Friday, May 21, 2010

Enjoy it while it lasts!

The sunshine, warmer weather and blue skies lifts our spirits and visitor numbers each day reflect this improvement - a good, positive measure is that ice-cream sales are soaring! Fingers crossed that it lasts into the Whitsun weekend so that we can finally enjoy a sunny bank holiday.

The political horizons are trying to settle down with the new coalition still finding it's feet - only time will tell how it performs but I feel positive that the "can do" attitude will prevail and that collectively we will hawl ourselves out of the hole that we were left in by the last government. I am sure though that there will be some collective pain for us all to go through - both personally and from a business perspective - to get there and we will no doubt better understand this once we have seen the Emergency Budget on 22 June. I suspect that we will face some tough times for two or three years and that we may well have to again look carefully at costs, etc across the business. Lets hope that the continued sunshine mitigates the pain!

The working weeks seem busier than ever with a multitude of engagements throughout each day and into many evenings - the new Destination Management Organisation for Oxford and Oxfordshire (to drive a joined-up tourism message) is looking very positive and the "invited" Shadow Board is due to meet for the first time early next month - this will then formulate the work load around the launch of this exciting new venture for the County. It has taken a while to structure this public/private sector partnership but it will be good for the tourism sector once it is up and running - not long now!.

The managers from the various Treasure Houses met yesterday in London for one of our regular meetings and it was sad that two of the managers - Simon Seligman from Chatsworth and Celia Deeley from Woburn Abbey - are both moving on this summer to new challenges and thus this was their last meeting. Both will be hugely missed and both have contributed massively to the Treasure Houses group - we gave them both a good send-off over a yummy lunch! Always interesting to get feedback from the other houses as to how they are faring on the business front - we are all broadly faring similarly on the visitor front other than Harewood who had a storming bank holiday event with Peppa Pig - clearly a very popular little piggy given the crowds that descended on Harewood over two days in early May! Most sites reported strong wedding business and "recovering" conference + banqueting business - we certainly have a steep recovery line to achieve for our conference + banqueting trade which has been hit hard by the economic downturn - but there are signs that the range and extent of our stunning space, both within the Palace and at the Orangery - is drawing business back slowly.

We had a planning meeting for the Triathlon on Thursday - the big weekend draws closer (5 and 6 June) and several of our staff (but not me!) are in the final stages of their tough training regimes - will they all survive and will they improve/achieve their times? I will report the full gory details post event!

This weekend we have a stunning event lined up for Sunday under the sunshine and blue skies - the Aston Martin Owners Club are staging their 75th Anniversary Concours and they are going for the largest gathering ever of Aston Martins in one place. Around 400 cars are expected to be parked up in and adjoining the Great Court in front of Blenheim Palace - what a wonderful spectacle it will produce. HRH Prince Michael of Kent is attending and Carolyn Grace will be bring back her Spitfire for a stunning air display over the Lake at 2.50pm. Definately an event not to be missed and we hope for big crowds to enjoy this spectacle.

Enjoy the weekend; enjoy the sunshine; enjoy the ice-creams and enjoy the Aston Martin event.

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