We welcomed record numbers of visitors to our houses and gardens last year (21m), up 4% on the previous year. An estimated 200m visits were also made to our countryside and coast locations. Interest remains as high as ever.
Our latest membership scores also show satisfaction is at an all-time high. And our membership has grown to over 4.2m members.
The overall proportion of visitors rating their experience of the Trust as either ‘enjoyable’ or ‘very enjoyable is 96%. This reflects very high levels of satisfaction and is broadly in line with previous years.
The picture is very positive and we’re proud more people than ever before are visiting our special places and supporting our charity.
But we recognise there is always room for improvement. We’re not complacent and as we outlined in our 10-year strategy earlier this year we know we need to do even more to engage with people and make our places relevant and inspiring to them.
The proportion of people rating their experience as ‘very enjoyable’ has fallen slightly to 60%, which is below the stretching target we set ourselves.
We believe there are a number of reasons for the fall. We have developed a new system whereby members can provide feedback online . This has nearly doubled the number of visitor surveys we collect (some 170,000) so we now have a much more accurate picture than we have ever had before and know where we need to improve.
At peak times properties can get busy and this can have an impact on attaining the very highest enjoyment scores.
People’s tastes are changing and their expectations continue to grow. We’ll work harder to give our visitors experiences that are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspire them to support our cause. We will invest in major changes at our most visited houses to transform how we tell the story of why they matter.
We’re not standing still. Many properties are already finding new and imaginative ways to refresh their offer, and where we get it right the results have been spectacular both in terms of visitor numbers and enjoyment scores.
Our recreation of a First World War hospital at Dunham Massey made it to the final of this year’s Museum of the Year; our Mr.Turner exhibition at Petworth was a huge hit, and Fan Bay tunnels in Dover have consistently sold out of tickets every day since it opened earlier this year.
And we’re continuing to challenge perceptions and stir up debate, most recently on brutalist architecture.