Interview…Kevin Smith, Director of Attractions with Continuum Leading Attractions

Posted By Dewi Jones

24 July 2015 - 14:01pm

Who are you and what is your current job role?
Kevin Smith, Director of Attractions with Continuum Leading Attractions.

How did you get to this position…what was the pathway and what did you do before?
It’s been a great road to follow and one which I knew that I wanted to follow since being at school. A leisure career was always the one for me (mainly because I loved my sport as a youngster I represented a number of Clubs and regions at both Rugby and Cricket). On leaving school I studied for a City and Guilds in Leisure and Recreation. After this jobs were hard to come by so I went on to an apprenticeship scheme at Nottingham Rugby Club which really taught me the fundamentals of management from the bottom up. On completion of the apprentice scheme Center Parcs was my calling and I worked and studied to develop from a Lifeguard to eventually managing the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise. From Center Parcs I knew that I wanted to broaden my experience and joined SLM managing their contract in Hinckley, Leicestershire. My penultimate move was to a company called Horizons Health and Leisure (a new start up fitness club). I wanted to challenge myself in a new opening and this was certainly to stand me in good stead when moving to Continnum as I have opened 10 sites in the last 10 years, all of which have been unique and of varying size and scale.

What are the challenges in this job?
No day is ever the same, however this is what motivates me. The economy in the last three years has brought its challenges but as a business we have used this to take a long hard look at ourselves and the future is looking really positive. The last nine months have really been exciting and as well as developing a new attraction of our own we have several client opportunities possibly coming our way. A great deal of juggling balls and wearing different hats is the order of the day at present.

Who has influenced you the most in your career and why?
I cant pick one individual as I think that great leaders pick up traits and experiences from a number of people. But to trim it down I would have to say;

a) My mum – who raised two kids and held a full time job as a single parent after my father died at a young age.

b) My MD at Sports and Leisure Ltd, Steven Hulme – a great leader who allowed his team to manage, lead and improve the business

c) My present CEO Juliana Delaney – Who demonstrates a never ending passion for the industry and continual improvement in our products and services

What do you do to switch off?
I started competing in Triathlons in 2011 so when I find time it’s now spent training and hurting my body and soul. I enjoy listening to music and spending as much time (which isn’t enough) with my wife and two children

Any Pearls of Wisdom or strategies for success that you would like to share?
Focus on the important things in life, health and happiness as everything else eventually falls in to place….You can’t do everything yourself so trust your teams to deliver to the criteria that you have set….Set personal goals and set strategies to achieve them….Keep smiling however hard it gets.

What do you consider to be the current trends within the visitor attraction industry?
Our company are trying to lead the way in offering more personalised experiences where you will interact with people as opposed to technology. I see more and more attractions moving this way in the near future.

There is currently too much discounting and not enough adding value. The danger in this is that the overall experience of the UK attractions market place is devalued and only the ‘big boys’ will benefit, to the detriment of the small/medium size business.

It appears that people are still wanting to visit attractions however their spending habits have changed. Catering is very much on the up with retail suffering.

The Olympics will bring about an interesting period with no one really knowing what will happen to the industry. As an industry we need to present ourselves in the best possible light demonstrating world class experiences through world class employees.

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