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12.06.2012 - Ausgabe: 3/2012

Wanderlust – with a playground

Travellers are in agreement: It’s better to go away on a cheaper holiday than having to forgo the holiday trip altogether.
Austria scores points with its family-friendly accommodation in both summer and winter, and with its all-inclusive offers enabling a greater degree of predictability. The playground is a must.


That is exactly what happened – the travel “rate” of the German population increased by 2% on the previous year, rising to 52%. This was determined by the 27th tourism analysis carried out by the foundation for future issues, an initiative set up by British American Tobacco. This analysis saw 4,000 German citizens aged 14 and over questioned on their holiday behaviour in 2010 and their travel plans for 2011. According to Professor Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt, Director of Research for the BAT foundation, “the desire to travel knows no boundaries, whereas the holiday budget clearly does. Using this formula, German holiday behaviour can be summarised. The majority of German citizens still travelled; they did, however, reduce holiday expenditure by nearly €100 on average. Travellers are in agreement: It’s better to go away for a cheaper holiday than having to forgo the holiday trip altogether.”

Reinhardt continues: “During the past thirty years, the holiday duration has continued to shrink by approximately two days per decade: In 1980 there were 18.2 days, 16.3 days in 1990, in 2000 there were still 14.8 days and in 2010 it averages out at 12.5 days. If this development continues then by the end of this decade the duration of the average holiday will fall to under 10 days for the first time.” Currently, holidays taken within Germany only last an average of 10.3 days. Germans themselves spend, on average, €944 per person on their holiday. This figure didn’t represent the costs for just the trip and accommodation; it also includes all additional costs – from shopping expeditions to day trips, and from souvenirs to tips for waiting staff. Compared to the previous year (2009: €1,038) the total expenditure was reduced by almost €100. For German citizens the principle remains as follows: It’s better to go on holiday for a shorter break than to just stay at home. The costs involved in travelling abroad, as opposed to travelling within Germany, were worlds apart. A holiday abroad, costing €981, was nearly 50% more expensive than a holiday within Germany (€662).

A travel study by Commerzbank AG shows: The favourites are becoming more popular. The top two favourite travel destinations in recent years, Spain and Austria, increased in popularity in 2011. German holidaymakers spent €6.7 billion in Spain, ca. 5% more than the previous year, which corresponds to a rise of over €300 million. The number of German guests in Spanish hotels rose by 6% according to the tourist association. Spain may well have benefited as a Mediterranean travel destination from the political unrest in North Africa. The increase in the amount of money spent in Austria has been even more considerable. Compared to 2010 there was an increase of over 8% - that’s €500 million. With a total expenditure estimated at around €6.5 billion, Germany’s neighbour is now within touching distance of favourite Spain: The alpine country scores points with its family-friendly accommodation in both summer and winter, and with its all-inclusive offers enabling a greater degree of predictability. The playground is a must and, in terms of promoting the family-friendly appeal of these hotel resorts, the children’s playground is very much in the spotlight.

Play areas as the ideal complement to holiday facilities

The results of the guest survey T-MONA (Tourism Monitor Austria) show a clear picture of the Upper Austria guest trend in summer 2011. Upper Austria is ideal for wellness and nature holidays. The state is perceived by its guests as a relaxing, welcoming, pleasant holiday destination. The summer guest can also experience, for instance, sporting activities, hiking, swimming and sightseeing. Play experiences are very popular with families.

Regardless of the weather, be it good or poor, ensuring that children can play is vitally important. What is the use of a wonderful imagination if the children have nowhere to live out their fantasies or nowhere for them to test their ability? That is why more and more tourism organisations and companies are creating exciting play areas where children (and their parents) can really enjoy themselves.

A very successful example is the western town Pullman City in Eging am See (Germany). As opposed to many other theme parks with their fairground rides, Pullman City invites its visitors to create their own activities. These activities take place in the backdrop of the Wild West from approximately 150 years ago through the deployment of some very impressive scenery. In the authentic area, the centrepiece of Pullman City, American history from the period 1740 – 1880 is played out in front of your very eyes. This is where visitors are treated to a comprehensive insight into the self-built, museum styled buildings in the presence of the residents. A highlight for the children arrived in the spring of 2011 from the Austrian play equipment manufacturer Obra-Design in the form of the “Little Pullman” adventure playground, worth approximately €100,000, which enjoyed its grand opening in August. The little cowboys and Indians can let loose while playing on the extraordinary play equipment such as giant tepees, tube slides, stagecoaches with horses, a fort and much more. Even though the design is based on the Wild West, the safety standards are anything but dangerous. All of the play area equipment is compliant with the relevant European standard for playground equipment EN 1176.

According to Pullman managing director Ernst Grünberger, “Pullman City was insolvent at the end of 2010. There were six of us, my colleagues and I, who decided at the time to buy the western town and continue operating it. It was clear from the beginning that we wanted to invest in a very high-quality package, especially for families with children. The dream with Little Pullman was to create a playground where children could run around to their hearts’ content and immerse themselves in their own kids’ version of the Wild West. It worked, because Little Pullman was a tremendous success! It’s incredibly important for us to inspire and delight the children. Whoever succeeds in winning over the children will have the adults’ support.”

The “Modell- & Spielpark Abarena” (“Abarena model and play park”) at Lake Wolfgang in Upper Austria also focuses on children. The goal is to create an additional attraction in the classical Salzkammergut tourism region, with its magnificent scenery and unique lakes, which is appealing during moderate weather conditions and will help to increase the amount of time spent in the region.
The park scores extra points with its catering in the indoor area that boasts a spectacular flight simulator, two model railway sets, a model aeroplane exhibition, a Carrera racing track, a model ship exhibition and several indoor play areas. In the outdoor area, the Abarena operator is focussing on adventure play equipment.
Water and sand are a particularly strong attraction for children, which is why Obra-Design, a company with a long history, is delivering numerous sand and water adventure play elements, as well as an array of various swings. The new attraction for 2012 is a spectacular 14 metre-high lookout tower. Obra-Design will deliver and assemble a breath-taking stainless steel tube slide in the coming weeks, which will be linked to the tower.

Abarena GmbH Managing Director Martina Unterberger states, “There has long been a dearth of attractions to visit during inclement weather conditions in our beautiful region. This is why we have invested heavily in our play parks and adapted the accompanying infrastructure in the past two years. Obra-Design was instrumental in inspiring us and supported us during the planning and implementation of creating our desired active play areas. A particular highlight for young and old alike is the small stream with its water gates which, together with the mine and the sand play areas, combine to make our offering more satisfying in every respect.”

“Both of these successful projects prove that generously designed play areas with attractive rides, equipment and play opportunities for children of all age groups help contribute to bringing customers through the doors and help keep them there for longer, resulting in a higher sales figures,” said Obra-Design Managing Director Mag. Michael Philipp.

Marketing and playground

Christian Angenvoort, angenvoort- unique kids clubs & playgrounds lda, believes that, “a playground – above all individual playgrounds, play products and specially tailored packages – help marketing in tourism with a great degree of certainty. The more attractive the hotel, target group, specific offers and tailored solutions for children, the more successful the hotel will be as an essential building block in terms of its appeal and marketing power for the respective region. Successful marketing and development in tourism can only go hand in hand with private financial investment from businesses as well as close collaboration with the local authorities, the State and the European community. In order to target the best possible win-win situation between private and public investment, there is a need for appropriate framework conditions. In order to be an attractive destination for families, in particular, and to deliver on the unique claims made during marketing activities, individual facilities for children provide extremely important stimuli.

The family holiday and travel habits no longer correspond to ‘who is travelling with whom’, nor do the requirements for a simple playground with standard play elements in the play room satisfy the current expectations of the younger visitors – the guests of the future. The holidays are the best time of the year for children. Their dreams of adventure and wonderful experiences together with friends and family should also become a reality in hotels, resorts and guest houses – and create important stimuli for the marketing of the region. At present, however, there is no guarantee that children will receive an attractive package that is superior to the standard experience they are already acquainted with from their time at school and their free time. Among the hotels there is also a growing level of competition to curry favour with the guests and create a unique signature to help distinguish them from the competition. The classic children’s dishes on the menu or the tired old games in the play area no longer cut the mustard.”

The angenvoort unique kids clubs & playgrounds Ida has its headquarters in Portugal and Germany and offers, aside from individual play elements and individual games designed for indoors, service and training for all hotel sectors. This is because the child takes in everything in every area, and the appropriate services and communication are vital for success and for creating the “Wow” experience for the child, so that he or she has lots of good things to say after the holiday when he or she is back home with friends and family. Often it’s the small, personal touches that make the big difference.

Excellent quality and individuality demands a higher initial financial outlay, but it results in an experience that is clearly more enjoyable. The value of the improved experience more than recompenses the initial cost in the long terms through, for example, recommendations and repeat custom. The marketing is therefore not simply promising the usual experiences; the expectations of the guests are being met and exceeded even. Only the party that provides the most attractive package, the most personal service and the best price-quality ratio will be able to increase the length of stay of its guests, the repeat custom statistics, improve turnover in the hotel, elevate itself from the competition and win the “small’ decision makers as their guests of tomorrow, simultaneously strengthening the marketing of the entire region.

Photos: Obra


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