1: What is the reasoning behind RHASS plans to move to pre-booked tickets only for the Royal Highland Show?

Our priority is and always has been the safety and wellbeing of our visitors, competitors, and staff, and this move to pre-booked tickets allows us to achieve this. We are capping numbers to 50,000 per day to make sure the show remains a safe and enjoyable day out for everyone. We know it is a big change, but we would ask all our valued members and visitors to help make these changes which will ultimately make it a better event for everybody.

2: Have you been prepared for what has been a fairly hefty social media response against the plans?

We have been working on introducing pre-booked day ticketing for many months and have given this a huge amount of thought. We have been communicating with our members and visitors throughout this period. We appreciate that change is uncomfortable, yet we are confident that this year’s event is going to remain the same show that everyone wants and has a huge amount of affection for.

While some are raising concerns, many have given positive feedback. We are listening to all feedback and our directors and staff are speaking to those who have asked for help with the changes.

3: What consideration will there be for people with limited IT access?

We understand that not every visitor to the show will have online access or have someone to help them get online. Our membership team are, as always, more than happy to help anyone struggling to purchase their tickets and have already chatted some members through the process. We would encourage others to get in touch if they are having any difficulties.

4: If there is to be a limit, per day, on people in the showground, what is it?

Yes, it is 50,000 per day and if we sell this number each day, it will still be a record-breaking show in terms of attendance.

5: Given that some people may turn up at the gate, will they be turned away or will some tickets be available depending on spare capacity – and can they go online at the point of entry?

We want as many people as possible to come to the show and do not want to be turning anyone away at the gates. If there is still capacity on the day, people can purchase tickets online there and then and still gain entry to the Showground. However, we can't guarantee tickets will be available which is why we're encouraging everyone to buy early to guarantee their place.

6: Is this plan a one-off for this year as we come out of Covid-restrictions, or is this ‘the way it is going to be’?

We will monitor how it works for this year and take a decision afterwards, but realistically as the show becomes more popular we will need to come up with a process that will ensure that we safely limit numbers – the showground infrastructure has been designed to meet the needs of 50,000 people per day and that is what we need to plan for.

7: Over the years RHASS has taken pride in hosting ‘record breaking events’, so is this the end of those ambitions and to settle into a less frantic show?

As we and every other event in the country recovers from the pandemic, our only goal this year is to celebrate the fact that the show is returning and the fact that it is the show's bicentenary – our priority is safety and a return to the wonderful coming together of our show community over everything else this year.

8: Some are saying that this has been done as a cost-saving exercise and if so, how much will RHASS save and you must have factored in a cost, too, in terms of lost income from those deterred by the ticket-only stance?

This is not a cost-saving measure – it has been driven by the need to manage numbers at what is an increasingly busy event. This is in line with other major events.

9: What would you say to those members who supported the Save our Show campaign and who now feel disenfranchised by this move?

We would say that we are eternally grateful to those members – they helped achieve our goal which was always to save the show. Their membership and donations went towards funding the return of this show and that is what we have delivered. As always, RHASS members can attend the four days of the show for free – we are simply asking them to give us a heads up on which days they plan to attend this year so we can factor that into our attendance limits.

10: Was there any market research done prior to this policy being enacted and how?

This ticketing strategy has been in planning for well over a year, involving many stakeholders in the decision making – including our 57 Directors who represent the RHASS membership and the wider agricultural community. This process, combined with changes in the way events are run due to Covid-19, meant that we had to plan for our future in a different way – and knowing numbers of attendees is vital to us being able to achieve a pleasurable and safe experience for show goers.

11: Many cannot understand why the society organised ‘pop concerts’ during what will be a hectic week in any case and so what preparations have been made to reduce congestion, especially when leaving the showground?

The Big Top concerts will provide something that has been missing from the show experience for years – a chance for visitors to continue the celebrations once the day is over and extend that wonderful experience. The concerts will take place on the Thursday and Saturday evenings, outside of the footprint of the Showground in an area to the West and will not impact on the traditional show area. We have a comprehensive traffic management program in place – visitors to the Big Top will enter and exit via different routes than those attending the show, so there will be minimal crossover in this way.

12: Some stockmen have queried whether the noise from the concerts will disturb their animals (PS: quietly forgetting that there will probably be more noise down the stock lines than any concert!) so will that be factored in?

Animal welfare is our top priority, our staff team and directors all understand how to manage show livestock and have been fully engaged throughout the process of organising these events. Our noise assessments will be carried out as normal and will comply with council regulations around noise pollution. The stage will face west, away from the livestock areas, and there will be both directional PA systems pushing sound into the crowd within the ‘Big Top’ as well as noise limitation through the structure itself – we do not anticipate much additional sound bleed.

We can assure exhibitors that they and their animals won't be impacted by these concerts – it is likely there will be more noise from the stock lines themselves as people celebrate the show's return!