Glamis Castle launched a festive programme six years ago. This included a full programme of events, including themed tours, storytelling, face painting, Santa’s Grotto, carol concerts and floral art displays, now runs throughout November and December.
Gill Crawford, the Castle’s Business Manager, says:
“An additional 8,500 people visit Glamis during November and December, creating a ticket, catering and retail revenue stream at a time when the castle would normally be closed”.
Researching the market
Before taking the decision to extend opening, Gill and her staff carried out their own market intelligence-gathering exercise including:
- measuring interest and demand from enquiries to the office
- calls to travel trade to assess the potential of coach bookings
- calls to hotels and accommodation providers to assess occupancy rates at that time of year
The Castle also got an assessment of statistics from VisitScotland, which showed that 27 per cent of UK visitors come during the months October - December.
A learning journey to an English stately home also allowed them to see the potential of a successful winter campaign - albeit with quite different market conditions.
Using customer feedback
Feedback was sought from the 'Friends of Glamis' - a local membership scheme with over 1000 participants - to assess interest in a winter events programme.
Their response demonstrated enthusiasm for storytelling, events for children and Christmas shopping, providing the team with ideas for developing the programme content.
Gill and her team now use customer feedback to refine and improve the programme.
“We ask visitors at point of booking where they heard about us and if they have been before, what they liked best. This is recorded and discussed at our Winter Focus Group meetings. We also invite them to join our email database so that they can be kept up to date and get priority for booking events”.
“Comments cards are made available to all visitors asking for feedback and we asked our guides to ask each visitor if they would recommend a visit to Glamis at Christmas time. The result was a resounding yes“.
“Feedback from customers has also helped us improve our customer experience. In the first year we operated a pre-booked system for our Santa’s Grotto but this had the effect of limiting the number of children who could see Santa, and ultimately led to disappointment for those who just turned up on the day without prior booking.
"In an attempt to satisfy more people we took away the booking element so that we could guarantee a Santa's Grotto visit for every child - even if it meant everyone staying on at work"