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Family needs drive quest for excellence for caravan park leaders

September 03, 2009
Family needs drive quest for excellence for caravan park leaders

By Garth Morrison Editor GoSee Australia and GoSee New Zealand

In separate seminar presentations to the recent VicParks conference two leading forces in high achieving caravan park management underlined the importance of families in the Tourist Park and Holiday Park industry.

Clive Johnson of Mandalay Holiday Resort Western Australia and Des Watts and his daughters Annette and Susan, who represent a Victorian caravan park dynasty, agreed on the value of holidaying families.

Clive Johnson, President of Top Tourist Parks of Australia started his caravan park life at 10 and Des and Margaret Watts, BIG4 Holiday Parks originals are now official VicParks Legends.

Des and Margaret Watts, who head the Watts family, bought their first caravan park Welcome Stranger, Ballarat in 1974. They got into caravan parks because 'It was always something we wanted to do', Des Watts said.

Des and Margaret have owned, leased or been in partnership in nine caravan parks.

Clive Johnson began his association with caravan parks at 10 and he and his wife Margaret lead from the front at their Mandalay Holiday Resort, Busselton, Western Australia.

Clive set the bar on reading and catering to change in family holiday needs when he noted that a once popular children's talent quest activity for children at Mandalay had required a name change from Red Faces to reflect the TV talent quest Australian Idol.

We had to do that because the kids did not know what Red Faces was, he told his VicParks audience of more than 200 delegates.

It is all in the attention to detail, Clive Johnson said. Des Watts, Annette Terrill and Susan Puecker reinforced that with the comment from Des that the goal for he and Margaret was to - be the best you can be.

Des and Margaret Watts with President Kel Arnott VicParks Legend Award
Des and Margaret Watts with President Kel Arnott VicParks Legend Award

This was supported by Annette and Susan who said they learned about their business by using their parents and their own young families as their marketing models.

Annette told the delegates that they reasoned that if they could capture the market that their parents represented they would have stability in their client base.

By planning with their personal knowledge of the needs of young families they covered the future.

Put the two together and the result is a successful business plan for the Watts award winning Holiday Parks in Ballarat, Melbourne and Renmark.

Clive and Margaret Johnson have brought back simple pleasures to their all-seasons approach to keeping their tourist park successful. That includes fishing competitions for the whole family on Mandalay Beach.

Geographe Bay is a 70 kilometre long sandy beach with a northerly aspect which means the water is mostly calm. It is ideal for swimming, fishing, snorkelling, crabbing and sailing through the summer and fishing, crabbing or beachcombing through winter.

Clive is all about attention to details and this, he says, gives his cheque book plenty of exercise. But the result is a top flight caravan park which keeps its clients coming back all year.

Holiday accommodation at Mandalay ranges from luxury two storey spa villas overlooking the beach ($205 - $255 Mid-season), to spacious grassed caravan, camping, motorhome and ensuite sites. A powered site at Mandalay is $34 to $38 a double a night mid-season. Pets are welcome by arrangement from May 1 to October 31st on sites only.

Annette Terrill discusses market modelling
Annette Terrill discusses market modelling

The Watts parks are notable for consistent improvement across their properties. The core markets as Des, Annette and Susan said are families with young children and touring retirees. Cots and high chairs are part of the mix. Plus child-size toilet and bathroom facilities.

Pleasant esthetic modern colour schemes are used and changed, barbecues with wind breaks and under cover eating areas pamper campers.

And there is more and more attention to detail. As Des Watts told the VicParks delegates: Don't ask your guests what they like ask them what they don't like.

VicParks Conference 2009 Awards

Susan Peucker, Mias mum, talks family needs in caravan parks
Susan Peucker, Mia's mum, talks family needs in caravan parks

Young Achiever of the Year Award Michael McIvor, El Dorado Tourist Park

Accredited Parks for 2009 -

South East Holiday Village, Jubilee Lake Holiday Park, Port Campbell Holiday Park, Stawell Park Caravan Park, Pyrenees Caravan Park, BIG4 Inverloch Holiday Park

Most Improved Parks by Division -

Bellarine - Apollo Bay Recreational Reserve.

East Gippsland - Mitchell Gardens Caravan Park.

Eildon - Yarrolyn Holiday Park.

Goulburn - Riverlander Caravan Park.

Metropolitan - BIG4 Dandenong Tourist Park.

North Central - Wimmera Lakes Caravan Park.

North East - Colac Colac Caravan Park.

South Gippsland Phillip Island - Cape Paterson Caravan Park.

South West - Gardens By East Beach Caravan Park.

Sunraysia - Weir Caravan Park.

Mornington Peninsula - Peninsula Holiday Park.

Industry Legends Awards 2009

Jack Stephens

Norm Wolfenden

Don Golightly

John Wynn

Des Watts

Editors Note: GoSee includes pictures from the VicParks 2009 Annual Conference held at Novotel Forest Resort in Creswick a short drive from Ballarat. GoSee also includes links to free Information Articles on children, families and caravan park cabin accommodation from the GoSee library.

Editor's note: Key the word children into the multi-search box onthe GoSee Home page orinto the multi-search box at the bottom of an Information featurepage and read related information inGoSee unique cross-linked files.

Michael McIvor Young Achiever with Terry Saintly of MHIA
Michael McIvor Young Achiever with Terry Saintly of MHIA
Lorna and Brenda of Colac Colac happy with Improvement Award
Lorna and Brenda of Colac Colac happy with Improvement Award
Most Improved  Parks with Paul Baumgartner of AAT
Most Improved Parks with Paul Baumgartner of AAT
A rare shot of  VicParks Yvonne taking time out
A rare shot of VicParks Yvonne taking time out
Achievers with VicParks President Kel Arnott
Achievers with VicParks President Kel Arnott
Agnes (r) and Yvonne draw GoSee prize
Agnes (r) and Yvonne draw GoSee prize
Caravan Park development seminars got full attention
Caravan Park development seminars got full attention
Carl Peucker shares Mia management
Carl Peucker shares Mia management
Legend Norm Wolfenden
Legend Norm Wolfenden
Liz and Phil Redmond VicParks Awards dinner
Liz and Phil Redmond VicParks Awards dinner
Lorraine (l) and Judy accept Don Golightlys Legend Award
Lorraine (l) and Judy accept Don Golightlys Legend Award
Agnes of GoSee helps with website questions
Agnes of GoSee helps with website questions
Phil Redmond lends an ear
Phil Redmond lends an ear
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