On our latest social road trip, Digital Media Edge gained exclusive access to interview Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs, about how exactly the European holiday village Goliath have ridden the crest of the digital wave down the years.
In addition to embracing all things digital rather quicker and more efficiently than other companies within the travel space, Martin also revealed what plans Center Parcs have in place for the forthcoming 18 months.
Part 1: A Technological Journey
Having established their first UK village site in the heart of the Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire back in 1987, the business has evolved dramatically since those modest beginnings.
Boasting five UK parks in 2016 with a County Longford base in Ireland in the planning phase, the company is going from strength to strength.
But ever since the late eighties, things are a far cry from what they used to be.
With digital content such as online questionnaires delivered the day after a family has returned from their trip away a million miles away from brochures being the only way to gain an insight into the type of holiday on offer at the start, it’s been quite the technological journey.
Part 2: Website Development
Recognising early on that the company cannot afford stand still in this digital age, Martin revealed that there are already plans to embark on a new project to redevelop the existing Center Parcs site once again.
With websites requiring modifications for specific devices nowadays, the site is primarily focused upon providing all of the information a customer needs in order to initially inquire about a stay at Center Parcs as the first port of call.
With everything from booking activities such as cycle rides to even ordering basic groceries for when families arrive on site, website development has always been at the forefront of Center Parcs’ conscience.
Part 3: A Social Splash
Social media is another fundamental cornerstone on which Center Parcs’ modern day offering is founded.
Martin stressed that social media isn’t simply about solely pumping customer offers in a hard sell kind of fashion but rather sharing user generated content such as customer stories while informing interested parties about new activities and so on.
With a loyal and dedicated team completing week-to-week social listening duties which entail monitoring Trip Advisor reviews and instantaneously responding to customer queries on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Center Parcs only benefits from being in on the wider conversation around the brand, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Part 4: Center Parcs On The Go
As smartphone use continues to scale hyperactive levels, Center Parcs has had to tailor their digital strategy in order to cater to this market also.
With mobile holiday bookings having more than doubled in the last two years, the company simply had to make greater strides into optimising their digital offering for this kind of device in particular.
As well as establishing an app which allows visitors to locate their lodge via maps or alternatively booking additional activities during their stay, Center Parcs have also embraced contactless technology.
Now utilising smart wristbands which allow visitors to do everything from opening the front door of their lodge to actually purchasing food or refreshments from the numerous eateries on site, Center Parcs continue to keep the pace with the latest digital trends.