Pleasureland boss warns of ‘uncharted territory’ in national podcast

Norman Wallis

Putting lives first, retaining great staff and finding new ways to deliver the best experiences safely for colleagues and customers has put the hospitality industry in unimagined territory – says Southport Pleasureland CEO Norman Wallis.

Sharing a leadership platform with Lord Blunkett and other business influencers for a Parliamentary Review Leaders Council podcast, Mr Wallis offered his own thoughts and experiences of how the industry is moving from survival to success as uncertainty becomes the new normal.

During his interview Mr Wallis said that leaders who put their efforts into finding solutions rather than dwelling on the negatives had been better placed to deliver success – and safety.

‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best is all anyone can do,” he said.  “We have put in as many precautions as possible.  The one thing we can’t do is ‘make’ the public do the right thing.”

He was referencing the investment in time and money – all committed to making safety measures robust, yet simple for visitors to follow. 

“We must do the right thing.  We have to remember, as business leaders facing these challenges (of additional investment and revenue-reductions thanks to numbers restrictions) – we may have been skint before, but we’ve never been dead before.  Lives matter so much more.”  That’s the blunt message Mr Wallis delivered during his conversation with interviewer Scott Challinor.  He said that, as a family run business offering entertainment for families he was proud of the way his industry – which has been affected more than most others – has responded, but it needed more help.

The Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – chaired by Lord Blunkett and part of the Parliamentary Review portfolio –  is currently in the process of talking to leadership figures from across the nation about what leadership means in Britain and Northern Ireland today.

Norman Wallis from Universal Attractions was invited onto an episode of the podcast, which included an interview with Lord Blunkett.

During the podcast, which aired before the Chancellor’s latest lockdown and hospitality industry support packages were announced, Mr Wallis continued: “No one can plan long-term any more.  We’re working in weeks rather than months.  We are planning to create a Covid-safe environment for a Christmas attraction.  You can’t automate our industry, our staff make the experience and they love doing that for our visitors.  In these times ours is one of the businesses that can offer an opportunity to step away from worries, in a protected environment, and help people regain their balance – and reconnect with fun.  Seeing kids smile has a very positive effect on their parents and grandparents.

“I don’t think things will go back to the way it was, but change is a natural process; we have to accept it and move forward.  What has happened is people have come together and helped each other and help the planet.  We need to continue to cultivate that and kill the throwaway society for a more holistic way of living.”

Scott Challinor commented, ‘Hosting a show like this, where you speak to genuine leaders who have been there and done it, either on a national stage or within a crucial industry sector, is an absolute honour.’

Lord Blunkett, chairman of The Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland said, ‘I think the most informative element of each episode is the first part, where Scott Challinor is able to sit down with someone who really gets how their industry works and knows how to make their organisation tick. Someone who’s there day in day out working hard and inspiring others. That’s what leadership is all about.’

You can listen to the podcast in full here: http://www.leaderscouncil.co.uk/members/norman-wallis