Friday, November 27, 2009

The Annual Cycle

As we head out of November and into the final month of the year, it is frightening to think how fast 2009 has raced by - just where has the year gone? - and that 2010 is virtually with us.

We are heavily into setting our budgets for April 2010 to March 2011 and we are hard at work sorting out our leaflets and our marketing materials to support the 2010 season - but before that we have a few weeks left before we close followed by a very hectic two month period when the Palace is closed (mid-December 2009 to mid-February 2010) and this heralds the annual deep clean when we try to reach every part - however high, low or hidden - and leave it sparklingly dusted, polished and gleaming ready for the new season.

2009 will always be remembered for the sensational success of the annual pass scheme; for the significant surge in visitor numbers (an extra 200k in the year!); for a number of iconic and memorable events and for the extensive location filming for 'Gullivers Travels'.

Looking into 2010 we start again from zero visitors and we must now be looking for a minimum of 500k visitors to maintain momentum from the current year and to maintain performance - sounds daunting but I have no reason to believe that the annual pass scheme will be any less successful in year two and thus this must represent a realistic and achievable target.

Next year will for certain see a General Election and a Football World Cup - who will win in each case and how will these "events" impact upon the country's mood and desire to enjoy their leisure time? General Election's can distract the country and World Cup's can either absorb our total attention (at the exclusion of all else) or it can put us into a deep depression! We shall see what evolves and I shall resist trying to predict outcomes or winners + losers!

What will the weather be like in 2010; what will happen to the strength of the pound, where will bank interest rates track during the year; and how will the recovery from the economic downturn pan out into the coming year - all factors that we cannot control but all factors that may (or could) (or will) have a significant influence on the performance of our visitor business through the coming year.

All of our managers are knee deep in budgetting - they love it really! - with excellent support and encouragement from Dominic and his team - and it will be tough to keep the focus on cost containment/control after such a positive year of trading whilst also driving repeat/new income streams for the business.

It will be interesting to see the first cut of the budget figures next week and to get an early insight into how things are looking - our progress over the last seven years has been exceptional but we cannot rest on our laurels and we must continue to push for 'growth with stability' so that we can continue to reinvest in the repair, restoration and conservation of this unique world heritage site for future generations to enjoy.

2009 has been a ground breaking year for so many reasons but that year - with only a few weeks to go - will soon be consigned to the history books and then we face the new challenge in making 2010 even more impressive!

It never ceases to amaze me how hard everyone works across the Estate and how unified we are as a team in both understanding the challenges across the business and in supporting + encouraging each other to drive the business forward - we are very fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated workforce at every level.

And so we must focus back onto the tail-end of the 2009 season - the Palace stays 'dressed for christmas' through to Sunday 13 December with our theme "Christmas Nostalgia - Toys, Treats and Treasures" bringing the Palace State Rooms to life and the fnal weekend (12 + 13 December) will see lots of choirs and singing in the Palace to give the season a good sewnd-off!

Our shops are full of wonderful gifts for christmas and from Tuesday we start selling our home-grown christmas trees - if you want to buy a "Blenheim" tree then call 01993-813196 or visit to place your order.

Christmas is coming and so is the next year - enjoy this special time and thanks for all your support!

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Anonymous Lisa Lowry said...

I have to say how much we enjoyed "Living Crafts for Christmas" event on Sunday 22nd Nov. It really was a treat seeing all the beautiful artwork, creations and lovely food and drink.
I enjoyed the feeling of celebrating in true British style in the run up to the Christmas Festivities and can take a little bit back with me to USA.
Thank you!
Lisa Lowry, Georgia, USA

November 30, 2009 at 12:20 PM  
Anonymous John Hoy said...

Thanks Lisa - great to get your feedback and delighted that you enjoyed your visit and especially your visit to Blenheim Palace.

We hope to see you again here very soon.

Best wishes


December 1, 2009 at 6:58 AM  

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