After Covid 19, pools will be essential business boosters in outdoor accommodations

To attract first-time campers who are traveling locally, outdoor accommodations must have top quality facilities, such as a swimming pool.

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After a challenging summer, outdoor accommodations and particularly campsites are reckoning up their losses characterized by the absence of foreign tourists but also the appearance of new customers, demanding top quality facilities. Swimming pools are probably a good way to attract these new wave campers! Below we decode this paradoxical summer season.

2020 results down by half for outdoor accommodations

Apparently, some sites fared better than others in the COVID-19 crisis. In some cases this success was due to an influx of local tourists, but for many others there was a drastic drop in visits during the summer. Indeed, in France, the European proximity markets - basically the Dutch, Belgians, Brits, Germans and Swiss – did not come and there were not enough French holidaymakers to compensate. Only 53% of the French went on vacation this summer vs. 71% in 2019 (1).

Graph showing international arrivals in 2020 (dark blue) vs. 2019 (light blue)
Source: UNWTO, World Tourism Barometer

For many families, a drop in income was the reason for this trend and protection from Covid-19 also influenced their choice of destination. Tourists preferred holiday homes (gîtes), B&Bs and furnished rentals and 4 major patterns were observed in their behavior (2):

  • vacations near home;
  • shorter stays;
  • last-minute bookings;
  • a quest for the great outdoors.

On average, frequentations of French campsites were down 25% (3). In Spain, the story was much the same - down 22% in August 2020 (4). Overall the season was not as disastrous as expected but far below what the outdoor accommodations needs to survive.

Swimming pools are a major attraction for vacationers

Medical crisis or not, summer 2020 was once again very sunny and September 2020 the hottest ever recorded (5). Managers of outdoor accommodations, including campsites, may find it essential to provide their customers with pools or water games.

Even if the tourism sector does not expect business to get back to normal before 2022 at best, it should not despair because new opportunities are ready and waiting! Many outdoor accommodations welcomed a new typology of customers in summer 2020.

With 15% of first-time campers, many French holidaymakers discovered the joys of the stays in mobile homes and chalets, preferably in top-of-the-range campsites with swimming pools and events.

— Nicolas Dayot, the president of the French Fédération nationale de l'hôtellerie de plein air, in Le Point

These new customers are not accustomed to camping, are very demanding and do not yet have a favorite center to which they will return regularly. The #CetÉtéJeVisiteLaFrance (This Summer I visit France) campaign launched by Atout France to encourage the French to visit their own country was successful but leisure center managers should now run their own campaigns to make their new customers want to come back. One way is to install a swimming pool or improve existing equipment in preparation for future summers!

To get off to a good start, managers should meet up with pool and spa professionals at the Piscine Global Europe trade show!

Read also: How hotels can develop their business using wellness service providers

Swimming pools, campsites and COVID-19: between the need for meaningful management and the ability to reassure

What needs to be done to manage pools, spas, etc. and ensure sanitary precautions to fight COVID-19?

In June 2020, the French national outdoor accommodation federation (Fédération Nationale de l'Hôtellerie de Plein Air) published a health protocol to assist outdoor accommodations managers. This protocol includes the following of instructions for pools and spas:

  • The distance of one meter between each person must be respected at all times.
  • Reinforcement of the house rules for the pool integrating the “barrier gestures” with specific notices displayed in foot baths and showers.
  • The prohibition of access to the pool of any person presenting respiratory or digestive symptoms.
  • Increase in the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and pool equipment.
  • The reduction – and even elimination if necessary - of deckchair type furniture.

Some very popular campsites decided to adopt a time slot reservation system for their pool and extended opening hours. Others installed, every morning, barriers of protection between groups of deckchairs to ensure social distancing.

As a preventive measure, swimming pool water treatment management was also more assiduous this summer, even if no study has yet been published of the survival of COVID-19 in chlorinated water.

All these measures not only aim to guarantee the safety of customers and employees but also to reassure holidaymakers for whom safety is a major factor when choosing their destinations. Huttopia, specialists in campsites close to nature and forest villages, have fully understood this demand and have had their sanitation procedures certified by SOCOTEC, including a section dedicated to swimming pools and highlights this in their advertising and promotions and on its home page.

If you have any doubts at all about how to manage your existing water treatment equipment, consult a pool and spa professional!

The current situation requires managers of campsites and other outdoor holiday accommodation facilities to boost their creativity to attract new customers. Pools are relevant and durable ways to build your response. Making these new customers want to return to your center will build business as when borders reopen your former international visitors will swarm back!

(1) ADN Tourisme: Premier bilan de la saison touristique estivale 2020
(2) Le bilan de la saison touristique
(3) Veille Infotourisme: Campings, gîtes... Les bonnes surprises de la saison touristique estivale en France
(4) Veille InfoTourisme: Espagne : enquête d'occupation extra hôtelière, août 2020
(5) Copernicus: Surface air temperature for September 2020

© Crédit photo: Paul Prescott / Adobe Stock

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