A historic Barnsley hotel has secured over £70,000 worth of new business following its first appearance at an international tourism trade fair.
Wortley Hall has taken its first ever block bookings for coach trip holidays after attending the ‘Best of Britain and Ireland Exhibition’ in Birmingham earlier this year.
The eight mid-week coach trips over the next twelve months will bring in an estimated £70,000 worth of trade and represent a new income stream for the established hotel, set within a stately home with a unique history.
Wortley Hall was once home to the Earls of Wharncliffe and was sold to local socialists and transformed into a rural retreat for working people in the 1950s.
It is now a thriving business – which retains its social values – and is a busy venue for weddings, conferences, meetings, training and special events.
General manager Johnathan da Rosa said: “We are delighted to put Wortley Hall on the map for UK coach tours for the first time and look forward to welcoming groups of guests from all over the country and overseas.
“These new mid-week bookings perfectly complement our existing core business of weddings, conferences, events and so on. They also allow us to make even better use of our stately home accommodation and fine dining offer.”
Wortley Hall’s attendance at the annual Best of Britain and Ireland (BOBI) exhibition was made possible through a joint visitor economy initiative supported by both Barnsley and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Councils, partners in the South Yorkshire Sector Growth Enhancement Programme (SYSGEP).
The collaborative venture allowed smaller independent commercial venues and attractions like Wortley Hall to share a stand at the costly exhibition attended by over 2,000 buyers and journalists in the tourism industry.
Johnathan said: “Wortley Hall is not part of a big chain and we do find it difficult to put ourselves in front of major tour operators and package holiday agents on our own, so it was great to work with our neighbours on this fantastic opportunity to get their attention.
“The exhibition has led to direct results – which we only hope to build on in future.”
SYSGEP is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Yorkshire and The Humber ERDF Programme 2007-13.
Barnsley’s SYSGEP sector growth manager Adrian Waite said: “We saw this year’s Best of Britain and Ireland Exhibition as an opportunity to promote the collective interests of our visitor economy businesses in Barnsley and Doncaster.
“We feel the exhibition really helped to raise the profile of the area as a place to visit. And, it is really great to see Wortley Hall convert interest at the event into a significant amount of follow-up business.”
Other SYSGEP-supported businesses who attended the exhibition were Cannon Hall Farm and Wentworth Caste Gardens – both finalists in Yorkshire’s ‘White Rose Awards 2014’, the Holiday Inn Barnsley, Tyke Leisure, Destination UK and Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster.
Adrian said: “The exhibition also helped us build stronger lines of communication and mutual support across the visitor economy.”
Wortley Hall, in Wortley village, presented buyers at the exhibition with their own ready-made tour itinerary called the ‘Splendours of South Yorkshire’ to introduce them to what the area has to offer.
Johnathan said: “South Yorkshire presents a fresh alternative for coach companies to sell to their customers.
“The likes of Castle Howard, Chatsworth and Blenheim can be getting a bit ‘been there done that’ to many people. Our aim is to invite people to come and stay at Wortley Hall and explore a new area, rich in cultural attractions, stunning countryside, social and industrial heritage.”
Built in the 1800s, Wortley Hall was the ancestral home to the Wharncliffe family, and then, in a unique turn of events, was sold to socialist visionary Vin Williams and opened as an educational and holiday centre for working people in 1951.
This venture has kept the grand house in almost constant use and helped to preserve many of its original features including an Italian painted ceiling, servant bells, secret passages and 19th century ornamental gardens.
Many local artisan workers have carried out running repairs on the hall on a voluntary basis over the years.
In the last ten years, Wortley Hall has been run more as a customer-focused commercial enterprise and the business currently turns over £1.5 million a year and employs 62 staff serving its 49 bedrooms, newly-refurbished restaurant, public bar, gardens, lounges and wide range of corporate and events facilities.
Wortley Hall also remains true to its social heritage and values. It is a member of the co-operative union and its voluntary board of trustees and shareholders plough all profits back into the hotel business.