For the last three years Leeds Castle has provided a spectacular backdrop to a collection of 900 cars
Designed as a day out for the whole family, Motors by the Moat attracts petrol heads of all persuasions, from vintage to super car fans. We talk to Bethany Park about how internal liaison at Leeds Castle is so important and why selecting the correct supplier is about more than just price.
Describe your event and how many people it attracts
The family-friendly event ‘Motors by the Moat’ returns to Leeds Castle in May 2018 for its third year, with over 900 cars on display including vintage, classic and high performance cars. New for this year is the parade track. The Main Drive will be turned into a track for the weekend, with daily parades and even a stunt show. The event usually attracts around 16,000 people over two days.
Explain a bit about your venue and its history
With nine centuries of history, Leeds Castle in Kent is a fantastic family attraction and venue that’s open all year round, excluding Christmas Day. Our visitors can enjoy the variety of daily activities, the maze, grotto, falconry, special events, as well as the spectacular castle itself. Leeds Castle also hosts private events, and people can exclusively book out our many different venue spaces for weddings, conferences and celebrations.
How does the relationship work with the venue?
We hold all of our events, including Motors by the Moat, on the castle grounds. However, since Leeds Castle functions daily as an event venue and day visitor attraction, as well as having a multitude of other offerings including hospitality and catering, it is imperative that we are constantly communicating well with all departments to ensure a smooth event day. This may mean checking if hospitality has any weddings or private events planned on the same day, as well as working with grounds people, maintenance and security.
How did you find applying for permission to run the event?
We send our event plans to the local authorities and a safety advisor group, and we ensure we have a traffic management plan with the AA to avoid any disruption to the surrounding roads.
How have you planned the layout of the event and what structures do you use?
We need to measure everything, over and over again. We have to take everything into account when planning the layout of the event, including general ground space, visitor flow, accessible toilets, car parking and catering. We plan the layout of the event depending on what structures we use. At Motors by the Moat, we use marquee structures, hay bales and many other items.
How did you research and source your marquees, flooring, bars etc?
We have a list of preferred suppliers. These are suppliers that we have built up a good, professional relationship with over the years. You can also use online databases to find new suppliers.
What entertainment do you offer and how did you choose and source it?
This year we will be having an exciting new stunt show as well as a myriad of ‘have a go’ activities that all the family can enjoy. The best thing to do when sourcing entertainment is to undergo in-depth research and maybe even look at other events. Always contact entertainment suppliers for pictures and/or footage to see if it is suitable for your venue.
What provisions do you make for power, lights and sound?
We have power on site already. However, for sound we often use an external company.
How do you manage admissions and visitor safety?
Our visitors come through the main ticket office. We have a free car park at the main entrance, but also have an overflow ticket office and car park. We do this to ensure everything is spread out, not compact. We have SIA trained on site security and have a detailed security plan, as well as other emergency procedures.
What ground protection do you use for cars and footfall?
We set out designated routes, both on and off the lawns.
How do you publicise the event?
We market the event on our own website, on external listings sites, and through other media outlets. Social media has also become a vital part of our event promotion.
What challenges have you faced?
With 900 cars on display at Motors by the Moat, there are often around 900 people to work with and contact in advance. Our events team is small with only three people, and we also plan many other events throughout the year.
What are your plans for next year?
In 2019, Leeds Castle will be celebrating its 900th anniversary. Therefore, the event may have a celebratory feel to it, and we may even build further on this year’s parade and stunt show.
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
Leeds Castle offers on site Knight’s Glamping tents, with outdoor fire pits and luxury double beds. We also offer self-catering cottages, exclusive hire properties and B&B rooms. Furthermore, we have many meeting rooms and venue spaces that can be hired for weddings and conferences. There is also the option to have a marquee on the Cedar Lawn for weddings and celebrations.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the outdoor event industry?
The most important thing is to build up good and professional relationships with all of your suppliers. When initially sourcing suppliers, always ensure you choose the most suitable supplier for your event and venue, don’t just go for the cheapest option. Finally, invest in some sturdy shoes and wear suitable clothing!
11-12 May 2019
Motors by the Moat