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Running and managing a holiday park

Interview with...

Victoria Brannen
 
Business name:
Maya Asset Management
Goods/services:
Acquisition, turnaround and operational management of investment assets with expertise in leisure & tourism industry
Location:
Hertfordshire
Trading:
Since 2010
ThinkstockPhotos 147780358

BFS: Victoria, can you tell us about your company, Maya Asset Management, please?

Victoria Brannen: We set up Maya Asset Management off the back of a previous business venture that I had been involved with in June of last year. We're a boutique asset management company active in the leisure sector.

We like anything that shares core similarities and puts head on beds - care homes, mobile homes and those with a similar business structure. We tend to look across all sectors in terms of our skill base, but predominantly most of our activity has been spent in the leisure sector, and particularly the UK holiday park sector. 

We have two arms. We will deal with all stragetic solutions, consultancy and advisory work.

We've dealt with administrators, business managers whoare trying to overcome certain challenges, where we will do things on an advisory basis and look at strategic solutions.

The other arm, which makes us unique, is the full service end-to-end, day-to-day operations.

One of our largest clients has over £80m of assets under our management and we deal with that, including managing the people, IT infrastructure, marketing operations, financial processing and management... everything in a normal business set-up. We can implement a strategy and see it through to its end.

The holiday park sector deals with a homogenous product which is static from a geographical point of view, so try to position the product so that the customer does not have to repeat the same experience time and time again

BFS: Why do you think these businesses feel the need to turn to you rather than solving problems themselves?

VB: To some extent you don't know what you don't know, although we have operated in this sector for a number of years, everyone within our business is first and foremost a business professional, rather than people who have worked their way from the ground up in a business sector.

If you start at a lower level in a holiday park and you have been promoted through one of the disciplines, such as marketing or IT, you tend to have gained your experience through the eyes of that industry and, maybe, that operator.

What is different about my team is that we have experience in a wide range of industries and we also have professionals in a role who are marketing professionals. Your customers in one particular sector may also be your customers in another sector, therefore good business practice does need to be applied to each sector.

BFS: Can you think of when you've bought expertise from another sector which has boosted operations?

VB: I have a background in the car industry, where there are similarities. The style of a caravan as a holiday home is not dissimilar to the style of a car. It's a high-level purchase and a specialism.

But, if you look at the bigger players in the car industry, you need mass volume, so it's about that product differentiation. With a big car company you accept that your customers' needs over a lifetime are going to change.

Look at them as a customer to the brand and then try and match your brand to them in order that you don't lose them. Your cost of acquisiton is lower if they remain loyal to the brand.

The holiday park sector deals with a homogenous product which is static from a geographical point of view, so theynd haven't necessarily tried to position the portfolio or product. To avoid the customer having to repeat the same experience time and time again, they can ask them what else they can offer.

It's all about the customer coming back and having a different experience but with a consistency of customer service.

The big players that I've spoken to have wanted that product differentiation, portfolio analysis, to make sure there is more than just a one-size-fits-all product. Nowadays you must make sure that you're diversifying your product to meet many requirements from a customer's perspective.

BFS: Can you give an example of how a caravan park has diversified its product offering?

There's an eco trend, where you have a rise in the tipis, the yurts, the pods... the whole 'glamping' experience. You have the mainstay holidaymakers who like to go to static caravan parks, and then your diehard campers who want to pitch up their tent.

They all want good value, good customer service, to be able to book it easily. Cleanliness, staff friendliness and amenities and facilities are there, but very much different types of people wanting to dip in and out of different types of experiences.

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