Holiday Snaps: Andrew Howe, Bridge Leisure
Andrew Howe is CEO of Bridge Leisure, which owns holiday parks in Cornwall, Yorkshire, Ayrshire and in Moray, Scotland. Andrew has worked in the leisure industry for 17 years, within both independent and plc companies including UK caravan park operator Park Resorts and Sandy Balls Holiday Centre.
How is 2015 shaping up for Bridge Leisure?
We couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the year; a new park acquired; new funding in place for more acquisitions and we are seeing good like for like growth in terms of holiday home sales and holiday sales at our parks. It’s looking like a great year!
How do you see the UK holiday industry at the moment?
The sector is in good shape as consumers and the economy gather confidence and momentum. Of course there are winners and losers and those operators with tired parks are struggling to retain ever more demanding customers.
What are the challenges facing holiday parks at present and how are you meeting those challenges?
Two main challenges; red tape and ever increasing regulation. No one objects to the sector being regulated but the burden is growing exponentially and affects good operators perhaps more than the poor operators it is aimed at. Secondly, the sector lacks coordination and a single voice. We have very good trade associations but park operators resist working together which is a shame.
What is the single best marketing or promotional tool for attracting visitors?
The internet – but only if you know what to do with it.
What is the best business advice you ever received and from whom?
Not something addressed to me directly but a quote from a former CEO of Swissair who remarked “if our tray tables are dirty our customers will worry that we don’t service our aircraft engines properly”. It’s worth remembering and encourages a customer eye view of what you are doing; no other view has any lasting relevance.
Who is the most important person in your business and why?
Front line staff; they see our customers and I don’t. It’s the team at the parks who make the difference between happy and unhappy customers.
Where do you go on holiday?
Sounds clichéd but I don’t get many holidays. I like ‘doing’ holidays and skiing particularly.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes, we are looking for more parks to buy!