Royal International Air Tattoo

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The organisers of the Royal International Air Tattoo are pulling out all the stops to make the two-day event a success. Despite being in its 39th year, there’s always room for improvement…

Organising an event that entertains, informs and excites over 160,000 visitors and 6,000 corporate guests is not a simple task. Add to that the co-ordination of 270 aircraft, 2,500 international air and ground crew from 22 countries and 3,000 volunteers – and you have an idea why it takes a team of 43 working all year round to organise The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT).

But how does an event in its 39th year stay connected with its audience and remain fresh? According to RIAT sponsorship manager Francesca Heap, it’s all about building relationships, listening to your audiences and evolving accordingly: “Our corporate hospitality sales are higher than the past two years – and I believe it’s testament to the close, year-round relationship we have with our clients. Also, they have one point of contact, which again makes for a better relationship.”

CEO Tim Price agrees: “We pride ourselves on the warm and the friendly atmosphere of the show. I’m always humbled when I meet a senior officer from an international regiment and they tell me how their experience of the show as a young crew member guaranteed their decision to return when in a position of authority. The warmth transcends into our networking ethos so we ensure that all our guests have the opportunity to mingle, forge relationships and above all – do business.”

This year’s event has seen the team develop some new and exciting areas and initiatives. The TRI@RIAT arena is designed to appeal to the young – and the young at heart, and was launched as a way of bringing together all of the exciting non aircraft focused activities.

Activities at the TRI@RIAT arena range from battling robots, to an off-road driving experience, model making to flight simulators, a freestyle Motor X stunt team and RIATs very own World Cup football tournament – played by teams of aircrew from around the world. The arena is adjacent to the concert stage, which is host to a variety of music throughout the day and a sundown concert staged in the early evening to help stagger visitor departures, thus easing the traffic on local roads.

Heap adds: “Bringing together these activities enabled visitors to better plan their day and navigate the site. The organising team benefit too because the activities are now on one timetable”

A team from the Royal Air Force has been working alongside organisers to stage the RAF’s flagship commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain this summer. The activities will include a flypast of modern aircraft representing many of the nations that took part in the historic conflict that will form the centrepiece of tributes in the air, whilst on the ground a Battle of Britain airfield will be recreated.

Heap comments: “The Battle of Britain Village, sponsored by Shepherd Neame, has been created to give visitors a fully immersive experience – they can step back in time to enjoy the sights and sounds of 1940s England, complete with a static display of historic aircraft, military vehicles, the authentic Spitfire Public House and period entertainment.”

Another new and significant addition has been a £30,000 overhaul of visitor signage. Visitor feedback indicated that more signage was needed – the site is over two miles long and being an airfield, it is very flat and without landmarks.

“We have split the site into different coloured zones and worked in partnership with SLS Group to develop a series of artificial ‘land marks’. These nine-metre high flags are colour and number coded so that visitors can easily identify zones, using the numbers and their site maps. The colours have been used throughout the visitor experience – from the car parks to the entry points and the showground itself – to simplify and streamline their day.”