In 2019, the UK’s Leisure sector as a whole was valued at £111bn, with consumers continuing to see the value in spending on experiences and making memories. It has been suggested that each year the average family spends approximately £190 on trips to theme parks, £180 on activities such as bowling, mini golf and visiting arcades, £170 on trips to the zoo and £170 on trips to the cinema. I didn't just know this, I've been doing my research, thanks for the support Google! This potentially is not as much as you thought? But think about it like they visit their local trampoline park as a family 5 times per year.
So this is clearly big business, but what is it like to work in the leisure industry? Well, whilst not wanting to put you off, it can be really hard work, but if you have a passion for people and love operations, then the progression opportunities are endless and a great career move! Many people move into the Leisure Industry from either hospitality or health & fitness and there are so many transferrable skills.
So, what is the good and where are the challenges about roles in this sector?!
- Long or unsocial working hours - there are many jobs in this sector that require you to work early mornings, evenings, weekends and bank holidays. The peak times are most likely to be evenings and weekends, when people have free time from their jobs. That said, there are some operators, such as Trampoline Parks where the hours are more sociable, they typically finish at 7pm. However, working in a Bowling Alley or a Cinema people can work until the early hours, depending on the role.
- A relatively low salary for entry level roles - salaries in sport and leisure vary depending on the size and location of companies, and whether the organisation is local authority or privately-owned. That said there is often a great opportunity to develop your skill set and take part in many funded courses & qualifications, such as first aid, lifeguard, food safety and health & safety courses.
- Progression - in the sector can be quick. Of course, this isn't going to be the same for everyone, or even true for all businesses, but on the whole as teams are exposed to large, busy multi-faceted operations they gain a lot of skills that transfer well into other businesses.
- Job satisfaction - helping people to enjoy their free time, reach their fitness potential and travel the world can be incredibly rewarding. I know it is a bit cliché, but in this environment, you really have the opportunity to make someone's day. This could be a day out that they remember for years to come.
- Flexibility - depending on the industry employees can be hired on seasonal contracts. Opportunities for part-time work and career breaks are also often available. It takes a wide variety of people with varied flexibility to make this industry work. This makes it a great industry to "learn your craft", it could fit around family life or studies. This is not a 9-5pm Monday - Friday environment, but also means you can often travel at more typically quiet times, or on cheaper fares as you're avoiding the stereotypical "office hours".
- A high level of responsibility - within leisure and tourism you'll be responsible for ensuring that customers get their money's worth. As I said, you can really make a memory that lasts a lifetime, you'll need to be quick thinking and operationally savvy, because we all know, things will go wrong at some point. The big question is, how will you deal with it? Can you ensure your guests have that lasting memory, despite a few little hiccups or are you going to let things ruin their day?
You might be surprised at the wide variety of roles that are available in the leisure sector. If you have great people and customer service skills, play to your strengths in a hands-on, customer-facing role. If you'd prefer to work behind the scenes, why not try some of the head-office functions including administration, finance, IT, marketing, HR and sales. If you're up to the challenge of combining the two, then general management jobs are widely available.
I've mixed my own career between hospitality and health & fitness. I ran an award-winning CAMRA pub way before I ran a health club, the environment is different, I obviously found far fewer drunk people in the gym, but my experience in operations, managing a large team and dealing with safety definitely helped me with my transition to a different industry. You may also be surprised to learn how many of the Senior Team within the leisure industry have also taken a switch from the world of Health & Fitness.
Are you potentially going to be able to move from running a small franchise operation to running a large Go Karting Track or a Trampoline Park? Potentially not. However, there are many Assistant General Manager roles that will support that sidestep to learning how to manage larger, multi-faceted operations. In these environments you will be managing large teams, often around 35 people and multiple departments, such as Food & Beverage, Operations, Sales, and Children's Birthday Parties. The main challenge is often the quick turnaround over events or large influx of people, this is like 4 busy group exercise classes all arriving and ending at the same time, and this happening consistently throughout the day, so you need to be an organised, operational whizz!
So that is a bit of an insight into the leisure world, you can check out all the roles we work on by checking out our job board.