Holiday Snaps - Alex Saul, General Manager at Greenacres, Cardigan View and Garreg Wen holiday parks.
Alex is the General Manger of three holiday parks North Wales. His career began in the nightclub industry, before a brief spell managing health clubs and then joining the holiday parks industry at parks in Cornwall and South Wales. He now looks after more than 1,400 holiday homes across the Greenacres, Cardigan View and Garreg Wen sites. Alex’s downtime is spent with his wife Claire and two children, Annabel and Barnaby. During the summer he enjoys kitesurfing and in the winter he likes to go shooting with his Labrador Floyd.
How is the summer season shaping up for your parks? The 2017 season is looking fabulous; double digit growth in holiday bookings and strong caravan sales mean we are in a great place. I keep seeing reports that it will be the hottest summer in years which would be the icing on the cake.
What are you most looking forward to about the summer season? I think the parks look a bit lost and forlorn when they are closed. I am looking forward to seeing families enjoying themselves, venues full of people having fun, kids riding around on their bikes and the smell of BBQs in the air.
If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect to the success of the parks? The team - it’s a cliché but so true. Without your team you do not have a business. Even in the age of the internet, people buy from people and relationships are important. They are also the parts of the holiday families remember long after the photos of a sunny day have faded.
What challenges are currently facing the holiday park sector? Competition between parks and the drive to create value for customers will always be a challenge. Things like a weak pound are on our side but we cannot take it for granted, we have to provide great service and high standards if we are going to maximize on the opportunities in front of us.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom? A coach and phycologist called Martin Perry made us do an exercise involving throwing tennis balls around. You stand in a circle throwing to each other and keep adding balls until they start to drop. The lesson is that you can do loads to get a successful catch and it taught me that the responsibility for a successful catch lies with the thrower. In business this means that the responsibility for a team successfully implementing projects, lies with the management.
What has been your most interesting experience in the holiday industry? The variety that I am faced with in a single day is staggering and definitely keeps me on my toes. The best part is getting to know the different types of people we encounter, from the successful entrepreneur who is looking to buy a holiday home to the young family taking a well-earned weekend away.
Where do you see yourself and the park in ten years’ time? I think the next ten years are going to be very exciting and a fabulous time for the industry. New players will come in and for the companies that get it right, great rewards and success will come. I love this industry and in ten years’ time I hope to be doing pretty much the same, enjoying the challenge, working with great people and helping families get the most out of their recreation time.
Where do you go on holiday? I am a keen kite surfer so anywhere there is sun a wind. This year as a family we went to Cape Verde which was amazing.