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Tuesday, 19 Sep 2006

Top Tourist Parks brave bid to build on answer to caravan park cabin challenge

Modern cabins are more like a house at One Mile Beach Holiday Park Port Stephens
Modern cabins are more like
a house at One Mile Beach
Holiday Park Port Stephens


In a bid to make caravan park operators more professional and competitive and to meet the expectations of travellers Top Tourist Parks of Australia continues to build on a decision to translate cabin accommodation into four classifications.

Caravan Parks throughout Australia are challenged by their own success as they now cater for the travelling public in the broadest sense.

In an opportunity and a challenge for the industry many caravan parks throughout Australia are now booked out at peak periods.
Anglesea Beachfront pool. There is a spa too
Anglesea Beachfront pool. There is a spa too


As caravan parks turn caravan tourist sites into cabin (chalet, villa, unit, cottage, bunk house etc) accommodation and provide service to travellers without caravans the essence of how caravan parks are structured and function changes.

Top Tourist Parks now classifies its cabins as – Superior, Deluxe, Standard Ensuite and Standard non-ensuite.

There can be variations in the different cabin categories, depending on the caravan parks location. It should be remembered that cabins are not generally serviced on a daily basis and it is important to discuss the caravan parks policy on servicing cabins when booking.
GoSeeAustralia knows of many parks that do service every couple or three days for guests/families staying for a week or so. (This responds to the need for towels to be replaced and the fact that cabins just gets too dirty unless they are serviced.)

Each of the Top Tourist parks categorizes their cabins for inclusion in the Top Tourist Parks of Australia directory.
Brisbane Holiday Village - Pool
Brisbane Holiday Village - Pool


The difference between the categories is mostly related to the availability of additional linen, towel hire, tea and coffee making facilities and the level of entertainment units provided, ranging from TV, DVD and CD at the Superior level down to just a TV in the Standard non-ensuite cabins.

This move gives a lead to the caravan park industry. It was first posted to the Home Page of GoSeeAustralia on December 20, 2005 as Top Tourist Parks Chairman Clive Johnson of Mandalay Holiday Resort Busselton WA launched the 2006 directory.

Now it is news again on GoSeeAustralia as Top Tourist Parks of Australia moves forward on cabin classification as it prepares for its 2007 Directory.
Comfortable lounge and TV area One Mile Beach Holiday Park
Comfortable lounge and TV area One Mile Beach Holiday Park


Some caravan parks try to be all things to all travellers with camping areas, camp kitchens, cabins (chalets, villas, cottages etc), permanent/annual and on-site rental caravans.

Others, often euphemistically, describe themselves as resorts. They have bars, restaurants, supermarkets; swimming pools and convention facilities. Unfortunately the inconsistency of this scatter-gun market direction often leaves the consumer confounded.

As Top Tourist Executive Manager, Bill Pycroft told GoSeeAustralia - “The reason why we introduced the (cabins) categories was because of consumer feedback, in some cases from international travellers, who commented on the inconsistencies when using cabins and moving from one park to another in relation to supply of certain items.
Cabins with an outstanding location courtesy Great Ocean Road Caravan Park, Peterborough
Cabins with an outstanding location courtesy Great Ocean Road Caravan Park, Peterborough


“This way we hope to give the traveller some confidence that if they book a certain (cabin) standard they know what they are getting. Also, one of the biggest competitors for cabins is motel rooms. We need to compete”, Bill Pycroft said.

“We will again be continuing on with the cabin classification program. The basic idea of the classification is to ensure that Superior cabins have linen supplied on all beds and the Deluxe cabins have linen supplied on the main bed. Prices are to reflect this.

“We are still getting enquiries from the traveling public regarding the supply of bedding; towels etc so we still have some way to go to assure confidence in the traveller that when they use a Top Tourist cabin they do not need to supply their own linen. (The same guidelines as circulated in association with the 2006 directory will apply)”.
A bright day bursts on One Mile Beach, Port Stephens
A bright day bursts on One Mile Beach, Port Stephens


Bill Pycroft says the four cabin classifications across Top Tourists Parks are embraced as a benefit by travellers.

“A lot of member parks had their own names for cabins which didn't mean a thing to the traveller. For example, they were named after plants, or other strange (confusing) names.

“A couple of years ago there were 22 different names for cabins in the directory. There are still a couple of parks that offer a type of accommodation such as 'bunk house' that do not fit within the four categories. We are still allowing parks to use those terms. We look at a cabin as being a self standing structure”, he said.

He said the supply of bedding and towels is still in need of additional translation for travellers because there are still operators within the group who do not have linen for hire.
Errol Morris and Lisa Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park
Errol Morris and Lisa Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park


“This is an attempt to make the operators more professional and competitive and to meet the expectations of the traveller. Also, staying in a cabin can be expensive and should include all essential items”, he said.

As the difference between the various cabin classifications often relates to the availability of additional linen, towel hire, tea and coffee making facilities and the level of entertainment facilities like TV, DVD and CD GoSeeAustralia asked a variety of caravan park operators who run destinational and transit caravan parks throughout Australia if there is a most popular cabin accommodation level.

The response from caravan parks varies significantly and is linked to marketing direction and the type and location of the caravan park. Caravan parks which are a destination generally attract guests who seek higher level cabin facilities and stay longer.

Despite the Top Tourist Parks thrust to reinforce cabin classification to ensure that Superior cabins have linen supplied on all beds and the Deluxe cabins have linen supplied on the main bed caravan parks at which guests stay while in transit say there is still valuable demand for basic (unserviced) cabin accommodation from travellers who prefer to use their own bedding.
Aircon heater TV and CD DVD. The  paper comes daily Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park
Aircon heater TV and CD DVD. The paper comes daily Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park


Chris and Kirston Johnson of Wimmera Lakes Caravan Resort on the Western Highway, Horsham say these travellers are a part of their business.

The spacious caravan park has excellent Superior and Deluxe cabins and plenty of space to park big rigs (caravans and motorhomes) on generous drive through sites. GoSeeAustralia stayed in a Wimmera Lakes Superior Cabin (two-bedrooms) on route to SA Parks Conference in Victor Harbor, SA in August as part of the research for this feature.

The Superior Cabin we used has a Queen-size bed in the main bedroom. In low season the rate is $116 for two adults and $130 in high season. An extra child is $11 and an extra adult $15. It was among the cleanest and best equipped of the many cabins we have stayed in during extended touring in Australia.
All linen supplied Superior cabin Anglesea
All linen supplied Superior cabin Anglesea


There are interesting variables in cabin marketing. Errol Morris of Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park says the transit (no-linen needed) accommodation niche market still applies to his high quality destinational caravan park as travellers make short stays as they tour the Great Ocean Road.

GoSeeAustralia spent three nights at Anglesea adding to our cabin research after buying an attractive low season $159 Holiday Cabin package deal for two at Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park.

The Top Tourist Parks 2006 Directory price for two adults per night at Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park is from: Superior Cabin $120, Deluxe Cabin $98, Ensuite Cabin $68. Minimum booking periods apply during peak periods and at long weekends.
Anglesea beach first day of spring 2006
Anglesea beach first day of spring 2006


As a useful comparison a late night stop in the Geelong suburb of Belmont at the Hacienda Motel cost $75.

The bigger Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park cabin was much cheaper as a package, far better equipped in every way and beat the motel for convenience, ambience and related facilities. For business people there is room to work in the cabin or on it spacious deck and Internet and Wireless Broadband connection is available.

Wireless Broadband connection – or the lack of it – is a recurring frustration for GoSeeAustralia when we are on the road throughout Australia.

We found the Anglesea package in GoSeeAustralia’s popular Mates Rates Box on our Home Page and followed the link to the Anglesea Beachfront Caravan Park website. The (two bedrooms) Ensuite Cabin has linen, ensuite, fully equipped kitchen, microwave, heating and air-conditioning, TV, DVD and CD. The paper was delivered to the cabin door each morning.
Spa Superior cabin Anglesea
Spa Superior cabin Anglesea


We would add an electric blanket to the Ensuite Cabins double bed in winter as the cabin heating has a timer which cuts off through the night unless it is reset after about two hours.

It is the fourth time GoSeeAustralia has bought the package and completes our experience with every cabin accommodation option offered at Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park.

Four new cabins were added to the caravan park at a cost of about $220,000 during GoSeeAustralia’s stay. They include one cabin with disabled access and a custom-built Rainbow cabin with beach interior themes.

GoSeeAustralia’s low-season package came with linen, a noon check out on the fourth day, two bottles of wine and discounts on local attractions and a restaurant. Normally we receive a big box of chocolates and one bottle of wine.
Fully equipped  kitchen with all cutlery Anglesea
Fully equipped kitchen with all cutlery Anglesea


But in what is now the “The Great Choc Mystery” the chocolate supply went missing.

Errol and Tricia Morris have well trained staff and they rose to the occasion. At huge personal sacrifice your correspondent agreed to an extra bottle of Steppingstone 2003 Shiraz instead of the chocolates.

This reinforced GoSeeAustralia’s experience in researching this feature over the last two months that in top-flight caravan parks like Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park staff training makes it all but impossible for guests to be confused about what they can expect of the broad range of cabin accommodation options.

The office staff led by Kristie Walters has the skills to “read the play”, spot potential misunderstandings and suggest positive outcomes.
Brisbane Holiday Park cabins hold there own with a CBD apartment
Brisbane Holiday Park cabins hold there own with a CBD apartment


GoSeeAustralia’s research found that well trained caravan park staff head off disappointment as they deal with matters of linen or not as part of the booking process.

It is GoSeeAustralia’s opinion that booking via the Web on well designed caravan park websites goes a long way to making sure caravan park clients understand what they will get when they make a caravan park cabin accommodation decision.

To help the traveller bookings can be done through GoSeeAustralia. This is a non-commissionable option for caravan parks.

In Queensland Robyn Madigan, of Island View Caravan Park, Yeppoon, Kinka Beach, says this is one Caravan Park which nails down the linen status through its booking process and on its web site.
The One Mile Beach cabins are seriously upmarket
The One Mile Beach cabins are seriously upmarket


She told GoSeeAustralia– “I do not believe that the general public, even when using the Top Tourist booklet is looking at the front pages (of the Top Tourist Parks Directory) where the detailed information is written.

“I believe they look only at the particular parks section and then they are none the wiser unless the park stipulates linen included when handling the booking (which is what we do).

“Do people read instruction booklets – No - same thing. If booking via the website, are they concentrating on the Top Tourist website or the parks own website. Does the individual website state linen included? I know ours does,” she said.

Robyn said all of Island View Caravan Park accommodation, no matter what level, has additional linen, towel hire, tea and coffee making facilities but does not have DVD and CD.
Sunset glow Anglesea
Sunset glow Anglesea


“We do not believe that the different classifications make any difference to the popularity. We find the most popular level is to do with position (e.g. sea views, gardens etc) and extras such as private BBQ’s, nice surroundings, air-conditioning and sleeping positions for the children.

She told GoSeeAustralia that she did not believe that the majority of Island View Caravan Park guests base their cabin choice on price alone.

And when it comes to who uses Island View Caravan Park cabins most Robyn says -“We have more people who aren’t Top Tourists (members) than who are, booking our accommodation.

“I personally do not agree with the classifications”, she said. “I believe that our accommodation could now be open to being judged by people who have stayed in say a Deluxe piece of accommodation somewhere else.
Swan touch Superior cabins Brisbane Holiday Park
Swan touch Superior cabins Brisbane Holiday Park


“If that Deluxe accommodation did not stack up to their expectations then they will think that all Deluxe accommodation is the same. I can assure you they are not.

“However if we all call them something different then the expectation is different. “Wouldn’t it have been easier for Top Tourist to make it that all accommodation had to supply linen and tea making services?”

To Support Robyn’s comments on position being important for destinational caravan parks throughout Australia GoSeeAustralia found another cabin trend at the SA Parks Conference at Victor Harbor. The “short break”, was identified by Andrew and Sharon Bowey of Wallaroo North Beach Caravan Park as of high importance in marketing cabins and caravan parks to the public.

Andrew told GoSeeAustralia that stress relief close (157km NW of the SA capital Adelaide) is a big driver for visitors to the sea side caravan park on the Yorke Peninsula.
Ensuite bathroom, modern cabins, One Mile Beach Holiday Park, Port Stephens
Ensuite bathroom, modern cabins, One Mile Beach Holiday Park, Port Stephens


Asked what he thought was the most popular cabin accommodation in Top Tourist Parks Bill Pycroft told GoSeeAustralia: “I would expect that the ensuite with a separate bedroom would be the most popular (cabin) layout.

“There is also an increasing demand for two bedroom cabins with double beds in both rooms to cater for older couples who are traveling together. From my dealings with customers at consumer shows a number of cabin users are people who were traditionally caravanners and are no longer confident in towing a van (or because of the cost) but still prefer the park environment which cabins allow,” he said.

Asked who uses Top Tourist Parks of Australia cabins most Bill Pycroft said - “I believe there is no set category of person who uses cabins. They are used by a whole range of people from holiday makers to business people”.

Top Tourist Park members Jenny Dietrich and Clive Pilley at One Mile Beach Holiday Park are already full on in their commitment to meet cabin accommodation needs and build for the future through families. One Mile Beach Holiday Park is sheltered behind the beach sand dunes and blessed with a perfect location in an area which is a long way from overdevelopment.
Hey, this is fun, Surf School One Mile Beach
Hey, this is fun, Surf School One Mile Beach


GoSeeAustralia spent two nights in cutting edge Superior Cabins at One Mile Beach, NSW while on an editorial tour of the area. This is quality accommodation at the top of the big parks range – (two persons) $134 to $168 off peak rising through $151 to $220 in the high season to $257 to $315 in peak season.

Cabin options (2006 Top Tourist Park directory) also include Deluxe $78 to $94 off-peak, $106 to $123 high, and $148 to $163 peak and Ensuite Cabins $59 off-peak, $73 high and $100 to $114 peak.

The One Mile Beach location is in a class of its own. To say that about any beach in the outstanding selection which makes up the Anna Bay, Port Stephens area really means it is exceptional by world standards.

There are marked variations in opinion on the preferred direction for the industry over the next five to seven years, but when a panel of caravan park and industry younger achievers faced their mostly senior colleagues in open discussion at the last CRVA conference in Brisbane a great deal of good was done.
Master bedroom, modern cabins One Mile Beach, Port Stephens
Master bedroom, modern cabins One Mile Beach, Port Stephens


The issues include user pays and Ken Illich of Brisbane Holiday Park, summed that up with the honest observation that generation X and Y (clients) pay $700 a week and “demand” service while the “Grey Nomads”, (who hate being called that), pay $100 and whinge!

Two storey cabins could take on the challenge of accommodation wars with Gold Coast high-rise options and site night yields would rise, he said.

That would help address the chronic shortage of quality, long-term trained caravan park staff (throughout Australia) who could not be expected to raise families on low wage packets.

The Illich family own and operate a top-flight Australian Tourist Park with their innovative Brisbane Holiday Village.

The Top Tourist Parks chain member Brisbane Holiday Village has been recognised as the Best Tourist and Holiday Park in the nation at the Australian Tourism Awards.

The Illich family made it a double when their Ashmore Palms Holiday Village took the Award for the Best Standard Accommodation. Brisbane Holiday Village has been owned and operated since 1987 by the Illich family.
GoSeeAustralia with the Split Point lighthouse in tow
GoSeeAustralia with the Split Point lighthouse in tow


Geoff Illich and his brother Ken are open about the reasons for their success.

“We listen to our guests, ask questions and give them what they want”, he told GoSeeAustralia.

“Our (Superior Cabins) are not unlike inner city apartments, the pool area has an Inca theme, there are sports facilities and the park is safe so families love it’, he said.

“We can cater for anybody, people come with trailers for events that range from dog shows, sailing and motorcycling, with 33 acres we have space”, Ken said.

Commenting on the success of the Illich cabin and caravan park marketing direction Brisbane Marketing CEO, Marina Vit, said: “Brisbane has the states highest tourism visitation and occupancy, much of this due to the hard work of industry suppliers like Geoff and Ken Illich. With repeat clientele and referrals constituting over 45 per cent of their business they are definitely doing something right.” Editor's Note also see:

Cabin alternative wins Aussie family vote

Cabins first choice for family holidays Meet Luke, the future for Caravan Parks in Australia

GoSeeAustralia finds Once Mile Beach Port Stephens a caravan park paradise

Kids are King in Caravan Parks

 

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia Directory
Phone:  02 6294 1941
Fax:     02 6284 9275
Email: garth@contact.com.au
Now we know who got the chocolates
Now we know who got the chocolates
Fully equipped  kitchen with all cutlery Anglesea
Fully equipped kitchen with all cutlery Anglesea
New cabins go in at Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park
New cabins go in at Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park
Pets play too off peak at Anglesea beach
Pets play too off peak at Anglesea beach
Anglesea Beachfront pool. There is a spa too
Anglesea Beachfront pool. There is a spa too


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