This astute development of the estate's existing triumvirate - racecourse, aerodrome and house - has helped both to spread Goodwood's marketability in terms of corporate appeal and to increase the number of days annually when it can contribute to the ducal exchequer (the house alone played host to some 200 functions last year), helping to iron out problems of seasonality. Its other problem as a venue for corporate beanfeasting is one of location. Although the Sussex coast is handily placed for day trips from London and the South-east, longer corporate visits, or those from further afield, have made less sense.
Realising in addition that watering the corporate client is at least as profitable as entertaining him, Goodwood has recently converted what was the Richmond Arms pub into the 90-bedroomed Goodwood Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club (in a 30/70 joint venture with Country Club Hotels Ltd), replete with jacuzzis, conference facilities and ducally titled restaurants. Manager Douglas Goodall reports roughly one third of the hotel's custom coming from the corporate market, everything from banks to "national oil companies" taking advantage of proximity to Goodwood House's ballroom - now the haunt of marketing men rather than Romanoffs - to save executive time.
Although Goodall admits that they have been "hit by the recession", his business/leisure mix has assured a respectable 65% average through recent dark days. "I like to think it was all a conscious decision," says the duke. "In any case, the hotel has already begun to bring everything together."