Dominic Wray is Parks Director for Vectis Ventures and he oversees all aspects of the operation for Blackgang Chine on the Isle Wight. Blackgang is the oldest theme park in the UK, opening in 1843. Dominic began his career in the property market as an estate agent, then transitioned to banking with a position at Lloyds Bank where he split his time between personal banking and commercial banking clients. It was one of those commercial clients, Paula (who happened to be the HR Director at Blackgang Chine) who told Dominic about this wonderful, fun and fanciful place she worked at and that really appealed to Dom. When the Park Manager role was posted, Dom applied for and got it, and thus began his career of selling fun instead of financial products. In this episode, Dom talks about micro businesses, breaking down silos and leaving the island.
“You’ve got lots of micro businesses within it. It’s not just one business.”
Dom recalls that one of the biggest learning curves he encountered when entering into the attractions business was how the park was actually a collection of micro businesses under the umbrella of the larger business.
Food and beverage, Marketing, Guest Experience, Safety and Retail can all be stand-alone businesses in their own right, but in the theme park industry, they must all work together to achieve the overall goals. And as park manager and now Parks Director, it’s critical he has a working understanding of all of those functions, as well as seasoned leaders who can help advise and direct as needed.
Breaking down silos
“It’s healthy to challenge each other in a respectful manner.”
In the early days at the park, Dom admits being a little naïve about just how separate the various departments were, and how that impacted productivity, morale, and the guest experience. Dom now attempts to structure his day so that he can give the appropriate attention to each area of the operation, knowing that emergencies can pop up at any time that will pull him away from his agenda.
Having a healthy balance of different viewpoints along with a sense of collaboration along the team helps create culture that doesn’t allow emotional walls or silos become a detractor for productivity. This leads to the team being able to effectively pull together when various events require involvement from many different departments across the property.
Leaving the island
“Both internal networking and external networking can be fantastic for development.”
The Isle of Wight is a small island just south of mainland England. To access the island, you must take a boat, which does pose some challenges for residents and tourists alike. That also means that leaving the island can pose the same challenge or inconvenience, but Dom says it’s critical.
When Dom first entered the industry, he attended IAAPA Expo in Orlando and was able to gather some very practical knowledge and experience he could apply to his new role. Likewise, he also encourages his team to attend trainings, conferences, or to visit other attractions to make sure they are continuing to expand their knowledge and experience new ways of doing business.
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our faaaaaantastic team:
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas