Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The business of pricing tourist attractions

As you'll see from yesterday I visited Skipton Castle and had a fun day out with the family.

Although the castle is nice and the visit good I was a little puzzled as to why the castle was so quiet (maybe 2 or 3 dozen people came though in the two and a half hours we were there) when the rest of Skipton was literally heaving to the point where we actually queued on the pavement several times to travel up and down the high street.

Unless there was some kind of unspoken boycott we were unaware of I suspect their problem was the pricing of admission to the castle itself. We paid £ 22.50 plus £ 2.90 (for a booklet) for a family ticket and as per the above comments took a leisurely stroll around the castle (as it was out first time) for a couple of hours and grabbed a quick cuppa in the on-site cafe - which cost another £ 14.

Although we enjoyed the visit I certainly wouldn't go back if I was required to pay another £ 22 as there simply isn't enough to do inside the castle and I suspect that many people that visit Skipton frequently go once and never come back - hence the low numbers.

There is a Friends of Skipton Castle repeat visitor ticket that I found on their website (no mention of it in the ticket office on site that I could see). However, this costs £ 18 per adult (up to three kids can visit free on this ticket) - however we'd still need two for Mr and Mrs Localventure. So total cost is still £ 36 which you'd only buy having visited once, paying full price to see if you liked it. This means for my family a total cost of £ 58 for more than one visit - and the requirement to visit 3 times in the first year to recoup the costs of visiting without the 'Friends' ticket.

Clearly people in Skipton have done the maths and decided that for the sake of visiting two or three times per annum it's clearly not worth it and I would tend to agree. If I was their business manager I would offer a much lower priced annual ticket and give a family version of it too - maybe a tenner for a single and then £ 15 for couple + kids  - after all, there is no actual 'cost' to the castle for having visitors in through the front door (sorry Portculis!) and more people surely means more revenue from the on-site cafe and shop.

There is a massive opportunity being squandered at a lovely local attraction - I'd also improve the range of cakes in their cafe too but that's another story.

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