Permanent Eviction

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THE SHORT VERSION: After having a home at Cheltenham Racecourse for the first 4 years of True Believers, we are sad to announce that we will not be returning to Cheltenham Racecourse. Ever.

THE LONGER VERSION: Just prior to our 2018 event we learned that our weekend in 2019 had been given away to World Of Snooker, and that we wouldn’t be able to return to the venue we had called home for the first 4 years of True Believers. Although this was annoying, I’d never thought to ensure that we had a reservation on that weekend for each year on their system (despite having spoken about it), so took some of the blame for this oversight too.

Having learned from that mistake though, I ensured that we had first refusal in place, on the first weekend in February for as far ahead as their booking system went and was assured we had it. On Wednesday 16th January 2019, I received a phone call telling me that our first refusal was never put on for 2020, but was still there for 2021.

I was told that our original contact there (who has since left) either gave our weekend away again or never put the first refusal on (call me naive, but that doesn’t ring true to me), and that that weekend had also been given to World Of Snooker. Although we still had the hold on 2021, I was told that they would most likely be taking our weekend in 2021, and would be given priority as they were a bigger money account (not their exact words, but basically what they were telling me), unless we were under contract for that weekend, which would require a hefty deposit to hold it. Call me sceptical, but even with a paid deposit securing the booking, I can’t help but suspect that they would probably find a way to break the reservation contract, if a bigger client came around.

We’ve worked hard - in a crowded convention calendar - to hold our weekend each year, so that people will always know that True Believers happens on the first weekend in February. We didn’t want to be one of those events that bounced around the calendar from year to year, so we were unwilling to move our date, putting us at a stalemate with the Jockey Club and leaving us with no other choice, but to part company.

Over the 4 years there, we have called the Racecourse home and enjoyed bringing you the event from the venue. Our working relationship with our initial point of contact (who has since left) was good, and we got on well with most of the other staff we dealt with too. But over the last couple of years, the professionalism of the team there (not including our point of contact) slipped, along with the standards and we began to feel like we were no longer wanted (which turned out to be true, it would seem).

They were happy to take our £12,000 rather than have the venue go empty, but showed no loyalty in building a relationship with us once the bigger clients came in. I’m of no illusion that we were anything other than loose change to the venue, but given that we were a local organisation that brought (even a small amount of) business through their doors on an annual basis (and to Cheltenham too), a bit of professional courtesy would’ve been nice. And who knows where Troobs could’ve gone with them? The potential to expand and grow was definitely there and was something we’ve talked about amongst ourselves in the nerd cave.

But, alas, it was not to be and we have decided to part company with the Racecourse. Forever. The trust has gone in their reliability to keep our bookings in place (either pencilled in or carved in stone) or to provide the quality of service one would expect for such a price tag, and so it’s time to move on to a warmer, friendly and more professional venue.

And we’re looking forward to bringing you our next event in a couple weeks from the wonderful Jury’s Inn, Cheltenham. As with any venue change, there will inevitably be a few teething problems to work through (so please stick with us if we have to work a few things out on the day), but the venue is lovely and the staff are fantastic, and we’re looking forward to being in our 2019 home and sharing it with you.

Time will tell what the future will bring, but for now we’re looking forward to 2019 and the new possibilities the future holds for us, wherever we end up calling home.