Outdoor and Indoor Furniture in Holiday Parks: an underrated opportunity.
You’re probably asking yourself: is furniture really all that important for holiday parks? Do resort operators stay up at night considering which chair to put in their lodges? Do their guests even mind which table they drink their coffee by?
Now, if you are not asking yourself these questions perhaps you should, because in the world of tourism this underappreciated market presents endless opportunities as some of the contract furniture companies have already realised.
The holiday park and resort market has been growing for the past four years at an increasing rate as more and more Britons opt for the staycation option as opposed to the increasingly expensive overseas holidays. According to the 2019 UKCCA report, the sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 3.8% through to 2025 – faster than the overall UK economy. We’ve already seen an immense increase in expansion applications and new projects from both independent operators industry giants such as Center Parcs, Parkdean and Away Resorts. What does that mean for companies selling furniture?
Well, that means that each operator investing in a new site or expansion will need to fill up their fresh lodges, caravans, glamping pods and their deckings with furniture. Let’s not stop there though, because lodges and caravans are not the only places in a resort that need furniture. Let’s have a look again at the previously mentioned report, where one in three park operators surveyed had an on-site restaurant, bar or take away.
Moreover there’s a steady trend of adding food service venues to holiday parks which means that those spaces will need some new tables, chairs, lamps and other pieces of furniture we’re too busy to list.
Indoor Furniture meets digital reality
‘That’s all fantastic’ we hear you saying, ‘but why would those holiday park owners care that much which furniture to choose in the first place?’. Allow us to explain. From a park owner perspective, outdoor and indoor furniture are sure ways to increase guests comfort relatively pain-free. What’s the point of having even the most luxurious lodge or static caravan if the guests will be disappointed by poor quality chairs that look like they were purchased second hand from a high security prison?
That last point is especially important for resorts and parks from the marketing perspective. The rise of social media introduced another type of word-of-mouth for holiday lets, one which is more visual in nature. Nowadays it is almost guaranteed that if a guest enters a hotel, holiday park or even an Airbnb they will have at least one picture from within their accommodation posted on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Now go back to my prison chair similitudo if you will, and ask yourself: who wants to have their guests posting pictures for the whole world to see, looking like they’re about to enjoy an interrogation session? Nobody.
The Curious Case of Outdoor Furniture
If you can provide good looking chairs and comfy sofas you are already offering solutions that are well sought for in the leisure & hospitality industry. But before we proceed any further, let me introduce you to another thing that guests love to take pictures of: their food. And what looks better on Facebook or Instagram than a picture of juicy food getting grilled in front of a luxury lodge?
Here is where the outdoor furniture becomes the real star of the show. From large barbecues where dads can grill their steaks to woodfired stone ovens, they are all perfect fits for holiday parks and resorts. The visitors profile of holiday parks comes in handy in explaining why this is the case. The guests are usually families or groups of friends and in both cases, a BBQ is a sure way to finish the day on a good note - there is not one resort operator who wouldn’t want that for their guests.
Aside from great aesthetic value, the guests expect to be able to grill their food on a decent piece of equipment and then sit down and to eat it in a comfortable rattan chair, or an alternative.
And now those poor holiday park operators need to find not only someone selling indoor furniture and outdoor food equipment, but also someone to supply their outdoor chairs and tables, because nobody wants to lose the customer rating over an uncomfortable rocking chair or a wobbly table.
Holiday parks are a real Eldorado for companies supplying outdoor furniture as every accommodation unit needs a place to sit outside, somewhere to eat and perhaps some shade to protect guests from the relentless British sun. That’s a bold statement considering that the general view of holiday parks in the public eye is focused around touring caravans which have their own furniture. And it’s true, touring caravan pitches constitute a large chunk of all existing pitches in the UK, but nowhere as big as it’s generally thought.
If we look into the UKCCA report again, we can see that 6,423 holiday parks were surveyed and across all those holiday parks 65% of all accomodation options were static caravans, lodges or glamping structures. Now let’s top it up with the general trend of site expansions caused by the increasing demand for luxury staycation destinations and the business opportunities seem endless.
Beyond the holiday home
We can’t finish this article without mentioning the less obvious places where furniture is needed in holiday parks and resorts. As previously mentioned, the on-site restaurants are perfect places to supply your furniture to - many of them are real gems like this restaurant located in the Carbis Bay holiday park, which was awarded the Cornwall Tourism Award for the best restaurant.
But before heading to the restaurant they might want to visit the pool for a swim and a sunbathing session. If you sell sunbeds or parasols, swimming pools are where the resort operators will need them the most. There are holiday parks with their own beaches that will also need the same equipment so the market for that type of furniture is even larger.
The central point of every holiday park, resort or glamping site is the reception as it is the first place every holidaymaker is the most likely to see and experience. That’s why it’s so important to get the right furniture in there - from the reception desk, to the waiting couch, to the office chairs and shelves to store documents. If you feel like this was a 180 degree pivot from the outdoor furniture and sunbeds, then you’re right - holiday parks need all types of furniture to offer their guests the best experience possible.
So whether you sell tables, comfy chairs, colourful sofas, rattan furniture and hammocks or office furniture, this is your opportunity. Your furniture can be the soul of a holiday park and that one thing that even though so rarely thought of by the guests, defines the entire experience. It can make a holiday park more ‘Instagramable’ and at the same time guarantee the comfort of it’s visitors better than anything else. More importantly, the holiday park sector is full of business opportunities as the growth and constant development of the sector is often unjustly neglected. This article has explained that this market is a great target sector in its own right and soon we will see companies reaping the benefits of advancing into it.