Recently my eyes have been opened up to the world of holiday parks through a new light, the marketing of them. Holiday parks, what even are they these days? You now have hidden away breaks, glamping in teepees, staycations in eco pods under the stars, the list goes on. When we think of a holiday park, everyone has a different opinion and it’s constantly evolving. Which is understandable given the variety of holiday parks out there. They are developing, expanding with new forms of accommodation, new activities to entertain, and they’re all trying to find that corner of a staycationer’s desires to hone in on. Do they define themselves as a holiday park these days? Some don’t, but why. What does ‘holiday park’ mean to people these days? 


First, we must break down what stigma already exists around ‘holiday parks’. Ask yourself, what do you think when someone says ‘holiday park’. I think back to caravan holidays in South Wales, or big family trips to hidden woods where my little sisters and I would sit in the back buggy of our parent’s bike. But a lot of the more common socially shared connotations of holiday parks traditionally signify crowded caravan spaces where children run havoc before the evening disco.

Which is interesting as when we break the title down, and separate the terms into just ‘holiday’ or ‘park’, the connotations follow a tone of freedom and escapism within youth! As opposed to being bombarded by screaming youths in confined spaces. Which is perhaps why ‘holiday parks’ are trying to give their brands a slight change of face… 


But how do we change that face? Botox? Fillers? Cheek implants? Or perhaps, we as sector activists turn back to the books to see what some of the greats have to say on a change of face.

If we’re looking to how people view and process ‘holiday parks’, Mark Batey dives into meaning through the use of psychology, and you can’t argue with science. We as people process ‘a thing’ through engrams (memory traces), we build up synapses around this ‘thing’ with all the knowledge that we believe related to it. We therefore refer to predisposed engrams when we reencounter something, our brains go back to basics of “WHAT IS IT”. You poke it, prod it, if you’re brave touch the tip of your tongue with it! You familiarise yourself with it based on what you know. This is going back to our engrams. If you see the diagram below, this shows an example of an engram map for ‘holiday parks’, with examples of synapses that may be triggered by the phrase.


Some brands are changing their faces, by emphasising certain synaptic connotations, to move an audience away from ‘holiday parks’; this shifts the central part of the engram. For example, if we look at Centre Parcs, they refer to their holidays and locations as ‘Breaks’. So, they are moving away from the term ‘holiday parks’ and placing the central point at ‘break’, embodying ‘family’ and ‘holiday’. Or if we look at Forest Holidays as a brand, they focus all their attention on the ‘Outdoors’ element, allowing them to embrace the predisposed ‘nature’ and ‘explore’ features. 


I think the best way make a shift is to reinvent yourself. It’s like when people say to get over a guy, you change your hair cut. If we turn to the classic advertising bible by Vance Packard (opposed to the Mean Girls Burn Book) ‘The Hidden Persuaders’, we can see how this is done. We as advertisers amend the psyche’s hidden aversions. We shift where something exists in the audience’s brain. People are burdened by psyche limitations like the predisposed engrams. A method Packard suggests for this break down of barriers within the brand, is a rebrand of a product. You reintroduce it to the market. The example he used (which is a little dated) is how prunes were advertised, once seen as a laxative but then reintroduced as a superfood. It was reinvented, creating a new engram of positive connotations, removing the limiting aversions.  A more recent example would be how Lucozade went from a medicine you got from the doctors to a leading sports drink brand. 

So when you’re introducing a ‘holiday park’ into the big wide world, consider where you want to sit in the mind of the consumer. Are you being truly authentic when playing to the consumers desires? Are you reflecting what they want? Which part of their engrams do you want to emphasise? Reinvent yourself in line with the audience.Then, your service will follow suit and be the face that the audience is looking for because it recognises it for the right reasons.