23 Nov 2018
You might not associate holiday parks with the latest in digital technology but that’s the road Australia’s largest network of holiday parks - Discovery Parks and Top Parks - is travelling.
More than 400 park managers will travel from some of Australia’s most desirable holiday and remote workforce locations to the Adelaide Oval for the G’DAY18 Conference from 26-28 November, to learn the latest trends in accommodation management.
It’s the first time staff from the corporately owned and operated Discovery Parks network, the licensed park network, Top Parks, and their industry-leading rewards program, G’DAY Rewards, will come together under the umbrella of G’DAY Group Holdings.
G’DAY Group Holdings CEO and founder Grant Wilckens said that while holiday parks were traditionally small family-based businesses, innovation and scale would be vital in the future to survive in the digital era.
“You might have heard entrepreneur Dick Smith talking about the challenges of small regional accommodation businesses in the shadow of large international online travel agencies squeezing their profits. It is certainly very difficult for small tourism operators to compete,” Mr Wilckens said.
While caravan and camping visitor nights reached record numbers in June 2018, the rapidly changing business environment meant holiday park operators required significant investment in systems, training and technology to meet customer expectations.
With tourists increasingly choosing their holiday accommodation based on online reviews, and demanding smart home technology when they are away, holiday parks could not expect the phone to keep ringing, Mr Wilckens said.
“It’s not just Millennials relying on reviews and booking online – even the older generations are moving to digital booking systems.”
“This business looks like a tourism business – and certainly customer experience is at the heart of it – but it is also a high-tech digital business using the latest marketing and smart home technology,” Mr Wilckens said.
“We’re investing close to $10 million in digital technologies to provide a seamless booking experience and smart home options in parks.”
“We are also investing in waterparks, eco-tourism and cabins to make camping cool again, as well as in staff training and quality assurance systems,” Mr Wilckens said.
“As a predominantly regional business we provide a rare opportunity for staff to be trained in highly transferrable corporate and tourism management skills – although we’d rather keep our people and promote from within.”
This level of investment was vital if the company was to realise its vision to be the best regional accommodation provider in the country – to thrive in a competitive landscape with the likes of Booking.com and Expedia and keep profits in Australia, Mr Wilckens said.
The conference, sponsored by Virgin Australia, Mitsubishi Motors and News Corp, and will involve industry associations, suppliers and park managers from around Australia.
Headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia, and majority owned by Sunsuper, G’DAY Group Holdings, is the umbrella company which owns and operates the Discovery Parks lifestyle parks in Australia. It also has the Top Parks brand of family-owned parks under an innovative licensing scheme. With more than 270 parks distributed across the outback, water front and national parks, this forms Australia’s largest network of holiday parks, with an industry-leading rewards program: G’DAY Rewards.