Typically, April is the time when a more “all hands to the tiller” mood takes hold in the Land Rover Burghley office. Lunch dates become fully focussed on the subject in hand and, no matter what, this has to take precedence even if the topic is loos, showers and the rising cost of effluent disposal! Mention of the latter is always greeted by some, perhaps ‘less in the know’, with a degree of discomfort bordering on incredulity, but effluent disposal is a significant subject – at £12 per cubic metre – when your event accounts for 2,000 cubic metres of the substance!
Whatever the time of the year, Comms and PR always seem to be near the top of the list and this month we have continued discussions with Land Rover and our respective marketing agencies. Progress has also been made with the providers of our giant TV viewing screens and our event power suppliers. I am informed that the temporary power we have to provide over the week of the event would be enough to power a small town – hardly surprising I suppose when we are providing not only for all our visitors, but also our trade exhibitors, contractors and of course our competitors and their entourage.
Two areas which are forever a challenge for a greenfield site event, given the expectations of a 21st century public – connectivity and external traffic flow/internal parking – have also been under discussion again. Our Traffic Plan is amended and honed each year. The event borders on two counties (nothing is straightforward!) and we bring together representatives from the Police (including their motor bike teams), the Local Council, Highways Authority and the Highways Agency, as well as our traffic management contractors. It is one of life’s certainties that, despite so much expertise in the room and numerous lessons learnt over the years, a traffic plan around a major event won’t please everyone, but we do aim to keep local residents and visitors on board and to find the best possible solution in this mission (and, I’m tempted to say, ‘no-win’ area). The plus side is that there is a continuous offering of biscuits at the meetings, always particularly well received by the police team, whose help and support we just could not do without.
As I write, the Tradestand Selection Committee has met and made some choices from a vast number of retail applicants, of those companies which are likely to be invited to exhibit in September. The shopping is such an important aspect of our Event, and getting the balance right as well as evolving our offering to suit younger tastes without tinkering with an already successful formula is a real art.
We are also right on the cusp of the opening of the Box Office, which comes with a flurry of anticipation, but not necessarily for the same reason! By the time this blog is posted this ‘GRAND OPENING’ might already have taken place. We are always flattered that the occasion is awaited by our loyal followers with such eagerness, while everyone in the admin office greets the end of April with a degree of trepidation, and prays that everything works and the booking system is robust enough to withstand the annual onslaught! We really hope that this year will provide a more seamless ticket purchasing process, but I’m conscious that even in 2015, major event online box office systems the world over do struggle to cope when thousands of people try to book the same item simultaneously – nevertheless, our fingers are firmly crossed.
Finally, we know it’s nearly show time when Buster’s role shifts from adored canine and office mascot to essential ‘stress Buster’ for the troops. With his now rather ancient and creaky joints, he resumes duty each day in a slightly bizarre fashion as he refuses to use any form of ‘ladder’ but finds it difficult to jump down from the boot of my car. I am now quite an expert at backing my car up to the office steps, to within an inch, and to the pained expressions and winces of those watching the manoeuvre. One of his fan club then rushes out to balance a plywood board between the boot lip and top of the steps – a kind of rural red carpet treatment for the dog otherwise known as ‘The Prince’. When our tradestand secretary cannot find the plywood board used to mount exhibitor information on in September, no doubt Buster’s tail will be firmly between his hind legs!