Avril Owton – hotelier, businesswoman and international speaker. Every working day is just another performance to Avril Owton, the former dance teacher and member of the famous Tiller Girl dance troupe.
Avril has been the owner of The Cloud Hotel for over 35 years, and her involvement has created an attractive and efficiently run award winning hotel. She is the inspirational founder and organiser of a regional women’s network the Wessex Women’s Network; a regular speaker for a national organisation Everywoman and has been a judge for their prestigious awards since 2005. She is also an active member of the Institute of Directors. She has been the subject of many interviews, and continues to inspire and motivate people with her fresh, friendly and professional attitude to business.
Avril uses her hotel to hold community fundraising events and has so far raised over £30,000 for the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity. It is the continued efforts that Avril puts into charitable fundraising and her outstanding business skills that has seen her appointed an MBE in 2008.
Achievements and Awards
In 2007, Avril Owton was made an Honoree Member of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World. Avril can be found in the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World 2007 publication, which reads as follows: Avril Owton is the owner of The Cloud Hotel at Brockenhurst in The New Forest, England. A former professional dancer with The Tiller Girls, she took over the running of the hotel when her husband died suddenly at the age of 45, leaving her with an ailing family hotel, four children and no life or mortgage insurance or financial support. Her show business background provided no experience in management, administration, finance, or how to run a business, but that didn’t stop Avril. She refurbished the hotel, began to make a significant profit and soon had increased her business turnover by an impressive 800%.
In 2006 Avril was commissioned to write a book entitled “Delighting your customers“. By delving into her vast experience as a successful hotelier, Avril had a wealth of information to tap into. "Delighting your Customers" proved so popular that in 2011 Avril was requested to write a second addition. Both are available to buy online from all popular book websites.
“Your relationship with your customers is probably one of the most important you’ll ever have. No business can survive without them, but reaching customers in the first place is a big challenge for small companies. This book offers invaluable advice on: Understanding your customers; Asking for feedback… and learning from it; Creating a customer service strategy; Hiring the right people; Setting up and implementing complaint processes; Adding a personal touch; being creative…But making sure you can deliver; Learning from your competitors.” — review from acblack.com.
The popular magazine, MANAGEMENT TODAY, reviewed Avril’s book and awarded the highest possible rating of “..best of its kind”. Part of the excellent series ‘Business on a Shoestring’, this gives vital advice on pleasing your customers without breaking the bank. Written for small-business owners, it’s brimming with customer service delights, covering everything from understanding your customers’ expectations to handling their complaints. A high-energy, high-impact book written by a dancer-turned-hotelier - Management Today review.
As a past Hampshire Business Woman of the Year, Avril was awarded the prestigious Shine Woman of the Year Award in 2006. The Shine award is presented to the woman in travel, tourism and hospitality industry who has achieved and inspired others. Her particular business experience and her passion for encouraging women to reach their full potential has made her a sought after speaker in both professional and personal development. Avril was announced the Winner of Woman of the Year 2006 on Tuesday 28 February in an awards ceremony, which took place at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge, London.
This overall Award recognises women for their inspirational and business role; for their contribution to the industry as well as for demonstrating personal commitment and leadership in fostering and maintaining an environment for the promotion and advancement of women.
In the early stages of 2006, Avril Owton was made a Fellow of the Hotel Catering and International Management, now called the Institute of Hospitality. The Institute of Hospitality sets standards for professionalism within the international arena for Hotel Catering and Management. Avril was elected Chairman of the Institute of Directors for the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight branch from 2007 until 2009. Only 16% of the branch’s 2000 members are female.
In 2011 she was voted one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure Travel and Tourism by Women 1st and shortlisted for the Women 1st Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
Avril is a keen supporter of charities and their work and holds annual fund raising events for her chosen charity, Macmillan Cancer Support. For several years, The Cloud Hotel has played its part by participating annually in the World’s Largest Coffee Morning which is an event organised by Macmillan Cancer Support which hosts local residents and guests at The Cloud Hotel.
The Macmillan dinner (organised and hosted by Avril) is traditionally held each year in December, with Avril donating all proceeds from this special dinner to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer. To date Avril has raised around £30,000.00 for Macmillan Cancer Support!
Speaking & networking
With an incredible life story, vast experience and valuable advice to offer, Avril is in high demand for speaking at dinners and events. Please see avrilowton.co.uk for more information on Avril's availability.
Avril also founded the successful Wessex Women's Network, a business network for women from Hampshire and Dorset and a great place to meet business women from all backgrounds and with varying experience from start-ups to renowned figure heads in the world of business. See wessexwomensnetwork.co.uk for more details on how to join and upcoming business networking events, for women only!