We managed to find 30 minutes in Carly’s manic schedule for a coffee and a chat to find out about how she became the Entertainments Manager at Golden Sands and what the role involves. Here’s her story…
You’ve just returned back from being on maternity leave. How are you finding it being back in the limelight?
So far, so good! It’s lovely to see all of the returning guests and Owners. Everyone has always been so supportive and excited about my family growing so it’s nice to be around that and I never miss the opportunity to show off pictures of my babies. It’s also nice to come back to work and be Carly, not Mummy. I sometimes come to work just for a rest :-)
Since you’ve been back, what have you been concentrating on doing?
My first job in the Winter is always to get the next year’s acts and Owner’s events booked. In total there are over 200 dates to fill as well as all of the Owner specific events and acts so it is a pretty big task. I like the calendar to go out to guests and Owners as close to New Year as possible. After that, I start writing and producing the shows and hiring a team before moving on to new activities and sessions.
When we think of an Entertainments Manager, we think of you singing and performing on the stage all the time. How much of your time is actually performing and how much is taken up with other things? What other things do you do?
My job used to involve a lot of stage time however nowadays my job is more office-based. Since having the Keep A Keepsake shop and bringing in activities such as Turbo Paddlerz and Hover Archery, there is a lot of ordering, maintenance and accounting to keep up with.
I am responsible for corresponding with all of our acts and ensuring we get their information and they are paid correctly and on time. I order all the decorations for our Owners events and ensure tickets are ready for when sales open, as well as decorate the venue. We do not have a ‘head office’ so literally everything you see on stage, at events and within the Entertainment department is led by me and is carried out by myself and the team.
I also write the Trip Advisor replies for Golden Sands Holiday Park and have developed the OnPark app which needs updating regularly – both of these jobs tie me to the office a bit more. Many of my team have been with us for a few years now which means they are in complete control of running the day to day entertainment. I write the entertainments guide, rota them on and off they go!
Working this way frees me up to introduce new things and keep the standard high. I do still perform in the shows and can be seen onstage hosting or presenting but I would say the majority of my time is now office/backstage based.
How do you decide which acts to book and what does the process involve?
There are numerous showcases throughout the year and throughout the country. Most of the showcases I attend are around November-January which is perfect timing for me, as I fill the calendar at the same time. Showcases usually consist of around 70-80 acts performing in 10-minute slots over 2-3 days. The audience is made up of bookers, acts and agents. If I see something I think would be good on our stage I approach the act or their agent and together we look at the cost of the act and their availability to work out how we can get them to Golden Sands Holiday Park.
Over the years I have built up a good reputation amongst acts and agents which means acts look forward to performing at the park. This is very helpful to me as Golden Sands are in competition with a lot of well-known brands who like to get the best acts they can. Luckily many popular acts are now friends of mine, which means they tend to contact me as soon as their diary opens for the following year, allowing me to get first dibs on the dates I would like before the bigger companies come in and take them all!
It’s taken me many years and a lot of networking but my name is associated with Golden Sands Holiday Park and Golden Sands is a park all acts and agents know and respect on the circuit.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The favourite part of my job is the variety. I love the many different aspects to it and that each day is different. I love getting a new team member, aged 18, never performed professionally before, doesn’t know how to do their own washing or cooking and helping them to become independent, confident and guide them on how to enhance their talent.
I love organising and putting procedures in place, I love talking to people, I love decorating, I love creating and I love performing!
Did you always want to be a performer?
I don’t know anything else but to perform! From as young as 2 I was regularly performing in shows and productions. From 3 or 4 years old I was in theatre shows and modelling in adverts/catalogues regularly. Much of my childhood consisted of being picked up from school and heading straight into the car to travel to London for a casting and the weekends I wasn’t in a show, I was filming or doing a photoshoot.
My poor Mum used to ferry me and my brother all over the place! Before coming to Golden Sands, I travelled all over the UK and abroad in various shows and performing roles. I knew I wanted to have babies and settle down so when Golden Sands had a year-round Entertainments Manager position available I jumped straight on it! I am so fortunate to be able to be a Mummy and still perform, let alone have the opportunity to create everything we do.
At the end of the season, some of the Goldstars leave which must be really hard. How do you recruit new ones, do you hold auditions etc?
I start recruitment mid-October and my first point of call is with the current team. We have a good chat about the following year and what they want to achieve. Together we decide if returning is an option and if we feel that it would benefit them and the business. Once I know who is returning I start promoting any vacant positions, this is usually around December time.
Lots of parks recruit at the same time so I have to work hard at making sure our advert stands out. Auditions are held throughout January for the applicants that I feel could be right for the park. Over the last 4-5 years, recruitment has been particularly easy as so many of the Goldstars want to return!
I do sometimes find it hard when Goldstars leave as we work so closely that we become friends. We all live on the park so we don’t only work together for 6 days a week but we socialise together too. Sometimes Goldstars leave because they choose to move onto to new things, sometimes I encourage them to move onto new things and give them a gentle push. That can be really tough as it usually happens with team members that have been with me a few years. It can sometimes get to the point where I feel I have taught them all I can and in order for them to develop, they need to try something new. I feel like a mother bird encouraging the chicks to be brave and fly the nest. Luckily they always keep in touch and they know I am at the end of the phone if they ever need any support.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you when you were performing?
I have fallen off of the stage various times (don’t laugh). The most embarrassing was at a Haven park called Devon Cliffs. I was the main presenter and was just about to host a gameshow to approx. 1800 people.
I didn’t realise the stage had a step and I not only fell down the step but then fell down more steps onto the dancefloor. There was nothing I could do but join in with the laughter.
Over the years there have been many costume malfunctions, dancing mistakes and dodgy notes however that is all part of live entertainment so I tend to laugh it off. I was sick in my mouth a few times during shows whilst I was pregnant, not so much embarrassing but completely gross.
What qualities and experience do you think you would need to be an entertainer?
There is no experience as such required although it helps if the applicant genuinely likes people and performing, in equal measures. Many entertainer roles are either performance or non-performance based which allows the applicant to choose which kind of role would best suit them.
Our roles are both, which means you are sat on the dancefloor talking to kiddies one minute and singing a solo power ballad the next.
Talent can always be enhanced and improved upon, however, a good work ethic and kind heart is something people either have or don’t have. It is very important to me that my team work hard and look after each other. Entertainment is a very cut-throat industry and performing leaves you very exposed to both positive and negative comments. It is important that we stick together and lift each other up when needed. Positivity, hard work, and a big smile goes a long way.
Any top tips for wanting to become a Goldstar or an Entertainments Manager?
For anyone wanting to become a Goldstar, I would advise them to get a really strong audition piece together. If you are a singer then rehearse until you have found the perfect song and can sing it well. If you’re a dancer get a short routine memorised and perfected. Perform in front of anyone who will watch. Perform, perform, perform. You will learn something new every time and in turn that will improve your standard.
My top tip for someone wanting to be an Entertainments Manager is to be patient and learn your trade. So many entertainers do one season and think they know everything there is to know about the industry and how to be a good Manager. Unfortunately, this is just not the case. There are too many variables for someone to learn all aspects in just 8-9 months. I would encourage all budding Managers to learn and actively perform each role that you expect your team members to do. Before becoming a Manager I did a season as a dancer, singer, presenter, trainer, assistant etc so that when I eventually had my own team I could help, advise and assist them in whichever role they needed. This has been more beneficial than I can explain.
Carly is looking forward to seeing you all enjoying the entertainment on your next visit to Golden Sands Holiday Park.
If you are wondering what kinds of entertainment is in store this year at Golden Sands Holiday Park, you can take a look here.