Business Warfare with Francis Jackson

On 13th May 2022, second year students from the Visitor Attraction and Resort Management course at Staffordshire University attended an engaging business strategy talk at Alton Towers from the General Manager, Francis Jackson.

This honest review talk and Q & A from Francis is part of the students strategy module with the university. Alton Towers and Staffordshire University have a successful partnership which is 6 years strong, and this talk is just one of the many opportunities the students get.

Francis started the meeting by giving brief information about his career background and history. He explained about his transfer from a humble Ski Resort in Australia to the theme park giant that is Alton Towers. Francis believes that Merlin is a “Juggernaut in the visitor attraction industry”, but what gives them the competitive advantage?

The group was taught how important the delivery of the Merlin product can be to being one step ahead of competition. From guest experience and satisfaction to how immersive and impressive the theme park looks, Francis covered how important these high standards are to staying on top. However, he also explained how the core values of the company can sometimes get lost. For Alton Towers, ‘joyful’ should be the absolute minimum that guests get out of their day.

Merlin is primarily driven through marketing and Francis revealed to students just how competitive the tourism industry can get. “Business isn’t cozy” – (Francis Jackson 2022) Gaining the competitive advantage can be brutal, companies can use aggressive war-like tactics to overwhelm their competitors. For Alton Towers: third parties, new and innovative products and tactical marketing are all major factors in their strategy to stay on top and be a world class destination.

As the talk came to a close, Francis gave some advice for students as future leaders. Tourism is one big turf war and Francis let students know this. He explained how academic studies and knowledge mixed with heart and passion will make for amazing opportunity and can take you anywhere you want to go.

Protecting The Magic With Linzi Ticehurst

Lucy Moseley, Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student


On Friday the 26th of November 2021, Year 2 of the Visitor Attractions and Resort Management (VARM) students attended an in-person guest lecture with Linzi Ticehurst (Health and Safety Manager at Alton Towers Resort) on the importance of Safety in the workplace.  

Linzi has been working within Health and Safety at Alton Towers for 15 years as part of a close-knit team of 5 and worked on the ‘Protecting the Magic for Managers’ training with a collective team from numerous Merlin Entertainments UK Theme parks and Legoland Resorts. This interactive training session taught us that safety at Merlin is a whirlwind; it spans from rides, hotels, and restaurants, to the work-shops, contractors and events of every attraction.  As Linzi detailed the responsibilities of the HSE, EHO, and ORR at the park, she included relevant guidance documents and legislative works that must be abided by within each corner of every department – relevant to our own Law and Legislation module that we’re currently studying at Staffordshire University.

Safety should always be a moving target  – it is never complete.”

Linzi Ticehurst, 2021

During the session, the one-and-only Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resort Operations Director) stopped by for a couple of minutes to offer a few words on the topic – “the ability to foresee; therein lies the challenge.” (Francis Jackson, 2021). Agreeing with what Francis has said, protecting our guests and staff is the primary focus of our safety department. The responsibilities lie not only in rectifying an incident, but to prepare and take away the hazard in order to maintain the magic for our guests.

I, myself (Lucy Moseley) have been a part of the Health and Safety team at Alton Towers for 2 months up to this publication and working close with the rides department as a fresh pair of eyes on the resort has been an incredible, and rare, opportunity. It is my responsibility to complete administrative work, inspect the rides on resort and bring forward solutions to any arising issues – it’s the kind of role where no two days are the same.

Finally, I would once again like to thank Linzi for taking the time to come and speak with us and share her knowledge on the significance of keeping safe at all times whilst working at the resort. The session that she provided was incredibly informative and well structured, so thank you, Linzi.


The FdA Visitor Attraction and Resort Management course is taught in partnership with Alton Towers Resort, part of the World renowned Merlin Group. It includes 20 weeks paid work experience, and the opportunity to top up to a BA (Hons) degree in your third year.