The bookings that are made now are often for the short term. So many last minutes. “People are still very hesitant when it comes to the summer and May holidays”, says Mark Giethoorn, director of Center Parcs Netherlands.
Center Parcs wants to help those hesitant guests over the threshold by focusing on flexibility. “This is how we want to alleviate concerns. People can rebook to another date or even another location free of charge.”
Press conferences determine booking behavior
In this way, Center Parcs hopes to be able to keep up with the changes in the corona measures, because these are very decisive in booking behavior. They also notice this at Landal Greenparks. “The effect of the press conferences was enormous. If something was relaxed, our telephone immediately started to ring,” says spokesman Jeannette ten Kate-Winter.
Last year we celebrated a massive holiday in our own country. Spontaneously booking a house was not an option last summer, because everything was full. The summer of 2020 was even better for Center Parcs than the year before. “It was very busy and the high season continued for a bit longer. In September we were also quite full”, says Giethoorn.
2020 was not a great year
But that’s not to say 2020 was a good year. “In mid-March we decided to close for two months due to corona. You will then lose those months and many people also want to rebook during the second lockdown.”
This rebooking is largely due to the mandatory closure of the facilities. “Guests book for the complete Center Parcs experience, including swimming pools and indoor play parks. Now that they are closed, many of them prefer to choose another date.”
That is also what they see at Landal Greenparks, says ten Kate-Winter: “People come for the facilities, especially at the large parks that we have.” Families with small children who have enjoyed the large swimming pool and jumping on the trampolines.
The cancellations were not too bad at the smaller parks. “The people who choose these parks are more used to going out themselves. They go hiking and cycling in the area. So even after the facilities have closed, those guests just came.”
The fact that the summer was fully booked does not mean for Landal that it was better than in previous years. “We are always full in the summer, but this time it was mainly Dutch people, while normally 30 percent of our guests come from abroad”, explains Ten Kate-Winter.
Working from home in a holiday home
Not a spectacular summer, but above all a different composition of guests. “We also saw many new guests. People who would otherwise have gone abroad and who have now tried out a holiday park in their own country for the first time.
“It is a bit away from your own environment and I think that many people have rediscovered the Netherlands in this way”, says Ten Kate-Winter. It even happens that people are so tired of working from home and go to a holiday park with a laptop. Just to get away from your own living room. “We do see that happening, yes.”
Center Parcs had about 25 percent less turnover in 2020 compared to a normal year, but Giethoorn is looking forward to the future with hope: “The type of holiday and our product are very popular. I think that this year too many people are close by. will book. “
Good hope for the summer
He expects the beginning of 2021 to remain difficult. “Of course it depends on how long the second wave lasts and how fast the vaccination goes. But when more is possible, we will notice in the bookings. I think the resilience for our industry is enormous and I have good hope for this summer. “
They are certainly hopeful at Natuurhuisje, the platform that rents out a house in nature. Unlike the holiday parks, they do not rely on families who come to the swimming paradise. A large part of the target group of Natuurhuisje consists of couples who come for peace and nature.
Natuurhuisje continues to grow
Especially in a year in which corona so determined our behavior, those remote houses were a godsend for many people. “We have seen the number of bookings double in the past year”, says head of marketing Robert van Veen. And that while hardly any bookings were made in the months of March and April. “If you look from May to December, it’s almost tripled.”
The enormous growth was also possible because the supply increased sharply. From about 2500 houses at the beginning of last year to 4750 houses now. “From April onwards, that went into rapid gear, but even now more than thirty houses are added every week.
The fact that people live more in the moment and do not plan too far ahead is also the case with Natuurhuisje. “We see that people mainly book for this and next month. So not too far ahead. That was very different last year. People already booked their spring or summer vacation in January,” said Van Veen.
From partying at a festival to chilling out in a house
In 2021, Natuurhuisje expects to continue to grow. “We think that people will only really start making their summer plans in March or April, whereby a holiday home will remain a popular way of holidaying. Of course people will want to go on holiday outside the Netherlands as soon as the weather is possible, but some will also consciously choose to stay in your own country. “
Natuurhuisje saw interest in particular increase among young people. “We saw an increase in the number of bookers in the 18-25 age group.”
Inquiries showed that many young people did not give up last summer when all festivals were canceled. Instead, some booked a weekend in a house, to have fun with friends. “So we do expect a shift in the popularity of the holiday home sector”, Van Veen concludes.