Monday, 12 November 2007

Figures just don't add up.......

A few weeks ago at the Trafalgar night dinner on board the HMS Trincomalee the assembled guests were told that the ship had had its best year to date, with 50,000 visitors to the ship. Fifty thousand visitors are a credible number but need too be increased substantially before the ship will show an operating profit.

As a professional Project Manager I can’t help but look at figures and start working out “what ifs” So, let’s put that number in perspective. For the tall ships race weekend in 2010 there are being projected 1,000,000 visitors to the town. Consider if just 1 in 10 of these people decides to visit the Historic Quay. Of these half of them decide to go on board the Trincomalee. That will have the equivalent of the current annual number of visitors going through the ship in just three days. Even if the ship was open 20 hours a day for the three day tall ships visit then that works out at a visitor going on board HMS Trincomalee every 4 to 5 seconds for the full 60 hours.

I am 100% behind the desire for the Tall Ships Race to be a triumph for Hartlepool, but I am having great difficulty making the figures add up at the moment. I live in hope that someone can prove me wrong!


  1. That is the wonderful thing about the Tall Ships Race. When it ended in Szcezcin this year there were 2 Million people who came to see it. The city made us truly welcome and provided some fantastic support. They had spent a lot of time thinking about what the crews needed, as well as looking at all the needs of the visitors. It was a superb example of what project management can achieve. The commercial prospects are outstanding if there are sufficient business people to have the vision of how successful this event could be for them. As for the numbers - Yes there are crowds, and these will need to be managed to ensure the privacy of the boats which don't accept visitors. Equally, there are health and safety concerns of having thousands of people walking along a quayside. The ships themselves will manage the number of people coming on board, and yes there will be queuing, but that is manageable. The Tall Ships Race is a very positive experience which should be embraced as a superb opportunity. No one says it will be easy. If you want to see what happens, have a look at You Tube, there are loads of videos which show the different things which happened, not only in Szcezcin (Poland), but also in Arhus (Denmark), Kotka (Finland), and Stockholm (Sweden).

    May I suggest that Mr Allison should try to experience the Tall Ships Race himself. It is very easy to get a place, only half the crew needs to be between 15 to 25. By going on it, you will be able to experience it from the point of view of both the ports they visit, and the needs of the ships and crews. It will also be an experience which will stay with you for the rest of your life. I can recommend it, I went on it as a mid life crisis and wished I had done it earlier in my life.

    As a Management Consultant, I understand the importance of ensuring that you have done your research and got your facts right, before you embark on major projects. So good luck Hartlepool.

  2. Hi Richard, thanks for your comment. I am really pleased you benefited from the Tall Ships experience. I am 100% behind the Tall ships philosophy and aims but your are missing my point when it comes to Hartlepool as a host port.

    2,000,000 visitors to a city of over 400,000 population with an established infrastructure to handle large numbers of visitors and which has one of the largest port complexes on the Baltic Sea at Szczecin (and Swinoujscie) is considerably different to a visit to a town of less than 100,000 population without any significant supporting infrastructure and no public transit system beyond a few bus routes.

    There are for example less than a dozen public toilets anywhere near the area where the Tall ships race is proposing to be accommodated and the whole town centre area is gridlocked when Hartlepool United have a home match, which attracts 5,000 fans on a good day.

    Stockholm and Aarhus are much bigger locations than Hartlepool with much more significant port developments and alternative attractions. Only Kotka is smaller in population but looking at the You Tube Videos it looks like it actually has a bigger port facility than Hartlepool and of course Kotka it is only claiming 300,000 visitors over a four day stay.

    I really want the Hartlepool Tall Ships race to be a huge success but it won’t happen just by talking about it. Where are we going to put 1,000,000 visitors into a town with less than 600 hotel bedrooms?