Pitton Cross Caravan and Camping Park (Pitton Cross) is a small family business that has been operating for around fifty years on the Gower, south west Wales.
- Implementation of superfast broadband can help improve the customer experience from their initial information gathering on the business website, booking services (holidays) on 24/7 cloud-based systems, and being able to utilise fast broadband on-site.
- For businesses based on the geographic periphery of the nation, high speed adoption can allow the business to connect and communicate easier with suppliers.
- Time and efficiency savings can be gained from utilising dedicated cloud-based applications for business functions, such as human resource management.
- Faster operational speeds may enable relatively costly tasks previously done externally to the business, to be brought in-house (e.g. web updating).
Overview of the business
The business caters mainly for UK customers- largely from Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, London and Birmingham- but around 5 to 10% of visitors are typically from the rest of Europe.
Although the site is open all year round, demand for camping and caravan pitches is largely seasonal, and this is reflected in the employment pattern at the business, with the six core staff being increased to ten in the summer months. Location is the key resource for the business with its aspirations to expand reliant on access to more land. Pitton Cross advertises with the AA and the Caravan Club, and also has its own website. The business also run a kite shop, one of the few in the south Wales region.
Superfast broadband adoption
Since the middle of 2016, Pitton Cross has been able to utilise 80 Mbps download speeds via Cardiff-based Spectrum Internet- who were praised for their efforts in helping the smooth adoption of full-fibre broadband and, in particular, their customer service. The business pays around £43 per month for fixed broadband.
Previously the business had struggled with getting access to fast broadband, going through a process that included meeting Westminster Parliament and Welsh Assembly members in order to lobby for better broadband infrastructure in the area.
IT skills capacity
Pitton Cross Caravan and Camping Park do not directly employ any staff to deal with IT related issues. The business has used the same web designer for the past fifteen years, building up a good working relationship. Previously the business had outsourced web updates to the designer, but with faster and reliable broadband speeds now available it has been able to make a lot of website changes, such as uploading photographs and news stories, in-house.
Use of digital technologies
Around 80% of bookings at Pitton Cross are serviced online, the rest on the telephone. It is estimated that 90% of customers find out about the business either through ‘word-of-mouth’, discovering the campsite by driving by, or online. The business website is therefore very important in providing a channel for customers to investigate and book holidays at the location.
Its website now links with NewBook cloud booking engine, which it is fully able to exploit due to the superfast broadband connection. Wider customer relationship management is also handled by the NewBook application. It also makes use of website analytics from Google and through the industry website, UK Campsites, are utilised to better understand interested customers, such as where they are based.
The business routinely makes a number of purchases online, including camping equipment and kites. A recent purchase from a design company was greatly helped by being able to receive large scale files online- something that would have been much more difficult without superfast broadband capability.
Contactless payment is available to customers, many of whom are pleasantly surprised to find such a facility available in a small company on the geographic periphery of the nation.
Since 2017 the business has been able to provide Wi-Fi access to its customers through a Swansea-based company called Camping Connect. This has been a big success, although customers now expect good connectivity and any break in coverage can result in vocal complaining—‘pitch-forks at the door’. There is a 4G-enabled mobile mast next door to the business, which typically provides download speeds of around 68Mbps. This has also added more flexibility in being able to do work from outside the main house/ office area, and the management not being ‘chained to a desk’.
Human Resources Management
Before superfast broadband availability the business had to spend time investigating what software applications it could work efficiently with given limited broadband speed. Now it “doesn’t even have to think about it” as speeds are generally sufficient for anything the business wants to operate. Consequently, Pitton Cross now uses Online HR software to better manage its resources- enabling, for example, staff to book their annual leave online.
Bringing many of the website updating tasks back in-house, as the data upload speeds available have improved, has enabled a timelier updating of content. The business website is now a higher quality, up-to-date marketing and information tool.
With the view and location of the campsite being a particularly strong selling point, the ability to highlight this through photographs is important for the business. Before superfast broadband, changes of photographs were carried out once a year, with the task being outsourced. Now, updates can be done in-house, on a daily basis, and through social media links such as Facebook and Twitter shared with thousands of potential new/ return customers straightaway. It has also enabled cost savings, as charges of around £40 to change/add a picture externally, previously incurred, are now saved. If 50 pictures are added each year at a cost of £40, the total cost of £2,000 represents a not insignificant amount for a small business.
From early indications, the introduction of a new cloud-based booking system has resulted in an upswing of bookings. The system is seen as easier to use and more customers are now booking online.
Time efficiencies have been gained by the business through exploiting superfast broadband enabled technologies, with the business now managing its human resources through HR Online.
Implementation of higher speed internet has therefore improved the customers’ experience from initial information gathering, through to booking and being able to access fast broadband when they are guests at the site.
There was no disruption to the functioning of the business in integrating superfast enabled processes, and the business reported no issues with any security implications in relation to superfast structures. However, it did recognise the importance of a reliable service—if there is an issue and connectivity is lost, it is vital that it is up and running again as soon as possible, so being able to get in touch with providers, particularly on weekends can be crucial.
The business saw the wider implications of superfast broadband availability in periphery areas such as the Gower as helping to address the concern that everything in Wales is focussed to the centre, Cardiff.