BCC IT help Vale holiday parks solve wireless access problems on their rural sites

Sometimes an innovative approach is required to solve an unusual technology problem. This approach involves not just the technology platform itself, but the way it is funded and the rewards shared. Being able to work in this way requires total trust of your IT partner and the knowledge that their capabilities will deliver the expected benefits.

Vale Holiday Parks is a family-run business dedicated to holidays full of family fun in coastal Wales and Cornwall. Founded in 1983 in West Wales, today they operate 11 friendly small to medium-sized parks.

Vale prides itself on being a family-run business with the whole family involved. This hands-on approach ensures the high standards they offer their visitors are maintained. Recently, technology has played a key role in helping Vale deliver an improved service to their customers as Financial Director, Thomas Scarrott outlined. “We wanted to be able to offer our customers WiFi access whilst they were on holiday. This is something that people expect these days but implementing across a number of rural sites was not an easy task.”

Local partner

Fortunately, Vale had partnered with BCC IT back in 2011; as Thomas went on to explain. “We had originally been using a company that specialised in technology solutions for caravan parks for a number of years. But, they were based in the North of England and so whenever they had to send an engineer on site to fix a problem it was very expensive. We wanted to find a more local partner who had the necessary skills and expertise to help us move forward, and so met with BCC.

“We run a piece of software that is specific to our industry, and we had wanted for some time to get it running over Citrix XenApp to provide a common, virtualised desktop across all our sites. Our previous IT partner had told us it was not possible. So, we set BCC the task of solving that particular problem, and to their credit they did!

“This made a good initial impression that was further enhanced when we enquired about the turnover of their senior engineers. Our previous partner had a very high turnover rate, but we were assured by BCC that this was not a problem they suffered from. That proved to be true and we are still dealing with the same people today that we originally met back in 2011.”

Flexible access wireless system

Switching the discussion back to describing the WiFi challenge Vale recently faced, Thomas continued. “Providing WiFi for a caravan park is not like providing WiFi for a hotel. The signal has to be replicated wirelessly over a large rural site of many acres. Plus, we had experienced problems in the past when we had sold Internet access for a few days access and it had been routinely abused by our customers, leaving us facing a loss.

“Having worked with BCC for a number of years by this time, and trusting their expertise and product knowledge, we proposed a joint venture with them where we would share the risks and the benefits. They subsequently designed and implemented a new wireless system that would reach even the most remote parts of our sites.

“Customer usage is now based on data, in a similar fashion to how you consume data on a mobile phone. So, when the allowance is used up our customers need to buy a new block of data to carry on. This also gives them the flexibility to purchase a block of data at the start of their holiday and then use it how best it suited them during their stay.”

Secure and reliable hosted email

At the same time as implementing XenApp, BCC worked on a project to switch Vale from their existing on site setup of Microsoft Exchange to one hosted by their datacentre in Bristol. “This was not a straight forward project either,” said Thomas. “Due to problems with our old system and the previous suppliers, BCC had to effectively establish new telecoms links for us.

“Now, all 11 of our sites and our 70+ employees have access to secure and reliable email with no worries about outages caused by server failure. Of course, we still have issues with broadband speeds caused by being located in such a rural part of the country. But, this is nothing to do with BCC and fortunately the situation is fast improving as high-speed fibre connection becomes more readily available across all of the UK.”

Communicate in business terms

BCC provide Vale with a complete IT support service, effectively acting as their outsourced IT department, which has proved advantageous as Thomas concluded. “Having access to the expertise and experience of BCC has given us a greater knowledge of available IT solutions than we could ever have hoped for if we supported our IT in-house.

“They are really easy to work with, very professional and unlike most IT staff I have dealt with are able to communicate in non-technical terms that business people, like myself, can understand. This means I know that what they are telling us will actually help the business and is not being pushed because it is the latest, and usually untried, new technology!"


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Vale Holiday Park Logo on BCC IT website

 

 

“I know we made the right decision to work with them 5 years back and look forward continuing to work with them in the future.”

Thomas Scarrott

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