The Road To Success

14 Jun 2023
Words John Miller Informer 106

The Road To Success

Twenty years ago, Andrew Chapman spotted a newspaper advertisement that would mould his career. It was for the management of a caravan park in Streaky Bay, a small coastal town with less than 2,000 people on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. 

On offer was a modest management contract with council, but the location was good. Streaky Bay was a renowned fishing haunt and its position just off the Flinders Highway made it a popular stopover for caravaners before setting off across the Nullarbor Plain. Taking on the park seemed a viable proposition, and for Chapman a nice progression from his motel and resortbackground which gave him his start in the hospitality industry. 

Today, Chapman operates eight caravan parks in South Australia and Victoria under the Innoviv Park Services banner and also as a Director of Across Australia Parks and Resorts, which was established in 2017 with partners Mark Manteit and Steven J. Lutz. Before AAPR, Chapman built a solid track record of running parks and motels for others. After moving on from Streaky Bay in 2004, he ran the Port Vincent Foreshore Tourist Park and an Adelaide hotel before a ten-year stint with Australian Tourist Park Management before it was acquired by NRMA.

With ATPM, Chapman rose through the ranks to eventually become general manager of operations and development overseeing some 50 parks.“I was able to take all the knowledge I’d learned over the years working for others and put it into play for myself,” says Chapman.

Innoviv’s current portfolio includes six parks in South Australia and two in Victoria. Four are owned outright by AAPR, while four are run under management for other owners. AAPR’s largest concern is Victor Harbor Holiday & Cabin Park, a sprawling 22-acre 350-site park on the spectacular Fleurieu Peninsula, which also doubles as Innoviv’s headquarters.


The smallest is Wallaroo Beachfront Tourist Park, a picturesque beachfront site at Wallaroo on the western side of the Yorke Peninsula, which was sold by ResortBrokers’ Kelli Crouch in 2022 and is managed by Innoviv. 

In 2016, Chapman branched out into caravan park consultancy with Innoviv Park Services. Today, Innoviv is Australia’s leading caravan park consultancy with clients ranging from giant corporate operators such as BIG4 and NRMA to small single-park operators as well as local councils. Whether it’s master plans, business plans, marketing plans, pre-purchase inspections or giving advice on valuations — if it’s caravan park related, Innoviv does it.

Innoviv now has more consultancy work than Chapman can keep up with, which takes him on the road to most states and

territories to see clients. “It very much helps that I’ve owned and operated my own parks,” says the 53-year-old. “When I give advice it’s not just some consultant who’s read it in a book. It’s stuff I’ve done myself in my own parks or I’ve built or I’ve experienced or I’ve lived through. It gives me a lot more credibility on the consulting side of the business.”

After 20 years in the game, Chapman knows what makes a successful park and that doesn’t necessarily mean the best location. “It doesn’t have to be in the most awesome location,” says Chapman. “It’s about making the park the destination and ensuring guests have a memorable experience when they’re there.” 

“Take Victor Harbor, for instance, which is the best performing park in our portfolio. It sits on a main road and isn’t looking out at a pretty beach or lake or anything spectacular. But we’ve developed it into a place where the park itself is the destination. A lot of our guests check in and never go anywhere else because we’ve got plenty for them and their kids to do. We’ve got pump tracks, mini golf, swimming pools and water slides. Guests who come never leave the park, and the park itself becomes the destination.”

Since owning the park, turnover has grown by nearly four times in the space of just four years. AAPR/Innoviv has recently added a park in Esperance to its management portfolio, which Chapman says is not in the best location but has enormous potential.

“Esperance is a renowned tourism region, but the park itself is seven or so kilometres out of town. Other Esperance properties might sit on the beachfront, but we love this place because with some love and attention we’ll turn it into a destination. For us, it’s more about the potential to develop a park and make it a destination in its own right.”

Chapman says it’s also important to recognise that parks attract a different type of holidaymaker than hotels. 

“With a hotel, it’s just somewhere for guests to sleep at night and then they’re gone for the rest of the day. But the attraction of a caravan park is the comradery with all the people around you. You form friendships with the people in the site next to you and you may get to know each other really well. Whereas in a hotel there’s really no interaction with anyone else other than yourself in your room. That’s the nice thing about caravan parks, the interaction of guests with other guests.

“It’s a nicer environment and the whole outdoor vibe that goes with it. People are more relaxed, more easygoing, it’s more family focused, it’s more about the experience. Pets, of course, are always welcome. 

“That’s why you see so many repeat guests, people who keep coming back year after year after year.”

Chapman says the interaction between guests and park management is also very different than hotels.


“In a caravan park, you tend to find as an owner or manager you’re out and about in the park, you’re liaising with guests, you’re interacting with them within the park, so you have a lot more contact with them, which I didn’t find in my days in hotels and resorts,” he says. 

As for a guiding business strategy, Chapman says AAPR’s success has been built on long-term park development and that the company doesn’t take on parks to flip them.

“We don’t buy to sell. We buy to keep as operators. We’ve certainly had offers to sell all the parks we’ve got at one point or another.

“But for us it’s more about coming in, developing them, building them up, getting them to the level we want and then reaping the rewards.

“If you have a buy-and-operate viewpoint it gives you a different investment outlook. We don’t mind spending two, three, four, five million dollars to improve a park. 

“That’s a lot of money if you’re only going to sell it in three years’ time for six million dollars. But if you sit and hold for the next ten years then it’s a different play. We see ourselves in the industry for another ten, 15 years yet.” END

Back to Blog