ANWB webinar May 2021
‘Camping Innovation & COVID-19 Best Practices’
Sharing innovations, inspiration and knowledge – these are all goals of ANWB Camping’s 'Camp to the Future' B2B webinars. At the beginning of this year, we presented our first webinar with the presentation of the ANWB Campsite of the Year Award as part of the award ceremony. The second edition of the digital ANWB event deals with the world of COVID-19. What was its impact on campsites, how did the camping industry react to the coronavirus restrictions, and what have been the trends that resulted from the measures?
During the ANWB 'Camping Trends & COVID Best Practice' webinar, you will hear more about the current COVID-19 measures in the Netherlands and the coronavirus advice on travelling abroad, plus the main results of the 2021 ANWB sentiment survey among consumers. We will also discuss four key trends arising from COVID-19 with regard to the camping sector:
Luxury rental accommodation - also in relation to new target groups
Fully equipped rental accommodation has been a trend at campsites for (much) longer, but that trend is becoming more important under pressure from COVID-19. For campsites, it represents one of the opportunities for attracting new target groups for camping holidays. What are the experiences of campsites with this new target group, which normally opts for luxury cruise and hotel holidays or long-distance trips, and how do you approach this wealthy but discerning target group without promising them things that cannot be delivered?
Larger pitches on campsites – offering more privacy as well as security
Until a decade ago, pitches for tents, caravans, folding trailers and motorhomes did not often exceed 60 square meters. Many campsites now have pitches of 10 x 10 metres, but the movement towards larger pitches is a clear trend that is becoming more important due to COVID-19. Take the 270 square metre 'Presidential Pitch' at Lanterna Camping Resort for instance, or even 600 m2 on the 'Leading Pitch' at Sexten campsite. Can campsites with fewer but larger pitches achieve a better turnover?
Private sanitary facilities on camping pitches – comfort and privacy, as well as safety
Private sanitary facilities on tourist pitches are a clear trend driven by COVID-19. We are all aware of the family bathrooms in sanitary facility buildings, but pitches with private sanitary facilities are the first pitches to be fully booked up, which is why dozens of campsites are investing in private sanitary facilities. Is this a permanent trend however, or can you lure customers through realising attractive sanitary facility buildings on campsites?
Flexible booking conditions - more security for consumers
In these uncertain times, consumers are in need of assurance, which therefore generates the need for flexible booking conditions - enabling campers to cancel or rebook their holiday free of charge up to 7 days before arrival. For many campsites, this is a 'hot topic', for others, it makes sense. Moreover: this has been common practise in the hotel industry for years. When will this become the accepted standard for the camping industry?
Questions from the viewers
Many questions arose in the chat box of the ANWB Webinar 'Camping Trends & COVID-19 Best Practices' as a result of the discussion in the panel. Many questions were on the same subject. Here we summarize and answer them.
Even for small and cozy campsites private sanitary units on pitches have a high priority. Charging stations for electric cars are another issue. Due to the growth of electric cars more and more guests will have tents, roof tents and folding caravans.
Another opportunity for small and cozy campsites is: now is the right time to explain clearly in your marketing strategy about your remote situation, being a calm and small size campsite. “People never looked more for a peaceful hideaway than now!”, says Eicke Schüürman from LeadingCampings.
Gerrit-Jan Hagedoorn (Holiday Parc Beerze Bulten, the Netherlands) says: “When it comes to innovations, with small budgets, you can also consider investing in special experiences in the area of your campsite. Find partners with whom unique arrangements can be arranged. Agritourism, for example, is very trending. But also a trip with a guide on the river, or a trip into nature where a guide tells about history, nature, flora and fauna. My tip would also be to invest in the personal approach: the bigger the park, the more difficult it is and camping guests want to be seen. This is easier to achieve in small parks.”
‘The 600 sqm pitch on camping Sexten is unique’, responds Eicke Schüürman. “The price depends from the services you book - you can have a personal butler as well. A normal price in high season is around 250 EUR per night. Of course, this is not applicable for everyone, but for those who love showing off their Golden Credit Card, expensive watch and put their Porsche keys on the table once the Porsche is maneuvered out of the garage of the 12-meter-motorhome. The 200 sqm pitches would cost in your example 50 to 55 EUR plus the private sanitary, ranging between 12 and 40 EUR per night.”
In the example of Caravan Park Sexten (the one with the 600 sqm pitch) it is meant just for one family, explains Eicke Schüürman from LeadingCampings. “Just compare it to the most expensive suite in a five star hotel. We have other examples with LeadingCampings, such as Hvidbjerg Strand in Denmark, where they rent out the 250 sqm pitches also for 2 caravans, to enable mixed generation holidays (grandparents, parents and kids) or two families that want to spend holidays together. But you can also rent out that pitch for your own if you like more privacy and space.”
Gerrit-Jan Hagedoorn has a different opinion about extremely large pitches, such as 250 or even 600 sqm: “I would prefer to rent out a pitch per family instead of 3-4 families on 1 large pitch. The intention of creating a spacious pitch of 600 sqm, isn’t to share it with others to my opinion. Those pitches are indeed comparable to the most expensive suite in the hotel, as Eicke says. Offer that luxury and privacy as it is intend to be, for that one specific target group that also wants to pay for it.”
“The majority of campsites is indeed 3 to 4 star rated”, Eicke Schüürman says. “I am convinced that a poor imitation of a 5 star environment in a 3 star campsite will not work. Private sanitary units can make sense, and the cleaning costs can be lower than in a joint sanitary building. In fact, a daily cleaning isn’t necessary - offer it as a plus booking. And those sanitary units on pitches which are empty in low season: they do not need any cleaning unless they are rented out. With limited funds I would strongly recommend to look for savings in staff costs – move to automated check-In/check-out, digital communication for the complete customer’s journey.”
Gerrit-Jan Hagedoorn (Holiday Parc Beerze Bulten): “You have private sanitary facilities in all kind of shapes and sizes. As a 3- and 4-star campsite, you could offer a basic bathroom and, for example, clean it every day as an extra service for a certain rate. During the broadcast, I also advised you to think carefully about what you do with your current sanitary facilities. If an existing building on your property needs to be renovated or replaced, consider installing private sanitary facilities and remove the entire building. For 3-4 star campsites I would further, as I indicated earlier, focus on the unique experiences in and around the park and seek collaborations with interesting partners in the area. Personal attention is 'key' here - so I do not share Eicke's opinion in that regard: I do not believe in a check-in or check-out without personal contact. Camping guests want attention and they get it at our company.”
Eicke Schüürman: “It is the right time to start. In regard of rental accommodations - mobile homes, glamping tents- a lot of our LeadingCamping members already do it for some years, with good acceptance at the guests and favorable results. Campers with tent, caravan, motorhome are a bit more sensitive on that, especially all the elder campers who never experienced anything else than a printed pricelist. But the time is right for the new group of campers who normally had a different form of holiday. Two or three Leading members will do it this year and we will judge the result at the end of this season. Leading is a club of individual campsites, we do not interfere with pricing – this is on each member campsite to find out what to do or not. It is not recommended to start just from the feeling of your stomach – there are helpful software tools such as “iDeaS revenue management”, it goes deep into yield management and requires to compare a lot of parameters in real time.”
Gerrit-Jan Hagedoorn, Holiday Parc Beerze Bulten (Netherlands): “My advice: start with dynamic pricing on your own website. Stop printing and publishing your prices via your online search & book system. In this way you remain flexible and you can increase or decrease the prices yourself in certain periods. Also consider price differentiation: large pitches are more expensive than smaller ones and pitches at the most beautiful or popular locations are a more expensive too.
“Generally speaking, private sanitary units on the pitch can look awful - especially when the campsite isn’t fully booked”, says Eicke Schüürman and Gerrit-Jan Hagedoorn agrees. “That's why you have to think carefully about the design, and you can also decide to create private sanitary only at a certain part of the campsite. Also keep in mind that such units with private sanitary must also be properly integrated into your campsite from a landscape point of view," says Gerrit-Jan. He also knows small campsites who offer only private sanitary facilities and no longer invest in a large sanitary building. Eicke Schüürman: “But there are also some very good examples how to implement it in an esthetical way. For example De Paal in Bergeijk: They have built it half underground, the excavated soil was used to cover the unit. Some kind of hill was created that immediately divides the camping fields from each other. A very clever way, because the coverage is green with bushes and flowers. The sanitary facilities underneath are invisible, perfectly insulated for wintertime - no frost - and require therefore less heating costs. A smaller campsite can easily join private sanitary in a building - be creative! Today there is a high demand for camping. Just explain what you offer, describe it positively. For example: absence of Wi-Fi is not a disadvantage, it is Digital Detox for everyone who needs to be 24/7 available in everyday life!”
Eicke Schüürmann Director of LeadingCampings
Eicke Schüürmann, Director of LeadingCampings, a partnership representing 36 campsites in the 5-star category across 11 countries. All in all, LeadingCampings handles 10 million overnight stays per year. The campsites offer a huge diversity of rental accommodation, and many LeadingCampings have believed in offering large XXL campsite pitches for the past 10 years. LeadingCampings is also a leader in terms of COVID-related innovations, including flexible booking conditions with a money-back guarantee. "You have to provide tourists with confidence in these difficult times," says Eicke Schüürmann. “Otherwise they simply won't come at all.”
Gerrit-Jan Hagedoorn Owner of the 5-star family campsite Beerze Bulten, The Netherlands
Gerrit-Jan Hagedoorn, together with his wife Jojanneke, is the third generation at the helm of Vakantiepark (Holiday Park) Beerze Bulten: a 5-star family campsite in the Netherlands. Beerze Bulten is an ANWB Top Campsite that has been awarded the Campsite of the Year title on several occasions by the ANWB. The holiday park has existed since 1949 (!) and has 550 pitches and 70 holiday accommodation units. Since this year, it has also added camping pitches with private sanitary facilities - a direct result of COVID-19.
Danijela Zgrablić Manager at Lanterna Premium Camping Resort ('Camping Adriatic by Valamar')
Danijela Zgrablić is the Manager of Premium Camping Resort Lanterna, the flagship of Camping Adriatic by Valamar, a chain of luxury hotels and 11 luxury 4 and 5-star camping resorts throughout Croatia. 'Camping Adriatic by Valamar' invests millions in upgrading the holiday parks, and sets new benchmarks for the camping industry, through rental accommodation on campsites, but also with complete 'refits' of campsites, such as Premium Camping Resort Istra and Premium Camping Resort Krk for instance. Valamar is at the forefront of COVID measures, including PCR testing and Coronavirus Safety Managers at its campsites.
Anne-Fleur Eiff Strategic Marketer for ANWB Vakantie (Holiday)
Anne-Fleur Eiff is a strategic marketer, and carries out work for the ANWB Travel Guide. The Travel Guide consist of relevant and up to date information about the coronavirus measures for 24 holiday countries, including the Netherlands. During the ANWB Webinar, Anne-Fleur will provide an update on the latest state of affairs regarding the COVID situation in the Netherlands, including official advice for travelling abroad.
Jaap van der Linden ANWB Camping Business Owner
Worked at ANWB for 15 years in various positions, and for the last four years as business owner of ANWB Camping, responsible for anwbcamping.nl (camping booking platform) and Camping Key Europe. As the market leader, ANWB Camping is responsible for reaching as many Dutch campers as possible, providing them with information and advice and relevant and personal services, whereby ANWB members always take precedence. The ANWB has a rich and long-standing tradition within the camping sector, and has therefore accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience, which we use every day to connect campers, the ANWB and our partners with one another.