park locations to stay in on any one trip – giving them an opportunity to travel around and take in various sites and attractions before enjoying a new place to stay every night or two. While this supports the ability to see multiple places during a holiday, the cost of booking multiple different parks for one or two nights is likely to be much higher than staying in the same park for the entire time – a concept worth considering before you book.
One of the other biggest trends which is making waves in the holiday park industry is the rise of online bookings and the use of digital devices when it comes to browsing, booking and securing holiday park experiences. Consumers today are more reliant on their mobile devices than ever before, and so it follows that the most successful holiday park providers and operators are those which support the ability of consumers to look for and find out more about various holiday park features on their mobile phones. And this doesn’t just mean having a great website which is mobile optimised and able to be viewed across multiple devices. It also means using various touch points to provide a complete user experience, from the marketing and targeted advertising on social media and travel websites, to the consistency of messaging across various sites, all the way through to the way that reviews and comments are replied to and interacted with. Contact and customer service needs to be seamless and available 24/7 whether through phonelines or contact forms – a particularly important concept for those holiday parks which operate on a global or international scale, because they need to be able to provide support to consumers who may be facing issues while in a different country enjoying their holiday.
The fact is that the holiday park industry is broad and encompasses all sorts of different offers, from the smaller local campsites and caravan parks, to the big entertainment franchises which are world famous for their attractions and high end services. The scale of the holiday park industry, and the broad range of options available to consumers in terms of experiences and costs, means that the industry is on the rise and is set to continue to rise both in a local and global setting as consumers change the way they approach their annual holidays and adjust their expectations in line with industry developments.
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