The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been a central part of Scotland’s tourism and entertainment industry for the past 64 years, originally staged just after WWII to give war-weary people a lift in harsh economic times.
Supported by RBS, the live show now attracts an audience of 220,000 annually, which breaks down to 8,800 standard seats and several hundred VIPs a night. The business may turn over about £8.5 million a year, but it’s accredited with bringing £77 million into the Scottish economy and another £30 million on top of that through full time employment equivalence.
“We’re right at the heart of the Scottish tourism business and that’s a great place to be,” declares Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo CEO, Brigadier David Allfrey. “We have a core staff, currently 23, with some who have been with the company for over 30 years. It means we have an extraordinarily expert and long-serving team.”
RBS Mentor bridges the gap
As a former Brigadier in the British Armed Forces, Allfrey is used to managing large groups of people with great precision, but even his set of organisational skills are tested in his new role. His move to a civilian posting in business brought a range of new challenges, which is where Mentor is able to bridge the gap.
“The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a charity with a wholly-owned subsidiary that delivers the show each year, so there are two aspects to our identity,” he explains.
“As well as our core staff, we recruit over 200 casual staff for the season as ushers, security staff and retail staff. On top of that, we have to manage the cast – up to 1,200 people drawn from Armed Forces in the UK and from around the world, and at least 100 technical staff.”
Allfrey has already had an extraordinary career, but as the head of the Tattoo, he has to balance three roles – CEO, Producer and de facto Artistic Director. “I have three characters jostling for position,” he laughs. “The CEO doesn’t want to spend any money at all, the Producer wants to spend it all and the Artistic Director wants to spend it in new and interesting ways!”
As an SME with under 25 employees, the business does not have its own HR or health & safety experts, so it has been working with RBS Mentor in those areas for the past five years. RBS Mentor provides advice, support and consultancy services in the areas of employment law, human resources (HR) and health and safety.
Allfrey says: “Any business is about organisation, process and people. It is about making sure we are recruiting against the proper criteria, that the specifications of the jobs are right, the contract for each person is right, that roles are adapted if needed and that people are both empowered and held to account.
“What’s more, HR is extremely complex and each person has slightly different needs. People are the key to success in any line of work and they deserve careful and correct management.”
“The most useful thing about RBS Mentor, for me as a chief executive, has been having an HR expert available 24 hours a day. There are some occasions when you don’t want to talk to anyone in your company about a particular personnel challenge. Even when I’ve called from New Zealand at three in the morning, I’ve found someone at RBS Mentor with the expertise and experience I need.”
See a video of Brigadier David Allfrey explaining how his business values the support of RBS Mentor.