Sunday, March 14, 2010

Creating our destiny!

What glorious weather and what a perfect springlike Mother's Day - Blenheim Palace was busy with families celebrating together and both lunches and teas were heavily subscribed - but numbers were slighlty down year-on-year which was disappointing.

We lunched with Tracy's parents over at The Butchers Arms in Priors Hardwick and had a delicious meal (they were incredibly busy - thank goodness we were in the first wave/sitting as I am sure the staff would have been suffering by the time the 2nd and even 3rd wave of guests arrived!) but our thoughts were also over in Royston with my mother who had to pop back to hospital with some post-op problems - thankfully merely a small infection and so she is back home both resting and continuing her recovery. She had lunch with my sister Tricia so hopefully will have still had a happy day despite her obvious worries.

Last week was busy at work but also productive. We had Jac Windsor back with us doing another burst of strategy work around the visitor business - important to set out our future path and to try to control some of our future destiny. Jac lead the previous work 5 years ago whilst with Eden McCallum but now had joined PricewaterhouseCoopers - who the Estate have used for many years for accounting + audit services - a small world but great to connect again with Jac. This first early burst of strategy work - phase one - has already achieved a great deal in only a few days and hopefully the final outcome will be a valuable template for the next 5 years or so. A very interesting time to dwell on the success of the Annual Pass scheme; to review visitor segmentation and how to look after the "Friends" scheme; and what targets to set for the business alongside what agreed development agenda. Exciting stuff!

Thursday saw me over at Burghley House in Lincolnshire for an HHA Seminar looking at house opening and connecting with the public. I chose to travel to Burghley House via Royston so that I could call in and see my mother on the way and I got there in time for the lunch break - this worked as I was speaking at 3pm to the audience of about 100 HHA owners and members. It was a very successful event which I think was valuable for everyone present and should help everyone to better control their future destiny - my talk appears to have been well received and it was nice to be the last main speaker of the event - a good chance to wrap up much of what is needed to "Build a Fruitful Relationship with the Visitor" - which incidentally was the title of my talk! I love the opportunity to give talks and presentations - with the one caveat that I am comfortable with the subject matter - and it is always flattering to get positive feedback from the organisers and from those in the audience.

Incidentally - the "caveat" reference above is being tested next week as I have agreed to chair a CLA Question Time session over at Millets Farm near Witney with the CLA President, Ed Vaizey (MP for Wantage) and the prospective parliamentary candidates for the Wantage seat from the Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green parties. Should be an interesting couple of hours - I will report next week assuming I survive the ordeal.

Next week is British Tourism Week - a very important few days to showcase this important industry and to continue the drive to get the Government (and indeed all parties) to better value all strands of tourism activity - and to mould/adjust taxes, etc to boost and support tourism rather than to put barriers in the way at every turn! Hopefully the message will finally get through as we try to shape the future and our destiny.

Must go outside and see if the new moon is visible on this beautiful clear evening - my late father always wanted to avoid seeing the new moon through glass as this brought bad luck for a month!

Superstitious - yes of course I am - and we all need all the help we can get in helping to create and shape our destiny!

Have a great week and be lucky - be very lucky!

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