Center Parcs is one of the most favorite destinations in the United Kingdom (UK) for family short breaks. The center reports a yearly occupancy rate of more than 97%. The center provides a variety of indoor and outdoor sports and activities in a forest setting. The center consists of four locations, each of which covers about 400 acres in a forest environment. The four locations are Whinfell Forest-Cumbria, Sherwood Forest-Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest-Suffolk and Longleat Forest-Wiltshire. The fifth site is will be opened in 2014, in Bedshire. The center has fully equipped lodges and apartments that are located amongst streams and trees. Various leisure activities and sports are offered in these villages, which have many bars, restaurants and retail outlets. The villages also have excellent Aqua Sana Spa facility. The owners of Center Parcs include the Blackstone Group (92.4%), the Royal Bank of Scotland (5.9%) and the Management (1.7%). The operating board is tasked with the management of Center Parcs. The executive management committee is responsible for daily operations of Center Perks. The committee consists of three executives and five senior managers.
The Micro Environment Situation
The current market situation
The UK travel and tourism industry consist of three main markets that include the domestic tourism, outbound tourism and the inbound tourism market (Research and Markets 2010). Among the three markets, the domestic tourism and inbound markets are of significance to Center Parcs. The outbound market is the largest in the UK. Therefore, firms in the travel and tourism industry ought to be more innovative to reduce this and increase domestic tourism market. The tourism industry reported a 5,5% drop in total expenditure in 2009 (Research and Markets 2010). Short break holidays entail one to three nights’ leisure trips. The outbound and domestic short breaks are the main types of short break holidays in the UK. The potential for domestic short break domestic tourism holidays is high. There are an increasing number of busy professionals who are only willing to spend little time away from their work. These professionals are usually attracted to destinations, which give opportunities for shopping bargains and averagely priced accommodation. In addition, the number of people who work at home has increased. This allows such individuals to arrange for their holidays in a flexible way. Moreover, employers are increasingly demanding a higher degree of commitment from their employees. This limits the duration of time that employees can spend away from work. In order to resolve this, most individuals opt for short break holidays. Another significant impact on the tourism sector in the UK has been the changing lifestyle. Many individuals nowadays prefer to start family life when they are mature adults and hence there has been an increasing number of singles. In addition, most families have two incomes. These lifestyle changes imply that people have increased their capabilities to go on holiday. Therefore, short break market in the UK is likely to grow significantly based on economic and time constraints that limit the ability of individuals to go on long holidays. For instance, the UK short break market has continued growing the past five years despite the recent economic recession (Mintel 2011). In addition, the structure of short break holiday market has shifted significantly. The number of overseas short break holidays has significantly reduced while domestic short break holidays have recorded an increase in volumes (Mintel 2011). Center Parcs is likely to benefit from these demographic and economic changes, which favor short holiday breaks. Comprehensive marketing mix of the products offered by the center will place the firm at a better position to benefit from this market.
The product situation
Center Parcs prides itself in being the favorite place for short break holidays in the UK. The center offers a wide range of adventure in terms of sports and activities in a relaxed ambiance natural setting. In addition, the center has restaurants, retail outlets and bars (Robinson 2012). The Center Parcs villages offer subtropical swimming paradise, sensuous spa sensations, areal adventures and excellent customer service. The Aqua Sana Spa and treatments provide visitors with a world of spa, massages, facial, pedicure, and manicure treatments (Robinson 2012). The center also offers children club activities such as bumble bees, pirates and princess party, pyjama party and tasty treats to non-parental accompanied children. Other children activities include baby dolphins, toddler dance, messy play, parents and toddler fun and make a memory for children under the age of three. For children aged below seven years, the center offers activities such as teddy bear making, animal allsorts, fair fun time, face painting, roller tots and paint activities. In addition, the center offers activities such as virtual fashion, cheerleading, jewellery making, create a cartoon, and super scented suds for children aged between eight and fourteen years. The center also offers indoor activities such as exercise and fitness, creative pursuits, ten pin bowling, and indoor sports. Some of the indoor sports offered at the center include badminton, fencing, table tennis, roller skating and scuba diving. Furthermore, the center offers outdoor activities such as adrenaline, nature activities, outdoor sports and water sports. Finally, the center organizes a range of tournaments and tuition including little and large cricket, badminton tournament and little and large soccer. The firm offers all inclusive products that carter for both adults and children. This makes the center a preferred destination for short holiday family outings. The center embraces eco-friendly activities such as efficient energy consumption and water management. All these activities appeal to environmentally sensitive individuals. Thus, the products offered at Center Parcs can appeal to both family and single individuals.
The customer situation
Center Parcs has a very high physical occupancy rates. Physical occupancy refers to the average number of rooms occupied as a percentage of the total number of available rooms. For instance, in the 2010/2011 financial year, it reported an annual physical occupancy of 96,3%. The firm also reported a 98% prompted brand awareness in the same period. The firm also tracks the level of guest satisfaction using online survey questions and in the 2010/2011 financial year 96% of respondents ranked services as being excellent or good.
The employee situation
Center Parcs considers its employees as a vital asset. The firm employs strategies, which ensure continuous development and training of its employees irrespective of their positions at the firm. These initiatives have seen Center Parcs record as a low employee turnover of 24% in the past two years. The firm introduced a new program called Delivering Excellent Service (DES) in 2010 that trains employees to ensure a continued excellent service delivery. This initiative resulted in the training of about 5,200 employees. All new employees at the firm are now receiving training in the DES. Employees who incorporate the knowledge gained during DES are also rewarded in the form of meals, vouchers and other prizes. Employees at the firm are also given paid time off to participate in community projects around the villages. All these activities motivate employees to deliver excellent services to consumers.
The competitive situation
The main competitors of Center Parcs are hotels and resorts, which cater for high end accommodation and leisure. However, the center has a competitive advantage over high-end market resorts and hotels, because of its uniqueness that enables it to offer excellent and sophisticated self-contained holiday package within a single village. Therefore, continued innovation and quality assurance at the firm is likely to offer Center Parcs a competitive advantage over high-end market resorts and hotels.
The Macro Environment Situation
Business operations are likely to be impacted upon by political environment of a country. Political factors that can affect a business environment include political support, taxation policies, grants, trade bodies, and international relations. The UK has a stable political environment and thus Center Parcs is unlikely to be affected politically. The Coalition Government initiative to increase aviation tax implies that many individuals who would prefer visiting Center Parcs might not be able to do so. The advocacy by the Air Travel Insolvency protection Committee (ATIPAC) to have the Coalition government implement the ‘flight plus’ is likely to protect the sales of Center Parcs.
Economic factors can impact on the pricing of products and their consumption. For instance, reduced disposable income among consumers is likely to reduce consumption of certain products, especially luxurious products. The recent economic turmoil reduced the disposable income of many people. This negatively impacted on the tourism sector, especially on the international tourism industry. However, the short break holiday tourism industry in the UK was not greatly affected by the turmoil. The sector recorded a significance growth during that period. This has been attributed to a decline in the international short break holiday. This resulted in an increased preference of domestic short break holidays. The inflation levels are also likely to impact a business. This can influence the pricing of overheads, wages and utilities that may result in reduced revenues for the firm. Moreover, the impact of inflation on interest rates can affect the operations of Center Parcs group. The exposure of suppliers to foreign currency denomination implies that the cost of acquiring certain supplies might be high. However, the austerity measures put in place in various European countries are likely to stabilize the supply of products from these countries.
There are several social factors that can affect a business operation. One of the factors is the demographic distribution of the population. The UK has more aged population than young population. This is unlikely to make impact on Center Parcs business, because the group caters for all types of individuals. However, the group will need to be more innovative in order to cater for the increasing aged population. Lifestyle pattern is another social pattern that can influence the operations of a business. Many individuals in the UK nowadays prefer to postpone their family life. This implies that there is an increasing reduction of young families and hence Center Parks need to continue innovating to cater for the increasing single population. The firm supports charities that are important to their brand. The group contributes to charities, which cater for terminally children with disorders and provide holidays for such children and their families. This contributes to a strong image for the group.
Innovations in technology have a direct impact on businesses (Godfrey, Clarke, & Godfrey 2000, p. 128). Various changes and innovations have been witnessed in the information and communication technology (ICT) in the recent past. Many businesses have embraced these innovations to spur their growth and competitive advantage (Godfrey, Clarke, & Godfrey 2000, p. 128). Center Parks embraces ICT in marketing and sales. For instance, the use of the Internet allows consumers to book villas at the center in advance. In addition, the firm utilizes the Internet to market its products. All these activities enable the firm to reduce the general operations costs.
Businesses are usually affected by legislation that guides competition, health and safety, employment, trading policies and regulatory bodies (Jain, Trehan, & Trehan 2009, p. 11). Center Parks like any other firm operates under certain legal statutory. The location of the group facilities within forests require to adhere to environment sustainability statutes.
Changes in attitudes of individuals toward corporate social responsibility constitute can impact on the operations of a business (Jain, Trehan, & Trehan 2009, p. 12). Center Parks’ villages are built within forests that allow visitors to enjoy the natural environment. The firm is committed to protecting the environment. It encourages energy and water conservation and waste reduction. The firm also invests heavily in the protection and enhancement of the natural environment. These initiatives enable the firm to remain sustainable and to appeal to green consumers.
- The firm is preferred favorite destination for family short holiday.
- They value its employees.
- The firm offers excellent services.
- The firm has products for each segment of the population.
- The firm depends on a number of suppliers, and any deviation in the standard of supplied product might impact the firm negatively.
- Some of our supplies are located in other countries and hence fluctuation in interest rates and economic stability might affect product offering.
- The domestic short break holiday market is growing steadily.
- Our location within forests offers visitors an opportunity to innovate
- There is competition from hotels and resorts, which target high end market.
Marketing Communication Objectives
Marketing communication objectives refers to what a firm intents to accomplish via its promotional initiative. Consumers usually respond to communication objectives in terms of hierarchy of effects such as awareness, interest, evaluation, trial and adoption.
The marketing communication objectives for Center Parcs will include:
- Awareness: increase awareness in the UK market about Center Parcs’ products to about 80% of our target market.
- Interest: with about 80% of our market aware of Center Parcs’ products, it is expected that 60% will be interested in our products. This objective will allow our consumers to develop desire for our products.
- Evaluation: with 60% of target market interested in Center Parcs’ products, customers might evaluate this business, by comparing Center Parcs’ products to other hotel and resort products available; moreover, our products have a great potential to be in their list of possible choices at least 50% of the time.
- Trial: after evaluating Center Parcs’ products, customers should select them over other hotel and resort products at least 40% of the time, because of their variety, and high quality within the same village.
- Adoption: as consumers use Center Parcs’ products, their friends will be able to know about our products through word of mouth.
The target market for Center Parcs’ products will include green consumers, young families and professional who have little time to go for a long holiday. The campaign will also target single individuals who have not yet started family life, but are in need of inexpensive short break holiday.
Center Parcs’ products will be positioned as quality and all inclusive leisure products within a single natural setting. In order to capture the attention of young families, the center will be promoted as an ideal place for family bonding. To appeal to professionals, the center will be promoted as an ideal place for relaxation, in a serene natural environment, after a busy work schedule. In the case of single individuals, the center will be promoted as a place for trendy leisure activities and sporting in a wild setting. The environmental sustainability messages will accompany the campaign in order to appeal to green consumers.
Marketing mix transforms marketing plan into action. It is important for differentiating company’s products from those offered by competitors. The consumer’s needs should be in line with the 4Ps (product, price, promotion and place) in order to make a viable and good marketing strategy.
In order to appeal to consumers, a product ought to enhance consumer’s situation. Center Parcs will continue offering a wide range of leisure activities and sports in order to appeal to all segments of the market. Moreover, the firm will continue upholding delivery of high quality services through continuous training and motivation of the employees in addition for sourcing for quality raw materials. In order to remain preferred destination for green consumers, the firm will continue investing in sustainable environmental initiatives that will enable it conserve energy and environment, and reduce waste.
Price of a product can be adjusted at any time. Product pricing can be undertaken using premium pricing, economy pricing, penetration pricing, psychological pricing, product line pricing, price skimming, product bundle pricing, captive product pricing or optional product pricing. Center Parcs’ products will use product line pricing given that various product lines are offered. This will enable the firm to increase expenditure rates among visitors to the group’s facilities. Additionally, this will reflect the benefits derived from each line of product (Belohlavek 2008, p. 18). Therefore, the consumers will not be restricted on what they need to consume, but rather what they can afford.
Place is the marketing or physical distribution channels. It allows products to be moved from the producers from the users. Place strategy can give a firm a competitive advantage over its rivals. Center Parcs is located within forests. The firm has several restaurants, retail outlets, bars and sporting grounds in each village that enable consumers to access them easily. The firm also provides a wide range of leisure and sporting activities in each village that enable consumers to access a variety of products within the same village. This gives the firm competitive advantage over hotels and resort centers, which cater for high end market.
These are tools that are used to market a product. The promotion of Center Parcs’ products will entail web marketing, trade fairs and exhibitions, targeted direct mailing, advertising and sponsorship. Advertisement will enable the firm to create awareness, develop a positive attitude toward products and to transmit information that will spur trial and adoption of the product. Web marketing will enhance the benefits derived from advertisement in order to meet marketing communication objectives. Sponsorship of environmental activities and other leisure activities at the firm will help in attracting green consumers and singles to visit the center. Trade fairs and exhibitions will also enable us to realize our communication objective of increasing awareness. Targeted direct mailing will ensure that the right message is sent to the right potential consumer.
Implementation, Control and Budget
An online survey will be conducted to establish the likes and dislikes of consumers for our products. This will ensure that our innovation integrate the opinions of consumers. The implementation of the plan will be divided into nine regions found in the UK. Each region will have a budget of its own. This will ensure that our marketing plan do not concentrate in one region at the expense of other regions.
Center Parcs is the most preferred destination for family short break holidays in the UK. The firm has been witnessing an upward trend in its profitability. This marketing communication is intended at increasing the revenue of the firm through increase in expenditure of visitors at business facilities.