THE BIG INTERVIEW: Dan Hughes, Director, Kinrara Consulting
In this latest interview, Dan Hughes, Director at Kinrara Consulting, part of the Goodwood Group, world-renowned for its events, such as the Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival, discusses the challenges at hand, ongoing projects worldwide, where we go from here as an industry and why knowledge-sharing is key.
Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself, your career path and any standout moments to date?
I am the Director of Kinrara Consulting, the consulting arm of the Goodwood Estate, based on the 300-year-old Estate in West Sussex, UK.
I come from 30 years in the yachting market, where I started in 1989 as a Trainee Marina Manager for Camper & Nicholsons Marinas. I was Operations Manager and Harbour Master at Sovereign Harbour in Eastbourne before then becoming General Manager at Port Solent for 10 years. In 2009, I set up my own consultancy business and two years later was offered the COO’s role with Camper & Nicholsons Marinas heading up the operational element of the business as well as overseeing the new consultancy and business development department, in which we found a niche in the development of superyacht facilities; working on the feasibility, technical design, construction and operational management of super yacht marinas and yacht clubs, largely as part of resort and real estate developments, including projects in Dubai, Grenada, Malta, Turkey, Cyprus, UK and the Far East, to name a few.
During this time, I had become attuned to working with a highly-respected and truly global brand, formed my collaborative approach to working with others and honed my keen eye for detail – particularly when it comes to the customer experience, operational expertise and commercial acumen – quickly identifying opportunities for the benefit of the client and offering strong leadership in the projects I oversaw.
In early 2019, I was approached for the Directors role at Kinrara Consulting, where we work with business in property, sports, entertainment and events, and where our consultancy expertise can be applied to a range of projects, whether consulting on the creation of an entirely new enterprise, or the development and operation of an existing business. We have particular specialities in motor circuit design and the associated guest experience, membership strategy and engagement, and commercial partnerships – as well as a deep knowledge of operations – whether that be a motor-circuit, a large-scale event on a green field site, a hotel and hospitality operation or an organic farm and sustainable forestry business.
We work with clients in the events, motorsport, equestrian, property, golf, aviation, farming, sustainability, membership & hospitality sectors, taking all the expertise we have on the Estate and using those skills to help our clients around the world. Currently we are working on projects in India, Canada and Europe with other projects expected to go under contract in 2020/21 in the Middle East, Caribbean, UK and the USA.
As Director of Kinrara Consulting, part of the world-famous Goodwood Group, what are your key objectives for the next 12-36 months?
Growth of the external consultancy business. Goodwood is world-renowned for its events, such as the Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival, which have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, so we have to look at ways of building resilience into the Estate.
Taking our expertise externally will help us drive a revenue that isn’t reliant on events taking place on the Estate and secure its long-term future.
What are the main challenges you face in achieving your objectives?
As the expertise we have is, in the main part, employed for roles within the business, I am regularly dragging people out of their day-job to assist me in delivering specific consultancy work, although in fairness rarely do I get any resistance! The work we do at Kinrara is often very interesting, innovative, very creative and in normal circumstances, involves some travel, so is a very different experience to the day-to-day routine. We actually use the work they do with Kinrara as a development opportunity for some of the team.
Externally, the biggest challenge is often project funding. We have several examples of work we have completed and where funding has stalled the projects progress, despite being commercially proven. Permitting and planning approvals are often cause for project time slip also.
It was recently announced that Kinrara is to consult on the creation of a purpose-built, motor circuit and automotive innovation campus in Ontario, Canada. Can you tell us more about the Oro Station project, how you came to secure the deal and what role you will play in its delivery?
We were introduced to the project principle by the circuit designers, Driven International, who suggested we should talk. The MD of Oro Station came to the Goodwood Revival in September 2019, where we discussed the various stages we offer to a new project, starting with validating the masterplan design, through to producing a membership and commercial strategy, marketing & communications, detailed design input and operational aspects – and everything in between.
Having proved our worth in the masterplanning process, where we added real value to the design and began to create an exceptional experience for the user, the project owners entered into contract.
We are currently working on the commercial strategy and the communications strategy for the project, gaining traction on memberships and adding value to the commercial partnerships Oro Station have secured. We hope to be working with them through the next stages of the project through to 2022 when the facility will be open.
How important is it, especially under the current environment, to knowledge-share with industry peers both within the motor sport and wider sport/entertainment sector?
It’s vital – lessons learnt on how the various sectors we operate within have implemented change and the success of that change is vital to share; the pace of some of those changes has been unimaginable so learning from each other is vitally important.
Sharing knowledge on how to safely put on an event, for example, or changing protocols to ensure the safety of participants, guests and visitors, ultimately could stop the transmission of the virus and so we all need to take that very seriously indeed.
How do you foresee the Goodwood Group and indeed the wider sports and live entertainment sector evolving moving forward?
Again, the pace of change has caught us all by surprise but we started looking at ways to do things differently several months ago – Speedweek due to take place at Goodwood in October will be a celebration of all the best parts of the Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival – an event totally behind closed doors – but free to view through various channels. This event was partly put together to satisfy the hundreds of thousands of fans that engage with our events annually, but also to help our commercial partners get the exposure they want to an engaged audience.
The diversity of the Goodwood Estate has made us scrutinise absolutely everything we do and the way we do it, not just from an events perspective but all elements of our business, from farming to sustainability, membership to hospitality and each of the separate activities we offer from those on the motor circuit to the aerodrome, horse-racing to the bars and restaurants, golf to shooting have all been affected by the current climate, we hope that the procedures and protocols we have in place allow our guests, visitors and members to have an enjoyable and memorable experience at Goodwood, whilst staying safe. There is only a certain amount we can do to operate within the guidelines, we have to rely on those visiting to act responsibly.
From a consultancy point of view, we are looking at ways we can continue to support our global clients, future-proof some of their development decisions and build into designs and commercial strategies the resilience we now need for a rapidly changing world.
Huge thanks to Dan for taking the time to do this interview and for the full story, make sure to watch the video interview. NB: We will be bringing you a follow-up interview with Dan following the 2020 Goodwood SpeedWeek.
From 16-18th October 2020, Goodwood SpeedWeek will bring together fans’ favourite elements of the Festival of Speed and the Revival, plus some races usually only seen at the Members’ Meetings, for an incredible celebration of speed, power, grace and beauty. The event will take place behind closed doors at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. For more information, go to: https://www.goodwood.com/grr/event-coverage/festival-of-speed/2020/7/goodwood-speedweek-to-be-held-in-october/
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Imagery, courtesy: Goodwood Estate
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