Thursday, April 9, 2009

Praying for a sunny Easter

Back from the Austrian slopes just about in one piece - despite a mighty crunching fall on day one in near blizzard conditions - and now heading into our first bank holiday weekend of the 2009 season.

Easter is such an important milestone (albeit frustratingly the date is such a moveable feast each year) and the weather can so dictate how we perform. Hopefully the snow during Easter 08 will not repeat and hopefully the slightly dodgy forecast for Easter 09 will edge in our favour with more blue sky + sunshine than black clouds + rain! Time to keep fingers crossed and we hope families will be tempted out to enjoy our Great Blenheim Palace Easter Egg Challenge - "Butterflies and Bunnies Trail".

Our visitor business continues to perform very strongly into April and we are significantly ahead of last years performance - this bodes well for the year ahead and helps support performance within our shops and catering outlets. All very positive given the general economic malaise - we are delighted to be offering such a strong value-for-money offer in these tough times and to be able to connect so positively with so many families across Oxfordshire and beyond. More than 20,000 annual passes have been created since we opened on 14 February and we look forward to converting many more day tickets over the coming months.

The increased business does put pressure - I hope positive uplifting pressure - onto all of our staff and I would pay enormous credit to their enthusiasm, their hard work, their professionalism and their continued efforts throughout each day. We do take great care every day to offer the best customer service experience possible from receiving the first visitor in the morning to waving goodbye to the last visitor in the evening - we do not always get this 100% right but everyone (without exception) tries very hard and takes great pride in acting as ambassadors here at "Britain's Greatest Palace". My continued thanks are extended to each and every one of them for their hard work - they are all exceptional individuals.

Future business prospects continue to evolve in a positive manner - contracts are virtually signed for a major filming contract here at Blenheim Palace in the coming weeks and an application has been lodged with West Oxfordshire District Council for a licence to allow up to 29,999 people to attend an outdoor one day "Festival for Heroes" event on Saturday 20 June 2009 where hopefully significant monies will be raised for the Royal British Legion and for the local Soldiers for Oxfordshire campaign. More news on both will follow imminently and hopefully the "Festival for Heroes" event will be fully announced immediately after Easter - exciting times all round.

This last week has also seen a successful first sale here at Blenheim Palace for Lyon and Turnbull plus the launch of our new Trout Fishery initative - an example if needed of the hugely diverse world that exists across the Estate on a day to day and week to week basis.

Blenheim Palace and its surrounding Estate are totally unique and it is an absolute pleasure to work here - the place gets totally inside you and it is an immense honour to be responsible, along with everyone else, for the management and future conservation of this wonderful world heritage site.

Enjoy Easter - eat lots of chocolate - and I hope I can report a successful weekend when I next write!


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