Using my commercial instincts to create more meaningful holidays

Published : Tue 23rd Aug

Gavin Smith, Holidays Operations Manager, has been with the Trust since university. We spoke to him about his journey into our Holidays team and how he’s helping to connect holidaymakers with nature and the outdoors.

How did you come to join the Trust?

I started my journey at the Trust in 2019 at Souter Light House where I stepped into the shoes of the Food and Beverage Manager role. As my first job out of university, I made the move from Oxford to Durham to manage a team of five-to-ten staff. As I developed in the role, I began to take on small-to-medium scale projects and oversaw the development of two new Food and Beverage kiosks that had recently come back in-house from a concession. Then the pandemic hit, and life was put on a hold. I decided to move down south and start a new chapter in my current role as Holidays Operations Manager for our outdoors business.

What does your role involve?

As the Holidays Operations Manager for three of our medium-sized campsites and two seasonal campsites in the South West, I love the variety it brings. From running our Retail, and Food and Beverage facilities, to site up-keep and maintenance. I also work with our property General Managers, Building Surveyors and local authorities to develop new projects and find opportunities to grow our campsites, both financially but also to represent what we stand for at the Trust. That could be developing our operations to be more environmentally friendly, encouraging our supporters to take a low emissions holiday like camping, or developing new facilities to improve the guest experience. I’m always looking for new ways to connect people to nature and the outdoors.

What’s the best part of your day?

The first moment I arrive on site, when I’m able to appreciate the real beauty of the places I look after. It’s usually a peaceful start to the day so it’s the perfect time to be in tune with nature and capture the feeling that it gives to our guests when they turn up to these nature rich places. There’s a great satisfaction to turning up to work and seeing people enjoy their holiday.

What’s the best thing about working for National Trust Holidays?

I love the connection between commercial and cause. There aren’t many places out there that allow you to keep your competitiveness alive when driving business growth, and where you can also see the impact that brings to the places we have in our care. It’s a nice feeling knowing that the profit we make pays for preserving and supporting nature, rather than going solely into the pocket of a corporate shareholder.

Why should someone come and work for National Trust Holidays?

It’s incredibly rewarding to know that your work goes towards conserving precious places that in turn create experiences that simply cannot be mirrored elsewhere. There are also so many training and development opportunities. For such a vast organisation, it’s also refreshing to see how much flexibility we have, as well as the opportunities. Not only is there training for specific role skills, there’s also a wealth of resources and support for personal development, so you’re really invested in as a person.

What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to developing the sites further with more diverse accommodation types, which will help us to attract a wider audience to both camping and the National Trust. That includes things like camping pods, tree tents and Active Outdoors. By developing our offer, we’re able to attract a wider range of people, potentially including members who don’t usually camp or even non-members that may then join us and grow the support for our cause. This is what makes my job feel special. Connecting more people with what we are trying to do, means I can create more opportunities for my team and continue to fulfil meaningful work.

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