Increased leisure time, greater leisure options (at home and out of home) and a growing awareness of the health benefits of sport and recreation are responsible in part for the growing importance of the sector evidenced by consumer expenditure in the order of £147.81bn (2006).
The need for independent and objective advice (the role of a leisure consultant) has never been greater and the most rewarding part of the job is to see a new leisure facility up and running after you have moulded the concept, based on research and consultation and prepared the financial forecasts to determine viability. The development of Catterick Garrison Leisure Centre is a good example of this. Incorporating three swimming pools, a six court sports hall, fitness facilities, library and cafe the facility was completed in summer 2009.
As a leisure consultant my main tasks are: writing proposals (the basis of getting work); undertaking research (e.g. understanding market trends); reviewing the competition in the market; reviewing demand (is there a need); consultation; undertaking financial analysis (e.g. assessing visitor numbers, revenue and costs); and preparing written reports and presentations.
From a starting point of being good at sport in school, I moved into leisure consultancy almost 20 years ago. My route took me initially to teaching, then research, then coaching and facility management before I moved to the Sports Council (now Sport England) first regionally and then nationally. This diversity has been great in being able to provide advice from experience, not just books!
Eileen Hinson, Director, Pan-Leisure Consulting