Natalie Fryer, Head of Marketing at Elite Dynamics UK
Natalie joined as a senior member of the team in 2019 but has worked as a freelance marketing consultant for Elite Dynamics since early 2018. She lives in Kendal with husband, Mark and two children, Blake & Sienna and it would seem that holiday parks have always been in her blood…
Holiday park experience
Pretty sure from a young age that her chosen career path would somehow involve holiday parks, Natalie fondly recalls early family holidays of driving to France for a holiday park break. “The experience of holiday parks offered was just embedded within me from a child,” she says. “From leaving home in the car, crossing on the ferry, and the excitement of arriving at the park – the atmosphere, the family feel, the friendliness, the outdoor space, the escapism – I still get exactly the same feeling now when I take my own kids away. Holiday parks are my happy place!” So, when it came to choosing a work placement during her third year at University (she has a Hospitality & Tourism Management degree from Lancaster University), Castells campsite on the west coast of France was almost like a homecoming. Taking to it like a duck to water, she was promoted after only five weeks to the tour operator’s site representative and managed 26 units, a small team operation and the on-park kids club. The experience gained that season was to influence her future career choices and even when the worst weather on record hit the region and the site was completely flooded, Natalie and her team were widely praised for how they dealt with and responded to a crisis. Crucially, her actions centred solely around making sure the customer was always front of mind, which is a mantra she still lives by today with Elite’s marketing.
Fast forward seven years working in the travel industry for an airline and the tourist board for Cumbria where Natalie headed up the national marketing campaign – Pitch It – for the caravan and camping sector in Cumbria. This was in collaboration with key industry partners including the BH&HPA, The Caravan Club, The Camping & Caravanning Club and the National Trust.
“We look outside the industry to see what Microsoft products are available that would benefit our industry and enhance our existing Elite products.”
In 2011, she then found a new spiritual home in the Marketing team for a large northwest holiday park company based in the Lake District. “We had nine parks to market, which all had their own very different personalities with management and operational systems in place, so I totally understand the challenges faced by holiday parks when it comes to implementing new software systems, centralising operations and the cultural transition it brings,” she says. That Marketing Team generated more than £30 million for the company through strategic park management marketing, direct mail, TV advertising, and PR, as well as helping them to acquire more parks and prepare the business for sale.
At Elite Dynamics, Natalie heads up all of the marketing activity including co-ordinating specialist external agencies to support the full marketing strategy. Changes to Elite’s marketing over the last two years have been stratospheric. A full rebrand, new website, plentiful new product features and investment in PR and CRM have seen web traffic, social engagement, and overall awareness of Elite Dynamics increase significantly with new website users jumping 47 per cent year on year. “It’s not just a case of repositioning the brand to reflect where the business is now”, says Natalie. “It’s about where we’re going. Improvements to website performance are ongoing plus we’ll be using more video content in the form of product features, industry webinars and case studies to support and educate existing and prospective customers.” All of this at the same time as positioning Elite Dynamics as the leading IT software solutions provider for the holiday park industry globally.
The fast pace of product marketing
Elite Dynamics started initially with an advanced park management software solution EliteParks and now has EliteCRM (customer relationship management), and EliteFinance – a powerful financial management software solution plus some other exciting new products soon to be brought to market. “It’s a fast-paced marketing department within a business led by entrepreneurs with high aspirations so it’s never dull!” adds Natalie.
There’s no hierarchy at Elite Dynamics and the team is well versed in being ambassadors for the brand through their own social media and professional profiles. “Collaboration internally as well as externally is so important,” says Natalie. “We’re all encouraged to focus on our own CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and hone our individual creativity. We maximise the strengths and knowledge we have around us, which in turn influences the marketing as we’re never working in isolation.”
Working from home
Even prior to lockdown, Elite Dynamics fully supported a ‘working from home’ culture, which offers greater flexibility for working parents like Natalie and, thanks to Covid-19, is now being widely adopted in workplaces around the country. “People are starting to realise they can adapt their ways of working to embrace technology,” she adds. “For me it’s always been important to be in a position where I could both further my career and professional development whilst raising my children. And many of the tools we use such as project management systems, CRM and social media scheduling tools are all cloud based, so can be accessed from anywhere and from any device. We can all work so much more effectively in whichever environment suits us best.”
Don’t just consider your competitors
As a business that exists to support the holiday park industry, Elite Dynamics always has its ear to the ground looking and listening for what the industry needs. “We don’t just consider our competitors,” said Natalie. “We look outside the industry to see what Microsoft products are available that would benefit our industry and enhance our existing Elite products. Of course we’re aware of what our competitors are doing but what sets us apart is we have the solutions that no other competitor is offering as well as always planning for new products.”
“People are starting to realise they can adapt their ways of working to embrace technology,”
New products that Natalie is currently working on bringing to market are EliteCRM and EliteFinance for Manufacturers – specifically aimed at holiday park industry manufacturers and suppliers. It’s a move into a new sector of the holiday park industry but a further commitment that Elite Dynamics is looking to become the go-to leader for the entire industry – from supporting front end shop floor manufacturing through to the customer experience on a holiday park.
Our marketing future
As a leading software provider, it will come as no surprise that Natalie sees digital as a growth area and the driver of Elite Dynamics’ marketing. “We’re always scoping and reviewing our digital strategies to make sure we’re utilising the latest Microsoft technology we offer to digitise our own in-house marketing communications and channels,” she says. “As marketing is becoming more digitised, we have got access to lots of analytics and technology, which gives us intelligence about our customers. Data is key and by adopting our own internal CRM, we can capture more data to analyse and influence future strategies.
“It’s interesting to hear how holiday parks are transitioning and growing and digitising their marketing because that’s where consumers are and what they expect. There are already so many tools and channels currently available for today’s marketers to communicate with customers that it is difficult to imagine just how many more there will be in the future.”
Content is another key area that Natalie is driving forward. Collaboration with customers by sharing their stories to create case studies is just one-way Elite Dynamics is working with the industry to support one another. Content is continually developed and reviewed to make sure it is current, topical and does its job in explaining how our software solutions support the industry.
Professional marketers like Natalie would conclude that more centralised marketing technology is where everyone will be heading as there are just too many tools now. And then of course there’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will certainly have a big role to play. “Some people are saying that AI is going to get rid of the role of traditional marketers, but I think it will just inform them to make better decisions,” argues Natalie. “Growth is in digital but I’m still passionate that in our industry, we shouldn’t rule out print and more traditional marketing activity. As a personable, customer-focused business, we see value in relationships and trust is more important than ever.”