TOP 10 Holiday Parks’s digital approach to online bookings
The TOP 10 Holiday Parks team (David Ovendale - back row, centre right)
Finding holiday accommodation online can be a lottery. Static photos only give so much of an impression, reviews are written by strangers and venue accessibility can be difficult to gauge. What if instead, you could experience the accommodation virtually, walking around to get a closer look before you commit to booking?
That’s the approach of franchise TOP 10 Holiday Parks, whose digital presence has recently evolved to include a ‘virtual tour’ function on their website for each of their venues.
Using extensive photography, the function has been aligned with Google Street View to give visitors the ability to walk from the road, down to the park, through the reception and straight into the accommodation. It’s the latest step forward for a company whose digital strategy has been a central part of their approach to marketing.
From print to digital
TOP 10 Holiday Parks started 36 years ago as a co-operative of four holiday parks and has now evolved to a franchise of 50. At the helm of the brand is CEO David Ovendale, whose team provides marketing, advertising, sales, systems support and technical support to their franchisees. Traditional print media has always been a part of their marketing activity, supported through a collaboration with the AA, but Ovendale says that ‘in the last four or five years, there’s been a strong migration into the digital environment.’
That digital journey has taken a few paths along the way, including the introduction of the virtual tour feature. According to Ovendale, implementing the 360 view was ‘a way to add value, give people more reasons to go onto the website and offer them the opportunity to engage with what they are going to book and ensure expectations are as closely aligned to reality as possible.’
The feature arrived following a website rebrand back in 2017 and when it comes to getting people onto the site itself, that digital focus has offered a chance to try a variety of marketing channels. Their advertising extends past print to Facebook ads, media banners and SEO/SEM, including remarketing, the latter of which has been marked as particularly valuable for reaching new customers.
As Ovendale describes it, remarketing has allowed his team ‘to be more specific about pre-qualification. For example, if someone has been looking at tents, we can identify them as people who would be potentially interested in one of our camping sites.’ They also concentrate their marketing activity outside of the high summer season, pushing advertising during autumn and spring to draw people from their homes and out exploring New Zealand.
With all things digital, innovation has to be constant. Ovendale’s next priority is developing insights from digital data, building on their current strategy to ensure that they’re reaching the right people and working with their customers.
Forming one voice
Staying true to the TOP 10 brand is important to Ovendale and his team, saying ‘the brand is not just your logo, your brand is every aspect of your business that creates an impression of you as an entity, from the operational delivery to every customer interaction.’ A membership programme further builds on this, offering discounts and offers to frequent guests.
As the leader of a franchise, he also has the added challenge of ensuring that all 50 leaders of the individual parks are happy franchisees. He’s taken time to get them invested in the brand, saying ‘we work very hard on culture and that’s done in the first instance by getting face to face as often as we can.’ His team also runs smaller working groups regularly, to ensure that every top-level decision has been approved by an extended sub-set of the network before being shared with the wider group.
Whether it’s developing a digital presence that aligns with changing customer expectations of interactivity and engagement, or ensuring that all franchisee are on board with the TOP 10 Holiday Parks brand, Ovendale is passionate about making it all work together, saying:
‘The most important aspect of our business is alignment. Alignment of thinking and the ability as a disparate group to go in the same direction, sometimes contrary to your individual desires, ultimately to achieve great results across the network. That’s my measure of success.’
Jen Scouler works in the Deloitte clients & marketing team across digital content and social media. She also works closely with Deloitte Private.