outstanding outdoor spaces

Leisure - What do families want

17 November 2017

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At Playforce we’ve spent more years than we can remember as the playground company of choice for the education sector. We’re proud as punch that we’re the #1 most recommended provider out there. But our track record doesn’t count for anything if we aren’t helping you to deliver what your customers need and want.  That’s why, as well as writing up detailed case studies, to share examples (have you seen our recent work with the ‘The Outside Chance’ and ‘Who’d a Thought It’ pubs?) we also took time, over the summer, to talk to families. We wanted to understand the things they feel are important about outdoor and play space, in pubs, hotels, farm parks/family attractions, restaurants and cafe´s.

What we found out:
? Having a good quality playground is most important when meeting friends with children for coffee and/or drinks. 83% rated this as very important. By contrast only 42% rated it as very important for occasions when they are going out for lunch with family.
? Interestingly, having excellently landscaped outdoor space was considered most important for those planning a family day out or choosing somewhere to go on holiday. Only 40% considered this very important when having lunch or coffee.
? When we asked about the impact a good quality playground has on a visit, 82% said they would be more likely to visit as a whole family, as opposed to having a fleeting visit. 76% said it was a critical influence in whether they recommended it to friends. 71% said they would stay longer and 58% said they would almost certainly purchase food and drink, on the premises, in order to stay longer.
? 20% of the families we spoke to use a play area, at pubs, hotels, farm parks/family attractions, restaurants and cafe´s weekly.
? However, across the board they felt that the leisure industry needed to ‘up its game’ in terms of the quality of its outdoor space. Over 50% of all respondents rated the play areas they’ve visited this year (2017) as below average.
? Some of their favourite playgrounds (if you’re seeking inspiration away from our case studies page) included South Cave, Playdale Farm, Aquadrome (Rickmansworth), Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Victoria Park (Bath), John Coles Park (Chippenham), Oxshott Playground, Peppa Pig World, Carsington Water, Southwater Country Park and Hamworthy Park.
? Keen to know more we asked these families why the listed play areas stood out. Variety of equipment was the number one reason. Making sure it was age appropriate was the second most important factor. Having enough places for parents to sit, without being too far away, was also important, as was having themed ‘zones’ to allow children to play in different ways.
? We then asked them what they look for in an exceptional play area. The most important factor was that it was well-maintained (80%). Having obvious safety features and a range of age-appropriate equipment were joint second (74%). Zoning and imaginative equipment were joint third (67%). 
? Finally, we asked them what advice they’d give to venues planning a play space:



“Let children be children - they don't need wrapping in cotton wool. They’re curious, energetic, nosey and like exploring a challenge… even if it is a bit scary they want to have fun. By combining equipment for all ages they can mix, learn to respect each other and make new friends. That’s what keeps us coming back…”

“It’s REALLY important to include suitable seats in the playground or picnic benches on the periphery for parents or guardians to sit at.”

“There just aren’t enough decent play areas. We tend to design days out or even coffee stops to suit the kids. There isn’t a huge variety of places worth going to... and often when you do find a good place it's over crowded. It would be great if more places put time into developing their play areas because I think they’d be really popular.”

We couldn’t agree more! If you’d like some advice on getting the best return on your outdoor space, why not book a free consultation with one of our experts today? You can call us on 01225 976237 or click here


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