Park Holidays modernises to continue M&A expansion

07 December 2022

Park Holidays UK is one of the largest operators in the country, offering static caravan and lodge holidays, ‘glamping’ and holiday home ownership in locations spanning Cornwall to Scotland. Park Holidays UK has grown organically and through numerous acquisitions and now includes 54 locations nationwide.

A lifetime of upgrades

A long-term user of VDI and thin client technology, Park Holidays first deployed a combined IGEL and Citrix solution ten years ago to address bandwidth issues at some sites and standardization of desktops. The solution enabled Park Holidays to move away from unreliable and high maintenance PCs so that support could be simplified, and endpoint deployment, configuration and management made faster and easier.

In recent years, Park Holidays has completely modernized its entire IT environment by investing in new desktops, server virtualization, SAN storage as well as a MPLS-based Wide Area Network to interconnect all the holiday park sites.

In 2019, the business also shifted IT applications and its Avaya phone system to the cloud – running in Microsoft Azure. Furthermore, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 Business Central were implemented, with Elite Parks software – built on Dynamics 365 – used as the company’s ERP system.

Supporting ambitious M&A growth

To meet Park Holidays’ ever-growing needs, earlier this year IGEL implemented a company-wide strategic solution to support an ambitious mergers and acquisitions (M&A) growth strategy, offer access to applications running in the cloud and allow the introduction of video conferencing for all staff leveraging Microsoft Teams.
“We’ve taken a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to the desktop. In other words, we have one uniform system across the company so that when new parks are acquired, we just drop in Citrix and IGEL to rapidly deploy desktop services,” said Michael Procyshyn, Park Holiday UK’s IT director. “It allows us to scale up our infrastructure and systems quickly and cost effectively, with the joint solution a real enabler for growth.”

Indeed, the Citrix and IGEL OS-powered endpoints deliver a range of benefits to Park Holidays.

“When we last reviewed our desktop approach, we concluded that moving away from IGEL’s technology to laptops or PCs would be cost prohibitive,” said Procyshyn. “IGEL and Citrix helps our rapid expansion plans because we know we can deploy endpoints simply and painlessly.”

Security has been enhanced with server-based and centrally controlled security. IGEL endpoints are locked down to the extent that staff can’t amend the master desktop image or load in applications locally.

Native support for cloud-based applications has been implemented via IGEL OS and IGEL hardware, which support VDI and DaaS applications. This is key as Park Holidays UK has shifted wholesale to a Microsoft-based cloud environment. IGEL solutions are supplied by IGEL Velocity Partner, Ventrus Networks.

Meanwhile, staff onboarding, the integration of new hires into the organisation, can now be achieved faster, supported by a combination of cloud-based applications. Citrix and IGEL OS-powered endpoints – managed using IGEL UMS - mean that Park Holidays UK can quickly and easily amalgamate acquired businesses.

“We know of one competitor who took two years to integrate some of their acquisitions,” said Procyshyn. “When we purchased Bridge Leisure, it took us just four weeks to migrate the nine sites over and roll out access to our systems whilst onboarding staff.”

Staff can now work easily across Park Holidays’ sites with the new standardized desktop applications accessed via Citric, enabling access to corporate applications and their own folders and files. Operationally this makes it much easier for Park Holidays UK to resource its business from a staffing perspective, especially during peak holiday times.

Additionally, management has been simplified and reduced in cost thanks to the IGEL Universal Management Suite (UMS), which is now is used to remotely control the whole distributed environment. Just six technical staff are needed to manage an IGEL estate of 500 endpoints and provide technical support to all employees who use them day to day.

Going forwards, Microsoft Teams will be installed to enable video conferencing capabilities, utilizing the native power of IGEL endpoints running IGEL OS. Evaluation trails are currently underway, and some devices are expected to be updated.

“One of the key strengths of Park Holidays UK is our IT. Our networking, infrastructure and applications are robust, reliable and all the same; we don’t dual run anything as this just adds complexity,” said Procyshyn.

Commenting on the project, Simon Townsend, IGEL’s chief marketing officer, said: “At first glance, Park Holidays UK might appear to be a simple caravan related business, but it’s actually a diverse organization. They run a large hotel chain – selling holidays in lodges and caravans – but it’s also a restaurant and pub company, and a property and maintenance firm given it manages the parks and the holiday homes purchased by owners,” said Townsend. “So, it has a variety of staff who all need simple access to corporate IT systems and the Internet. Citrix and IGEL enables this, resulting in lower desktop TCO and a great end-user experience.”