10 tips and tricks for a successful holiday park peak season

13/06/2023 Venners Ltd.

“As a holiday park operator peak season is the busiest time you will face, which means it should also be your most profitable. Food and drink operations are vital not only to your guests’ holiday experience, but also to your profit. A successful peak season can be guaranteed when you drive revenue, standards, and controls in your clubhouses, bars, and restaurants.”
– Andrea McCarthy, Operations Director, Venners

Peak season opportunities for holiday park operators

As holiday park and caravan park operators you are about to begin peak season, welcoming another wave of customers this summer. UK holiday park and caravan park operators have been benefiting from the boom in staycations across the UK over the last 5 years. With just a few simple tips and tricks you could make your peak season even more profitable than previous years.


1. Recognise the importance of your food and drink operation

The business area that offers the most profit potential during peak season is in actual fact your food and drink operation. Clubhouses, bars and restaurants are not always given the attention they should receive. Caravan sales and holiday bookings are usually the main focus for any operator, as they provide the largest portion of revenue and profit.

However, the revenue and potential profit generated from your food and drink operations can have a significant impact on both your current and future years of trading at peak season. Most guests remember the experiences of the clubhouse, entertainment and food and drink offering when deciding where and when to re-book, or potentially invest in a caravan.

Have you recognised the importance of your food and drink operation and given it the attention it deserves? If not, you may never experience the real benefit this revenue stream of your holiday park plays in its overall sales mix and final profit figures.


2. Introduce competitive socialising as part of your offering

Holiday park food and drink operations are diverse and range from multi-bar entertainment venues to members clubs with minimal profit levels. Whatever the situation, they should be contributing to the overall success of the holiday park, especially at peak season.

Offering competitive socialising activities as part of your overall experience is sure fire way to boost the profits you generate from your entertainment areas. Strike while the iron is hot. The competitive socialising industry is booming and offers unique opportunities for profit growth. Expanding your offering in this way and placing it hand in hand with a great food and drink offering is worth every effort.


3. Incentivise your teams through training

Holiday Park staff tend to have a variety of targets to incentivise performance. Our tip would be to extend this to your hospitality area too, since targets are a great way to keep track of performance. Targets are also beneficial for improving experience and engagement for customers and staff alike.

Some examples of the areas of focus you can look at are: customer feedback scores, daily or weekly revenue, individual high gross profit product sales, number of meals served, or awarding employees as star of the month. Incentivising your teams can do wonders for your overall profits and the success of your peak season. It is one of the best ways through which operators can motivate staff into performing at their best.


4. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes

For many holiday parks, it is natural that certain business areas do not quite flow or work as well as they were originally designed to. It can be as simple as a missing sign, a queue system going the wrong way, or an opportunity lost by the staff. Particularly with the continued staycation boom, your audience may be more diverse than it was before. Some guests may be complete strangers to the holiday park scene and will use and scrutinise your business in new ways.

Doing a regular review in which you assume the role of a stranger, ignoring your preconditioned instincts is really important. Follow the herd to spot areas of weakness during peak season. Some process flows and systems you have in place may not seem as obvious as you think to the scores of newcomers you welcome every week.


5. Introduce cashless controls

The world has been slowly drifting towards a cashless society. The more cashless your business goes, the more you will need to review your normal credit card controls, which includes daily reads, voids, refunds etc.

You will need to add extra controls too. Are all card machines counted daily, locked away at close down and is supervisor access secure? Card controls can be manipulated in numerous ways.

Most businesses at this point in time are not 100% cashless yet either. Although it is a good idea to forge great relationships with your staff as a form of theft prevention, for the opportunist, cash can be the easier target. Especially if you do not have the secure cash controls in place.

Posing the same dangers as cash in your business, your holiday park vending, service and gaming areas also need regular reviews if you want to stay one step ahead.


6. Keep track of your profits

Many operators come up with great ways to draw guests in from beaches, tents, caravans and chalets during peak season. Some of these might include paying for a live sports TV licence, providing more staff to improve table service, or maybe just giving customers a free sausage roll. In reality though, these are all costs that you should be looking to offset by more sales.

No matter which way you look to increase footfall during your peak season, it is all about finding that balance between cost versus profit. Make sure you review them throughout the season and be prepared for an overhaul when you move back to a quieter period.


7. Calculate profit levels for your food and drink products

By calculating your potential profit for each food and drink product you sell you can see the impact of all your sales and promotions. It will enable you to benchmark future sales by helping you set a theoretical profit level. This theoretical profit level, once compared with actual profit levels, will give you an indication of how your site is performing.

Check your profit levels for popular peak season items in particular. These include draught, chips, prosecco and Gin & Tonic. Making these high demand items too cheap can result in guests not spending money across your entire range of products. This could seriously reduce your profit levels.


8. Manage your manager

Your manager might be another great attraction to your clubhouses, bars and restaurants, but they can also become a dangerous distraction! There is often a thin line between a manager being a best friend to all and them being an operational genius. All too often the best friend can become a drain on profits, especially at peak season.

To make sure your manager does not cross that line, it is vital to set some key rules that you want them to abide by. The best way to stay in control is to give them targets. The type of KPIs you set are up to you, but might include overall profit percentage, number of guests, revenue levels or customer feedback.


9. Establish training standards

The staff at seasonal sites are central to a food and drink operation’s success during peak season. Serving behind a bar is a rite of passage for many people, but often it is treated as a simple job that requires little training. A lack of training standards will, without doubt, impact both your profit and reputation negatively.

Untrained staff will not only produce high levels of wastage, they will also be ignorant of the need to report on it. Training your staff should speed up service, prepare them for upselling, help them engage with guests and be more proactive in general.

You can create a fantastic ambassador for your site who will generate more sales for you and more tips for themselves in the process. Make sure you outline clear training goals for your food and drinks operation and then put in place methods to measure their success and reward staff.


10. Monitor for staff theft

Despite your best intentions, there are also times when a member of staff does not perform as they should. This can result in a loss of stock, money and/or reputation. Knowing that you are employing staff on a seasonal basis, asking them to work unsociable hours, giving them access to food and liquor, and allowing them to deal with large amounts of cash can make you vulnerable to theft.

Now we’re not saying that all staff steal, but the sad reality is that it is more common than you would think, particularly during peak season. Even more worryingly, it is more often than not done by those members of staff that are trusted the most. It is worth minimising opportunities for theft to ensure they are less likely they are to occur.

A few simple steps can help to reduce chances for opportunists. These include:
• making sure the till display is visible to the client
• making sure your product pricing ends in odd numbers (e.g. 95p) to ensure customers wait for the change and staff ring it into the till
• control who has access to stock areas when you are not trading


Achieve higher peak season profits for your holiday park

There really is a lot for holiday park and caravan park operators to think about during peak season. Venners has a long history with helping holiday parks make more profit from their clubhouses, bars and restaurants.

We would be more than happy to send one of our consultants to review your business and help you set up a strategic plan. Step-by-step recommendations will help you tackle areas that are vulnerable to losses during peak season and help guide your operation into making more profit.

Fill in the form on this page to get in touch and discuss your challenges with us.