Spotlight on Matt Coulter, Historic Royal Palaces

Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?

Since joining Historic Royal Palaces in Summer 2019 my role within the Sales Team has been to maintain and grow relationships within the group and travel trade mostly working with the Domestic Market, which involves a having a close relationship with the Student & Youth sector, Coach Tour Operators and Group Travel Organisers.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Being a Leeds United Fan (I can hear the boos already) a massive highlight was working with a former legend on a private event in my previous job. However, I’m fortunate enough to live my career highlight every morning as I step over the drawbridge and into the Tower of London to begin my day. Imagining the key figures who have occupied and shaped the Tower from William the Conqueror to Henry VIII to Sir Isaac Newton, a source of inspiration is never far away… Ghosts too.

If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?

I have always been a follower of Formula 1, the idea of thousands of people all working collectively at the peak of innovation to provide the driver with the microseconds needed to win a race, is both totally mad and awe inspiring. Whilst my professional driving experience has been limited to a forklift at my local supermarket, I’m hoping this will be sufficient to earn me a place in F1 one day.

What are the emerging trends within your sector?

We are all aware of the speed at which technology is evolving within tourism, and with the world constantly moving towards a more digital format the need to maximise the tools around us has never been higher. By embracing API technology, we are now able provide a seamless journey from the reservation process to the visit of the customer.

During the lockdown period whilst the palaces were closed, technology, has provided us an opportunity to continue welcoming guests. Visitors have been virtually diving into the history of the palaces through our Crowdcast sessions hosted by our joint chief-curator, the brilliant Lucy Worsley.

What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?

Historic Royal Palaces constantly strive to bring history to life through the art of storytelling. An example of this is through our exhibitions.

This year will be no exception with the exciting announcement of Royal Style in the Making at Kensington Palace. Set in the newly conserved historic Orangery, visitors will explore the unique relationship between fashion designer and royal client. The display will feature never-before-seen items of some of the most celebrated royal couturiers. Most notably Diana, Princess of Wales’s wedding dress displayed complete with its spectacular 25 feet sequin encrusted train.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?

For anyone used to working in an office environment, one of the major challenges was the sudden need to stay connected to colleagues. Things we took for granted, such as 5-minute catch ups whilst making a “cuppa” to full departmental meetings had to be suddenly moved online. This proved challenging from both an operational point of view but also a sociable one.

At a time when it can be easy to feel disconnected from others, the level of inclusivity shown by the team, from Zoom meetings to quizzes, I feel, has been integral to keeping people feeling connected.

This has been an area where I have been incredibly grateful to be a part of Historic Royal Palaces throughout the pandemic.

As we head towards recovery what do you think the challenges and opportunities are for our sector?

One of the challenges we are likely to face is ensuring visitors are aware that their safety is our priority.

Whether we see an end to social distancing on the 21st of June or not, the need to ensure the safety and comfort of our visitors will remain paramount indefinitely.

There are several opportunities to help make visitors feel comfortable, attaining ‘Good to Go’ accreditation and creating timed entry slots are examples of measures we have taken to ensure our visitors feel safe and will remain a key priority to us and the industry.

How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all) and are there any positives to come out of lockdown?

Whilst we may be opening our doors once again, it has become evident that visitors do not always have to be physically present. We have seen demand for Virtual Tours, Podcasts and Social Media interaction increase exponentially, this is a trend we can expect to continue to grow as the world evolves.

Before lockdown, Historic Royal Palaces were moving towards a paperless voucher system as part of our goal towards being ever-more environmentally sustainable. With the urgent need to focus on social distancing we were able to fast-forward our plans towards paperless ticketing. Providing a safer and more socially distanced way to enter our venues whilst decreasing our reliance on paper.

Find out more about BETA Member Historic Royal Palaces here

Published 01 June 2021