Friday, August 21, 2009

Sunshine (and showers!)

So much for the blisteringly hot summer that we were promised earlier in the year - even this week we have ebbed between a very hot mini heatwave on Wednesday into a breezy, wet and almost chilly Thursday - it could only happen in England. The impact on our numbers is huge - over 3,000 on Wednesday and less than 1,500 on Thursday - very hard to get staffing levels right with such extreme variances!

Many will feel cheated having been lulled by the forecast, by the exchange rate and by the credit crunch into a "staycation" summer - but still I sense that spirits generally are positive and that everyone is out there determined to make the best of it and to have a good time.

This weather - as long as it does not get too wet (and then muddy!) - works reasonably well for us as the forecast is not strong enough to drive people onto the coast or onto the sun lounger in the back garden but it is good enough to support a fun family day out - just somewhere like Blenheim Palace!

We have traded well through August with some busy weekends and with some exceptionally busy weekdays. We are enjoying seeing many of our annual pass holders returning frequently to connect with us and we now have well over 60,000 members with that total growing daily.

How we manage that database going forward is an interesting new challenge for us and we are looking to fill a new post - Head of Membership - as we go into 2010 and beyond. Details of the role can be found on our website and we hope that there will be someone out there with strong experience in this field who can drive this forward for us with regard to membership retention and membership gowth.

This weekend we are hosting the Camping and Caravanning Club Annual Rally - the National Feast of Lanterns - with over 2,500 caravans (and an estimated 8,000 people) on site. This has been 5 years in the planning and I am sure they will have a great weekend based here in the Park - they have a varied programme of events and activities and the northern end of the Park is a sea of caravans and motor homes. Hopefully the weather will be kind as the last time we hosted a major caravan rally - for The Caravan Club - the event was virtually washed out by heavy rain and the whole area became a sea of mud!

The southern end of the Park is already changing appearance as the early preparations for the International Horse Trials get underway - this prestigious and important event takes place from 10 to 13 September and we hope to avoid any repetition of the cancellation last year due to persistent rain and dangerous conditions.

Before the Horse Trials and in the centre of park between the two larger event areas, we have the August Bank Holiday weekend with a two day Classic Car and Motorcycle Show - always popular to see such stunning vehicles lined up on display.

All these memories of bad weather after past events are depressing - a positive attitude is required in order to push away the rain clouds and to secure good weather for these important events. They say lightning doesn't strike twice - fingers crossed!

Impossible to close this blog without a quick glance at the Premier League table - as a life long Spurs supporter the sight of Spurs at the top of the table (albeit after only 2 games!) is pleasing on the eye - probably won't last long but still better that last season when they were bottom. How quickly fortunes can change - as long as of course several millions have been spent in the transfer window!

Enjoy the weekend ahead and enjoy whats left of the summer - and don't forget to include a visit to Blenheim Palace within your "staycation" plans.

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