Industry’s Most Inspiring Future Leaders for 2017

< Date: 04 May 2017

Meet the 2017 CaravanCampingSales Future Leaders Award finalists!

PrintOnce again, we received strong nominations this year and it was difficult to narrow the field to just six finalists. All future leaders who gave it a go are to be commended for their commitment to the industry and their achievements to date. We anticipate great things from everyone who nominated.

The six finalists below are all outstanding industry participants so take a moment to get to know the 2017 finalists.


Stephen Edwards

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.07.40 PMChief Executive Officer, Edwards Group

Stephen has been working in the caravanning and camping industry for more than 15 years, with experience in all aspects of caravan park operations. He attended the University of Adelaide where he studied Law and Commerce, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Corporate Finance and Accounting and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours. He first became the Major Projects Manager of the Edwards Group, before becoming Chief Executive Officer  in 2014.

Stephen Says:

“I would like to continue to be an active member of the industry at both a state and national level. I hope that as I gain more experience, I can take on different roles within the industry and continue to make this an industry that is inclusive and thriving.”

“The main goal I’d have as a youth ambassador is to show younger people what the caravanning and camping industry is really like. Many younger people do not have an understanding of the size of the industry, the many and varied roles that are available and the great career opportunities that exist. I believe that because of this, many younger people do not even consider the caravanning and camping industry as a viable long-term career path. Yet, everything ranging from management to marketing to finance are all viable career paths within the caravanning and camping industry.”

“I believe that the future of the caravanning and camping industry is going to see continued and rapid development and improvement of the standard and range of accommodation and services that parks offer. This, I feel, will come from two areas. Firstly, as more funds become available to invest in new products, it will lead to better facilities and their faster development. Secondly, guests are already expecting much more from parks that they did in the past. Parks will have to continue to provide better facilities to keep up with guests’ expectations.”

Some Achievements:

  • Opening the new Waikerie Holiday Park. They are currently finishing off the last of the cabin installations and landscaping, aiming for a formal grand opening approximately in the coming weeks.
  • Within his first year as CEO, he implemented a long-term development and growth strategy for the Edwards Group that has been very successful to date. In just over two years they have seen the business grow by more than 50%.
  • Since taking over as CEO, Stephen has placed a greater focus on technology throughout the Edwards Group, allowing them to achieve efficiencies as well as providing better data and results for the group. With the growth in the business, they have almost doubled the amount of staff they employ within the last three years.
  • Planning the stage 3 expansion of their Lifestyle Village (residential land lease community). Construction is underway and they have already sold more than 50% of the available homes off plan.

 


Amanda Ferguson

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.05.18 PMInvestment Analyst – Strategic Initiatives Team, Discovery Parks

As a Commerce Graduate and a registered Chartered Accountant, Amanda has a passion for analysis and data, providing insights for informed decision making. She started her career in 2011 in professional services, specialising in business advisory and restructuring before moving to Discovery Parks as an Investment Analyst in the Mergers and Acquisitions team.

Amanda Says:

“In the future, I hope to see myself at Discovery in a leadership or senior management position within the Strategic Initiatives and Investment area. I strongly believe in continuous learning and to this end I am pursuing further study which will add a Business Valuation Specialisation onto my Chartered Accounting qualification.”

“As a Youth Ambassador I’d strive to promote passion and excitement for industry growth. Growth creates change and change is often met with resistance, so my goal is to help businesses brace themself for change.”

“Going forward, operators in our industry will be required to offer higher levels of customer service and facility/design improvements and this will be an ever-increasing commercial imperative for all operators who wish to compete successfully in a more discerning marketplace. I believe diversified groups have a greater capacity to take on the risk of adopting the new technologies or trends that can then pave the way for wider industry growth.”

Some Achievements:

  • Involvement in many exciting projects, such as the launch of Discovery’s managed park business and in the winning of their first managed park tender for four parks on behalf of the Central Coast Council in NSW.
  • Key team member in the acquisition of the 21-property Aspen Parks Property Fund. Her involvement included intensive due diligence in the initial stages of the transaction to leading the steering committee during the large and critical integration of the two businesses.
  • Involved in the purchase of a park in Byron Bay and assisting in feasibility analysis into a $5M development spend on new waterfront cabins, safari tents and a pirate themed waterpark.

 

 


Robert Gallagher

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.11.34 PMChief Executive Officer, Adventures Group Holdings

Robert has been involved in the caravan industry since 2012, initially employed by ACP Magazines (since Bauer Media) to lead the implementation of Turu.com.au. Establishing an SEO agency team within the business to leverage the rich content produced for the magazines in a digital form led to the Adventures group being set up within Bauer. In 2016, he led a management buyout of the Adventures business and established the Adventures Group Holdings business, which he now runs as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director.

Robert Says:

“My vision for myself into the future is leading a team of talented individuals to help businesses within and around the industry to innovate, grow and collaborate. I hope to continue providing thought leadership in an ever-changing market.”

“As the Youth Ambassador, I’d focus on the promotion of talent within the industry and advocacy with government (federal and state) to acknowledge the value of the market to the broader economy.”

“In all areas of the market, technology is changing the way consumers engage with our industry. The product changes being proposed by some of the key industry players are not only innovative but critical in the market being able to maintain relevance in the ever-changing consumer landscape and in capturing its share of their discretionary expenditure. Aggregation has also been an interesting dynamic across all sectors of the market. This changing face of an industry, traditionally been led by family businesses, and should see a more consistent product for consumers. However, the opportunities to disrupt and innovate will be there for smaller organisations looking to provide something different in the market.”

Some Achievements:

  • Establishing an SEO agency team in Bauer, which led to the Adventures group being set up. This was charged with growing the audience within the caravan and camping domestic tourism market. Their brands went from approximately 100,000 users per month to almost 500,000 through the effective use of a digital content strategy.
  • Established the Adventures Group Holdings business, which he now runs as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director. The business has been established with a very clear vision of being thought leaders in the adventures marketplace using credible and rich content as our key value proposition.
  • Setting up a new digital platform (that Turu.com.au will move onto this month) to partner with regional Australia as a sustainable distribution alternative for their operators.

 


Michael McIvor

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.34.01 PMOperations Manager, Broken Hill Tourist Park

Working within the family business, Michael achieved a Bachelor of Business in Tourism Management before working for an Australian travel wholesaler based in the USA. In 2010, his family purchased the Broken Hill Tourist Park and have since focused on adding a number of tourism related businesses to their holdings, such as tour company and a range of other accommodation services.

Michael Says:

“In the future I see myself continuing my role within our family businesses, purchasing and developing more caravan and holiday parks along with tourism related businesses. I’m continuously seeking to identify the latest trends and issues within the RV industry not just here in Australia but internationally as well. My career goals are to continue with my studies and complete my MBA, where I have learnt to successfully translate external business trends into internal organisational decisions and actions.”

“As a Youth Ambassador of the industry, I’d work with industry stakeholders and members in developing a culture of youth engagement, encouraging long term participation within the caravan and camping industry. I would like to provide other young people within the industry an example of career progression, mentorship and opportunities available to the youth within the caravan and camping industry.”

“I believe the future of the caravanning and camping industry provides a number of opportunities and challenges, and by working together collaboratively our industry would be in a stronger position to identify appropriate solutions. I believe there are a number of opportunities for our industry to collaborate with a range of stakeholders at grass roots, national and international levels by highlighting the many lifestyle benefits our industry offers.”

Some Achievements:

  • Awarded the MHIA Young Achiever Award at the Victorian Caravan Parks Conference in 2009.
  • The purchase of the Broken Hill Tourist Park, which led to building and growing the family business into other tourism related businesses.
  • After several years of working with engineers, project managers and gaining council approval, he is looking forward to developing a quality holiday park in Far West NSW.
  • Incoming Chair of the Caravan Industry Association Future Leaders Committee in 2017.

 


Daniel Tilton

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.04.42 PMChief Executive Officer, Next Generation Holiday Parks

Daniel studied business and hotel management at university before starting work with ATPM in 2001. During his 13 years there he filled a variety of roles, mainly focusing on marketing, sales and information systems. In 2015, his family purchased the Rowes Bay Beachfront Holiday Park in Townsville and started Next Generation Holiday Parks of which Daniel has taken on the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Daniel Says:

“At a personal level, I see myself growing Next Generation Holiday Parks to operate up to half a dozen parks between Australia and New Zealand. Having parks in both countries has given me great new insights into key markets. My focus will be on professionalising the operation of the parks that we acquire, without losing the family touch that makes a holiday park stay so appealing.”

“As youth ambassador, I’d focus on building greater collaboration between all parts of the caravanning and camping supply chain, including manufacturing, retail, holiday parks and after-market to assist in selling all the great experiences our industry has to offer. I’d also promote the caravanning and camping industry as a great career option for young people. 
 Great people are the key to the future success of the industry and I believe a focus on education and recruitment is critical moving forward.”

“In the past few years, the industry has had a strong focus on uniting and working together. I see the future of the caravan industry building on this idea, with all sectors of the industry working towards a united vision – to get more people interested in the caravanning and camping way of life. Instead of focussing on taking a bigger slice of the pie from competing holiday parks, manufacturers or retailers, we need to focus on expanding the pie by taking away customers from other competing industries like hotels, apartments, cruises and overseas holiday destinations.”

Some Achievements:

  • As CEO he has added two more parks to the group in New Zealand – Motutere Bay Holiday Park and Russell TOP 10 Holiday Park.
  • Driving the free Wi-Fi movement in Australian parks through development of the freewifi.com.au website and AccommIT Wi-Fi installation business. This movement helped establish free Wi-Fi as a key differentiator between holiday parks and hotels/apartments.
  • As a park partner, he contributed heavily during the initial development phase of the Newbook PMS particularly with features such as the online booking map, scheduled reporting and online surveys.
  • I was responsible for the first holiday park in Australia going live with a Google “See Inside” Tour 
published on Google Maps/Google Street View (Treasure Island HP).
  • Conducting a pre-feasibility study and follow-up financial analysis for potential new holiday park greenfield sites in Western Australia on behalf of Tourism WA.
  • Accredited Digital Tourism Coach for Tourism Tribe. This is a volunteer position helping small tourism operators (including several holiday parks) to improve their digital marketing.

 


April Whiston

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 12.09.43 PMGeneral Manager, Merool on the Murray

April has been employed as General Manager at their family owned and operated park for three years. Merool is a large park with a licence for 494 sites. She is also the sole founder of Cabin Connect and the blogger behind Mrs Caravan Park.

April Says:

“I plan to continue growing our park, Merool on the Murray, while establishing myself as park owner and moving away from the General Manager role. I’ll also focus on growing my business, Cabin Connect, and tapping into the manufactured home sector. An avenue I would like to explore with Cabin Connect is the viability of becoming a ‘cabin broker’ for clients to find the right manufactured home for them.”

“As youth ambassador for the industry, I would like to establish a reputable career path for school leavers, promoting this to year 12 students interested in tourism. I believe a hands-on training program, accompanied with a structured TAFE course, would provide skills and experience to youth that will enable them to enter a growing industry that can afford to pay satisfying salaries. This would enable our industry to become a ‘skills and experience’ based industry, rather than ‘fund’ based industry.”

“In the future I expect to see an increase in the number of free camp locations around Australia, a decrease in privately owned caravan parks, an increase in corporate owned caravan park and an increase in residential living (manufactured home estates).”

Some Achievements:

  • Launching Cabin Connect after identifying a gap in the market, enabling owners of annual or onsite cabins/vans to have a suitable marketing platform to promote their asset when they want to sell.
  • Creation of Mrs Caravan Park (www.mrscaravanpark.com) in 2015 to connect with other women in the industry, now with an international following.
  • General Manager of a caravan holiday park with a licence for 494 sites.

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