Legoland to Warwick Castle: new manager joins the team
Geoff Spooner, who began his role as castle manager in the tourism heat of mid-August, is also keen to work more with the people of Warwick, he told the Courier this week.
The father-of-one joined the castle after a two-year stint as operations manager at LegoLand - which is also owned by Merlin Entertainments - and before that, he worked in customer services for National Express for five years and has worked for the London Eye.
Having done some “frantic house-hunting” over the past few months - with a new baby on the way - Mr Spooner and his family are planning to move to the area to settle down.
“It has been very exciting so far,” he said of his new appointment. “The castle is obviously very well known. For the next year, we are really looking at building on what we have.”
And as well as bringing back the Horrible Histories attractions, based on the book series by Terry Deary, Mr Spooner wants to run the ‘glamping’ offers again, where people can spend the night in the castle grounds in luxury camping facilities.
He said: “People know there is really too much to do here in one day, so we’re looking to increase short breaks, which would benefit hotels and restaurants in Warwick as well.
“We work with the town’s Chamber of Trade and have started working with the new tourism body, Shakespeare’s England, to promote international visits for the whole area - including Stratford - rather than just Warwick by itself.
“It’s a lot easier when you get synergies trying to package tours. We are all sharing part of the pie.
“When I arrived, we did not have formal data telling us how many visitors go elsewhere in the town. Now we have added that into our visitor survey and are able to see that more than 30 per cent of the respondents are visiting Warwick as a town and not just the castle.”
Mr Spooner was keen to point out that the castle had invited people who live close to the castle to a residents’ meeting last month, adding: “The idea is to make sure we engage with the community.
“For us, it’s about ensuring that the people who live closest to us are able to share their views on things.”
The winter 2013/2014 entry price for the castle is £16.80 for adults and £13.70 for children (down from the standard price of £25.80 for adults and £19.80 for children). When asked if there were any plans to bring prices down further, Mr Spooner said: “For the winter period, we are offering off-peak discounts and people can also save 25 per cent on entry fees if they book in advance online.
“We also work with promotional partners. There are lots of ways to save money on visits to the castle.”
As well as a new arts programme having started this week and Carols at the Castle coming up, Mr Spooner revealed that another existing attraction would be getting “an exciting revamp” - but said details of that would be released later.