Open Air Business December 2018

The UK's outdoor hospitality business magazine for function venues, glamping, festivals and outdoor events

The UK's outdoor hospitality business magazine for function venues, glamping, festivals and outdoor events


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ISSUE 23 | December 2018 | www.openairbusiness.com




> Influencers

> Winter Lights

/ /



> Maximising Bookings

> Hots Tubs & Cooking


> Relocation

Bars & Catering






24-25 March 2019

Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire


Just £70


and practical


we've got a

gin bar and a


24-25 March 2019

Hothorpe Hall,





Limited tickets...

We are offering 150 delegate spaces

• 50 x delegates

from Function

Venue businesses

• 50 x delegates

from Glamping




• 50 x delegates

from Outdoor

Event businesses

Pick and choose between streams of content at the event • Expand

your Open Air Business horizons by interacting with peers and

experts across sectors

From the people

who bring you


ISSUE 23 | December 2018 | www.openairbusiness.com



HAPPY CHRISTMAS! You’ll find a good smattering of festive content in this

issue, I hope it brings you cheer and inspires you for the 2019 season. It

seems Christmas really does come early for some of you – up to 18 months

early for Hever Castle so our ‘Behind the Scenes’ feature on page 72 reveals.

I’d like to welcome a new feature in ‘Entrepreneur’s Chat’. This in depth

conversation demonstrates how individuals have successfully diversified

into outdoor hospitality and the route they have taken. We kick off with Tom

Turney of Tapnell Farm and Tom’s Eco Lodge on the Isle Of Wight. Whatever he’s on I want some.


As much as I would like to signpost you to more of this bumper issue’s content, I am going to use

my limited word count to introduce you to our shiny new event happening in March – the Open

Air Business Pre-Season Gathering. As per the advert to your left, it is something of a conference

with a difference. Sure, it is has practical, take home learnings from some of our favourite

industry people, a supplier’s village and a chance to dip in and out of sessions across all three of

our outdoor hospitality sectors, but it also has a treehouse to explore, a purpose built woodland

wedding and corporate events venue to get inspired by, and a laid back networking evening preconference

with funky accommodation should you wish to stay over.

You may recognise the sound of the venue from the above as we have featured it as a case

study previously. If not, check it out – Hothorpe Hall & The Woodlands, conveniently placed in

the middle of the country so no excuses for not coming along. We are making it as affordable as

possible at just £70 per day ticket although we unfortunately have limited space so it’s going to

be first come first served. Find out more at www.oabgathering.com.

Here’s to a great 2019! (and please, no one mention Brexit…)


4 News

8 Product News

10 Showman’s Show


12 Farm Business

Innovation Show


15 Entrepreneur’s Chat

– Tom Turney, Tapnell


18 Instagram – 10 tips

from Sarah Orchard


21 Bridal Barn – purchased

on a whim but offering a

great ROI

26 New Year Rush –

prepare with Kelly


28 Influencers – Andrew

White helps qualify their


30 Guest Comment –

making the most of

winter with seasonal


32 Landscape & Exteriors

– the latest product



35 Happy Valley Norfolk

– an enchanting forest


40 Industry Insights – Kate

Morel’s glamping news

and views

42 Maximising bookings

– tips from Quality


46 Guest Comment

– woodfired hot

tubs in commercial


48 OAB Loves…


Structures – cutting

edge design

Tally Wade

Editor / Publisher

Contents ISSUE #23 December 2018

52 Hot Tubs & Cooking

– the latest product



55 Magical Woodland – an

enchanted spectacular

of light

60 Saving Secret Widget –

how to move an entire

festival last minute

65 Guest Comment –

solving waste plastic at

events with Michael Hall

66 Industry Insights –

John Radford’s event

news and views

68 Bars & Catering – the

latest product updates

70 Spotlight

71 Classifieds

73 Behind the Scenes...


Steve Rix - steve@openairbusiness.com

Tally Wade - tally@openairbusiness.com


Tally Wade - tally@openairbusiness.com








Find more expert advice online:





Marney Whyte - 01892 677740



James English -



Coffee Shop Media - 01580 848555


The House on the Hill, Friezley Lane,

Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 2LL

t: 01580 848555


Sign up for FREE at


to make sure you continue to

receive the magazine.

ISSUE 23 | DECEMBER 2018 | www.openairbusiness.com




> Influencers

> Maximising Bookings > Relocation

/ /

> Winter Lights

> Hots Tubs & Cooking > Bars & Catering




The new two-tier GlampLoft from Universal Glamping,

complete with insulation and integrated Nanotech

infrared heating technology for year round use. 01269

853957 / www.universalglamping.com






TENT 7-8












9 8 7

6 5

4 3

2 1




























The latest news from the world of outdoor hospitality

Best in Wales

A GUEST house in Pentrefoelas,

which featured in the TV series Four

in Bed earlier this year, has been

shortlisted for the eviivo Hidden Gem

awards. Llwyn Onn, a former Victorian

watermill and school house turned

traditional family run B&B, was one

of just nine properties in the UK to

be shortlisted. The panel of industry

experts commended the owners of

the five bedroom rural retreat for their

hospitality, but they were equally

impressed with their unique glamping


“We got rid of the camping site

when we bought the house three years

ago and turned it into glamping pods.

We’ve got four units which can house

two people at a time and they are

going really well for us.”

The fifth annual eviivo awards

celebrates the independent

accommodation sector from B&Bs to

glampsites to boutique hotels.

New Glamping site in South Derbyshire

TO HELP cope with the

increasing number of

visitors to the National

Forest, which stretches

across 200 square miles

of central England, a new

glamping site has been

proposed for Park Farm in

the village of Overseal.

On behalf of the

landowner, Edward

Rayner, AM Planning

Consultants has applied

to South Derbyshire District

Council for permission

to turn agricultural land

into a glamping site,

comprising 15 glamping

units (including shepherd

huts, yurts and safari tents),

timber hot tubs and a

Swedish BBQ. They have

also requested to change

the use of a residential

garage to an ancillary

amenity shop, as well as

the construction of wash

and toilet facilities and car


Overseal is surrounded

by attractions and with the

National Forest helping

to increase the profile of

Derbyshire as a tourist

destination, it is anticipated

the glamping site will be a

welcome addition to the


It is also supported

by the National Forest

Company which has

P A R K F A R M , A C R E S F O R D R O A D, S W A D L I N C O T E


SCALE 1:500





Proposed Site Plan Park Farm

undertaken a Destination

Gap Analysis that highlights

‘the development of

good quality visitor

accommodation as a main

priority for the destination;

in particular, exemplar

forest cabins’.

Roger and Sara Wilkins

who manage the site have

been working towards

this diversification for four

years: “We have planted

3,300 trees and created a

pond and forest school,

along with an events area






TENT 7-8




17 18






12 13



TENT 7-8




TENT 7-8











TENT 7-8








that we hope will also be

used as a wedding venue.

Another villager has put in

planning for a microbrewery

in one of the agricultural

buildings, which would be

a welcome addition to the

events side of the business.

We really hope the scheme

gets the green light as we

feel it will be a great asset to

Overseal and, with a public

footpath running through

the land, it will welcome

walkers to the new forestry

areas, too.”




Luxury Hotel Submits

Plans for Wedding


DOXFORD HALL, a Grade II-listed luxury hotel eight

miles north of Alnwick, is seeking permission from

Northumberland County Council to construct a

wedding village within its historic walled garden.

The plans include a new pavilion, 13 guest lodge

rooms, including a bridal suite, an ancillary building for

catering and toilets and additional car parking spaces.

The venue will primarily be used to host weddings,

but also conferences and events, and hopes to become

more of a tourist destination. A design and access

statement prepared by 33 Architecture is requesting

the use of materials that will be sympathetic to the

structures around the Hall’s walled garden.




Sited underground, below and at a distance away from the mains

drainage or a septic tank, Sanifos is armed with load balancing pumps

and high-performance macerating systems… meaning you can start

expanding your business as aggressively as you dare.

Anything’s possible. Visit saniflo.co.uk to see how.

The latest news from the world of outdoor hospitality

Irish Start-up

wins €2.7m


AN IRISH-start-up has won a contract

worth almost €3m to supply pre-fab

holiday homes to Canada. Having already

raised €5.5 million from backers, this new

contract will see Zoobox supply 15 units

to a partner company in Canada. The firm

is also eyeing up five likely sites in Ireland

for its holiday homes, looking at locations

in Clare, Galway, Wicklow, Cork and Kerry.

According to its CEO,

Guillaume Pellerin, Zoobox aims to

supply a growing market for eco-tourism.

“The whole goal is to immerse people

in nature. Lifestyles that force people to

spend 90 per cent of their time indoors

and up to six hours a day in front of a

screen are driving a demand for outdoor

holidays that combine camping with


To that end, the homes represent the

highest level of glamping, with one wall

a series of sliding glass panels. The units

are designed to be off-grid with electricity

from solar panels and wind turbines. It’s

expected to cost €200 a night for a family

of four although structures can sleep up

to six.

NOEA Celebrates Record Breaking Convention & Awards


the outdoor events industry,

the National Outdoor Events

Association (NOEA) held its

15th Annual Convention at the

Guildhall in Bath, followed by

its 2018 Awards ceremony at

the fantastic Roman Baths and

Pump Rooms venue.

The theme ‘It Couldn’t

Happen to Me’ provided

entertaining yet topical and

important content from a

variety of high profile speakers.

The keynote was delivered by

Dick Tee of EnTEEtainment

and included horror stories of

events gone wrong such as the

huge over attendance of Fat

Boy Slim’s Big Beach Boutique

II in Brighton in 2002.

The National Events

Intelligence Unit (NEIU) gave

up-to-date information on the

issues affecting major events

in 2018 followed by deeply

personal stories from Becky

Stevens, Hybred Events, and

industry consultant Simon


The main set piece of the day

was a live role play presented


by A.C.T (National), and led

by Bev Osborne, Training 4

Resilience. A crisis scenario was

presented and delegates were

invited to vote on a series of

decisions through a live poll.

This was followed by a group

workshop where tables were

given different scenarios and

invited to suggest actions and

strategies for dealing with


Linda Krawecke from Tiger

Tea, shared an update on

her business's work around

creating ‘safe places’ at festival

sites throughout the summer,

before the audience was given

a supplier’s perspective with

NOEA Futures Supporters,

A.C.T (National), GL events,

Eventbrite and Arnold Clarke

all adding to the discussion.

The day finished with a

summarising panel discussion.

Congratulations to the 2018

Award winners who were

celebrated at a black tie event

in the evening. Bournemouth

7s Festival scooped both the

Large Festival of the Year Award

and Sporting Event of the Year.

The judges said: “We liked the

idea of merging a sporting

event with a festival, adding

a wider message of making

sport fun for everyone. It was a

unique spin on a sporting event

and enabled more people to

get involved.”

Glastonbury Abbey and

Liverpool Bordeaux Wine

Festival took Best New Event

with the judges awarding two

prizes – the abbey winning

small new event and the

Merseyside festival taking the

trophy for large new event.

The Edinburgh Festival won

the Judge’s Award. Best

Small Festival went to Just So


Andy Grove, president of

NOEA, said: “The quality of the

award winners was genuinely

outstanding, and showed

innovation, creative thinking

and experience. These are

great events, run by the best

event professionals, and are

a credit to the industry. We’re

delighted to be giving them

the recognition they deserve

through NOEA.”

Dundas Castle

Ramps up

Corporate Offering

DUNDAS CASTLE near Edinburgh has

launched an all-inclusive day delegate

package for corporate events.

The castle is still a family home and

has been hosting corporate events

since 2001. Keen to make it easier for

event planners to make use of the castle

for day events, the team has created

an exclusive use package to include

refreshments, lunch and all the extras


With a range of spaces to choose

from, the new package is ideal for

a wide range of events from small

boardroom meetings of 14 in the 600

year old Stag Chamber, to conferences

with space for 200 in the modern, selfcontained


By consolidating its offering for

business events mid-week, the castle

is maximising business opportunities

outside of its busy weekends, which

are filled by wedding bookings and

glamping (from May-October).

General manager Louise Andrew

said: “We have created the day delegate

package to make it stress-free for those

looking for a corporate venue with a bit

of a difference – not many can say their

next conference is in a 15th century

castle! We have offered corporate

packages in the past, but this is the first

time we have offered an all-inclusive

day delegate rate.

Towergate Insurance Your business needs are at

the heart of what we do

Bespoke policies based

on your holiday park

requirements including new

markets such as Glamping.

Specialist Site Operators

insurance, for your holiday park

site, facilities, static caravans,

leisure homes and lodges.

As well as insuring against

damage to the material aspects

of your business, Towergate can

also provide Business Interruption

cover, should your business be

left unable to resume normal


Call: 0344 892 1721 to arrange a quote

Towergate Insurance is a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited. Registered in England

with company number 4043759. VAT Registration Number: 447284724. Registered Address: Towergate

House, Eclipse Park, Sittingbourne Rd, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3EN. Authorised and regulated by the Financial

Conduct Authority.




GLAMPRAD IS a new infrared heating solution

for glamping structures from Universal

Glamping. It has been showcased at both

the Glamping Show and the Farm Business

Innovation Show generating early sales with

customers using it to heat a range of structures

from garden pods to yurts.

Since 2017, the GlampRAD has been

incorporated into the manufacture of the

company’s glamping pods, mounted to the

ceiling as a steel panel with the option of

LED lighting. Used as a canvas radiator, it is

also integrated into the new two tier canvas

structure, the GlampLoft. Other manufacturers

are also excited about the potential with

collaborations across the channel.

“We are extremely excited to have formed a

strategic partnership with Cabanon, a French

based safari tent manufacturer,” says director

George Richardson. “We are also forming new

partnerships with various UK and European

companies who are interested in promoting the

GlampRAD brand. We are really looking forward

to 2019 which we hope to be a very busy time

for us here at Universal Glamping!”


Eco-Bunkbox Accommodation


eco-bunkbox have

delivered fun,

comfortable residential

bunk accommodation

for young people to

enjoy sport and outdoor

recreational holidays

at the Norwich City

Community Sports

Foundation. Delivered

in five eco-bunkbox

units, the flexible

accommodation sleeps

up to 70 and the off-site

construction method

meant the project was

delivered in just six


Sustainability is

central to designs,

with recyclable and

sustainable materials

incorporated and

superb levels of


Offering warmth and

comfort all year round,

layouts can be adapted

for luxury glamping,

outdoor learning or

family lodges. Structures

meet permanent

building regulations,

have a lifetime of over

40 years and are low


“The young people

really enjoy staying

in them, even in the

hottest times of the

summer,” says a

spokesperson from the

club. “They’re a unique,

great use of space, and

make young people


Financing schemes

are available and

nationwide delivery.


/ 01603 706296.

No More Pine Needles!

TWILIGHT TREES is delighted to

announce the introduction of a

snow dusted, LED faux Christmas

tree to its range. Traditional in

style, the Frosted LED Christmas

Tree stands at 2.5m tall and

is available to hire – perfect

for venues and planners with

Christmas 2020 to prepare for.

“It’s taken us four years to find

a Christmas tree that meets our

approval,” said founder Susie

Reid Thomas. “It has an ever so

slight dusting of snow and, true

to form, has a little twinkle!

“A perfect accompaniment is

the non-lit Frosted Fir Table Top

Tree. A perfectly formed pine in a

dark evergreen with a dusting of

frost, it stands at 155cm tall - the

perfect size and shape for a table

centre, placed around the room

or in a uniform line along a row

of long tables.”



further.space Launches £9M

Alternative Tourism Business


Peter Farquharson and David

Maxwell launched further.

space at the NI Leisure Show

at Balmoral Park in November,

with the aim to install 500

tourist pods throughout the UK

and Ireland by 2023.

The start-up firm aims to

establish up to 100 micro

tourism joint partnerships

with landowners and existing

tourism ventures, deploying

500 pods in hand-picked

locations over the next five

years. The company offers

business partners a complete

tourism support package –

from financing and planning

support to marketing and

booking systems.

further.space is the sister

company of Intupod, a

manufacturer of multi-purpose

aluminium structured pods in

Belfast. Each pod is forecast

to deliver an annual revenue

of £18,000 per year, with 500

pods over five years estimated

to generate a total revenue of

£9M. A partnership with four

pods on one site will generate

an annual revenue of £72,000

per year and £360,000 over five


CEO of further.space, and

former founder of Habitat

for Humanity Northern

Ireland, Peter Farquharson

said: “My background is in

creating sustainable global

accommodation solutions.

While it is well documented

that the tourist industry is

one of the biggest growth

industries in Ireland and the

fifth biggest industry in the

world, often some of our most

attractive natural landscapes

suffer from accommodation

shortages, limiting local

potential to access the

tourist pound. Our vision is

to empower landowners in

spectacular off-the-beatentrack

locations to create

profitable, sustainable and low

maintenance micro tourism

businesses on their land, with

social and economic benefits

for the entire area.”


Call On:



A 30 year

guarantee on

steel frame

and chassis

A Riverside Shepherd Hut can be Whatever you Want

View our huts in a relaxed,

domestic atmosphere with a

cup of tea and a slice of cake!

• Insulated walls, floor and roof

for year round use

• Choice of exteriors – larchwood,

corrugated or red cedar

• Self contained - ready to rent out.

Accommodation, home office,

play room - you dream it, we’ll build it!

From the 16ft Traditional

Hut… to the huge 30ft

Shepherd’s Lodge






The Showman’s

Show 2018

Innovation and sustainability were key themes at this

year’s show reports Michelle Tayton

ONCE AGAIN the Showman’s Show

delivered a great cross section of

products and services across the entire

event production supply chain; from

state-of-the-art structures, plant and

hire equipment to waste management,

sustainable solutions, entertainment

and finishing touches. The diversity of

the exhibits on show was coupled with

innovative launches and masses of

ideas for moving events forward.

Over 50 Vision:2025 festival teams

and environmentally-minded suppliers

gathered on the first day in the ‘Hub

Talks’ tipi to share knowledge and

experiences of working towards

making events more sustainable.

Teams from events as diverse as Hay

Festival, Boomtown Fair, Greenbelt

and Just So festival, and many more,

gathered to watch event director

Johnny Lance open the day with a

round-up of initiatives the Showman’s

Show team had undertaken to

improve its environmental impact.

This was followed by Paul Reed of the

Association of Independent Festivals

(AIF) sharing how 60 UK festivals have

come together to cut single-use plastics

at events.

After an afternoon of speakers

on innovation in supplier services

and products, and expert advice on

key topics such event power, waste,

travel and toilets, the day ended with

a call to action to join the festival

communities who are taking action

around environmental issues. Energy

Revolution shared plans to help events

balance or ‘offset’ over 10 million fossilfuel

festival travel miles by 2020 with

investment in renewable energy. The

8thPlate project called for more events

to send surplus festival food to those

in need, and Julie’s Bicycle launched

an offer for Vision:2025 festivals to use

their Creative IG Tools to accurately

measure the impacts of events.

RAW Bottles, with its high-quality

stainless steel brand-able drinking

bottles, took home the Green Supplier

and Innovation Award. Now in its fourth

year, it was judged in front of a panel

in a Dragons Den style presentation

for the first time. The panel included

Claire O’Neill from A Greener Festival,

Catherine Bottrill of Julie’s Bicycle, Paul

Reed from AIF and Steve Heap of the

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO).

Commenting on the success of this

year’s Showman’s Show, Lance said:

“The response of exhibitors and visitors

to the show is probably the best way to

gauge how successful it has been, and

I have to say we have been completely

inundated with positive feedback! On

site we had visitors popping into the

show office to say how much they had

enjoyed the show, as well as companies

who want to exhibit at next year’s event

requesting meetings and lots of great

comments from exhibitors.

“A quick look at our social media

accounts and you’ll see some really

encouraging posts from visitors and

exhibitors alike. Now that the dust has

settled and we’re back at our desks I’m

pleased to say that it continues; we’ve

received fantastic comments from

exhibitors who have been with us for

years saying that it was their best show

yet and lots of exhibitors who want

to rebook for 2019 straight away. It

doesn’t really get any better than that.

“The show had a really nice buzz to

it throughout which was great to see.

All in all, a really positive couple of

days that leave us very much looking

forward to the Showman’s Show 2019.”


The Showman’s Show 2019 will

take place at Newbury Showground

on 16-17 October.

OAB’s Top Picks

➊ GT Trax

As well as being a leading supplier of

plastic temporary roadways and walkways,

GT Trax also provides marquee flooring,

event seating and structures, all for hire

or purchase with nationwide delivery and


LuxTrax and LiteTrax are ideally suited

to marquee flooring, delivering non-slip

temporary walkways for inside or outside.

LuxTrax is used to provide walkways at

the Burghley and Badminton Horse Trials

and at many outdoor exhibitions. The Lite

version can be used to create a plastic floor

- particularly good where it will be covered

by carpet, with holes for gripper rods. www.



Providing radios for hire, sale or lease,

DCRS showcased its Radio Allocation

System (RAS) which uses a simple on-site

PC based system to allow event organisers

to log radios and accessories to individual

users or groups. The system is delivered

preloaded with all of the equipment on hire

and records a username, email address/



telephone number and a user photo,

all of which is dated and time stamped,

providing an accurate record of what

equipment is left unallocated. A simple

report shows what has not been returned

at the end of the hire and who has the

equipment! www.dcrs.co.uk

➌ Cooling and Heating Solutions

Cooling and Heating Solutions has

provided temporary heating, air

conditioning and ventilation systems

nationwide for over 25 years and remains

a family run business. Among its product

lines is an up-to-date range (15kW up

to 200kW) of indirect oil fired heaters

available for sale or hire. These heaters are

fantastic for heating temporary structures

and event spaces - marquee heating is

their forté!

Hire costs from £89+vat per week, or buy

from £699+vat, with delivery the same or

next day. Service and maintenance of any

heater also undertaken at home or away.


➍ StagesForHire

StagesForHire offers mid-size stages for

events across the UK, perfect for festivals,

concerts and community events.

At the show it launched a new trailer

mounted Victorian bandstand structure

with an impressive two hour build time.

Offering an elegant alternative to a regular

event stage, it will add glamour to any

festival, party, wedding, ball or special


Measuring 4.8m across, the octagonal

structure is self-supporting and needs no

additional weights or ropes to fasten it

down. Full PA, lighting, power supplies,

experienced crew and technicians and a

whole range of extras are also available.


➎ Magic Tea Pot

Billed as the ‘friendliest festival venue’

and perfect for acoustic music and

singalongs, the ‘kettle's always on’ in

the Magic Tea Pot! An intimate pop-up

venue with a fireplace at its centre, the 12

sided structure measures 8m across and

features built in bench seating all the way

around, with further seating around the

fire. We can see this at festivals and even

fancy parties, hosted by its friendly crew of

musicians, fire keepers and tea makers.

Instruments come included, with a

tuned acoustic piano, guitars, trombone

and saxophone – and anyone is welcome

to play, creating an ever-changing vibe.


➏ RAW Bottles

RAW Bottles is the sister organisation

to RAW Foundation, a UK sustainable

development charity that has been

committed to raising awareness and

campaigning against pointless plastic for

over a decade.

Available in 500ml or 750ml sizes, these

stainless steel brand-able bottles come

with either a traditional screw or sports top

and have already been adopted by green

minded festivals including Glastonbury,

Shambala and Port Eliot. Every bottle sold

helps tackle single-use plastic and also

helps fund RAW Foundation’s education

and campaign work globally. We are

delighted that RAW won the The Green

Supplier and Innovation Award at the

show. www.raw-bottles.org


OAB’s Top Picks

Farm Business

Innovation Show 2018

Bigger and better than ever before with expert content

packing out seminar venues, writes Laura McDonald

IN NOVEMBER the doors opened at the

NEC Birmingham for the sixth edition

of the Farm Business Innovation Show,

attracting visitors from across the

country eager to talk to experts, discover

the latest innovations and be inspired

by diversification ideas. From 10am on

day one there was a bustle in the hall

and a fantastic entrepreneurial vibe.

DEFRA’s Henry Dieudonne-Demaria

kicked off the Keynote Stage to a packed

audience, followed by the fascinating

Lord Carnarvon, who talked the crowd

through the transformation of his estate,

Highclere Castle, into the world-famous

‘Downton Abbey’. The diverse seminar

schedule continued across the two-day

event on the Keynote stage as well as

the other seven seminar theatres. No

stone was left unturned with topics

including glamping, weddings, retail,

financing, alternative crops and putting

a bow tie on a llama!

The Live Debates Area featured

various panels of industry experts

talking through current hot topics and

taking questions from the audience.

Throughout the two days panellists

explored the areas of renewable

energy, business post-Brexit, glamping,

planning permission, marketing and PR,

and event hire and accommodation.

This aspect of the show gives an

opportunity for visitors to learn and

interact directly with acclaimed industry

experts, and is confirmed to return for


Those seeking business advice,

resources and skills were spoilt for

choice, with experts from the CLA, the

Rural Payments agency and the NFU on

hand. The CLA ran a whole schedule of

seminars throughout the event which

were hugely popular. These talks offered

guidance on grants and funding for

diversifying businesses, preparing your

business for Brexit, top 10 tips when

diversifying, and a variety of other

relevant subjects. The insight from CLA

experts was fantastic for the show and

has received a host of positive feedback.

Plans for the 2019 show are well

underway, with 86% of exhibitors

having already re-booked. Farm

Business Innovation 2018 has received

an unprecedented level of positive

feedback and the team is already

working hard to ensure the 2019 edition

is even better.


The Farm Business Innovation

Show 2019 will take place at the

NEC Birmingham on 6-7 November.

➊ Glampsan

Glampsan supplies flexible solutions for

capturing, managing, storing and pumping

water and waste at holiday parks,

glamping, camping, and caravanning sites.

Specialising in the supply of plastic

tanks from 150 to 30,000 litres for above

and below ground storage of waste

and water, its also provides a range of

complementary products to help manage

water and waste on sites both on or

off-grid including sewage and grey water

lifting stations, sewage and water pumps,

water filtration and pressure boosters,

sewage treatment plants and septic tanks,

and level alarms and Elsan tipping points.


➋ Tithe Barn Shepherd Huts

Build your own shepherds hut with parts

and plans. Tithe Barn Shepherd Huts has

been building huts since 2011 but now

sells plans for building, together with a

comprehensive step by step guide. It also

supplies all the essential components

required to build your own shepherds

huts, including cast iron wheels and

chassis, timber roof structures, traditional

hardwood windows and stable doors,



curved corrugated roofing and wall panels,

stoves, flue systems and much more.

Its components are used by shepherd

hut builders, large and small, throughout

the UK, Ireland and further afield and carry

no identifying marks or imprints.


➌ Brilliant Trails

Aiming to revolutionise the way people

interact with locations, Brilliant Trails

creates profitable experiences for land

and property owners. Its extensive range

of trail options include interactive sensory

trails (fairy trails) and treasure hunts

designed around three main themes:

family experiences, history and heritage,

and education.

The team’s passion is based around

creating fun and educational experiences

for visitors, while generating income for

businesses. www.brillianttrails.com

➍ The Sign Maker

This team of craftsmen makes signs to suit

all budgets - woodworking, engraving,

casting, printing, sand-blasting, chemical

etching, anoprinting and hand painting

from workshops in Devon. They have a

barn full of racks of timber, slate and other

stone of varying thickness and can create

anything from small wooden plaques to

massive business signage.

Engraved signs are available in brass

and a range of other materials including

Corian which is perfect for stylish,

maintenance-free plaques. Traditional

cast bronze is ideal for important plaques,

or opt for a traditional painted sign using

a polyurethane paint available in Farrow

and Ball colours. www.sign-maker.net

➎ Solar Technology International

A supplier of off-grid power and lighting

systems for remote indoor and outdoor

spaces. Designed to provide cost effective

solutions without any compromise in

brightness or functionality, all the systems

supplied are plug and play making DIY

installation simple.

Whether looking to floodlight a car

park or give warm tone illumination and

power in glamping pods, Solar Technology

is likely to have an off the peg system. If

one of the ready made kits is not suitable

then opting for a custom designed system

is likely to cost a lot less than a new grid

connection to a remote area.


➏ Iglucraft

These unique wooden cabins and saunas

are handmade with a spruce shingle

exterior and aspen slats inside, using a

shingle production technique hundreds

of years old. They have been designed to

be easily transported by road and have

insulation that can withstand Nordic

temperatures of -25 deg C.

The range comprises four models from

10-19sqm, with bespoke units available

on request. Each model includes a

fitted kitchen and larger units include a

bathroom. Saunas are available in several

configurations with a relax room and wash

area in larger models, and the choice of a

woodfired or electric stove. www.iglucraft.







In the first of our series on outdoor hospitality

entrepreneurs, we meet Tom Turney – the man

behind diversifying Tapnell Farm on the Isle of Wight.

Louise Creasy reports

ORIGINALLY THE setting for the

legendary and original Isle of Wight

Festival 1970, it seems Tapnell Farm is

creating an equally notorious name for

itself and raising the bar for tourism on

the Island. A second generation member

of the Turney family, Tom Turney has

realised his dream of an eco-holiday

heaven that emulates the charm of an

island childhood, and with the help of his

family evolved it into a micro commercial

empire that includes glamping, a farm

park, restaurant, wedding venue and


It all started in 2008 with Tapnell

Manor, a house on the Turney’s family

farm available for let. It was self-catering

at its most basic – a key would be left for

people who had booked and they would

look after themselves. A decade on and

the site has evolved to become an awardwinning

tourism attraction welcoming

100,000 visitors each year.

Andrew Turney, head of the family,

bought the farm in the early 1980s

and is still playing an active role in the

reinvention of the business. Tom is one

of four children and returned home

six years ago after gaining a degree

in business and management from

the Leeds University Business School.

Inspired by the success of hiring out the

house, he set up five safari tents on the

farm with the help of a diversification


“Having the idea of glamping

resonates to my childhood when we

brought friends back to the farm,” says

Tom. “Our parents were always very

welcoming and I realised there was

massive potential for people who were

working in the cities to get away to the

countryside and receive the same sort

of experience.”


With the decline in the dairy industry

hitting the Isle of Wight particularly

hard, the Turney family sold its herd of

cattle in 2014. “We were receiving 9p

a litre less for our milk on the Island,

compared to the same cows doing the

same job at our Dorset farm, and it

just wasn’t sustainable any more,” he

explains. “Dad’s always been forward

thinking and pushing us towards new

ideas and had foreseen that dairying

was a declining industry where we

lived. We’re in such a beautiful spot,

and utilising the land in a completely

different way in a relatively new market

at that point seemed an obvious

direction to go.”

At the same time the closure of two

animal attractions on the Island meant

an added opportunity. Tom explains:

“A couple of local tourist attractions

[Seaview Wildlife Encounter and

Colemans Farm Park] had to close

down for planning and family reasons.

The timing was perfect for us as we

had moved away from dairy and had

the space and buildings to rehome

some of the animals. They were hugely


successful businesses so we knew we were

onto a winner and it fitted really well with

our new direction.”


By now Tom had established Tom’s Eco

Lodge which as well as the five safari tents,

now included three wooden cabins, two ‘eco

pods’, three farm cottage lets and the manor

hosting up to 100 people at any one time.

In 2015, and in homage to the family’s dairy

farm heritage, Tom’s brother in-law who had

a background in catering launched the Cow

Company, converting an old Swiss barn to

a restaurant, which opened in June, along

with a gallery gift shop.

“The Cow Bar and Restaurant, which has

since branched out to cater for vegan and

vegetarian diets, is established in its own

right now and has become a standalone

business,” says Tom. “The play barn quickly

followed. At first it was quite agricultural,

with a few tunnels, hay bales and a zip

wire, but incredibly popular – within a few

months we were too busy. We misjudged the

demand and were struggling to keep up.

“We learnt from that and it showed us the

kind of thing people wanted. There’s never

been a grand plan, we’ve always tested the

market and gone with what works. We have

vision and ambition but we’re very fluid

in our approach, and as a relatively small

business we are lucky enough to be able

to adapt and change based on customer



As any recent visitor will testify, Tapnell

Farm is now an established farm park and

glamping site, but it’s an events venue

too. Last year the family offered East Afton

Farmhouse and Tapnell Farm for weddings.

Tom explains: “We’re already fully booked

for next year. We’re offering holiday-style

weddings, so we do one wedding a week and

guests can get to know one another other

over the course of that period. I got the idea

from a friend’s wedding that I attended last

year – it leaves a far more lasting legacy, and

there’s a real trend for weekend and weeklong

destination weddings at the moment.

“We also host events in our restaurant and

rustic barn. We recently held a big Halloween

party where we had 350 predominantly local

residents along for a big knees-up. We’ve got

Christmas coming up so we have Santa Claus

coming to town. We did it for the first time

last year with an elves workshop and the

opportunity to feed and pet reindeer – it was

a real hit. This year will be bigger and better

and we have four planned weekends of

different activities building up to Christmas



Tapnell Farm is a great example of

21st century thinking combined with

environmental credentials. In 2012 it

installed a 500kW solar power plant, which

is the equivalent of delivering energy to 300

houses. This is linked to the accommodation

and farm units along with a biomass boiler,

which runs off wood pellets and is connected

to the central heating and hot water

systems. Water supply will soon come from

the farm’s bore hole, which is in the process

of getting signed off so that it’s not solely for

agricultural use.

“Employing sustainable practices is a

mind-set and we are continually evolving.

The big one now is waste and we were aware

of that when we opened up the restaurant

so started using compostable products

– it’s always something that’s involved in

our decision making and we’re constantly

looking at improving what we do. Earlier

this year I spoke at the first Isle of Wight

Environmental Conference initiated by

the Isle of Wight Council to consider how it

can secure a low carbon, resource efficient

and environmentally sensitive future. Next

week I’ve got a meeting about how to turn

our waste into energy.”

While all the winter housing, silage pits

and infrastructure of the dairy has been

converted into either Tapnell Farm Park or

holiday accommodation, the farm itself is

still operational in arable. “We have 400

acres in total and land-wise most of it is

still farmed. We grow wheat and maize,

and crops for renewables which are sent

to an anaerobic digester – a renewable

gas plant that turns feedstock in carbon

dioxide and methane. The former goes to

fizzy drink suppliers, the latter back to the

grid as gas for local residents. Our business

is split between property, renewable

energy, farming and leisure, the last two

of which are probably the two biggest


Tapnell Farm

purchased by the

Turney family

Tapnell Manor

let as holiday


Tom launches

the farm’s glamping

offering in five

safari tents

The first of 35

awards (to date)

was won









LEFT: Hot off the Press!

Tom’s Eco Lodge has just taken gold in the

Glamping Business of the Year category at the

Beautiful South Tourism Awards


Since Tom’s first input, the market has

changed massively and it’s flooded with

glamping – now the most profitable part

of the business is the farm park, and it’s

certainly keeping him on his toes. “We

have to change all the time as visitors

may be coming 10 times a year. With the

accommodation, people come once a year,

so all it needs is updating, or to keep up with

demand and build more pods.” To that end

two bespoke Modulogs were added in 2017.

In order to keep evolving, the family

spend a lot of time with outside advisors

specialising in finance, rural planning,

legal advice and architectural design. “We

probably use them a disproportionate

amount of time but they’re very valuable,”

says Tom. “They’re expensive but save you

money in the long run, and it is something

we’ve always done as a family business.

We don’t pretend to know everything. A

decade ago I felt like I knew everything, now

I’ve learnt to understand my skills and my

limitations. This has become instrumental in

creating and evolving the farm.”

In terms of finance the business has a

small amount of bank loans, but compared

to those of a similar size, it’s very low on

leverage. The sale of the dairy herd helped

to kick start Tom’s Eco Lodge and a strong

balance sheet has meant the ability to

self-fund a lot of things from there. “It is

organic growth rather than acquisitions and

borrowing lots of money,” he continues.

“We were fortunate enough to get a tourism

grant for keeping the park open 363 days of

the year. We want to give people full time

employment and progression, rather than

just having seasonal employees which is

the norm for most tourist attractions on the

Island, and we want to change that.

“The key to success is predominantly

our team. I think it comes down to your

employees seeing the business's values as

a foundation stone. If you set an ethos and

a way of doing things, and believe in it and

live it, it’s more relevant and tangible for

everyone involved.”

It is this holistic approach to growing

a business sustainably that has won it

several accolades. Since 2013 Tapnell

Farm has secured 35 awards, with Tom

himself, Tapnell Manor, the glamping

accommodation, farming, farm park and its

sustainable practices all recognised.


“We try to embody everything that is good

about the Isle of Wight and we’re lucky

enough to have such a beautiful place to

do it all, and that is part of our identity,”

says Tom. “There are obviously cons about

being on an island. It costs more to build

here and it is worth less in the end, so it’s

double marginal disadvantages but on the

flip side things are cheaper. So, if you want

to buy or rent it’s less expensive than on the

mainland, and that extends to the land, too.

It’s cheaper for us to install solar energy than

say in Hampshire for instance, and we get

more sunshine hours so it’s double marginal

gain on that.

“People like the idea of being on a ferry

but don’t want to wait five hours to get

on it – the ferry companies hold people

to ransom and it’s getting worse. Red

Funnel and Wightlink are cutting services

and monopolising their profits which has

a knock-on effect on businesses like ours

as it affects our guests and their holiday


Tom is a strong believer that if you

do something that’s good and fits the

environment it has the best chance of longterm

success. Rather than differentiating

the business from others, the family

concentrates on what customers want and

focusses on what the business is good at,

including what its location offers. Outside of

this Tom also turns to information sources

such as Farmers Weekly and the Economist,

as well as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation,

which holds the world’s largest online

festival of ideas (the Disruptive Innovation


“You have to evolve with the changing

markets,” Tom says. “Currently around

a third of Tapnell Farm’s day visitors are

tourists. We currently have planning in

for a lake, which will be home to an aqua

assault course that we hope to open next

summer. The idea is to encourage more

summertime play, as unlike most farm parks,

we’re quieter on sunny days. Because we’re

an island, when the sun’s out people head

to the beach, so this will help bring people

here, and keep them here for as long as


Tapnell Farm is a great example of a

small-sized company leveraging market

diversification to drive growth. With plenty of

exciting projects in the pipeline for 2019 the

future looks bright for the entrepreneurial

family behind what is now a flourishing farm

park, glampsite and function venue.



was launched

with a restaurant and

shop. Play barn

added. Pods and

cabin added to



Play barn

extends. Tapnell

Farm Park established

by Tom and brother

in law. Animals from

Seaview Wildlife

Park rehomed


East Afton


acquired to offer

weddings near

Tapnell. Two

Modulogs added to



The farm


over 100,000




Tapnell Farm & Tom's Eco Lodge

Newport Road, Yarmouth

Isle of Wight, PO41 0YJ

Toms Eco Lodge - 01983 758729


Tapnell Farm - 01983 758 722


East Afton Farmhouse - 01983 758729




Instagram 101

Sarah Orchard shares her top 10 tips for using

Instagram to market your outdoor business

FACEBOOK’S LITTLE brother is growing up and now boasts 1

billion users globally (as of June 2018). The popularity of Instagram

is incredible and a fact that simply cannot be ignored.

But the trouble with a platform that has so many active users

is making sure your posts are found and seen by people who are

interested in what you offer – needles and haystacks comes to

mind! The days of adding a handful of random images and a few

hashtags to a post are well and truly over – you need a plan.

Instagram has a younger profile than Facebook and is popular

with the millennial generation – the place where 30 somethings

go to find inspiration and brands to love. So if you are running an

experience-based business – a festival, outdoor event, glampsite,

wedding venue or any other outdoor-based business – Instagram

could be just the platform for you.


Getting started

Set up your profile properly

and make sure you select a

business account in settings. Use

a great profile image, make sure

your Instagram handle instantly

conveys what you do (be consistent

with your other social platforms

if possible), and write a good bio.

Ideally include two to five hashtags

(#) in the bio line (a hash tag is

simply a way for people to search for

posts that have a common topic).

And don’t forget to include your

website address!


Finding your audience

Liking random posts isn’t likely to

achieve a great deal. Start by doing

your research - you can make likes and

follows work really well for your business.

What are your competitors doing on

Instagram? More importantly, check out who

is commenting and liking their posts – they

are probably your target market too. So

it makes sense to engage with and follow

them. This way, you’ll start to build an

audience that is actively interested in what

your outdoor business has to offer.

2Be stylish!

Instagram is a visuals-led platform, so you’re going to need great images. Don’t worry,

your smartphone images can be good enough, especially if you always use the same

camera angles and signature filter. Make sure the images mirror your brand’s visual identity

– adopting the same colours, fonts and image style used on your website – so that the

experience of your brand is consistent from one communication channel to another.

Keep things simple and shoot square from your smartphone for ease of posting. The

Instagram Layout app is really good for creating interesting montages, especially if you

want to post a sequence of images, say for an event set-up or lighting a wood burner at your

glampsite. CANVA (drag and drop graphic design website) is a great free tool as well.


Signpost your content

Instagram uses hashtags, very much like Twitter, and these help people filter

through millions of posts to find what’s of interest to them. Instagram allows

you to use up to 30 hashtags, but don’t go mad. Research has shown that using five to

10 hashtags per post is good.

How do you know which ones to use? Hashtags should describe the content of the

image post. To get started, I’d suggest typing in a popular search terms, like #glamping,

#smallfestival or #woodlandweddings, and seeing what posts come up top. Then look

at the top 10 posts (shown as most popular) and see what hashtags they have used.

Make a list.

Instagram will also auto-suggest hashtags as you start to type your chosen hashtag

into the search bar at the top of the screen. It’s worth checking out popular hashtags

using http://hashtagify.me too. I’d recommend using your type of business, brand

name and location in every post and you can even add some personality with some

humour hashtags. Check out what others do for some hashtag inspiration.

As loads of hashtags can look very messy, I’d recommend putting them at the end of

your post to keep things tidy, or better still keep your post clean with just two to three

hashtags and post them immediately into the first comment instead. You must get them

into the first comment and then you still get the visibility benefits of the hashtag when

people are searching.




Make posting a breeze!

Save the common hashtags you are going

to use on your smartphone using Notes or

similar. It makes it so much easier to prepare your

hashtags and post them easily and is consistently

every time.

You can also share other people Instagram

images using reposting apps like Repost or

Regrammer. These mean that you can acknowledge

the original source and add some nice content. It

can help build Instagram partnerships to grow your

following too.


Captions for personality

As I said earlier, you are trying to build interest and engagement

with your potential audience so think about what you can add that

will encourage people to like, comment or hopefully repost your content.

Growth can happen incredibly quickly if your followers like what they see

and want to see more by following your account. Emojis are often used to

add a bit of personality to posts. Have a play and see which captions work

best. Instagram analytics show you how your posts did so you can refine

what you do.


Share the Instagram love

Growth on Instagram depends to an extent on demonstrating that

you are engaged with your particular Instagram community and

know what they want to see. So look at what competitors are posting and

what gets high number of Likes and Comments. It’s well worth tagging

other local businesses, relevant industry associations or tourism boards

(use any regional hashtags they use, for example #visitwales, #deanwye,

#lovecornwalluk), or look for influencer accounts you want to nurture a

relationship with to help you grow.

You can also use a few special hashtags to encourage a bigger following.

For instance, #L4L means ‘like for like’ i.e. if you like me I’ll reciprocate and

like your posts. #follow and #followme are an obvious and transparent

request for some Instagram love.


Use Instagram

Stories to

share more

Instagram Stories mirrors the popularity

of Snapchat and it allows you to share

images or videos to only appear for 24

hours. Great for posting more frequently

or adding something in from a live

event, that is more ‘fly on the wall’ and

you don’t want to permanently appear

in the main Instagram feed or your

profile grid.

You can have some fun with it too –

add hashtags, filters, overlay text, drop

in stylish graphics and stickers, add your

location, a poll, and add a web page link

(for accounts with 10K+ followers).

Once you’ve created and posted your

Instagram Stories, you can download

individual posts, or even entire Stories

if you want to use them again, for

example on Facebook or your


Stories are great for

seasonal messages, glampsite

activities, or live events. Find

out more on using Stories at





allows only one

web link, but…

When someone sees your posts, you ideally

want your audience to do something. Visit

your website and book or buy a ticket, enter

a competition, read a blog post, or sign up

to your email list – so make sure you have an

appropriate landing page on your website that

will enable them to complete the action you

want. As you can only have one link in your

bio, and it is a pain to keep changing it, there is

a great tool called Linktree (https://linktr.ee),

which enables you to create a landing

page with multiple web links. Bingo!


Plan and schedule

Just like a blog, it makes sense to plan your Instagram activity. Set

up a rolling three month content plan for all your social media and

allocate time to prepare and collate images and graphics, creating great captions and

researching hashtags.

As you can only use Instagram on your smartphone it can be a pain to remember

to post regularly so there are some scheduling tools you can use including Hootsuite,

Buffer, ScheduGram, and Later. They all have their pros and cons, so it’s a case of

choosing the one that feels right for you.


Sarah Orchard helps owners of glamping and other hospitality businesses get their marketing

approach spot on to get more bookings without using expensive online agents. She is a

professionally qualified Chartered Marketer, with over 25 years’ of hands-on marketing

experience in travel and tourism. Sarah is also currently developing and launching her own

glampsite with her husband – an exciting new venture and a big learning curve too!

Sarah has two websites www.get-fully-booked.com and





Bridal Barn

A secluded, off-grid woodland venue

offering an ancient barn and giant tipis

Purchased on a whim, a solid ROI made the case for the

creation of Bridal Barn as a venue. We talk to Ben Davies about

how he created a simple offering with great appeal, a mile

from the nearest power source.

When did you start your venue

business and what is its history?

My father in law and I purchased

the site three years ago and we

opened on 1 June this year. In

three months we have over 30


Tell us about your location and site

It is 80+ acres of woodland with a

sandstone barn near to Bridgnorth

in Shropshire.

We purchased it on a bit of a

whim. We were at a farm sale

when we were told the land was

coming up for sale. My father in

law had tried to buy it 25 years

beforehand as he loved it and it

is only three miles from were we

live. Originally we had intended to

convert the sandstone building on

site for residential use but the cost

of putting in the services would

have been £100k (we are a mile

away from a power supply). I had

worked in the wedding industry

as a photographer and seen the

increase in the trend for Bohemian

style events so we decided to turn

it into a rustic wedding venue.

It all kind of evolved in the right
















direction very naturally – the

woodland itself is actually called

Bridal Coppice!

It has always been our fall back

plan to convert the barn into

residential use if we have to but so

far the venue offers a much better


What facilities for outdoor

functions do you offer?

The barn is our calling card. It was

derelict when we purchased the

site so we rebuilt one part and re

roofed the other using oak trusses

to keep as much character as we

could. We have done a few barn

conversions in the past so knew

what we were dealing with.

We also have two giant tipis.

We position one in the courtyard

outside the barn and the other in

the woodland to add a little magic.

They are offered in addition to the

venue hire but so far every couple

has booked them.

We also have a shepherds hut

which we market as a perfect

honeymoon suite. Apart from that

we have put in grass paths, and

parking on hardcore and gravel.

What services do you offer?

We are licensed for wedding

and civil ceremonies, which is

very important for us as over

50 per cent of the couples who

have booked have wanted to get

married on site. The new, more

relaxed rules for licensing makes


it possible for couples to marry

outside then step inside the barn

to conduct the legal formalities

such as signing the register.

We are also licensed for events

(music, alcohol etc.) although we

don't have corkage so people can

bring their own drinks.

We are self catering but have

facilities on-site in a side room of

the barn (water and electric) for

caterers to use when preparing


Describe how you researched

and sourced your structures

I had never been inside a tipi

before but saw a picture and just

knew they would be a perfect

for our venue. The barn can seat

160 guests and the tipis were

purchased to add more space

for a dancefloor etc. They were

an impulse buy in the end – two

came up for sale online at such a

good price I had to have them.

I hired them out for a season to

external events, which was a

baptism of fire!

The flooring and lighting

were extra – I was a bit naive

with what all the additionals

would cost. We use a Dandy

Dura matting in the woodland

marquee and I built a timber

deck for the courtyard structure.

We use festoon lights leading

up to the woods and have up

lit a few trees for an enchanted

woodland atmosphere at night.

I built the shepherds hut

myself from a £90 chassis I got

in a farm sale and the help of

a carpenter. I now understand

why they cost what they cost

new. I spent about £12,500 on

parts and labour – a saving no

doubt, but a lot of work!

How do you work with your

customers to make their

events unique?

We offer exclusivity, no corkage

and a blank slate for couples

to create what they wish. The

decision to allow couples a

free rein is two fold – it is less

responsibility/work for us

and allows customers to use

whichever suppliers they want,

which hopefully saves them


Create your luxury retreat

Handcrafted in Somerset, uniquely yours...


We have only done three events

to date and I am sure there will be

instances where I wish that I did

have a preferred suppliers list that

I have vetted but so far so good!

The only stipulation we have is

that caterers are certificated and

have all their hygiene practices in

place etc. This is very important.

How do you publicise yourself?

So far, through Facebook alone.

Being a graphic designer has

helped tremendously as I was

able to create visuals myself. I had

a drone video made and it has

had around 5,000 hits and done

everything I needed it to do in

terms of ‘selling’ the venue.

How would you describe your

‘style’ or unique selling point

A rustic, informal, self-catering

woodland venue.

How have you researched the


I knew the market well from

my wedding photography days

and have some good contacts.

I also visit trade shows such as

the Showman’s Show and the

Glamping Show, and keep up to

date with Open Air Business of


How do you find it working with

your father in law?

It’s great. He has his own ideas and

input and a wealth of experience

with converting barns but he lets

me get on with it. He is still a little

surprised that people want a

wedding in a barn.

What challenges have you faced?

We are entirely off-grid and run

off generators – at the moment

we have a 66kVA SDMO which is

probably too big so I am thinking

of reducing the size but having

two sister generators so one can

act as a back up should the worse


Our water comes from a bore

hole and we have a septic tank to

treat waste. We have a sustainable

ethos, which is also a necessity

as we are in such a remote,

unconnected location.

When it came to planning we

hired a consultant as they speak

the right lingo. The local authority

was actually very supportive and

helpful, even suggesting we do

more here.

A couple of our neighbours did

object, and I can’t blame them for

that. They are physically a mile

away and we do everything we can

to keep them informed about when

events are on and try to keep good


What are your plans for next


I am interested in adding some pod

accommodation in the woodland

but in a sensitive way – not

overdeveloped. At the most we will

have two weddings a week but I am

not sure it will be commercial to

offer them for let for just one night.

It will all come down to ROI.



The Tipi Company www.



Tipples Hire, Shrewsbury www.



William Armes (Dandy Dura

matting) www.william-armes.



SDMO uk.sdmo.com


National Heater Shops www.


I am also looking at how we

might get into the corporate events

market, and maybe even wakes. A

small public event might also be a

possibility if it was done sensitively.

I know the site would lend itself to a

Santa’s grotto type event but I don’t

want to cash in on Christmas in a

tacky way – it would be more about

engaging people.

What do you enjoy about the


Being part of happy occasions, and

great ROI!

What are you most proud of?

The positive feedback from

everyone who comes and loves

the location, barn and setting.

Producing an idea into reality.

What advice could you give

to someone coming into the


It will cost more than you think and

there will be things you can’t plan

for. Be realistic, speak to people

within the sector and plan, plan,



Festive Lights www.festivelights.com


Fire Pits UK



Bridal Barn



Shropshire, WV15 5PS

01746 710180



For indoors and out, to buy or rent.

01962 877 644 | info@twilight-trees.com


Tipis • Stretch Tents • Timber Domes • Bars


Newest Our


Geo Timber


www.event-in-a-tent.co.uk•Tel: 01978 661449•info@event-in-a-tent.co.uk


New Year


Are you ready for the flurry of enquiries

that occur between Christmas Eve

and Valentine’s Day?

IF YOU’RE a seasoned wedding venue

then you’ll know that we have an

unofficial wedding engagement season

each year and that heralds the start of a

bonanza of enquiries as newly engaged

couples start their wedding planning

adventures. If you’re newer to weddings

then here’s your friendly warning:

engagement season starts on Christmas

Eve (thereabouts) and runs through to

Valentine’s Day (14 February) – during

this time a phenomenal percentage of

wedding engagements occur. And with

engagements comes wedding planning,

kicking off with venue finding…

This feature shares some reminders to

you of what your newly engaged couples

are looking for, expecting and what

will make them compelled to shortlist

you and your special place or space for

viewing and eventually booking. This is

what you need:


Years ago a website was a taster, to

encourage the customer to take steps

to get in touch and enquire to find out

more by phone or in person. In 2019

the website needs to do a much more

thorough job of showcasing exactly what

you have. Millennial wedding couples are

time short like never before and research

everything online. They want to see it

all and research like crazy so if you don’t

present them with enough of the magic to

entice them to take action, then they won’t

get in touch and will go elsewhere. Ensure

you have:

› An ‘at a glance’ summary of what

your venue is about and your key

features such as guest capacities,

accommodation and exclusive use,

shown easily and quickly

› Excellent impactful imagery (and ideally

virtual tours and video) that show all

areas of your venue dressed in inspiring

wedding styles and in wedding uses

(they don’t want to have to imagine,

they want to be shown)

› A clear “story of the day” told to them

in terms of how they can use your

wedding venue across the day or across

the weekend, all the while emphasising

flexibility and choice

› Show your experience. Be sure to

emphasise service, approachability

and the strength of your internal

and extended supplier team – the

newly engaged couple can be quite

overwhelmed by this wedding journey

they suddenly find themselves on so

you need to reassure at every step of the



You need to be up front and clear with

your venue hire fees to impact the new

breed of engaged couples. They want clear,

factual, transparent and fast. This can be

hard I know but ensure they have quick

and easy access to pricing. For those who

offer bespoke pricing based on a number

of factors, then a guideline ‘from’ price is a



As soon as the turkey is eaten, be ready for

enquiry central. Do you have your standard

(but personalised) enquiry reply ready to

go and are your team in place to ensure

speedy responses to initial enquiries? This

is key. If you know there are gaps in the

seven day week where enquiries cannot

be responded to, set up a friendly autoresponder

as a minimum referring your

enquiry to other resources in the meantime




and reassuring couples of your timescales.

Make sure you have your systems in

place for logging enquiries for your own

marketing stats and for following up those

enquiries that look particularly promising.

TIP: I predict that 2019 will be the

year venues see a lot more enquiries

and questions coming through via

social media platforms, specifically

Instagram. So, plan for your Instagram

handle to be checked regularly and that

communication channels there are open!



Make it nice and easy for your enquiry

to book in for a showround – avoid the

need for the back and forth on email

and use tech to help customers book

directly from your website and/or your

enquiry response email. I recommend

youcanbook.me and calendly.com which

can sync up with your online team diary.

Hand in hand with this is the need to

ensure you have plenty of timeslots

available on weekends and/or

evenings to show couples around

or have some strategically placed

open days to capture many

couples at once.


How are you going to plan

your 2019 showrounds? It’s

great to be able to sit down

with your couples before visiting

your spaces to really get an

understanding of what they are

looking to create for their wedding.

Hospitality is key – a nice drink and a

welcoming gift or goodie can really help

build rapport. Remember, this is a ‘once

in a lifetime’ experience and you’re part

of that special journey – enthusiasm

is everything, no matter if this is your

first showround or 100th that week! By

building rapport and understanding

a couple’s priorities at the start of a

showround you can tailor it to focus

on the things that are most important,

whether it’s a wild party or the finest food.

What will you leave your couples with?

Glossy brochures aren’t essential but

something physical (whether printed or

a goodie of sorts) can be lovely as a lot of

your couples will be sharing with family

(who are often stakeholders!).


Have an agreed system in place for

how you are going to follow up post

showround – who is going to do this in


your team, at what times of day or what

days of the week, and how are they going

to follow up and how often? I’m a big fan

of picking up the phone in conjunction

with email. Yes millennials don’t love the

phone but pre-warning them of a call to

come and/or leaving a personal friendly

voicemail still has impact. Offering to hold

dates for a short spell can work for some

venues and enable an obvious reason

to follow up. Two to three follow ups is

completely fine and highly recommended

but have a system in place to track follow

ups and note outcomes to really maximise

your opportunities.

With applying all (or even just a few) of

these tips and follow ups, I’m confident

you will be shining bright and filling that

venue diary up very nicely!



Kelly Chandler



helps unique

places and

spaces to thrive

in the modern

wedding market via a range of specialist

one to one consulting and group training


Kelly has a wealth of specialist wedding

industry experience through more

than 15 years leading her award-winning

independent wedding planning business,

The Bespoke Wedding Company, together

with a Directorship at industry body,

the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners.

Kelly is proud to eat, breathe and sleep

weddings - setting standards, inspiring,

mentoring and motivating others. She

is a well-respected go-to expert in the

business of weddings with a unique grasp

of both modern bridal expectations and a

venue’s commercial needs.









Just how much value does hosting an ‘influencer’ bring to your venue?

TRYING TO make your name as a

destination, venue, hotel or leisure

attraction takes time, patience and

tenacity to say no to ‘marketing

opportunities’. The days of driving

awareness solely by print media

are gone and being replaced by

multiple digital channels. Done

right, the results are amazing but

actioned without due diligence and

you can end up out of pocket and

with a very harried approach of

today’s new marketing techniques.

Instagram influencers in

particular are an increasingly tricky

bunch to quantify and perhaps

that’s why they are taking a bit of

a bashing at the moment. Social

Chain has been very vocal with its

research and its punchy short film

points to the fact that Instagram

influencers are in fact boosting

their own content through a new

generation of bots and fake likes.

This business of falsifying online

endorsement is anticipated to be

costing brands millions per year.

Triggerfish’s specialism in the

hospitality sector means that on a

daily basis we get demands from

influencers who want to trial and

showcase our clients’ products and

services. Equally we’ve venues,

hotels and heritage venues who

don’t want to miss out on the instafamous

generation and will happily

jump to host an ‘influencer’ with

four figure followings. In the eyes

of some operators, the Instagram

influencer is capable of changing

fortunes at the post of a pic.

But as Social Chain points out,

some influencers have manipulated

their own following by buying

followers. More worryingly there’s

a move for some influencers to

boost their own posts by buying

likes and comments. Yet more

alarming is the prevalence of bots

to make this happen - it is a literal

false economy driven by algorithms

and hacks. “One of the biggest,

most elaborate, wide spread scams

in the history of marketing,” says

Social Chain’s Steve Bartlett.

This haunting insight means

hotels and venues need to be far

more robust with their influencer

due diligence; after all, I’ve still to

find a client who would willingly

give a hotel stay away for free

without qualification and payback.

It’s a very interesting time for the

influencer economy and when Paul

Stenson, the owner of the White

Moose Café and Charleville Lodge

Hotel in Dublin, sent a YouTube

vlogger an invoice for €5,289,000

'for all the publicity it’s given her';

I for one said 'hats off for kicking


The influencer model is nothing

new for the hospitality and events

sector. Familiarisation (fam)

visits are a long-established way

of doing business with agents

(intermediaries such as event

planners or events agencies)

invited, often at great cost, to

experience a destination, venue

or hotel. The invitee’s value is

















To drive awareness of the six venues

under independent charity Historic Royal

Palaces as luxury wedding destinations,

with a showcase hosted at Kensington



› Secure headline speakers to help drive

innovative content

› Agree influencers and their part in

driving awareness of the showcase


› Digital partnership agreed with Love My Dress

(leading wedding blogger - Instagram following:

117k, Domain authority: 63/100*)

› Estimate Twitter reach of 80k+ from

event hashtags #PickYourPalace and


› Key wedding planners invited and agreement

on digital amplification expectations

› Speech by representatives from Harper’s

Bazaar and Sotheby’s

*Authoritative sites are ranked at 40+

when they are planning a fam

trip and in turn make sure a

robust agreement is in place

to guarantee imagery and

commentary is achieved on the

agent’s online platforms.

We’ve heard many horror

stories of louche behaviour

and even no shows, but it is the

agent’s responsibility to have a

forensic understanding of the

hotels, venues and destinations

they are promoting. It’s a

captive, commercially viable

and quantifiable audience of

influencers. Hotels, venue and

heritage attractions should

capitalise on it rather than taking

a punt on an influencer whose

follower validity cannot be proven

to drive revenue.

Using a highly respected ‘Top

50 agents’ report we have reinterpreted

the report based on

their social reach, and domain

authority. It makes for interesting

reading and is certainly a better

way of qualifying the validity of

business influencers.

Our industry is based on face to

face relationships – isn’t it time we

started to use these recognised

and respected faces by seeking

their online endorsements and not

those of a potential bot?

If you’d like a copy of the report

email media@triggerfish.co.uk

pre-determined by how much

potential business they have. The

ROI is measured on how much

business is placed. It’s a costly old

model and one that should be

revised. If an agent can influence

a budget then perhaps hotels and

destinations should also start

looking at the online value that an

agent can bring:

› They all have a demonstrable £

multi-million revenue stream

› All agents have websites

blogs, social platforms and


› The hospitality and events

sector should consider this

as part of their due diligence


Andrew White is

MD of Triggerfish

Communications, a

specialist in helping

heritage venues and

leisure attractions

build awareness and

market share in the

business of events.







Richard Warriner writes on using lighting to

create enchanting events in the off-season

RECENT YEARS have seen significant

growth in outdoor lighting and sound

events. These temporary installations are

often found at stately homes, botanical

gardens, forests and woodlands. Generally,

these Son et lumière (sound and light)

events run from the Autumn and into

Christmas. The shorter days obviously

being better suited to this kind of outdoor

event, and an ideal way to help a venue

increase visitor numbers outside of the

peak trading period of the summer.

Technology within the lighting, audio and

video industry is constantly evolving, and is

something we’re always keeping a close eye

on. LED lighting is very much commonplace

these days. The main benefits include

reduced power consumption, lower heat

output and minimised light pollution, as

light output from LEDs is directional. These

characteristics all help play an important

part when designing a lighting plot for an

outdoor event. We still use incandescent

lights and discharge lamps as I truly

believe that these can provide an effect

unachievable with LED. There is a place side

by side for both styles of lighting.

Bluetooth and wireless technology

provides us with ways to create

interactive installations within an outdoor

environment. This coupled with LED and

video technology means we are looking

forward to trying some new concepts in the

coming year.


Sometimes less is more. If you’re working

on a tight budget it’s possible to create a

magical and enchanting atmosphere with

just a few high-powered coloured lights on

some large specimen trees or impressive

buildings. The moment moving lights are

added into the design the cost does start

to increase,

and financially

it takes it up

another level.

At one event

we found a very


lighting solution was

to install a pea light canopy

suspended from the trees, just

above peoples’ heads which then fell to

the ground either side of a woodland path,

effectively creating a tunnel of lights. The

children loved it, and it turned out to be one

of the most popular photo opportunities

during the entire event.




Magical Woodland is a new

event we’ve been involved

with this year held in

central Cheshire over a

two-week period covering

the autumn half term. We

collaborated with the land

owner to make ‘the woods

come alive’. The wood is

predominantly made up

of deciduous species of

tree, which are relatively

young - mainly birch with

a few good sized oak trees

scattered around. There

could be no better time

of year than the Autumn

half term to illuminate this

wood. The autumn colours

were fantastic and were

enhanced by our choice of

coloured lights.

We created depth by

positioning moving and

colour changing lights

deep into the wood, away

from the marked paths.

I strongly believe in

holding something back

each year. Don’t illuminate

every building, monument,

sculpture or your entire wood/

forest. Keep some area unused

for another year. Likewise, don’t

use every tool in your toolbox. You

want to keep visitors returning year after

year to see something new.

Whenever we undertake an outdoor

lighting project that runs over a couple of

weeks or more we need to ensure that any

kit we set up must deal with the good old

British weather, not to mention thousands

of people walking past and the occasional

This not only created

interest but prevented

black spots within the

wood. We didn’t want

people to feel frightened

by being in what would

normally be a very dark




uninvited curiosity of the local wildlife.

The use of inflatable domes helps protect

our stock of moving heads. The lighting

choices need to be both reliable as well

as producing a spectacular show. Over

the years we’ve learnt to be reactive to

the ever-changing outdoor environment.

As a company we’re looking forward

to 2019. No doubt, just like any year it

will have its challenges. With a wide

selection of lighting and power jobs to

complete including music concerts, food

festivals and illuminated woodlands etc.

we are well placed to deliver our clients’

visions with our team of experts in power

distribution, lighting design and audio.

place at night. Therefore,

we made sure the route

was illuminated so that

they never actually saw the

unused, unlit parts of the

wood. A well illuminated

food court was in the centre

of the wood, and from here

you could branch out to the

various zones.

The Rainforest ‘zone’

was the main moving light

and sound show this year.

The topography of the

wood really worked to our

advantage as the Rainforest

was set in the bottom of the

largest natural ‘bowl’. The

bowl will be used again next

year and we’ve got some

fantastic ideas for that area.

The laser show was


Richard Warriner is

a director of Event

Equipment Ltd.

Established in 1997,

this Cheshire based

family business

supplies lighting and

power distribution

as well as staging,

bars, dance floors,

heaters and furniture

to events of all types

and sizes.

Priding itself on

keeping atop of

new trends, it also

loves the classic and

traditional. Event

Equipment is excited

when a client has

new ideas but is

also able to provide

guidance on what

might be needed,

drawing on over 20

years’ experience

working with some

of the country’s

most beautiful and

forward thinking

venues. www.



popular over the lake,

but again next year we’ve

got plans to move things

up a notch and run with

something a little different,

perhaps involving projection

mapping. The lasers will stay

in the show, but with 15 acres

of wood to play with we’ve

got plenty of other places for

them to be positioned.

On average people were

staying in the woodland for

about an hour. We did allow

people to go around more

than once if they wanted,

and some people were in the

wood for three hours. Ticket

prices for an event like this

are £17-£20 for an adult, and

a child (3-15 years) £7-£10,

with under 3s free.


Some woodlands and parks lend themselves more to winter

lighting than others. An annual lighting job we undertake is the

illumination of an historic ‘woodland fantasy’ with cliffs, crags,

caves, deep woods and a series of extraordinary monuments

built over 200 years ago.

We start on site in early November when we install a

temporary power network within the cave system. This allows

the team at the park to start the build process of turning the

caves into Santa’s Grotto. We then arrive back on site in late

November to install the lighting. It’s a truly awesome venue,

and very difficult to light within budget. Everywhere you turn

there are huge specimen trees to illuminate and exposed rock


This event has always been about visiting Santa in his

grotto, but the lighting side was added in about nine years

ago. Back then visitors had to walk from the car park to the

visitor’s centre before taking a Land Rover through the gravel

tracks of the estate to the grotto. Originally the lighting was

installed to be functional but decorative. Feedback was so

positive regarding the lighting that it was decided to do more

for the next few years. Five years ago, the route changed and

there was no need to illuminate the woods so people could

see to walk. Instead we were lighting areas of the park and

woodland that would be seen from the window of a Land

Rover about 200-300m away.

I’m pleased to say we are now back on the original route

once again and visitors get the chance to walk alongside the

illuminated trees and rock faces. The area outside the caves is

also illuminated, and we know it’s well received by the amount

of people taking photos. It’s important to create these areas

so social media photo opportunities are abundant, to extend

your marketing reach for free, i.e. get the public to do it for


The event is now not just about going to see Santa in his

grotto. It’s a whole magical experience of enchantment - with

coloured lights off road driving, an illuminated wishing bridge,

illuminated umbrellas suspended in the air, real reindeer, and

Santa tucked away deep in his grotto. There’s nothing else

quite like it out there. For a family of four, prices vary between

£69 and £80. The cheaper price is based on a trip during

daylight hours. The more expensive cost is for twilight/dark

when the lighting can be seen.





and Exteriors


Lowther Castle

Description: Historic castle and garden, home to

the Earl of Lonsdale in medieval times

Product: A hand drawn, hand cut 1400mm

spherical fire pit made to reflect the

castle’s surroundings and provide a focal

point and feature for the impressive


Supplier: The Firepit Company

Telephone: 01440 730068

Website: www.thefirepitcompany.co.uk

Details: A unique sculptural firepit was produced

as a stunning centrepiece for the castle’s garden. The piece

was hand drawn by The Firepit Company’s artist, following

a discussion with the venue about key elements. The design

includes a silhouette of the distinctive castle, as well as a

massive dragon that forms their logo and the family crest. The

piece is brought together with a tree structure and an iconic

deer herd, another key feature of the castle grounds.

The design process was very interactive to ensure that all of

the customer’s key elements were captured and that the piece

sits beautifully in the landscaped gardens. The firepit is burned

regularly at the venue’s evening events to provide a beautiful

and memorable focal point.

Feedback: The firepit provides a stunning centrepiece and is

often a talking point for visitors. The venue has spoken about a

further set of firepits to complement this one and they say that

the feedback from customers is very complimentary.

Exclusive Wedding and Events Venue

Description: As a preferred supplier to exclusive

wedding venues, Twilight Trees installs faux trees both

indoors and out for added arboreal magic

Supplier: Twilight Trees

Telephone: 01962 877644

Website: www.twilight-trees.com

Details: Twilight Trees has worked on many events at

venues for discerning clients installing illuminated and

natural look trees. Hand-painted and hand-finished,

trees are available to hire or buy and range from

Mini, at 55cm, to Grande models measuring over four


Venues and event planners can choose from

lit cherry, maple or palm trees in the illuminated

collection, apple, cherry and romantic wisteria in the

blossom collection, and trees ‘in leaf’. New this autumn

are twinkling, snow dusted fir trees and the opulent

‘Trees in Gold’.

Feedback: “Twilight Trees were an absolute pleasure

to work with from the outset. The project was no easy

task due to the quick turnaround and location access,

but they delivered everything I could have asked for.

The trees we hired were amazing; they added great

height to the installation and looked very much real on

camera. I look forward to working with them again in

the future.






Tropical Hangout

Instant Marquees

01840 219048 / 213063


Comfortable, relaxing and fun, the

Tropical Hangout can bring a whole

new customer experience to your

venue. Guests can enjoy a drink and

a smile with friends while relaxing

in very comfortable hammocks - a

unique and charming experience.

Perfect for venues, glamping sites

and events, wherever you have

space, Tropical Hangout can spread

its magic. Outside by the pool, inside

near the bar, in a field, on just on

a sun-deck - anywhere you have

a 4x4m space can become a ‘Chill

Zone’. Tropical Hangout can wow

your guests with its tropical style

and deliver the ultimate in relaxing

experiences. Rent or buy, with or

without branding.

Earth Press Grids


01773 875255


The unique grid is designed to press into

existing grass, allowing vehicles to safely pass

over fields and grass tracks without churning

them up to a muddy mess.

Quick and easy to install, the extra large

grids are designed with a diamond profile to

simply cut through the ground when pressed

in with a ride-on vibrating roller. They are

extremely strong and flexible, with a joining

system that means undulating ground is not a

problem. Grass is kept green and the ground

toughened for no more mud.

Pallet quantities (60sqm per pallet) is £7 per

square metre delivered.

Park & Pro Front Mowers


0800 669 6326


STIGA offers a wide range of

front-cut mowers with the

choice of two or four wheel

drive transmission, and diesel or

petrol powered engines. 50:50

articulated steering makes for

precise manoeuvring around

complex landscapes, and all

models feature hydrostatic

transmission as standard for

smooth speed control.

For a mulching

finish there is a wide

range of cutting

decks from 85cm

to 155cm in width,

and there is an

attachment for every

job including a flail

deck, lawn rake, powered

sweeper and snow clearing


The STIGA Park range is

offered with a five year domestic

warranty. The STIGA PRO range

has a one year commercial



Say hello – Stand 3092

Finman Glamping

Cabins and BBQ Huts

Fantastic ROI

return a profit within

year 1 based on 25%

occupancy / £75 rental

with a 17m2 Finman

Sleeper Cabin

Our fantastic range includes traditional,

contemporary, double storey and low

profile designs to sleep or host a range

of guests. BBQ huts from £3,685 and

Log Cabins from £1,394.

“We are delighted with the Finman BBQ Hut. The

quality of build is superb, and Logspan provided a

very efficient fitting team. Logspan and its product

have exceeded our expectations.” Alastair


01389 887205 info@logspan.com www.logspan.com

Silent Power

for every event and off grid venue



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Designer of Innovative Dream Solutions

EasyGrid is an

innovative power

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that brings silent

power to every event,

in any location.

3, 5, 10, 30 & 45kVA

Beautiful Inflatable

Bubble Houses

For extra accommodation in your

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e-mail or call us today to discuss your project!

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info@CasaBubble.com | www.CasaBubble.com






Happy Valley


A handbuilt forest glampsite offering

a year round escape to wilderness

Having sat on a domain name for 10 years,

Katy and Scott Coe realised their ambition to open a forest

glampsite after some initial planning set backs. Comprising

a luxury treehouse and shepherd huts handbuilt by Scott,

the site is also a designated nature reserve. We talk to Katy.

business that brings in a source of


How did you research the business

before entering it?

When we first started there wasn’t

a huge amount of glamping around

in the UK. I obtained the domain

names as soon as the idea crossed

our minds over 10 years ago. It

wouldn’t be for another few years

that we actually had the resources

to start the business. We also

went to the Glamping Show which

helped with the legalities and UK


What’s your back story – your life

before glamping?

I owned a vintage shop in North

Norfolk for five years and my

husband Scott is a carpenter/builder.

What made you decide to

start offering glamping


Scott is a carpenter and can build

anything he puts his mind to. With

a huge love for anything old, he

started out restoring antiques

before he went into hand cut roofs

and built our first shepherds hut

from an old chicken shed.

We both love an adventure and

used to take a tipi to the Lake

District and camp. This was the

start of our love for outdoor living.

We started with a shepherds hut

and a tipi about six years ago at

our old house. After our second

child we moved to the family farm.

We needed to create something

sustainable that would give us

jobs and the stunning location was

perfect for creating a glamping site.

We live on the site in an old farm

cottage and used the surrounding

land, which is useless from a

farming perspective, to create a

Tell us about your location

and site

We are a designated Norfolk Wildlife

Trust site on the edge of a 200

acre fir forest about half an hour

from the stunning north Norfolk

coastline. The natural beauty

and raw wilderness of the site is

what attracts our guests here. The

endless woodland walks and close

proximity to local attractions such

as Sandrinham and Houghton

as well as the coast means we’re

perfectly situated for an escape to

the country.

We have heated cabins, a



woodfired hot tub, lovely facilities

and nature’s playground on our

doorstep. The treehouse has

disabled access and a private hot

tub. We have cabins which are

suitable for couples and families a

like and are just 15 minutes to the

nearest train station at Kings Lynn,

which is very accessible to London,

Cambridge etc.

Our main challenge regarding

the site is our rural location and the

internet. After researching every

possible way of getting the internet

we have to rely on satellite, which is

very expensive.

How did you tackle getting


Planning did take some time.

Initially the local parish refused

the site but after lengthy talks with

them they then retracted and gave

us their approval before being

passed by planning. Even though we

sit over a mile away from the village

I think the concept of glamping

was still fairly unknown and made

people nervous.

We undertook extensive surveys

and the low environmental impact

was something we didn’t want to

compromise on. The site was given

the green light from the ecological

survey as we had nature at the

forefront of our ethos and finally

planning was passed.

How did you finance the project?

We funded the initial build of the

site through loans from the bank

via the farm. We applied and got

accepted for a LEADER grant which

part-funded some of the materials

used on the treehouse build but

have had quite a few setbacks and

delays and are still yet to receive

this funding which has hindered our

progress with the site.

When we initially applied for the

grant and were accepted we were

thrilled. By the time the building

was due to start the price of timber

had gone up considerably and the

price of labour and other materials

had also increased. Building regs

had also changed which meant

it cost a lot more than the initial


What glamping accommodation

do you offer and why did you

choose it?

We are a year round site and

summer is mainly dedicated to

weddings as people can hire the

entire site as their venue. At present

we have a number of shepherds

huts, a treehouse and, during the

summer months, we also have bell


We chose shepherds huts as the

cottage we live in is called Washpit

Cottage and has a beautiful pond

with a bridged island. This is

historically where the shepherds

would wash their sheep and it

was very much a case of keeping

history alive. We built the shepherds

huts around the surroundings and

encompassed a panoramic window

into the designs where there was

an open view. We positioned them

around the woods so they didn’t

encroach on each other - we didn’t

want to have them side by side so

people felt a sense of privacy.

Our shepherds huts come in all



shapes and sizes and have wood

burners or radiators for heating.

They all have hand crafted, real

beds and are very comfortable.

The treehouse is another level of

luxury with underfloor air source

heating, private hot tub, king size

accommodation, a wet room, and

a fully functional kitchen with

dishwasher etc. It has incredible

views and you can witness some

awesome Norfolk sunsets from the

west facing open gable end. It is also

accessible for disabled guests.

How did you work out your

brand and how do you publicise


The name of the site was easy. My

grandfather Frank called this part of
















the farm Happy Valley because of its

magic. We are at the mouth of the

small valley which is surrounded by

natural springs and ancient burial

grounds. With many an ancient tale

of this area referencing the likes of

Boudica it’s easy to see why guests

keep coming back.

I am a big user of Instagram and

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Instagram is my main tool as

it’s the most visual and you can

show people exactly what they

will be experiencing. People often

comment on the pictures but I

literally just point and shoot. It’s

easy when the wilderness does the

work for you.

We also use Airbnb and Cool

Camping along with Host Unusual.

How would you describe your

ethos and unique selling point?

Our ethos is very much ‘wilderness

living with a touch of luxury’. Guests

can sit back and stargaze in the

hot tub, and there are endless

health benefits from being in the

forest - it’s impossible not to feel

its effects once you’re here. The

Japanese have been prescribing

Forest Bathing (ShinrinYoku)

for centuries as a preventative

medicine to disease. It’s basically

being immersed in the forest and

absorbing it’s effects.

How did you choose your interior


I wanted to go to town with all

sorts of fabulous Pinterest finds

but luckily my husband knows the

practicalities so was my reasoning

when it came to interiors. He has a

wonderful eye anyway and we used

lots of vintage wood, crates etc.

which he repurposed from the farm

to create the spaces.

What challenges have you faced?

Weather – wind and trees can

be tricky as can frost and frozen

pipes so I’m an avid weather

watcher now. The hot tubs are high

maintenance and labour intensive,

and wet weather plus woodland

terrain equals mud and lots of

extra cleaning. All in all it can be a

harsh environment to work in for

changeovers etc.

There is also the huge increase

in the number of glamping sites

across the country. This increase

in supply has pushed prices down

so the profit margin has lessened

and peoples' expectations are

constantly rising.

Juggling the business with two

young children is also a challenge.

When we started I did all the

changeovers and laundry by myself.

I spent so much on osteopath

appointments that I decided I was

allowed some help. I now have a

couple of great ladies who help with

the changeovers but still do all the

laundry in the house.

What are your plans for next


We are adding a barn to the

venue for next season as well as

completing another cabin as we’re

still not at full capacity. We have a

play area for children which we will


Describe your average day midseason

A typical day includes washing and



ironing, stripping cabins down after

guests leave, answering emails,

taking pictures and sharing on social

media, putting together proposals

and marketing, preparing for new

guests, emptying, cleaning, filling

and lighting the hot tub, checking

health and safety - the list goes on…

Why do you enjoy the business?

I never thought I’d be in the

hospitality business and had no

experience prior to opening but I

love interacting with guests and

being able to share this beautiful

part of the country with them. I

manage expectations by being

transparent in what we offer

and I love that I am outside for a

considerable part of the job.

What are you most proud of?

Sticking with it and not giving up.

We faced a lot of opposition in the

initial stages with differing advice

from planning consultants and huge

cost implications but we did it. We

had a vision that was sustainable

and exciting and didn’t give up. My








husband is a master craftsman and

I’m hugely proud of him for the high

level of accommodation we offer.

What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

We hold events on site and are

currently going through the process

of obtaining a wedding licence so

people can get married here. It

works very well during the summer

months as demand in more laid

back outdoor weddings is on the

rise. Having accommodation on site

is definitely an added bonus.

It’s the perfect venue for health

retreats and we intend to offer this

in future. Glamping throughout

the year gives us an income during

the quieter months and as the site

changes so dramatically throughout

the seasons we’ve found people

love it as much in the winter as they

do in the summer.

What advice could you give

to someone coming into the


Find your unique selling point

and be aware of the increase

in competition. It needs to be

something you’re very passionate

about as it’s definitely a lot harder

than I anticipated both physically

and emotionally. Make sure you

over budget for infrastructure and

build costs.



Royal Tubs www.royaltubs.co.uk


Cool Camping



Airbnb www.airbnb.co.uk

Cool Camping



NFU Mutual www.nfumutual.co.uk


Happy Valley Norfolk,

Massingham Road, Grimston,

Norfolk, PE32 1DN

01485 600719



all year-round fun

and stylish group


for young people

Shepherd’s huts

designed specifically

for the glamping

We supply:

• Flat pack kits

• Accommodation huts

• Off grid solutions

• Wet-room en suites

• Catering huts

• Bespoke solutions


For more information: Tel: 07903313922

email: cathcaesar@talktalk.net www.plainhuts.co.uk

01603 706296 | info@eco-classrooms.com





with Kate Morel

Forward thinking discussions, new events

and some words of warning

WHAT A year for the glamping industry – record breaking summer weather, varying

reports on year-end figures, current economic uncertainties, increasing staycation

breaks and more businesses entering the sector from both sides of the fence -

accommodation sites and suppliers to them. Nothing sits still in this sector for long.

As we approach a new year, reflecting on the industry as a whole and how it's

developing, it’s clear that while independent, boutique and lifestyle models remain

popular, there is a strong shift toward bigger developments. More big companies and

corporations are now seeing the opportunity and acting on it, yet some in the industry

don’t approve, they see it as a dilution of the experience that glamping should offer.

A fair criticism sometimes, yet I was talking with the director of a huge hospitality

company recently and was so taken aback by his ‘guest experience’ philosophy that I

stopped in my tracks and he literally finished my sentence for me. It’s not often I’m lost

for words, I can tell you.


Kate Morel works closely with her

clients to support new glamping

developments and businesses.

Through her new venture Morel &

Co, Kate and the team also offer

planning support, design and

installation of accommodations.

Kate supports industry events,

providing tailored presentations

and workshops for tourism

conferences and exhibitions and

recently published a Glamping

Business Guide in association

with the Friends of Loch Lomond

and the Trossachs. As a leading

expert in this niche sector she

is a respected ‘go-to’ specialist,

providing contract consultancy

to other industry specialists

and companies. 07849 514588

/ info@katemorel.com / www.

morelcompany.co.uk / www.

katemorel.com (Facebook Group:

Glamping Business Link).



THE LAST few weeks have been something of a

blur, but a good one. More than ever I’ve been

engaged in genuinely exciting discussions with

forward thinking landowners and hospitality

businesses. In particular, the Farm Business

Innovation Show was fantastic; a tangible

buzz filled the hall within minutes of the doors

opening and seminars were packed out.

As usual, I’ve also been on the road a lot,

but one trip sticks in my mind which was my

return to Scotland, where for a week I visited

outstandingly beautiful locations. Most of

the projects involved bespoke cabins and

treehouses, and I was so excited about the

projects I started drawing my own designs.

While they won’t be winning any awards, this

is one of the reasons I never tire of what I do –

there’s always new inspiration to be found.

I try to keep my writing up-beat, but a recent

meeting brought up a couple of subjects that

have been causing hushed conversations for

some time. While I hesitate to write about

them, I’m going to anyway because there is

misleading advice being given about setting

up a glamping business, and it’s costing some

landowners dearly.

One of these subjects is planning

permissions. Despite what some people are

being told, and while there are exceptions

and exemptions, commercial glamping sites

require planning permission. Crucially, anyone

looking to add glamping needs to get the

facts, so find a professional consultant who

understands glamping or at least conduct

your own research before committing.

There are several potential consequences

of heeding misleading advice on planning

permissions and suffice it to say, they all

cost money. In particular, buying structures

before establishing planning permission

requirements is simply reckless.

The other subject is the choice of business

model or structure. Some sites struggle

because they’re based on advice from an

existing business model or recommended

structure, but sadly that business model

or structure wasn’t right for the location or

demographic. Some glamping models are

transferable but many aren’t; it isn’t always

possible to take a successful set-up and

reproduce it in another part of the country.

There can be several subtleties and variables

to consider so obtain as much information as

possible before committing to any particular

brand or transaction.



Up &


THERE ARE a few exciting new events coming up next

spring. One is the Rural Business Expo on 6-7 February

2019 at the Telford International Centre, Shropshire. This

event will provide diversification ideas and guidance on

maximising resources available to agricultural and rural

communities through seminars on planning, marketing,

finance and a series of ‘how to’ workshops, including one

by me on glamping (www.energyandruralbusiness.co.uk).

The other is the Short Stay Show on 14 March at ExCel

London, a premium access conference for industry

stakeholders and influencers, with keynote speakers, UK

government representatives and notable panel session

specialists. It promises an innovative marketplace packed

with products and services, seminars on the latest trends,

plus a central networking area. I’ll be hosting a glamping

panel with a difference because we’ll be exploring the

challenges and opportunities of urban glamping - should

be interesting!

Another event that I’ve been asked to support is a

Creative Rural Conference being held at Tate Britain in

London on March 26. And of course, the day before (25

March) it's the inaugural Open Air Business Pre-Season

Gathering in Leicestershire! I'll see you there.

Whisk Me Away

AFTER SPENDING a week in Scotland, driving alongside glasssurfaced

lochs and through miles and miles of wild mountains, I hardly

feel like I need whisking away. Having said that, I found this place

which could definitely entice me towards an airport to get me in the

mood for Christmas (which right now, just isn’t happening). Some of

the sculptures make me think I’d wake up feeling I was in the middle

of a surreal dream, but overall, what a unique experience. Move over

Frosty the Snowman – check out Ice Hotel, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden.

Wishing you a joyful Yule and an abundant New Year in 2019.

Till next time, Kate


Glamping has never been

so popular - More Landowners

are purchasing huts and making money


More people are

Holidaying in

this country

Prices from £3,749 (+vat)


FOR 2019

We have a Hut to

suit your needs



From Build

to Bookings

Essential tips from Quality Unearthed’s Geno Cleal

on letting your brand new glamping structure


You need to consider what type of

holiday you’re trying to create and who

you’re trying to attract. Whether you’re

catering for families, groups or couples,

each demographic has a different kind

of expectation. Again, it is important to

know who is coming and why. What type

of holiday are they looking for? Striking

a balance between catering for different

audiences and focussing your attention

can be tricky. Catering for everyone

increases your audience, but you may

end up muddying the waters. With that

in mind, it’s best to focus your marketing

efforts towards one specific holiday


Just like any business, you’re trying

to create a brand, and every good brand

has an interesting theme or story to tell.

Whether you’ve used local materials,

incorporated historical features, or

if you have a particular penchant for

badgers, telling your story is important.

It adds to the richness and clarity of

your brand. It doesn’t matter if your

theme is completely wacky as long

as it offers some kind of intrigue or

appeal. Choosing the right name is

also important. A good name should

be warm and welcoming, but also

memorable and with a tie into your


SO, YOU’VE set up your glampsite

– the location is set, structure type

chosen, and you’ve pained through

the trials and tribulations of the

planning office. You’ve designed,

dug, drilled, occasionally dozed

and spent far too many late nights

deliberating over whether to include

a smart tech eco-toilet or just dig a

great big hole in the ground.

After all the drama and hard

work you’ve finally made it; your

new money-making machine is

ready. You stand there triumphantly

admiring your indubitable

masterpiece, waiting for the chaching

of coins to start piling up in

your pockets… But now what!?

How to get the money rolling in

may not seem as straightforward as

you first envisaged but luckily we’ve

been through the mill a few times,

so here are a few basic tips to get

you started. Of course, you’ll have a

few marketing options to consider,

there are a few techy bits to get your

head around, but ultimately you will

need to start creating a brand or a

theme that people can relate to.


First up, market research – know your

product. What’s new, what’s trending,

what’s selling? You should at least

have a rough idea already. The term

‘glamping’ is expanding and evolving

extremely quickly. What’s cool and

what’s relevant now may not be true

in five or 10 years’ time. The discerning

public are continually looking for new

and interesting places to stay. There’s

an ever-growing variety of unique and

unusual holiday types, whether it’s a

weird or funky structure, or a wild or

crazy location.

As the market evolves it’s important

to stay one step ahead of the trends.

Study the competition, particularly

in your area. This should give you a

firm idea of what works and what

doesn’t. Is your welcome pack up to

standard? Are your basic facilities up

to scratch? Where do you price your

structure? There are so many things you

can learn and incorporate to give you a

competitive edge.

In terms of the facilities and extras

you offer, the market shows that

expectations are increasing. Customers

commonly expect a higher level of

service and a basic range of facilities.

We tend to find the more extras you offer

– fresh flowers and local produce in the

welcome hamper, or a lit fire for guests

on arrival – the more impact it will have









on your success. Glampers are looking

for a special or memorable experience,

so whatever you can do to improve this

experience will ultimately lead to more

bookings. As a general rule of thumb,

price your structure conservatively, with

the aim to push the value up as your

reputation and demand grows.




The next step is photography. This is arguably the most important factor in

the whole process. Essentially, your photos will sell your property and as

the competition increasingly hits higher standards, they must be good! The

best photography captures something more than just an inanimate object,

it captures the real essence of the experience. Night shots can also be a great

addition, with a crackling fire or twinkling stars really exemplifying what

glamping is all about.

It’s important to not misrepresent or ‘oversell’, but your first pic or ‘hero

shot’, should make you go ‘wow’. Prospective guests will often be skimming

through a bunch of thumbnails (small pictures), so you only have one shot to

draw them in. If their initial response is ‘meh’, they will browse right on by. A

great hero shot can double or even triple your click through rate (CTR), vastly

increasing the number of visitors to your page.


Once your content is ready it’s time to create a

shop window and start showcasing. A good first

step would be to build a website. If you’re techsavvy

you can do this on your own, especially

with the variety of ‘do it yourself’ options

available, but make sure you have a firm idea of

the style and design you want to achieve.

It is also worth noting that over half of

holidays searched online use a mobile phone,

so make sure it’s compatible across all devices.

What’s more, make sure your website loads

within two seconds. If it’s above this threshold

it will have a negative impact on your Google

search rating. In addition, choose a booking and

calendar system that uses iCal. This will allow

you to link it together with other major calendar

systems and help automate the booking


Once you have an established website, you

can start driving traffic using Google advertising

or pay per click (PPC). In a nutshell, you will bid

on keywords or search terms relevant to your

target audience, so you appear at the top of

the first Google page for that search. Effective

PPC also has an important timing element. For

example, more people book glamping holidays

on a Sunday or during bouts of good weather.

You can also tie in key holiday periods such as

Valentines or the summer holidays, which could

also improve your conversion rate.


This is what sets you apart from your competitors and is what makes paying

guests want to come to your glamping site. Maybe you’ve got a great location by the

sea, an outdoor bathtub with views over the valley, or perhaps you claim your land is

home to the world’s largest wood pigeon? Whatever it is, utilise your Unique Selling

Point (USP) in your marketing efforts. If you don’t have one, you need to start thinking;

what can you do to make your place unique? If you’re run of the mill, or just trying to

recreate what’s already been done, the gap in the market might already be gone.

Once you’ve perfected your theme you can start getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Considering over 80 per cent of holidays are found on the internet, you need to

start building an online presence. This is the window which connects you to your

customers and is central to your success. If you’re unable or unsure whether you can

do this yourself, get some help, there are plenty of professionals who can guide you


First things first, create a written copy of your story, which you can deploy in various

forms on websites, listings, publications, and social media platforms. This is your

chance to elaborate on your theme and USP, but also an opportunity to lay out every

additional selling point you may have. Remember to address your target audience,

so visualise the type of experience they want to discover. Be romantic and expressive

without diverging from the truth and try to create a real sense of experience. Make

sure you tie in events, things to do, places of interest, restaurants, pubs, and anything

which is remotely relevant to the holiday.

It’s also vitally important from a search engine optimisation (SEO) standpoint,

because the more authoritative things you mention, the greater impact it will have

on your Google search ranking. Incorporate as many keywords or search terms as

possible, which will further enhance your SEO. What’s more, include transport links

and directions, so customers know where and how to find you.









Social media can also be a great way to engage and generate new customers. Facebook

and Instagram, for example, are very image and video friendly so really lend themselves

towards strong visual representation. However, try and keep your standards as high as the

rest of your online brand. Just because your Facebook feed is filled with cats marooned in

slices of bread, doesn’t mean it’s OK to post any old rubbish. Try and keep your content a

little bit softer rather than taking an outright sales approach. It’s important to focus on the

experience as much as the product itself.

Photos and videos that capture the moment tend to receive a lot more engagement. Also,

try to like, share and participate in as many relevant posts as possible. This will inspire other

users and businesses to engage more with your activity and help further increase your reach.

Another strong promotional tool is, of course, the media. Many agencies work closely with

PR companies to gain online and printed exposure for their properties. However, you can

gain exposure yourself by networking and speaking to media outlets and PR companies.

They’re always on the lookout for good content, so they’ll be more than happy to hear

from you. Offering free stays to journalists is a good way of enticing them in and is almost a

prerequisite for mainstream publications. However, don’t disregard smaller or local news

outlets too, since they’re likely to have a genuine interest in your project.


Even if you have a brilliant website,

you might still require additional

help, particularly if you’re starting

up. You may want to enlist the

help of a specialised glamping

agency. Agencies can help with

everything from copywriting,

photography and creating a theme,

to your marketing approach and

promotional capabilities. They

already have a dedicated shop

window for showcasing similar types

of properties, so offer an excellent

starting point for new sites.

As well as agencies you can use

large online travel agencies (OTAs)

such as Booking.com or Airbnb.

These well-established global

companies have excellent marketing

reach and a large customer base.

However, there are a couple of things

to be aware of. Firstly, you will be

required to do a lot of the work

yourself – photography, copywriting

and booking management for

example – and there can be hidden

fees or additional costs to the

customer, such as a cleaning or

service fee. The other thing to bear in

mind is that these companies have

a very large number of properties

in their portfolio, so you can get

lost in the mire of endless holiday

possibilities. It is also important to

note that one bad review can be

extremely damaging. Generally,

poorly rated properties will find

themselves stuck at the bottom of

search pages, so not only do they

receive very few visitors, they can get

trapped in a negative cycle.



Before you’re ready to let, there’s one last snippet of information

to consider; feedback and reviews. We’ve touched on the negative

potential of reviews in OTAs, so it’s of utmost importance to strike

a positive dialogue with your guests. Make sure every angle of

your guest experience has been carefully thought out before you

start. You’ll have plenty of operational processes to work out –

how will you manage changeovers? How much interaction with

guests should you offer? What information booklets or advice will

guests need to settle in?

It might be a good idea to offer a few free stays to friends or

family, just so you can formalise the process. This should stop you

from making any glaring mistakes!

Finally, if you want to get the ball rolling, why not offer

discounted stays to tempt a few early birds? Maybe you could

create a ‘like’ competition on social media to win a free holiday?

If you can excite the senses (especially with your fabulous photos

and copy!) then there’s every chance it could go viral. Once you

have a few dates in the calendar, plus a few reviews in the system,

confidence will start to grow, and fingers crossed the bookings

will start tumbling in.


Geno Cleal is a

glamping expert at

Quality Unearthed

- a specialised

glamping agency

in Pembrokeshire.

Showcasing a range

of unique and

unusual holiday

structures from

safari tents to

treehouses, Quality

Unearthed helps

develop, market and

promote glamping

sites across the UK

and France. www.



Innovation from

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Water Worries

In light of new European standards, Gareth Edwards dispels fears regarding the use of

wood burning hot tubs in commercial environments


FOLLOWING A recent advice

document from the British and

Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association

(BISHTA) in August of this year

rumours have circulated claiming

that wood-fired hot tubs are no

longer suitable within a business


After reading this document

and listening to comments from

potential customers and glamping

forums online we have found that

many electric hot tub companies

have neglected to advise that this

fact was followed by an “unless X,Y

and Z is followed by the business

user”. Quite a handy omission from

the true statement when you’re

trying to promote electric/chemical

options and certainly a scare tactic

to put off potential wood-fired


Following in depth discussions

with Chris Hayes at BISHTA and

Howard Gosling at Pool & Spa

Advice we thought it only right to

put the record straight and give

you the correct information.

New European standards will

soon be available documenting

best practice for all hot tubs within

the business environment and will

state that fresh water can be used

but must be limited to a single use

before a water change. Something

that Naked Flame has always


Wood-fired hot tubs offer a

totally off-grid, chemical free,

natural experience for users, and

the good news is that the fresh

water approach is still very much

a viable option in a commercial

setting if these new standards are


If owners were to try and use

wood-fired tubs in a similar way

to electric, chemical options, and

keep water in the tubs for long

periods of time, they may well be

deemed as impractical. Their very

nature is to be an eco option that

requires no power, pumps or filters,

and the ability to be sited almost

anywhere an owner requires.

Potable water has a five hour

window of use whereas non

potable has a three hour window –

plenty of time for an evening’s use,

especially in wood-fired tubs with

super fast heat up times. Emptying,

cleaning and refilling can be

done in a short space of time and

fresh water is often a bather’s

preference. Fresh water options

also allow water to be recycled on

the land after use.

At Naked Flame, we have

developed the LuvTub, a two

person model with a low water

volume, as well as the 1.4m EcoTub

four/five person model. Both tubs


hold approximately 900 litres

when full and take just one hour

to heat. All tubs provided for

business use are constructed

from Thermowood, a heat treated

pine with no moisture content

so bacteria cannot be harboured

in it.

All businesses with hot tubs,

no matter which type, will be

required to supply a water sample

from their tub once a month

for micro-biological testing to

ensure a safe environment for

their customers. As well as this,

all electric/chemical hot tub

owners will be required to test

water twice a day and keep a

record of this. This is quite some

involvement for owners especially

when you add in chemical costs,

electricity costs and installation,

service, parts that may fail or

need regular changing (pumps

and filters) and insurance

implications when handling

chemicals on site.

Naked Flame tubs remain

easy to use for both owners and


customers. A simple clean with

an anti-bacterial cleaner between

fills ensures a safe environment

for the user and running costs

are minimal. Plastic liners are

available on request but the

authentic Scandinavian solid

wood tubs still prove to be the

most popular with sites across

the UK and Europe, fitting into the

vision and ethos of many with an

eco friendly outlook.

Glamping at its best goes hand

in hand with nature, sustainability

and our environment, celebrating

the unrivalled beauty of our

countryside here in the UK. We

will endeavour to keep producing

products that look and feel part

of the landscape and enable our

customers to provide amazing

places for people to visit and



Gareth Edwards in

the founder of Naked

Flame Eco Tubs, a

supplier of wood-fired

hot tubs and saunas to

glampsites and holiday

parks across the UK.

A trusted supplier to

companies including

Sykes Cottages, Cool

Camping, Wigwam

Holidays and Canopy &

Stars, its product range

provides a completely

off-grid option with

some of the fastest

heat up times on

the market. www.








Keeping things cutting edge


The Daddy Long Legs from Anthropods


We couldn’t help but admire the original Anthropod

structure at the Glamping Show in September so

when we found out about the 'Daddy Long Legs'

(DDL) version we just had to share! It sits 3.5m higher

than the original model meaning you can park a car

underneath - a clever space-saving

solution for landowners.

The structure comes in 5.3m or 7.2m

lengths, has a three year warranty and

is available in either an on-grid (linked

to mains electrics) or off-grid (solar

panels/LPG gas) version.

Dutch glampsite Camping Vreehorst

loves it too and takes delivery of its

first DDL in March next year.



07860 420763



The Pebble


Designed by Danish architect

Kristoffer Tejlgaard in association

with John Morris from

Honeydown Domes in Devon,

this gorgeous oval structure

comprises a highly insulated

interlocking panel system made

from engineered wood. It has a

floor area of 40sqm and a curved

double-glazed plastic window

making up a quarter of the

facade for a unique connection to

daylight, nature and the night sky.

Lightweight and movable, its

design has considered everything

including disassembly and even

eventual decommission! The

designers are also investigating

bio-plastics to replace the current

petro-plastics used for the

window, making the Pebble even

more sustainable.


The Pebble

07940 400970



The Conker from Conker Living


Conker Living is the brainchild of Jag

Virdie, an engineer who started his

career with Rolls-Royce Bentley. Jag’s

inspiration for The Conker came from

the desire to build a treehouse for his

children but with an engineer’s mind he

wanted it to be something different, a

sphere that would hang like a conker!

The eventual design actually sits

on four legs for minimum ground

disruption, and offers 10sqm

of floor space. It takes just a

day to install and has an easily changed

exterior shell.

What’s more, due to its shape, it

doesn’t require any guttering and has

fantastic heat efficiency.


Conker Living

01270 666615




Classic and Classic Plus

Glamping Domes from



Iconic and fun, we’ve always

loved a dome! The height of

these structures delivers a

feeling of space, and huge

panoramic windows help

guests appreciate beautiful


These British

made domes

start from


and come in either a 5.88m or

6.7m diameter, offering base

areas of 27sqm of 34.5sqm

respectively. Choose from six

colours (we love the blue),

add insulation, curtains,

a woodburning stove and

insulated flue, a solar air vent

and lighting.

If you need inspiration, give

the team a call – they just love to

get creative.



02476 326585



The GlampLoft from

Universal Glamping


Two things really

struck us about this

structure when we

visited it. First, it’s got

an upstairs – not many

tents have them and we loved

the adventure up the ladder into

a surprisingly spacious lofted area – big

enough for two beds.

The second feature that swung it for us was the

incorporation of Universal Glamping’s new GlampRad, a clever

infrared heating device sandwiched between the two layers of

the structure providing radiated warmth throughout.

It helped of course that inside it is beautifully furnished by

interiors expert Nikkita Palmer, attracting a lot of interest at its

trade show debut this year.


Universal Glamping

01269 853957






We talk to head of marketing, Ann Boardman,

about the solutions Saniflo offers the glamping

sector including owners of sites, as well as

manufacturers of accommodation


0208 842 0033


www.saniflo.co.uk /



Saniflo is best known for its range of

macerators and pumps that enable extra

facilities to be installed when gravity

drainage isn’t feasible. Waste is reduced to

a liquid form and discharged through smallbore

pipework to a soil stack or sewer.

The company also manufactures the

Kinedo range of shower cubicles, enclosures

and trays which are used by a number of

holiday accommodation providers, from

guest houses to glamping pods.


Saniflo is the original inventor of the

macerator; a pump that can be installed

to take waste water away from WCs,

basins, showers and a wide range of other

appliances. As market leader, the company

has the widest range available; over 30

products that can be used in a variety of

domestic and commercial applications.

Constant investment in the range and the

introduction of new products ensure that

Saniflo offers the best choice.

Kinedo cubicles are ideal for use in

timber framed buildings. Glass or plastic

interior panels combine with a bespoke

shower tray, external doors and panels to

create a watertight shower with no need

for silicone or tiles and grout - which can be

prone to cracking when wood expands and




The Saniflo macerator was first introduced

into the UK nearly 40 years ago and has

grown to become a leading name in

the plumbing sector. Over the last four

decades the company has introduced

new and bigger macerators, kitchen

and shower pumps, as well as units that

remove condensate from boilers, aircon or

refrigeration units.

In late 2016 the first exterior sited,

underground pump, the Sanifos, was

launched, while in 2017 the biggest ever

range revision was undertaken. The new

models are quieter and offer easier access

than ever before. This on-going investment

ensures Saniflo pumps are always at the

forefront of technology.

It is a similar story with the Kinedo range.

New products, including a cut-able shower

tray, have been launched this year and we

look forward to introducing even more new

products in 2019.


Saniflo produces the most comprehensive

range of macerators and pumps on the

market because no two jobs are the same.

Ease of installation is a hallmark of every

Saniflo and Kinedo product, while marketleading

support comes in the form of the

unique network of over 100 approved

Saniflo engineers in the UK.


Our hero product has to be the humble

Sanivite+. For no other reason than it is our

best seller year after year. And the most

surprising fact of all is that it is not even a

macerating pump. This powerful pump is

ideally suited for kitchens or utility rooms

to discharge grey water waste. With four

inlet pipes it can be connected to sinks and

appliances such as dishwashers, washing

machines and ice makers and is sufficiently

compact to be concealed in a unit or

behind a demountable panel.

When it comes to our hero from the

Kinedo range, it has to be the Eden

cubicle. It delivers stunning design, low

level access, affordability and ease of

installation and is widely used in pods,

cabins and lodges.


The possibilities created by using a Saniflo.

Whether it is extra bathroom or kitchen

facilities in a loft, a basement, an outdoor

building, a field, a house or a commercial

space, there is usually a Saniflo that can

handle the job. There are Saniflos on

multiple floors of the Shard building that

have been converted to consulting rooms

for doctors, units pumping away water

waste at cabin lodges in holiday parks,

units dealing with waste in towable toilet

and shower blocks, as well as numerous

household name cafes, restaurants, hotels

etc. You name it and there’s probably a

Saniflo in there somewhere.



The Saniflo technical support team is

on hand during working hours to offer

help and advice for your project. Where

necessary one of the Saniflo sales team will

attend site to scope out the requirement

and our merchant suppliers have stocks

for quick delivery. When you work with

Saniflo you have peace of mind that a

trained, experienced network of engineers

is always there for servicing, maintenance

and aftercare.


“We cannot

fault their


“After researching the market for domes,

we chose to order our domes through

TruDomes. Our main basis for this decision

was to support a UK company which

in turn meant if there were any issues we

could contact them easily. We cannot

fault their service. They have followed

our progress and assisted with any complex

questions. We plan to purchase further

domes from TruDomes.”

Claire Fahy, Proprietor

Pant y Rhedyn Guesthouse & Accommodation


“It's fabulous…

corporates love its


“The dome is beside our restaurant terrace

at the moment and creates a talking

point for everyone who visits. We have

had baby showers, meetings and parties

in there and have a coffee house product

launch booked this summer. The acoustics

are outstanding… it's fabulous and

funky and corporates love its flexibility.”

Ema Townsend, Head of

Marketing Heart Of England

Conference & Events Centre

“We would highly



“Our TruDomes glamping dome is great,

the aluminium frame is well engineered

and went up with no problems, Kelda

and the team are always ready to offer

help and advice and we would highly recommend

TruDomes for glamping


Carolyn Truss

Gayton Farm

From cosy to colossal together we create beautiful,

bespoke, spaces your customers will love!

Contact us today to design

your own amazing space. Our

home-grown experts in the

field of British designed,

engineered and manufactured

geodesic domes are ready to

help businesses like yours

create beautiful, customisable,

profitable spaces that your

customers will love.

W. TruDomes.com

T. 02476 326585

E. Hello@TruDomes.com



Hot Tubs & Cooking

Pidley Bottom Cottages & Shepherd’s Huts at Sidings Farm

Description: Luxury, self-catering accommodation set within a small

working farm deep in the heart of the Cambridgeshire countryside

Product: LuvTub and a wood fired sauna

Supplier: Naked Flame Eco-


Telephone: 01484 766233

Website: www.nakedtubs.com

Details: The owners at Sidings

Farm were attracted by the low

water volume and fast heat up

time (one hour) of the LuvTub.

Made from solid Scandinavian

timber, hot tubs from Naked

Flame can be supplied in sizes to suit all spaces and arrive with the

customer fully built.

The site also ordered a wood-fired sauna. Bespoke layouts including

changing rooms, outdoor seating and various storage options give

each design its own personality and, with the addition of the new semi

internal wood-burning sauna heaters, there is now no need to take any

fuel into the sauna room itself. Simply load from outside eradicating

the potential for any mess inside. Electric heaters are also available if

preferred, and both are available in the classic barrel design as well as

the pod shape (pictured).

Feedback: “From the moment we contacted Naked Flame we

were impressed with the level of service, attention to detail and

communication. Throughout the order and delivery process we were

kept informed as to the build time and exact delivery date and time –

something that was important to both us and our guests.

“The build quality of both the tub and sauna are exemplary and

Naked Flames’ after-sales service means that technical questions are

answered promptly and in full. The addition of these facilities means

that our booking rates have increased and our guests have been

assured an added dimension to their stay with us – we wholeheartedly

commend Naked Flame!”

Pot A Doodle Do


Description: A glampsite

on a working farm on the

North Northumberland

coast with 27 Wigwams,

three canvas yurts, a

restaurant, shop, craft

studio, fishing and play


Product: Three 11m2

Finman BBQ Huts

Supplier: Logspan

Telephone: 01389 887205

Website: www.logspan.


Details: Pot A Doodle Do

Wigwams saw the benefit

of offering a warm, dry

environment where their

guests could eat. They

wished to test the waters

with one BBQ hut, with the

option of adding more if

uptake was good. It wasn’t

long before they had three

popular BBQ huts up and

running, adding another

unique selling point to

an already very popular

glamping site.

Feedback: “We saw these

BBQ huts at the Royal

Highland Show and felt

they would be a great

addition to our site for

guests when the weather

was not so great. We

received excellent advice

from Logspan regarding

installation of the huts and

the building of them.

“The quality of these

huts is superb. You can

BBQ at anytime of the year,

whatever the weather.

Lots of our guests enjoy

great nights in the BBQ

huts. They are easy to use

and with the extractor fan

fitted they are foolproof.

They are very easy to clean

and very low maintenance.

We would certainly

recommend Logspan BBQ

huts as an addition to any




South Wales Camping

Description: A camping and glamping site set in rural

South Wales with a fishing lake

Product: Deluxe hot tub with log burning stove

Supplier: Universal Glamping

Telephone: 01269 853957

Website: www.universalglamping.com

Details: The owners of the site chose this product as

they were looking for a luxury item and were attracted

by features including built in lights, bubbles, filter

and an insulated cover. It only takes on average two

hours to heat unlike electric hot tubs, which can

take double the time. It was easy to set up and sits

perfectly alongside the pod accommodation creating

a luxurious setting.

Feedback: Owner Jacqueline said: “From point of

sale, Universal Glamping was very helpful

with the description on how to install the

hot tub. It was delivered on a pallet and

was put into place by a Hiab vehicle. Once

situated all that was needed was the flue

to be assembled and a drainage pipe for

waste water. As this is a freshwater hot tub

we do not use chemicals and this has proved

very popular with our customers. It is a low

maintenance hot tub with easy cleaning and

works extremely well for me as a glamping

site owner.

“Since installation this has

boosted my bookings and increased

customer feedback.”

Electric, Wooden Barrel

Hot Tubs

Riviera Hot Tubs

01626 367038


Riviera Hot Tubs has long

been established as a leading

manufacturer of wooden

barrel hot tubs, with operating

systems to support both

domestic and commercial use.

In partnership with Classic

Glamping/Classic Cottages it

Wood Fired Ovens


01825 714712


With 20 years’ experience cooking

with wood, Blistering Ovens

has turned its attention to the

glamping market. Designed for

their ease of use, its wood fired

ovens are endorsed by the likes of

the Hairy Bikers.

New to the line-up is the Wizard

has been supplying the outdoor

hospitality market for many

years. This year it launched a

new Acrylic range of hot tubs

and swim spas tailor-made for

the holiday rental market. The

Riviera Holiday range has been

designed to be ultra-economic

while not compromising on

quality. Backed up by the

support of a nationwide service

team it offers an affordable

high-end solution for rental

properties. Member of BISHTA.

range from Portugal. Perfect for

the glamping market, these ovens

come in two massive sizes, require

no assembly and have wheels for


Blistering Ovens are designed

to withstand the Great British

outdoors and come in a variety

of colours. All ovens are supplied

ready to use with a full selection

of accessories, easy set up

instructions and recipes.


Headline Sponsor

Discover new wow factors

for your future events.

From temporary structures and roadways, to permanent

inspiration and entertainment, you’ll find it all at EPS.

For Every Event

Reserve your visitor badge now




Magical Woodland

and Christmas


Making most of winter nights with seasonal

woodland illuminations

With a strong focus on customer experience, the team at Cheshire

Falconry’s woodland venue has ventured into ticketed events offering

magical experiences in the woods with sound, light and water features.

The Magical Woodland and Christmas Woodland events feature storylines

delivered by specialist actors and are accessible to all. We speak to owner Steve Birchall.

Describe your event and how

many people it attracts?

We hold a number of events at

Cheshire Falconry throughout

the year, the largest of which are

The Magical Woodland and The

Christmas Woodland. The Magical

Woodland ran for the second time

this year, from 20 October to 2

November, and saw an increase in

visitors from 3,000 in 2016 to 7,000.

The Christmas Woodland, which in

its fourth year has taken the idea of

visiting Santa to a whole new level,

creates theatre in the woodland,

and ticket sales have been amazing

with over 5,000 sold for this


Explain a bit about your venue

and its history

Set in the centre of Cheshire in 15

acres of woodland at Blakemere

Village (a family-run attraction,














home to a unique collective of

independent shops and activities)

Cheshire Falconry is much

more than the one bird aviary it

originally opened as 22 years ago.

Employing eight full-time team

members, there are now between

60-70 birds of prey, expanding

massively with changing markets

and trends of the day and

overnight visitor market.

Five years ago we identified

the need to take the business

to another level; although the

falconry experiences were

successful, visitors were looking

to add to their experience once

on site. We identified the need to

create experience days, beginning

with Cheshire Segway. Three years

ago we bought the woodland

bordering Blakemere, which

enabled us to open Cheshire

Outdoors, a full experience

package includes archery, laser

clay shooting, bushcraft, low

ropes, cycle hire and much more.

Last year we ran our first wedding

- a back to nature experience set in

the magical woodland.

The events calendar was born

when we noticed the depleting

numbers attending the traditional

Santa’s Grotto on site. We

identified that people wanted

more of an ‘experience’ which is

when we looked at creating events

with a difference.

The market comes from far and

wide, and we have created an offer

that is attractive and possible for

four year olds to 80 year olds, and

any age group inbetween. During

the week, corporate team building

events and educational trips use

the facilities, and leisure visitors at


This year the team was finally



recognised for all their hard work

and Cheshire Falconry won “Best

Small Attraction in Cheshire 2018”.

What is the event’s history?

The Christmas Woodland, now in

its fourth year, is a magical journey

to visit Santa. "A Theatre in the

Woodland", visitors meet numerous

characters who entertain them on

their journey; some have activities,

some tell stories, others lead the

way to the next instalment of the

adventure. Christmas Woodland

also incorporates an ice-skating

rink, fairground attractions and

food/craft stalls.

We work with a local Cheshire

company called Believe in Magic to

create the full event.

Obviously with a Christmas

experience we attract a large

number of families with children

under 11, surprisingly we also

attract young couples. The dwell

time is 2 and 2 1/2 hours, and

people travel up to 30 miles to visit


We are flexible to our

customers' needs, allowing them

the opportunity to make the

experience their own and don’t

force the full story onto them.

Some children don’t like Santa but

can still experience the wonders

of Christmas. The experience is

set so Santa is just one part of the


We are aware that there is

nothing worse than paying to

attend an event then turning up

and everything else that is there

costs money. We have therefore

created two packages, one where

our young visitors can enjoy the

woodland experience and meet

Santa, the other includes unlimited

activities such as live theatre,

skating, fairground rides and craft

with Mrs Claus, as well as the

Christmas Woodland.

Our experience is also targeted

at couples so we include a gift for

adults as well as children so they

too can enjoy the fun!

Our Magical Woodland event

came from something very

different. We wanted to do

something that was unusual,

something that couldn’t be visited

in the North West. We were aware

of an event held in Perthshire called

the Enchanted Forest, which after

seven years now attracts 70,000

visitors with an economic value of

£2.2 million to the local economy.

Our vision is to make this happen in


We held our first Magical

Woodland event in 2016. It was a

late decision and we didn’t invest

in marketing, in fact our main

marketing was via Facebook,

and that attracted 3,000 people.

For our 2018 event we started

planning in late 2017, bringing in

partners and looking for funding.

Our falconry teams were marketing

the event at each experience day

and we have been selling tickets

since the summer. 2018 exceeded

expectations so much we decided

to open for an additional evening

at the end of the event. We have

already set the dates for 2019 (19

October – 1 November).

The experience involved the

creation of six installations set

within naturally formed bowls in

the woodland. Each had a theme

of water, sound or light, some

were a combination and they

were all interactive. Along the

paths between each installation

entertainers or statues created

interest at every step.

How does the relationship work

with the venue you hold the event


In 2013 we bought the woodland

which is used for the experience

days and events; we saw the

opportunity and took it. This is what

makes our events so unique. The

Woodland backs onto Blakemere

Village, where Cheshire Falconry

is based, this means we have full



access to its car parking facilities

and great signage to the venue.

How did you find applying for


We already have experiences on

site so have our licenses in place.

Noise and lighting into the night is

covered already under our wedding

agreements, as is serving food and


Working with our local authority

has been very important, we

have found them happy to work

with us and support us in our

projects as we keep an open line of

communication with them.

How have you planned the layout

of the events?

We don’t use a marquee, but have a

number of small structures around

the woodland which we perform

wedding ceremonies or bush-tucker

experiences in at other times of

the year. Made using the timber

from the wood, these are used for

the story telling elements of the

Christmas Woodland event.

For Magical Woodland we have












constructed new structures to

deliver the entertainment. We have

a water spectacular controlled by

WII controllers where light swirls

around and water dances to music.

It took us two weeks to construct

all the structures needed.

The events utilise the full 15 acres

of woodland. We are very lucky

that natural ‘bowls’ have formed

so we are able to keep installations

hidden from sight until people walk

to them. We try to create a natural

flow using characters or animation,

but also allow visitors the option to

make their own routes.

What entertainment do you


Our policy is to use local where

possible, for everything we

deliver. We also hire people who

have the same objectives as us to

ensure the customer has the best

experience possible, which means

we have to be as flexible as needed

all the time.

To create the Christmas theatre

in the woodland we originally

worked with a theatre company

in Liverpool, but their focus was

on the acting, not flexibility and

customer engagement. We now

work with a local family run

business that is passionate about

providing an unparallelled and

personal experience. Since this

change, we have seen our visitor

numbers grow. All our actors

have been chosen because of

their focus on the customer, not

necessarily their acting ability.

They need to be attuned to the

child’s appreciation of the mystery

and what they like, but also what

will scare them. The actors are in

character from the moment they

arrive until they leave, the mystery

never stops.

For the Magical Woodland we

needed to look for partners who

were willing to support our vision

and help us to develop the event

over the coming years. We looked

for entertainers who could deliver

outdoors and in all weathers,

but most of all focussed on the

entertainment of the customer.

Because this event is selffinancing,

we need to work with

people who are willing to take

the risk with us. The artists we

contracted agreed to work with us

on a profit related pay agreement

for the first two years, meaning

they receive a share of the income

through ticket sales, and the

only way to ensure payment is to

create an outstanding experience!

We are not charging our catering

suppliers for the first two years

while we develop our audience;

we feel it is important the caterers

get something from the event and

in return will support the event

providing a quality experience.

What provisions do you make for

power, lights and sound?

Sound and light are two of the

themes for the Magical Woodland,

which is why we partnered with

Event Equipment – they have the

expertise and resources to match

our vision, which is fundamental

to the success of the event.

We do have a strong

infrastructure already in place

to provide a whimsical wedding

setting of fairy lights and soft

music within the woodland itself

and of course the wedding barn is

fully powered, so our guests can

party into the night.



How do you manage admissions

and visitor safety?

Our events and experiences are all

run on a ticket basis. Guests arrive

at our established reception desk

and then enter into the woodland.

Even though a lot of our offer is

within woodlands we are fully

accessible and have created

wheelchair friendly footpaths and

a safe environment for children

with special needs, who use our

facilities often. We provide an

experience that enhances all the

senses, allowing visually and

hearing-impaired visitors to enjoy

the experience as well.

How do you publicise the event?

At the end of each Birds of Prey

experience our team tells guests

about our events. A lot of our sales

come from gift vouchers which

we promote on every enquiry

and especially over the Christmas


We tried something new at

Carfest this year; we did a Birds of

Prey display and had a trade stand

where we created a Christmas

display to promote our Christmas

event. We had fake snow, a sleigh

and characters.

For our Christmas Wonderland

we encourage repeat business by

changing the characters within the

story each year. We also introduce

the characters into the woodland

throughout the year so children can

begin to feel the story developing.

We feel people need to see the

brilliance of the event and therefore

video is our main marketing tool.













We create YouTube videos, which

can be inserted in social media

and on our website, promoting the

new characters but also showing

previous years’ experiences.

What challenges have you faced?

The biggest challenge we face has

always been getting the message

out to the public regarding our

woodland experiences. We try

and make our experiences unique

for the guests to enjoy the great

outdoors. Trying to get that

message across to all markets is

a challenge, but we keep working

on it.

How have you financed the event

and how profitable is it?

Everything we do is self-financing.

As the Magical Woodland is

such as big event and required

the development of a large

infrastructure, we have sourced

a partner, Richard Warrener from

Event Equipment. We both believe

in the opportunities this event can

bring to the area and are willing

to invest our own funds, time

and equipment, understanding

that in the first two years we will

receive limited returns. We were

also successful in bidding for

and receiving £5,000 in funding

from Marketing Cheshire, via the

SLANT project to help us develop

the Magical Woodland marketing


What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

We have mentioned our

experiences and falconry days, this

was the base from which we have

developed. Woodland weddings are

our new challenge growing from

this year’s base of five weddings.

What advice could you give to

someone coming into the outdoor

event industry?

Never stand still, keep coming up

with new ideas, always believe

you can do it and it will happen,

be flexible and respond to your

customer and they will reward you

in the long run!



Event Equipment


Stanwax Laser



Aqua Rhythm www.aquarhythm.co


Christmas Woodland

8-9, 15-16, 22-24 December 2018


Magical Woodland

19 October – 1 November 2019


Blakemere Village


Cheshire CW8 2EB



Secret Widget

Keith Burchett, founding director of the Secret Widget Festival, shares how

his event was saved by a brave decision on a last minute relocation

AFTER LEAVING Weyfest and A New Day

Festival, the two music events that had

played a significant part in my life for

the previous 14 years, I was in no rush to

become involved with (let alone start)

another festival. But things changed on a

weekend break with my partner Mary on

the Isle of Wight for a family gathering.

Mary’s granddaughter was celebrating her

24th birthday and chose to visit Calbourne

Water Mill.

When we got to the site it immediately

reminded me of the Rural Life Centre, a

working museum in Surrey that is very

dear to me and is the site which I was

responsible for introducing Weyfest to

in 2007. When I found out it had its own

campsite I started visualising a festival,

and after a meeting with the owner it was

a done deal. I formed a management team

with Mike Sands, who had run the stewards

and security teams, and Barry Cogger, who

had supplied the stages and overseen the

power supply at both the other festivals.

We spent several months visiting the site,

measuring it and planning for this new

event while hand picking the crew from

the great teams that had, and still do, work

the previous festivals. We knew it would

be a challenging site but it showed a lot of


We needed a name for the festival, not

the easiest thing to come up with by any

means. It started being known as the

Secret Widget, almost as a joke, but after a

while we decided we should go with it.


After some months had passed things were

not running quite as planned, we were not

getting the deals that had been promised us

for some time from the ferry companies and

another festival that had been advertised

earlier in the year moved to the dates

we had set leading to a demand for the

infrastructure and supplies we needed to

hire. Sales from the mainland were also just

not coming our way.

We had a crisis meeting and it was

decided to look for a suitable site for the

same dates on the mainland. We had

already booked and paid deposits on most

of the bands and could not afford to lose

either if we were to save the festival, but

with less than three months to go until the



gates were due to open we knew we would

be up against the clock if it was going to


We put together a list of possible sites

to check out; we found two that were full

of potential although both would require

some inspiring and challenging planning.

However, one had a wedding booked so was

not available. The other was Hurtwood Park

Polo Club near Ewhurst in Surrey, not only

was the site available on our dates but it

had hosted outdoor concerts in the past and

was already licensed for such events. All we

had to do was adapt our event management

plan to the new site and, as it was under

the same council as Weyfest, we were not

an unknown quantity to them which we felt

would also help.

The site is run by Jayne and Kenney Jones

so I didn’t have to go through explaining

why a music festival would be a great event

to have at their place, after all Kenney had

played in The Small Faces, The Faces and

The Who, so would know more about it than

I did!


Now the real work began, we had just over

two months to go and had to start all over

again with the advertising, finding the

equipment we needed to hire, measuring

and mapping the site, etc. We had the bands

booked but we still had to inform them of

the change of site and check this would fit

well within their tour schedules. Most were

delighted as it meant less travelling for them

and maybe a night at home rather than in

a hotel, but we had booked a few acts from

the island which meant it was more of an

effort for them. Luckily we only lost one of

them but gained another from the island

later so the connection with the Isle of Wight

was not completely lost.

There were other island connections we

were concerned about, we had booked

some very colourful marquees from Ed’s

Tents on the island which we thought rather





special. Luck was on our side and he was

able to supply these to the mainland. We

also had a close association with The Island

Radio that had been very good to us. We

were very fortunate that the two presenters

Clive Lewis and Tina Hyde who we had got

to know still supported us and came to the

festival to host the two main stages so all

was well, or so we thought.

We contacted mainland suppliers, some

of whom we had used before but found

many to be low on supplies as they were

booked elsewhere already. As an example,

we had all the remaining toilets and fences

that Site Event had - they pulled out all

the stops for us. We went to Shorts of

Basingstoke for wheelie bin and skip hire,

and to cut a long story short we had to

make do with less than we had originally

planned. In the end we re-planned around

what we could find, and were still sorting

things during the site build week.

We decided to have two main stages

outside and a smaller stage in the

clubhouse. It was a tight fit getting all the

acts to fit in as we had three full time stages

on the Isle of Wight and felt the clubhouse

could not operate quite the same as the

third stage we had planned. We also had an

earlier curfew but made some sense of it in

the end.

Our glamping was supplied by Roger





Brett who we had known for some years; he

had supplied glamping tents for both the

previous festivals and was happy to help in

our new venture, including supplying tents

for members of the True Deceivers and The

Martin Barre Band who were playing sets

over the weekend.

Dave Rees, a long time friend of mine,

came on board to help us out wherever

he could. We had run A New Day Records

together as well as putting on occasional

gigs, contributing to a few Jethro Tull

Conventions and working on both the

previous festivals. He is still running A New

Day Festival as well as re-launching Blues

on the Farm this year. This was a festival

we both loved and were sad when it ended

after 25 years. Dave put the programme

together for us and will be more involved

with the Secret Widget in the future - I’m

personally pleased to be doing another

festival with him.

Coming to the mainland meant that I

was able to include a Sci-Fi Zone which

was something of a pet project of mine

and is very popular at Weyfest; it never

materialised at A New Day and was

becoming difficult to organise on the Isle of

Wight. Chris, Mark and Liz were able to step

in after talking with them at Weyfest only a

few weeks before and did a fine job bringing

alien looking things and costumes from

Doctor Who and Star Wars along - thanks

guys! Next year a bigger tent is looking likely

as several others will hopefully join them.

Advertising the event fell well short of

what we usually hope to do with around

20,000 leaflets being distributed by

ourselves and friends, mainly in the last

four weeks before the event. We missed

the deadlines for the music magazines

but managed a few local papers and an

interview on BBC Radio Surrey/Sussex.

We managed to get more of the usual

stalls we expect to see and have become

friends with over the years than we did at

first, many of them being put off coming

to the island by the costs involved in



Finally, when we arrived on site at the

beginning of the week, five days before the

gates would open on our debut, our crew

started arriving and helped us get the site

prepared. A few minor changes to the layout

were done as we went along, not unusual at

a new site, but it was now going to happen.

We had our doubts at times but put them

aside and we had finally got here. The build

went well and we started to get a buzz as it

got closer to the gates opening.

The festival ran very well with some great

acts, mainly from the sixties and seventies

including Slade, Geno Washington and

the Ram Jam Band, Focus, The Swinging

Blue Jeans, Bonzo Bills, John Coghlans

Quo, The Kast Off Kinks, Chris Farlowe,

John Verity, The Jackie Lynton Band and

The Nashv00ille Teens complemented

by many newer bands such as Lucid, The

Room, Waggon Wheel, Alternative Car

Park, Dambuskers and Reggie Balmoral.

Other top performers included Robin Bibi,

Cryin’ Out Loud, Sam Kelly’s Station House,

Blues Jamm Project, Bootleg Blondie, Chris

Conway & Dan Britton, Rebecca Downes,

The Room, Ben Poole and many more.

The site looked great and there were

compliments from members of bands

playing and the audience alike. The

attendance was lower than we would have

liked but given the short amount of time we

had it was not surprising.

Friends I have spoken to at the festival

and since have said that they were quite

worried for me and didn’t think we would

pull it off, indeed there were a lot of

rumours going around about the festival

not happening, but thankfully it did and

it’s been great to see the many positive

comments on Facebook and in reviews.

With the festival going so well I was sad

to hear the news just before that Sam

Spoons, the Bonzo Bills drummer, would

be playing his last gig with the band at the

Secret Widget before retiring through ill

health. I had got to know Sam quite well

having booked him several times at both

the previous festivals over the years. I was

told that he was determined to make the gig

by fellow band members and they arranged

for many surprise guests from his previous

bands to come and join them on the last

number. Sam was very moved by this and

it made his last show very special for him.

Sadly he passed away just 20 days after

playing. I am honoured that even though

he was so ill he still insisted on playing, this

gave more justification to the work we put

into saving the festival. RIP Sam.


The next Secret Widget Festival will be at

the Hurtwood Park Polo Club, Ewhurst,

Surrey, on 30 August to 1 September 2019.

More information can be found at www.

thesecretwidgetfest.uk and you can contact

Keith by email at keith@thesecretwidgetfest.uk


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Solving Waste Plastic

Want to turn your event’s waste plastic into something useful and profitable?

Then you need to talk to Michael Hall

OVER THE autumn I attended

two exhibitions at the NEC

and one outdoors, where

sustainability was the big

theme. So I was extremely

surprised to be greeted with

the all too familiar ‘sponsored’

plastic bag to collect all the

paper and other materials I

might be offered as I wandered


Instead of declining, I

accepted the bags and decided

to ask the event organisers and

the advertisers on the bags

about the irony of using them

at the events.

As you might expect,

the answers were pretty

predictable: “They were made

from recycled materials”/“they

were recyclable”/ and “this is

a normal way of generating

revenue at events.”

But I wasn’t happy with that.

The three bags were not

only obviously made of virgin

plastic and not easy to recycle,

most exhibitors have digital

information available on their

stands and therefore no longer

rely on plastic bags to generate

revenue or to advertise their


Perhaps not surprisingly,

all three sponsors were

uncomfortable at being

challenged about this.

One was annoyed. One

was dismissive. The only

consolation was that the third

seemed ashamed to admit it

hadn’t even occurred to him.

I was pleased to have made

some kind of impact on that

person but disappointed to

realise the others just didn’t

get it - or didn’t want to.

But ultimately their answers

worried me and drove me on

to look into this further. There

seems to be global, blind belief




that all is well if you can say

something is ‘recycled’ but

what does that actually mean?

Many event organisers say

their recycling targets are

being met and are proud of

their achievements. But do

they know what happens next

in the chain? How much waste

is still just incinerated, buried

or baled off for someone else

to deal with?

I decided to find out.

After visiting two recycling

centres I was pleased to

see the efforts being made

to achieve a zero landfill

policy. These are large

scale operations separating

everything that arrives in

never-ending convoys.

I could imagine the event

plastic bags arriving there

mixed with all the other types

of one-off use materials. I

found a plastic bag, though

not one I was looking for, and

tracked its journey through

separation into shredding with

similar material, before ending

up as small flakes which were

bagged up.

But what was really

known about these tiny,

unremarkable flakes? What

were their chemical properties

and other additive substances

when all mixed up together?

They were of a general type

LDPE 4 but not consistent

because there was not just one

manufacturer involved - each

product type had its specific

purpose and labelling.

What would then happen

to these flakes? Perhaps they

were destined to become

plastic bags again? But

surely the cost of that would

completely cancel out the

proposition that they had been

responsibly made?


So here is the challenge

going forward as I see it: The

problem isn’t just to stop

so many plastic bags being

produced in the first place, it’s

also finding a better reuse for

the abundance of all waste

plastics. And this solution has

to make financial sense.

Here at Above All C6(n)

we work with brands and

companies who are frustrated

and angry that there aren’t

any real options that address

sustainability for the indoor

or outdoor structures they use

for events, accommodation

or buildings. Typically we are

asked to design a modular

building system out of waste

or recycled plastics for our

clients’ needs which solves

their dissatisfaction of plastic

waste and helps create a

new revenue stream for their


If this sounds like you, tell us

what your frustrations are and

if we can help we will let you


If you, the readers, would

like to know how it is possible

to correlate event-waste into

permanently useful products

that will generate new revenue

streams, I hope I will be asked

to write the next article

in this trilogy…



Michael Hall

is chairman

of Above All

C6(n), experts in composite

materials and innovators

of turning event waste into

permanently useful products.

www.c6n.co.uk / www.aboveall.co.uk

/ 02380 972093




John Radford

Taking time out to network and learn pays dividends reports John


John Radford runs JR

Event Services and

has worked in the

event industry for over

20 years. He provides

event management

and event safety

consultancy services

for a broad spectrum

of events from single

day and city centre

cultural events to

week long music and

dance festivals. Visit


co.uk or call 01275

406760 for an informal


AFTER A really busy and successful

summer it was great to meet

up with some of our clients and

suppliers at the Showman’s Show

held at Newbury Showground

every October. This year JR Event

Services also had a stand in the

main exhibition hall for the first

time. Knowing we were going

to be at the show for the whole

two days meant we were able to

meet up with both new and old

clients and suppliers and look

at some of the newer products

and services on offer in the

industry. It’s an important date

in our diary anyway but this year

meant the whole team were busy

either manning the stand, having

meetings or exploring the other

exhibition stands.

I’ve previously written about

how important face to face

communication can be and these

kinds of events are a perfect

opportunity to talk through ideas

or requirements and actually look

at the products up close to see

if they will work for your given

project. We certainly took away

some great new contacts and

ideas. From the Enviro-cup team

with their recycled aluminium

tankards that can take custom

branding to the screens from ADI

that can make a difference to

viewing opportunities with screens

from a relatively small 12 square

metres right up to their huge

iCONIC 100 and 120SW.

The Association of Festival

Organisers (AFO) Conference in

early November was a slightly

more laid-back affair. Attracting a

large number of festival organisers

from across the UK, the conference

gave attendees a chance to listen

to others explaining best practice

and solutions, network and create

new contacts. I was invited to

run a session on site design and

spoke about many of the points I

wrote about in Open Air Business

earlier in the year. And again, it’s a

fantastic opportunity to network

and talk through projects with

like-minded colleagues as well

as a great opportunity to listen

and learn from others and take

on board their experiences so

that plans can be developed and

not suffer the same issues. One

particularly interesting session

for us was the interestingly titled

“And this is what we do with the

waste” led by Grist Environmental.

Looking at the whole waste

management chain from the

guest right through to minimising

the landfill or even avoiding

completely. A really thoughtprovoking

session, it certainly

generated quite a bit of discussion

afterwards as to where exactly our

waste goes after an event.

Attending Showman’s and AFO

Conference as well as having

our regular planned meetings

with clients and suppliers at the

end of the summer provides us

with the feedback, knowledge

and information we need to get

cracking with the following year’s

planning. The outdoor event

industry never stands still and in

order for us to deliver the best to

our clients we need to ensure we

are taking that feedback and new

information and moving forward.



Project wise, early November

saw us working on two extremely

different events. The Ottery St.

Mary Tar Barrels event takes place

on the 5 November each year and

has done so for 400 plus years. The

event sees local residents ‘run’ the

flaming tar barrels through the

town streets and attracts many

thousands of spectators. We’ve

been involved in the event safety

and event management for four

years now and have created a

fantastic team in order to provide

the event with the right skill set.

It’s a really good example of a local

tradition that has embraced new

ways of doing things but hasn’t

lost sight of its core vision.

The event clearly has a highly

defined need for a considered

approach to event safety and

crowd management and it

hasn’t happened overnight,

but through close liaison and

communication with the Police,

Fire Service, local authorities

and many other agencies the

event is now starting to see the

benefits. With a coordinated event

control system running the event

from early afternoon until gone

midnight, the need for a strong

set of relationships between all

the agencies and the event team

themselves is clear.

For the first time this year, we



LEFT: The Ottery St. Mary Tar Barrels event

managed to run a ‘table top’ exercise

well in advance of the event to work

through potential scenarios as a

group and to ensure we had the right

plans in place to deal with as many

eventualities as are foreseeable. The

key to these exercises is to take as

much learning away as possible and

be honest with any weaknesses so

that they can be planned out well

in advance of the event proper. For

this particular event, we developed

six scenarios including poor weather

leading to the closure of car parks

which are on local farmland, and

how the event would manage if a

significant incident took place off

the event footprint but potentially

affecting both the emergency services

present and visitors arriving and


The outcomes were various and

complex but it allowed those involved

time and space to discuss the issues

and develop planning systems to

counter those kind of events. Once

again, the benefits of having a strong

set of relationships with various

bodies both directly and indirectly

involved with the event allows us to

examine all aspects of the planning

from traffic management to on-site

catering. The actual event went well

once again and debriefs beckon in the

near future to ensure everything is in

place for 2019.

Sparks in the Park is a new project

for us and involves circa 20,000

members of the public attending

a fireworks event in one of Cardiff

city’s recreation ground and parks.

What makes this event somewhat

more dynamic than the norm is that

the majority of guests are attending

purely for the 30 minute firework

finale and not only arrive within a

relatively small window of time but

also depart en-masse, which requires

significant planning to ensure that

the exit routes are clear, safe, well

lit and managed. With a team both

in event control and on the ground

feeding information back for rapid

decisions we can deploy staff or

assets where they are needed using

first-hand information rather than

listening to rumour or assumptions.

We are working alongside a charity

for this event with a large number

of volunteers on site which provides

us with a brilliant additional asset

to ensure that the public have a

safe and successful event. Following

this year’s event, we are already

developing plans to further enhance

and make sure that the volunteers

who kindly give their time have even

more training and information preevent.

As a starting point we plan to

look at whether key training sessions

pre-event could be instigated in order

to get volunteer team leaders better

informed and able to ‘cascade’ more

detailed information throughout

the volunteer team. Great though

printed handbooks are, they rely on

people reading and understanding

them. Face to face team building

sessions allow greater levels of

communication and engagement

which always pay dividends.


As we come to the end of 2018 and look back,

we are already well into planning for a number

of events in 2019. Some of the projects are long

standing clients where we are working to not

only continue the success of the event but also

develop new ideas to keep it fresh and dynamic.

The best example for us is Sidmouth Folk Festival,

which is celebrating its 65th year in 2019, and has

a varied mix of temporary and permanent venues

on greenfield sites, town parks and in community

halls and venues.

We also have some exciting new ventures with

whole new festivals next year. Part of that planning

is getting out of the office and onto the event sites.

One of our projects is redeveloping a core element

of its visitor experience and this will involve some

significant infrastructure changes with marquees,

structures, stages and welfare facilities being

moved. Although we have the site plan in a digital

format and planned via CAD, we still visit the site

and use good old-fashioned flags and rope and pin

to see if the revised layout will actually work in the

real world. We can check walkways are adequate

and that the flow of pedestrians across the site

will work, and importantly, it also allows us to

check safety elements such as fire exit routes and

emergency vehicle access.

Although this kind of planning takes time and

resources, we find that the investment pays huge

dividends when it comes to the actual build and

installation of the project. We know what will

work and we can design out issues before the

build phase so reducing wasted time. For us the

investment in time pays off when we are on site

for the actual event and not having to amend and

alter as we go.

In summary, it really is a case of finishing one

year but already planning for the next so that we

have time to develop solutions and ideas. Taking

those days out to meet others really does pay

dividends, and putting the time and effort into

planning those projects will hopefully make life

that little bit smoother come event time in 2019.


Folk Festival



Bars and Catering

Henley Royal Regatta

Description: Brand Activation

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the world’s best-known

regatta held over five days in


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Cornbury Festival

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family set in the heart of the


Product: Barbecue and

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Supplier: Blistering

Telephone: 01825 714712

Website: www.

blisitering.co.uk / www.


Details: In the sweltering heat

of the barmy summer, Si King

and Dave Myers (aka The Hairy

Bikers) came together

with Blistering to

create a feasting

tipi tent at The

Cornbury Festival

in Oxfordshire.

It was the

first year Hugh

Philamore from

Cornbury had tried

such a tent but he needn’t

have worried. All 1,000 tickets

were sold out by Friday morning

as guests were invited in to

experience a three course

meal with all the recipes taken

from The Bikers’ most recent

Mediterranean influenced


Si and Dave were hands on

throughout the three days

serving the food from the

kitchen, signing books and

generally being top chaps!

After a welcoming speech

from The Bikers, the starters

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encouraging guests to pass

platers around and share

festival stories. The food was

cooked fresh in Blistering wood

fired ovens, the highlight being

the main course of wood roast

sea bream.

Feedback: Hugh Philamore,

director of Cornbury Festival,

said: “We were very lucky to

work with Si King and Dave

Myers on our first ever full

restaurant offering at

Cornbury. Tim Reeves

and Nigel Tunnicliff

from Blistering

BBQs did the most

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Our research gave them an

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– a real triumph. As a company

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the Bikers were truly thrilled.”

Details: The Berry Company

approached Bar-Go to deliver

its cocktail bar activation

at the Henley Royal Regatta

2018. It was the organisation’s

first such live event and it was keen to present the brand in

an appropriate way, serving cocktails using its fruit based

drinks. Bar-Go produced bespoke signage to transform the

two storey container bar into an exciting VIP entertainment

space, with a superb viewing area of the day’s rowing from

the upper deck. A TV was also installed so the crowds could

watch England’s progress in the World Cup Finals!

Feedback: “The turnaround time for our activation was

pretty quick and Paul at Bar-Go stepped straight in to help.

The bar was designed and activated perfectly, with expertise

and complete professionalism. All of the stress was taken

away by the team involved at Bar-Go and we were delighted

with the result. The event was a great success; we all

thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the bar was crucial to that.

We can’t wait for our next event working together.”



Jury’s Inn Employee

Awards 2018

Description: Jury’s Inn internal event to

recognise employee achievements

Product: Barlok Revolution Portable Bar

Supplier: Portable Floormaker

Telephone: 01332 814080

Website: www.portablefloormaker.co.uk

/ www.barlokbars.co.uk

Details: Portable Floormaker worked

together with UK Virtual Events of

Reading to install a centrepiece portable

LED bar in the rotunda area of the Jury’s

Inn Hinckley Island Hotel & Conference

Venue in Leicestershire.

The Barlok Revolution is just one of the

various portable bar options available

from Portable Floormaker. From 1m and

1.5m straight sections to standard and

radiussed corners to matching back bar

and the 4m diameter Revolution bar, the

Barlok range offers impressive set up and

break down times and all units are neatly

housed in purpose built wheeled flight


The hotel also own a Publok black

and white checkerboard dance floor as

well as a Florlok parquet floor, both from

Portable Floormaker. Also available is a

range of portable dance floors including

the new Multilok all weather dance floor,

staging and LED event furniture including

Letterlok products.

Feedback: The deputy general manager

who organised the event was extremely

happy with the overall aesthetics that the

bar offered and mentioned that the bar

was well received by all the guests who

thought it made an amazing statement.

It also helped with the bar service, taking

some strain away from the permanent

bars. Feedback was that he would not

hesitate to use the Barlok portable bar

system for future events.

Don’t Dream it - Hire it

• Furniture - internal & external

• Dance floors & staging

• Thermostatically controlled heating systems

• Event lighting & electrics

• Power generation

• Event management

With our extensive experience within the events industry, Event Equipment is the ideal partner to

fulfil all of your event requirements. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff can help to make your

occasion special. Our event management service can help with every aspect of your day, be it a

party or a wedding, including being there on the day to make sure it runs smoothly.


Tel: 01829 289 888

Email: sales@eventequipmentltd.co.uk

The Victorian Bandstand Stage

Introducing the latest addition to the Stages for Hire

family; our elegant, ornate and traditional Victorian

Bandstand. Offering a very different look and feel to

regular event stages, the bandstand adds a touch

of style and glamour to any festival, party, wedding,

ball or special event.

T: 0800 999 3285 / M: 0777 5597983

E: info@stagesforhire.com

W: www.stagesforhire.com


Spot light

A roundup of products for the outdoor hospitality industry


Plain Huts

07903 313922


We love to build bespoke! We

have built large huts for big

ideas, small huts for private

reflections and now we are

super excited to bring you a very

tiny hut for those little people

who want to join in the fun!

Our 'Cubby' hut is perfect for

preschoolers with a simple but

beautifully executed design in

birch ply with strong links with

our classic designs. Features

include a round window, tall

narrow window, perfectly

formed cast iron wheels,

traditional corrugated iron roof

(edged with rubber to save those

precious heads) and simple

engraved motifs including a

beanstalk, frog and bunting.


Thermobile UK

02476 357960


Thermobile heaters are

manufactured in Holland and

built to a very high quality. They

have a minimum efficiency of

90%, which means that 90% of

the fuel burned goes as useful

heat into the heated space

and only 10% via the flue.

This is a very high efficiency in

comparison to other heaters

on the market. The Thermobile

ITA range is ideal for heating

marquees and other temporary

structures. It comprises small,

mobile units with a 5-10m range

for ducting and 15hr integral

fuel tanks. The larger IMA units

require a separate fuel tank and

can be ducted up to 40m.


Cabinville Shepherd Huts

01379 687467



Cabinville Shepherd Huts has

launched its 2019 models which

have been designed from the

ground up to be suitable for

glamping. With four unique

models, the company has a hut

to suit your needs whether it be

for guest accommodation or as

a function space. Designed in

Norfolk, the shepherd huts are

all built on a special wheelbase

that gives them a lower total

height (now under 3m), greater

stability and the possibility for

them to be easily moved. The

new models are on show at

Bressingham (nr Diss) in Norfolk,

IP22 2AE, and a full description

can be found on the website.



Naked Flame Eco-Tubs

01484 766233


Naked Flame Eco-Tubs has fast

become the chosen supplier

within the holiday industry

supplying wood-fired hot tubs

and saunas to both independent

and large companies across

the UK. Now a trusted supplier

to companies such as Sykes

Cottages, Cool Camping, Wigwam

Holidays and Canopy & Stars

to name but a few, the Naked

Flame product range not only

gives glamping and holiday

park site owners a completely

off-grid option but also boasts

the fastest heat up times on the

market. Hand-crafted Saunas

are available in sizes to suit and

the highest quality Scandinavian

heaters are included (Harvia &

Kota). All prices include delivery

direct from Scandinavia.





Mattison Contract Beds

01473 255 888


Mattison Contract Beds has

diversified in recent years and

its sofa bed range is testament

to this; contemporary design

with a wide range of standard

upholstery choices (or opt to

use your own). The sofa beds

are ideal to use in glamping

accommodation and hotel

rooms alike as they can be

discretely stored away until

an extra guest bed is required

– giving your accommodation


Having appeared at the Glamping

Show 2018, Mattison Contract

Beds has adapted its sofa beds

to a modular construction and

crafted unique corner sofa units

and bespoke options. Contact

the sales office with any enquiries





Blackdown Shepherd Huts

01460 929774


Established in 2011, Blackdown

Shepherd Huts is now one of the

leading shepherd hut makers

with a reputation for quality

and service that goes above and

beyond what’s expected. With

a skilled team of carpenters

and joiners who love to create

innovative builds and realise

their customers' dreams,

Blackdown offers unique

solutions for a number of needs.

From a hut to retreat into, to a

space solution for your hotel or

boutique glampsite, the team

will work with you to create

exactly what you need, and you

can rest assured that you will

enjoy the results for years to




Sewage Treatment Systems

Electric Free Biomatic Systems

For all residential, commercial

and industrial applications

01295 236101 • info@theseptictankstore.co.uk


Keeping Things


Probably the largest selection of textile fasteners in the UK

The GlampRAD is an innovative stand-alone radiant heater panel

developed for the glamping and park home industries as an efficient

& cost-effective alternative heating solution.





+44 (0) 1269 853957



Classified Directory



Cabins and

BBQ Huts




01389 887205 www.logspan.com

Contemporary cedar

wood hot tubs from

£2,495 + VAT

01934 832 801



Meeting the Challenges

of Mowing Head On



Complete solution for all temporary power


Fully qualified professional staff

Generator hire

Complete design to installation service

Practical and functional lighting

Permanent electrical installations for

Phone: 01233 822059 www.excellelectrical.com

Mobile: 07837 372549 or 07715 355544

Email: helen@excellelectrical.com




Call FREE:

0800 043 2688



DCRS Open Air Magazine Classified Advert.indd 1 06/12/2018 09:36

Bespoke Built Shepherd Huts

30 Year Guarantee on Steel Frame & Chassis

Finance Packages Available


Temporary & PERMANENT

heating & air conditioning


Call: 01527 821848







Hever Castle

Helen Francis goes behind the scenes this Christmas

time at Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent

YOU MIGHT be a planner or a last minute

buyer, but chances are you won’t be

thinking about Christmas more than a year

in advance!

But at Hever Castle and Gardens it takes

13 months to plan the Christmas activities

for visitors, so preparation for December

2018 started in November 2017.

It is an all hands on deck affair with

staff members from retail, maintenance,

housekeeping, visitor services, marketing

and gardening all involved.

The first thing to be decided is the

theme for the following year (before the

current Christmas event has started). In

2018 the main theme will be Christmas

stories, and the festive trail in the grounds

will be Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Event and programming assistant

Caz Church starts working on props in

January and continues working on them

throughout the year. Everything is made

in-house. All the contractors from Father

Christmas to the fairground attractions

and those who provide fake snow are

confirmed by the end of January.

With the theme to work with and the

debrief done, retail manager Ashley

Collins attends the main Christmas trade

fairs - one in Birmingham and January’s

‘Christmas World’ in Frankfurt (the largest

of its kind in the world). He looks for new

stock for the Hever shop as well as any

additions needed for the decorations in

the Castle.

“Some of the stands have over £1m

worth of decorations,” he says. “There

are 3,000 stands with 60,000 people from

around the world. Most of the companies

I use in Europe only supply three or four

organisations in the area so it is pretty


When Ashley returns from the fairs he

only has a few weeks to plan what he

would like to order as he needs to confirm

his stock requirements by the end of

February for arrival from the first week of


In May/June, meetings take place

with heads of departments for more

detailed planning of the event including

any additional storytellers, where any

extra food provision is needed as well as

marketing materials.

Every year, the historic attraction tries

to have one or two new things to improve

the visitor experience. In 2017 outdoor

seating and heaters were added outside

the Pavilion Restaurant to make it more

appealing. This year there will be more

lighting in the grounds.

Marketing starts by the August bank

holiday weekend and annual members

can start booking in September with non

members two weeks later.

From the end of August there are

monthly planning meetings. At the end of

September visitor services, maintenance

and retail have separate meetings to put

together a more detailed time frame of

actions needed. A calendar with a daily

countdown from 1 October is put together.

Festive items will go on sale in the shop

from the third week of September and

getting them out early does pay off as

revenue was up 20 per cent in 2017 as they

went out earlier than the previous year.

September is also the time to start

thinking about the decoration of the


Castle. As items arrive everything

is grouped together in terms of

the room it will go in and all the

lights are checked.

On average each tree has a

minimum of 200 lights on them

or candle lights. Head gardener

Neil Miller puts in the order for

trees in October for the Castle,

the bed and breakfast, grotto and

Christmas trail.

60 per cent of the trees are

from Kentish suppliers with

the rest from the UK. Each year

50-100 small Christmas trees are

planted on the estate so in about

10 years' time the site will be

more sustainable.

From October the lighting

starts to go in. In the second week

of November the trees come

in. They have to last six to eight

weeks so they are put in at the

last minute and well watered

(especially the ones near the

open fires). Some of them have

to be replaced and are done just

before Christmas.

Some of the fake snow has

to go in before certain trees are

put in. The dressing of the snow

takes about a week with three

contractors on site for three or

four days.

It takes around 10 people

two days to dress the Castle

for Christmas. In-house florist

Pamela Brise themes the flowers

around the rooms. The gardening

team is responsible for decorating

the drop-in Father Christmas

grotto, which is about a week’s

worth of work for three people.

They also restock the courtyard

shop and make wreaths to be


Extra operations staff are

drafted in every day from the

second week of November

doing jobs such as building the

grotto and putting together the

Christmas trail (which is different

every year).

A staff preview event is held

on the third Friday of November

(23 November this year) to iron

out any teething problems before

the event opens to the public the

following day.

Then the first day after the first

of January everything is taken

down and the trees are shredded

and recycled for compost.


Privately owned,

Hever Castle in

Kent is a romantic

double moated

13th-century castle

and the childhood

home of Anne Boleyn,

the second wife

of Henry VIII and

mother of Elizabeth

I. It offers venue hire

for weddings and

corporate events and

runs several public

events through the

year including its

popular summer

jousting tournament.





B E D S F O R B U S I N E S S • D E S I G N E D F O R D E M A N D

With products designed for the hotel, glamping, accommodation and contract market, Mattison Contract Beds is one of

the industry’s leading manufacturers with over 150 years of experience. As a UK manufacturer, Mattison Contract Beds

produce mattresses, divan beds, headboards, sofa beds, guest beds, metal beds, bunk beds and bedding accessories which

all comply with UK fire regulations. With an extensive portfolio of clients ranging from top hotel chains, universities,

schools and cruise ships, through to interior designers, these are beds for business - designed for demand.

• Order direct from the manufacturer

• Free delivery*

• Free bed surveys and quotations

• Order any quantity

• Quick delivery lead times

• Discounts for quantity

• Contract Source 5 fire rated

Our Services

* Free delivery on orders of £500.00 or greater

• Bespoke sizes available

• Nationwide service

• Full installation and disposal service available

• Zip/Velcro® and link available on all models

• Over 150 years of experience

• Made to order



Mattison Contract Beds | 6 Whittle Road | Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate | Ipswich | Suffolk | IP2 0UH

01473 255 888 | info@mattisoncontractbeds.co.uk | www.mattisoncontractbeds.co.uk

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