Spotlight on Dan Hurst, Up at The O2

Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?

As Head of department, I am responsible for all aspects of the attraction. This means I get to be involved in all areas of the business and our development. I am responsible for planning the yearly plans and programmes, special events and enhancements to the experience. I oversee the operational team to ensure they are delivering a world-class experience and working with them to roll out new additions to the attraction. I work with my marketing team to promote the business both domestically and international and play a full role in our trade and education programmes and sales. I enjoy product development and always looking of ways to improve our offering, whilst also being responsible for the finances and budgets.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Although only an internal company award, in 2019 we won team of the year for Up here at AEG Europe which employees hundreds of staff across the UK. 2019 saw a record breaking admission year for Up which I was responsible for where we smashed previous records by nearly 15%, in what was our 8th year and following a few years of plateauing. Bringing new ideas, more sales channels, higher spend per head were all great results of our team’s hard work and being on Eastenders as an attraction was a game changer for us that year.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Love your job and it will never feel like a job. I enjoy working every day and trying to improve myself and others around me and I hope that drive and ambition will never drop. I have worked at many iconic stadiums and venues and love being inspired to come to my workplace and represent it. Learning to manage my time, emails and work balance have always been a challenge but something I encourage everyone to keep working on.

If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?

I am still hoping for a late call up to the England Euro’s squad this year as my passion has always been in sport. Failing that, I always liked the idea of going back to my early working days of coaching and teaching as I enjoy passing on knowledge and seeing people grow and develop.

What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?

We have some great ideas and enhancement that we are looking to roll out in the next year or so. These vary throughout the customer journey, albeit the way we work with third parties, our own website and purchase flow but more importantly to areas on the experience itself to improve and re-invent. We are always looking at how we can embrace new technology and trends in to our attraction and keep thinking outside the box for events on the roof that are hard to deliver but totally rewarding for all attendees and our own reputation.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?

To be resilient and expect the unexpected. Keeping morale up for yourself and your team made it easier to get through and clear and accurate communication throughout so we are all aware of plans and next steps.

As we head towards recovery what do you think the challenges and opportunities are for our sector?

The challenges for most will be rebuilding what is left of our industry and the time it will take to get there. Our industry has been hit hard but people will always want to have activities and do things so we offer such an important service. I hope people use this time to return to our sites and offerings and really enjoy what we have to offer here in the UK. I hope this feeling of missing out and being stuck at home will mean a quick bounce back for many of us and the demand and confidence from our customers that we all need now.

How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?

I think people’s expectations may change forever from this time period. Some for the good where they will appreciate their freedom, their leisure and spending time with others. It will also mean a rise in expectation of what sites have to offer, competition between us all and the need to keep up with trends. Even though working from home, zoom calls and virtual quizzes have become a big part of our lives, I think it has also reinforced the personal relationships we have within our business and the desire to get back to that interaction must be higher than ever.

Find out more about BETA member Up at The O2 here

Published 01 May 2021