Voices of Hospitality

Blogs, Insights

Voices of Hospitality

Voices of Hospitality

Richard Bates, Chief Executive Officer at Park Leisure 2000 is a knowledgeable and experienced hospitality leader, specialising in holiday parks and homes. Before Park Leisure, Richard held leadership roles at Bourne Leisure and Butlins.

HGEM reached out to Richard to gain his perspective on the unique opportunities and challenges that 2021 will bring for the hospitality industry.

What do you think 2021 is going to be like for hospitality? What are the opportunities?

The Hospitality industry has taken quite a beating throughout the pandemic and it is difficult to see how some sectors can recover without a complete strategic evaluation and a change in business model. Those sectors that provide outdoor, open air experiences, including my own sector - holiday home ownership, are in a much better position to capitalise on the desire of families to head for the coast and county.

I can see real opportunities arising for those businesses who are listening carefully to their customers about what is important to them in this new world.

Back to Basics

We are seeing more and more feedback from families who just want their kids to have fresh air, space, somewhere to run and to play with other kid, but in a safe environment. Families are not asking for anything sophisticated, just wholesome, some would say old fashioned, opportunities to be kids again. As always those companies who listen hardest and seek the most feedback will be best prepared to deliver on these customer expectations.

VAT Opportunities

For many years the Hospitality sector has lobbied government seeking VAT parity with our European neighbours with regard to VAT on accommodation and visitor experiences. I believe that now is the perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to address the unlevel playing field we have been on for so many years. It would allow the UK Hospitality sector to compete and to recover so much more swiftly if the current VAT of 5% were to become the permanent VAT rate. It’s a big ask but too good an opportunity to miss and vital for many in our industry.

Digital Transformation

What has completely blown me away in the last few months is the readiness of customers to transact virtually. My own personal experience of both selling and buying a car online, with neither party having physically seen the car until they owned it, has been transformative.

I am now witnessing our sales teams building relationships, building trust and sharing the workings of the business with customers who, in their own time are choosing to leave deposits and join us as Holiday Home owners. With growing confidence and more training our virtual presentations are getting better and better and I feel like I have glimpsed the future.

I would like to think that nothing will replace the face to face, warm handshake, eye contact and relationship building that we are used to, but I am loving the amount of information the customer is getting, loving that it is downloadable and the customer can access it at any time and so impressed with the adaptability of both team and customers to transact in this hardest of times.

Customer Feedback

What has proved the most valuable tool throughout the last 12 months is the ability and skill needed to listen to our guests. There are many and new anxieties out there for us to overcome if we hope to do business. Listening skills and empathy have never been so important. The game changer for us has been training, listening to our customers and more training…..just like it always was.

Back to Blog