For regular travellers, joining a caravan park loyalty club can have its advantages.
WORDS Claudia Bouma
Travellers touring Australia have numerous options available when it comes to accommodation. Free bush camps, basic facilities at national parks or a powered site at a caravan park – take your pick. It really depends on whether you’re willing to rough it or prefer some home comforts.
There’s certainly no shortage of caravan parks in this vast country. From the spectacular mountain peaks in Tasmania to the World Heritage-listed rainforest of tropical Queensland, you won’t have any trouble locating a caravan park to spend the night.
If you’re intending to travel around regularly or go away for an extended period, it pays to do your homework and check out the different benefits certain caravan parks offer if you sign up for a membership. To help you out, I’ve done some of the leg work – so let me take you through the four major caravan park membership groups in Australia and outline their fees and benefits.
This well-known group has been around for more than 30 years and boasts more than 200 affiliated parks and 100,000 members. A two-year membership can be purchased for $40 and entitles you to a 10 per cent (or up to $40) discount per stay.
Top Parks offers a wide choice in park styles, including Top Caravan Parks, Top Holiday Parks and Top Resort Parks.
Top Caravan Parks are classic Aussie caravan parks with all the essential, modern amenities. Top Holiday Parks have a few extra amenities available, with extra facilities aimed at families, such as jumping cushions and playgrounds. Top Resort Parks are the top of the tier and are designed to be a destination in their own right, with water parks and sports facilities to keep everyone entertained.
Top Parks chief executive officer Stuart Livingstone said membership cards are very popular, paying for themselves often in just one trip, thanks to the 10 per cent discount which includes all sites and cabins.
“Top Parks has over 140 pet-friendly parks, more than any other group and this is certainly contributing to our continuing increase in memberships,” Mr Livingstone said. “We’re also renowned for our high quality offering when it comes to accommodation, cleanliness, friendliness and reputation in catering for all budgets.”
Top Parks’ membership card is also valid internationally, with members able to receive a 10 per cent discount at 47 Kiwi Holiday Parks in New Zealand.
BIG4 Holiday Parks was founded in 1979 by four caravan park owners from Ballarat whose vision it was to create parks that would capture the essence of the ‘true blue’ Aussie holiday. Today, their legacy continues as each BIG4 park prides itself on excellent customer service, quality accommodation and park facilities as well as delivery of a fun and memorable holiday experience.
Now encompassing 180 parks, BIG4 has introduced a Loyalty Program with two levels: Blue and Gold. Their little card with big benefits costs $50 for two years while subsequent renewals cost $40 for two years and, as a Blue member, gives you 10 per cent discount (up to $40) on your stay.
BIG4 has also introduced a unique status credit system with points accumulating quickly as you earn one status credit per night when camping and four status credits per night when staying in a cabin. Once you reach 100 points your Blue membership is automatically upgraded to Gold status, entitling you to further discounts on your accommodation (10 per cent, per stay, uncapped) plus exclusive Gold BIG4 member-only benefits and rewards.
General manager of marketing and sales Campbell Davies said, “The BIG4 Loyalty Program is incredibly popular with the many customers who stay at the 180 BIG4 Holiday Parks located right across Australia. The current program has been running for two years and we are up to nearly 180,000 members. With offers from right across Australia’s favourite network of holiday parks, a wide range of accommodation options and a vast array of deals from businesses Australia-wide, we’re confident that the program will continue to grow.”
With over 130 parks Australia-wide, Family Parks has been representing independent caravan parks and camping grounds for more than 21 years. As the name indicates, this association prides itself on welcoming travellers into their family – becoming part of the tribe.
Family Parks launched the Travel Rewards Program in 2009, offering members a range of savings and rewards. A two-year membership costs $40 and entitles you to 10 per cent off every time you stay, up to $20 on sites and $40 on cabins.
A nice extra is the third-night-free voucher, which effectively pays for part of, if not all of, your membership so you can’t go wrong. Family Parks has also teamed up with local businesses to offer you an extensive range of discounts, unique to the area you’re staying in.
A special monthly e-newsletter, loaded with unique member-only deals, certainly adds value to this membership. Family Parks has also introduced the Frequent Camper Card – when you stay at three parks during the course of one year you’ll go in the draw to win an Engel fridge or other travel accessories.
Family Parks marketing manager Amanda Dempster said: “Family Parks has made some great changes over the past couple of years in the way we benefit our members. Our focus has changed from a simple discount offering to a real focus on the entire holiday experience for the traveller.
“The Family Parks member and traveller experience now includes discounts and deals not only on their stay, but at local hot spots and attractions most recommended by our park managers and locals, and places most likely to be visited by our guests. It’s about making the whole holiday with Family Parks a welcoming and affordable one.”
Since its inception in 2004, Discovery Parks has grown to incorporate more than 50 parks spread out over the country. A two-year membership is available for a mere $20, entitling you to a 10 per cent discount per stay, up to $50, plus access to special offers and regular updates via email. This membership represents excellent value for money, guaranteeing you’ll earn back your $20 during the first stay.
Chief marketing officer Dana Ronan said membership is a great way to stay connected with a park brand. “Many people join a membership program when they embark on their big circuit of Australia. It’s a way to stay connected between different parks on the road. Families with young children visit the same park regularly so they become familiar with the park, the facilities and make friends for life. Membership is a way of saying thank you for visiting us frequently.”
The most number of independent parks in Australia with a choice of over 200 Top Caravan, Holiday and Resort Parks.