Customer story

How The Aspinall Foundation used OurPeople to engage everyone and build inclusion.


Posted in: Leisure, Travel & Tourism


The Howltetts Wild Animal Trust is a renowned animal conservation charity who are committed to captive breeding, education and reintroduction of rare, endangered animals. They operate two animal parks based in Kent (Howletts near Canterbury and Port Lympne near Ashford, Kent). They combine running the animal park as a tourist attraction alongside offering short breaks at one of the 600-acre parks. In the peak season summer months, they employ approximately 600 staff. 


Kent, UK



Team size




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Communication Challenges in 2020

Roll back to 2020, both Howletts and Port Lympne bounced back from the restrictions of the first lockdown with excellent day visitor numbers as attractions began to reopen to the public. The accommodation side of the business also benefitted as UK visitors extended their usual one-to-two-night stays to five days with the increase in staycations.

This was around the time the management team decided that relying on email as the main form of staff communication did not meet the needs of all team members, as many do not have company email addresses, and many are at work out in the parks. Knowing they had to get better at communicating, they Googled communication apps and came across OurPeople. The Howletts Wild Animal Trust launched its OurPeople platform at the end of 2020 and it has continued to prove its value in communicating company-wide since then. 


Speaking to Everyone

As you can imagine, animal keepers and gardeners for example do not have access to computers all the time. Communicating with a diverse workforce that includes customer-facing teams, office staff, animal keepers and gardeners can prove quite a challenge. That’s where OurPeople comes in. At Howletts and Port Lympne, they have teams on site dealing with customers, those in the office who can work from home one to two days a week, and a vast number of keepers, gardeners, and maintenance who can be anywhere in the parks at any one time.

Having the OurPeople platform has enabled the animal parks to broaden their communication to encompass the whole company.

Their most used features are the Broadcasts and File section where they communicate a vast range of useful company information. They’ve found employees respond well to any job ads that are posted. And when a new team member starts the fact the induction pack can be accessed instantly has helped their on-boarding process.

The Guest Services team has found the Chat feature especially useful as it keeps the team fully informed, especially during busy periods. So much so they’ve created their own dedicated section specific to their function within the business.

Engaging Everyone

A challenge the parks have had in the past is getting access to and engaging the whole company. This was particularly the case when it came to the keepers and other teams that work outside. The nature of their jobs means they are spread across vast acreage every single day. In the past, they have felt disjointed from what is happening in the rest of the business. A great example of OurPeople solving this challenge came with the Jubilee this year. The company ran a Jubilee-themed internal competition for all staff which was broadcast through the platform. The response was great, and it created a sense of inclusion that hadn’t been apparent in competitions run in the pre-OurPeople days.

The File Sharing Feature has been used extensively to help all employees find relevant information. This includes quarterly updates from the Managing Director and the Staff Welfare team regularly uploads minutes from the committee meetings to maintain transparency across the company. 


Feeling Part of Something

A greater feeling of inclusion has been one of the main developments since using the platform. The organization now has a tool which everyone can have access to. Even what might seem like a small communication, such as letting employees know of a road closure before they start their journeys home, can have a huge impact on staff morale. It makes them feel cared for and part of something. 

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“The OurPeople platform has revolutionized our communication methods. It is a really simple tool to use and is easy to understand. It’s a very cost-effective way to make communications accessible to the whole company”.


Sarah Lintern

OD Manager