January 2020

tallywade

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

ISSUE 33 | January 2020 | www.openairbusiness.com

BUSINESS

FUNCTION VENUES

> Legalities

> Seasonal USPs

> Wedding Insights

/ /

GLAMPSITES

> Biophilic Design

> Bespoke Structures

> Professional Services

EVENTS

> Events Report

> Changing Diets

> Marquees

CASE STUDIES: HEATON HOUSE FARM • BROOK MEADOW • DOGFEST

OAB Gathering 2020 – Don’t miss our very own conference this March!


GET

YOUR

TICKETS

NOW

GLAMPSITES

EVENTS

VENUES


WELCOME

THIS ISSUE is so packed with such diverse themes that I am

not going to attempt to sum things up here. Needless to say

we have a good smattering of trend predictions from experts

across the board – a great way to kickstart the year!

Among my own personal ‘want to do’ things for 2020 is

repairing the biodiversity of some of the land at the bottom of

my garden, so I contacted Plantlife to advise. The wild flower

meadow conservation charity was suggested to me by Isabella

Tree who, with her husband Charlie Burrell, rewilded the 3,500

acre Knepp estate, starting by reinstating the parkland around

their house (castle). I interviewed Isabella back in May 2019

for our Entrepreneur’s Chat feature, and was so bowled over by the Knepp story that

I was inspired to create something more ‘alive’ with my meagre acreage. Along came

Matt Pitts, Plantlife’s meadow advisor, and for very little cost I now have a plan of action

which, to the delight of my children, will mean reintroducing a ‘grazer’ or two towards

the end of the year – did somebody say pony?!

I can already imagine the set up – butterflies and bees buzzing around a bell tent

with a mowed pathway to a hammock and a fire pit. Thank you Plantlife – your work is

so important. Please turn to the Behind the Scene’s feature (pages 65-66) for more on

Matt and his mission – we are also delighted to be welcoming Matt and his colleagues to

the Open Air Business Gathering on 22-23 March at Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire. Read

more on page 14 - make sure to get your tickets.

PUBLISHERS

Steve Rix - steve@openairbusiness.com

Tally Wade - tally@openairbusiness.com

EDITOR

Tally Wade - tally@openairbusiness.com

ADVERTISING SALES

Marney Whyte - 01892 677740

marney@openairbusiness.com

DESIGN

James English -

www.jamesenglishdesign.co.uk

PUBLISHED BY

Coffee Shop Media Ltd - 01580 848555

www.coffeeshopmedia.com

The House on the Hill, Friezley Lane,

Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 2LL

t: 01580 848555

Tally Wade

Editor / Publisher

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Contents ISSUE #33 January 2020

UP FRONT

4 News

6 Product News

8 Event Production Show Preview

10 Entrepreneur’s Chat… Sheena and

Jamie Corry, The Forge

14 Open Air Business Conference - have

you got your ticket?

FUNCTION VENUES

16 Heaton House Farm – award winning

sustainable events venue in Cheshire

20 Wedding Insights – a new look column

from industry expert Kelly Chandler

23 Business Events Insights – identify

USPs throughout the year with

Andrew White

24 Legal Foundations – set yourself up

to succeed with legal advice from

Geldards

28 Heat, Power and Lighting – mini

case studies

GLAMPSITES

31 Brook Meadow – designer lakeside

accommodation on a working farm

36 Trend Forecast – Canopy and Stars

shares its research and what it reveals

for 2020

38 Nomadic Musings – international

insights from Louis Thompson

40 Bespoke Structures – Kate Morel

reveals the process behind going

bespoke

44 Professional Services – mini case

studies

EVENTS

47 DogFest – three summer festivals

for dogs

52 The Outdoor Events Report – a

fascinating insight into the economics

of outdoor events

56 Gone off Milk – Kambe Events

ditches dairy

58 The ‘Ex’ Factor – how the ‘experience’

of food is taking centre stage

60 Marquees – mini case studies

62 Spotlight

63 Classifieds

65 Behind the Scenes… Matt Pitts,

Plantlife

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COVER PHOTO

Bell tent camping at the award-winning The Forge in

Corwen. Also home to the Wild Bushcraft Company, we

chat to Sheena Corry in this issue's Entrepreneur's Chat

about how she and her husband Jamie are evolving the

two businesses (pages 10-14). www.theforgecorwen.co.uk /

www.wildbushcraft.co.uk

PHOTO: The Wales Collective

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 3


Greening up Events in Brighton

UNDER A new set of policies

agreed by Brighton and Hove

City Council in January,

organisers of events with over

5,000 people will be asked

to include an environmental

impact assessment (EIA).

The EIA will show how

events will: conserve energy

and water; encourage public

transport, walking and cycling

(including keeping bike lanes

and other sustainable transport

corridors open); look after open

spaces and re-instate grassed

areas; reduce and if possible

eliminate single use plastic and

waste; and recycle and re-use

resources. Paper lanterns

and balloons have also been

banned.

The council was the first

to get the British Standard

in Sustainable Event

Management, which supports

everyone in the event supply

chain from organisers and

venues through to performers

and suppliers of food and

drink.

Alan Robins, chairman of

the Brighton and Hove City

Council’s tourism, equalities,

communities and culture

committee, said: “Most

organisers want to make

a positive contribution to

reducing emissions and

environmental concerns are

high on their agenda – for

example Brighton & Hove

Pride, The Great Escape and

Brighton Marathon made

great efforts last year. The new

environmental assessments

are set to make an even bigger

impact and complement the

work already going on.”

The World’s Top Green Events for 2019

INTERNATIONAL NOT-for-profit

organisation A Greener Festival (AGF)

has announced the 37 recipients of

“A Greener Festival Award” in 2019.

Festivals and events from 15 countries

achieved the prestigious accolade

in 2019, awarded to those that have

demonstrated a strong commitment

to sustainability and a reduction of

environmental impacts. To examine

the degree of sustainability practices

occurring at their events, applicants

undergo a rigorous assessment, site

visit and post-event analysis of their

sustainability actions.

Claire O’Neill, A Greener Festival

co-founder, said: “The need for us all to

take significant positive action for the

good of the environment requires no

introduction. Congratulations to our

winners who are doing their part, and

power to all events and individuals who

want to do more. Together we can make

things better.”

All of these winners will

be entered as nominees for

the International Greener

Festival Awards which will

be announced at the annual

Green Events & Innovations

Conference (GEI), taking

place in London on 3 March,

alongside the International

Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Congratulations to the winners in

the Outstanding category: Cambridge

Folk Festival (UK), DGTL Festival (NL),

Green Gathering (UK), Øya Festival (NO),

Paradise City (BE) and We Love Green

(FR).

Highly Commended winners were

Dockyard Festival (NL), Dubcamp Festival

(FR), Glastonbury Festival (UK), Greenbelt

Festival (UK), Hadra Trance Festival (FR),

Pete the Monkey (FR), Primavera Sound

(ES), Rainbow Serpent (AU) and Roskilde

Festival (DK).

Among the Commended and Improver

winners were UK events Boomtown Fair,

BST Hyde Park, Walthamstow Garden

Party, Lambeth Country Show, Lost

Village Festival and Manchester Pride

Live.

Applications are now open for the

Greener Festival Awards 2020. Events

should contact hello@agreenerfestival.

com to apply.

4 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


VisitBritain forecasts

Record Year for Tourism

FORECASTS FROM national

tourism agency VisitBritain indicate

that 2020 is set to be a record year

for inbound tourism to the UK.

Spending by overseas visitors is

predicted to reach a record £26.6

billion in 2020, a 6.6 per cent

increase on spending in 2019.

The number of overseas visits is

forecast to rise to 39.7 million, the

highest ever, and up 2.9 per cent.

Looking longer-term, during the

last decade inbound tourism visits

to the UK have grown 33 per cent

when comparing 2010 to the 2020

forecast and spending by 58 per

cent.

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates

said: “Tourism is one of the UK’s

most valuable export industries and

these results show our continued

ability to attract international

visitors in a fiercely competitive

global market. We are seeing

success in growing tourism from

long-haul, high-spending markets

including the US, our largest and

most valuable inbound market, and

from markets that are crucial for our

future such as China.

“Working with partners globally

we are telling customers about

experiences they can only have

here, converting the inspiration

to visit into bookings and driving

growth from tourism across the

nations and regions, boosting local

economies.”

Glamping Permission

for Bike Park

THE MERTHYR Tydfil County Borough Council has

given permission for 36 glamping pods and five

cabins at BikePark Wales in Merthyr Tydfil. Due for

completion in April, the development accompanies

a new green flow trail, visitor welcome centre and

landscaping.

BikePark Wales’ co-founder Martin Astley

commented: “I went along to observe the planning

committee meeting and I was pretty nervous! It

was amazing though, several of the councillors

spoke out in support of the development and

shared stories of the positive impact that BikePark

Wales and our visiting riders are having on

the local area. I have to admit it was quite an

emotional moment for me, I’m so proud of our

whole team at BPW and the riders that visit too.

“The local community have been so supportive

since we opened in 2013, they’ve welcomed

us completely and this next step for the park

wouldn’t be possible without the support of both

the community and our loyal riders. Planning

permission for this next step for BPW was passed

unanimously by the committee and I’m now

excited to get cracking and keep the evolution of

the park going!”

The development is part funded by the EU and

Welsh Government agricultural fund for rural

development.

Twickenham Launches ‘Circular’ Food Waste Strategy

TWICKENHAM STADIUM

has launched a new

food waste strategy that

includes an innovative

internal ‘circular economic

model’ that maximises

every ingredient, reduces

food miles and tracks the

source, multiple use and

outcome of everything

used on the menu.

The strategy is part of

the stadium’s existing

sustainability initiative

and is based around

menu design, encouraging

multiple uses of each

ingredient across the

stadium’s operations and

throughout the day.

Executive head chef

Thomas Rhodes said: “We

can track the life of an

ingredient and use it for

different things across the

menu, from top to bottom.

For instance, we can order

whole locally sourced

vegetables, use them

in two or three dishes,

and then use the excess

for stocks and soups. It

means one ingredient

will be seen across two or

three menus and multiple

events.

“A good example of this

is the use of our celeriac,

which we peel, bake in salt

and serve as a plant-first

option. The peelings of

the vegetable are ground

down with the excess salt

to create a veggie salt for

other dishes. The offcuts

are used for a jus on a

different part of the menu

and anything else left over

we reuse in stocks and

soups. When we share this

approach with delegates,

they really buy into what

we’re trying to do.”

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 5


PRODUCT

Lowdhams is Sole

Airstream Importing Dealer

Oasis Habitats

to Build World’s

First Off-grid Eco

Wellness Resort

UK COMPANY Oasis Habitats has recently signed

a partnering agreement with the Ukrainian

government to design and build the world’s first

“Off-grid” Eco Wellness resort, just outside the

UNESCO World Heritage City of Lviv.

Surrounded by spectacular natural forests, and

situated just 60km from the border of Poland, the

Oasis Habitats Eco Wellness resort will be the first of

a kind, offering opulence backed by sustainability

while enriching the natural environment in which

it sits.

Company CEO Damon Farrell explains: “The

Lviv government and tourist board embraced

our concept from the outset, as it encapsulates

a forward-thinking approach to business, the

environment and tourism. Lviv is a breathtaking

city, and with our resort planned to be just 30

minutes’ drive from the city of culture, guests

are set for an amazing onset of serenity, beauty,

wellbeing and wonderment.

“After running through the numbers carefully

with our accountants, and having an independent

business valuation carried out, it’s also set to

be a highly profitable venture and investment

opportunity. Our plan is to develop a network of

such resorts across Europe, based upon variants of

“Forest & Lake, Forest & River, Forest & Rock and

Forest & Beach”.

Investment opportunities will be released later in

January, with construction planned to commence

at the end of May. Oasis Habitats UK however, will

still be available to focus on delivering product and

services to its UK customers. For more information

email damon@oasishabitats.com

THE RETURN of

Airstream Inc. to the

UK two years ago

was much heralded,

with a strong

presence at events

and an extensive

marketing campaign.

Lowdhams Airstream Direct has just become the sole UK importer and

official retailer of new and used Airstreams, with stock of all UK spec

models.

“Being the sole Airstream importing dealer in the UK is very exciting

for us,” said Steve Sharpe, managing director at Lowdham Leisureworld.

“Buying new models and parts direct from the US factory will allow us to

provide excellent service to existing and new Airstream customers in the

UK. We are delighted to work more closely with Airstream.”

Justin Humphreys, COO of Airstream, said: “We are very excited to be

partnering with Lowdhams. Their knowledge and experience of importing

caravans into the UK, combined with their professionalism in selling and

servicing products to customers directly, will serve Airstream owners well

for many years to come. This same direct-to-dealer model has served us

very well in Germany for the past 12 years, and we look forward to similar

success with Lowdhams in the United Kingdom.”

So whether it’s commercial conversion, revenue generating

accommodation or personal use, there is now one centre for all

requirements. www.airstream-uk.co.uk

ATCO - Mowers With Magical

'Push Button Starts'

ATCO IS looking forward to celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2021,

and the longevity of the brand is down to the quality and innovation of

its products. The most recent design addition to two of its mowers (the

Quattro 19SE and Liner 19SE V) is InStart push-button technology, which

allows for the power of petrol with the ease of starting like an electric

mower – no more cord pulling!

The Quattro 19SE features a Briggs & Stratton 675IS InStart

push-button electric start engine and a 48cm/19" cutter

blade with an adjustable cutting height of 25-65mm, a

front skid plate and mulching kit.

The Liner 19SE V is part of ATCO’s premium roller

rotary lawnmower range. Powered by a Briggs &

Stratton 675IS InStart push-button electric start

engine, the large-diameter steel rear roller

is driven by a heavy-duty hi-torque cone

clutch transmission and fitted with a

Twinclip blade, with four cutting

surfaces instead of two, leaving

a finish that is comparable

to a cylinder mower.

www.atco.co.uk

6 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


Integro

Entertainment

and Sports

Division Rebrands

as Tysers

FROM JANUARY 2020, Integro

Entertainment and Sport, a market leading

international insurance brokerage and risk

management company, will begin

to trade as Tysers.

In June 2018 Integro completed

the purchase of Tysers.

Established in the City of London,

Tysers has a rich history and a

200 year legacy in the insurance

industry. As one of the UK’s

leading insurance wholesalers,

the company is well known

and respected by both UK and

international brokers.

Integro’s move to rebrand is part of

a wider strategy to adopt the Tysers

name across the business, leveraging its

relationships within the insurance industry.

By joining together, the

team can further develop

its products and services,

providing forward thinking

solutions at the best

possible value to clients.

Under the Tysers brand, existing and

future clients can benefit from greater

expertise and a larger marketing reach. The

combined business employs over 1,100

employees globally and places close to

US$3bn of insurance premiums.

Tim Thornhill, director of the Sales

Entertainment and Sport division, said:

“By joining up with Tysers, Integro

Entertainment and Sport becomes part of

an incredible legacy. We will continue to

provide forward thinking, nimble solutions

for our clients who remain at the heart of

what we do.” www.integroentertainment.com

ARTISTS & BANDS | FESTIVALS | PRODUCTION | PROMOTERS | TOURS

YOU PROVIDE THE SHOW

WE PROVIDE THE COVER

Our experience in the world of live entertainment means we truly understand

the nature of risk. We have become market leaders as insurance providers to

various facets of the entertainment industry.

NEW NAME, SAME SERVICE

INTEGRO IS CHANGING ITS NAME TO TYSERS

www.integroentertainment.com

To discuss your insurance requirements contact Tim Rudland on: +44 (0)203 915 0343 | tim.rudland@integrogroup.com

Tysers is a trading name of Integro Insurance Brokers Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial

Conduct Authority. Registered Office: 71 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4BS. Registered Company No. 2957627 England.


INDUSTRY NEWS

Event Production Show

James Bissett introduces a bigger and better Event

Production Show, taking place on 25-26 February at a

new venue – Excel London

THE 2020 edition of The Event Production

Show will take place on 25–26 February

at a new venue, ExCeL London. The show

will be much bigger than in previous

years, welcoming a huge range of

exhibiting partners showcasing the latest

in new ideas and solutions as well as the

established and foundational suppliers

from across the industry.

The biggest addition to the show will

be the Festival Live feature, which will

transform ExCeL from an exhibition hall

into a live festival, offering all the elements

you would expect to see at one of the

many festivals around the country. Central

will be the Presentation Stage with music

acts provided by Marble Music combined

with panel presentations exploring all

aspects of running a festival. Surrounding

this will be a variety of bars, temporary

structures, rides, concessions and an array

of exciting opportunities to consider when

planning your next outdoor event.

Portfolio director Mike Sherrard said:

“The most difficult thing when choosing

suppliers is seeing, testing, using, and

experiencing them as if they were at your

event. There are always questions that

need answering: what does it look like?

How does it work? How does it sound?

Does it fit? And most importantly, does it

meet your event’s needs? These questions

can now all be answered at Festival Live.

The show will feature five theatres

of educational content covering

the full scope of event production.

The centrepiece of the educational

programme, the Main Stage, will offer

keynote presentations by experts from all

sectors of the industry. SaFEST is back,

providing crucial health and safety advice,

and the Major Events International Theatre

hosted by MEI will offer insights into

technological innovation and sustainable

solutions that mitigate risk, minimise cost

and maximise fan engagement.

LAEOG will be hosting a dedicated

theatre on the first day, presenting case

studies specifically for local authorities,

and The Brand Theatre will return covering

the corporate experience of running

events, both from a client’s perspective

and from an agency view.

The Event Production Show is colocated

with International Confex,

allowing visitors to benefit from both

shows. Confex’s theme for 2020 is centred

around immersive events, inviting

attendees not just to visit but to get stuck

in and really take part. With the topics of

Speak, Meet, Debate, Network, Enjoy and

Learn, there are opportunities for every

#eventprof to immerse themselves in the

myriad of activities on the showfloor, in

the theatres and on the social hubs.

OAB’s Top Picks

iCatching Events – Stand CO4E

Specialists in themed events and prop

hire at all scales, iCatching Events’

team of trained professionals have

delivered countless events throughout

the UK incorporating popular

themes such as Gatsby, Hollywood,

Willy Wonka, Secret Agent and Las

Vegas. Other themes include Hawaii,

Caribbean, Baywatch, Jurassic Park,

Harry Potter and Narnia. They are

also able to deliver Christmas themes,

from traditional to arctic to winter

wonderland.

Other services include the

production of conferences, gala

dinners, award ceremonies and fun

days. iCatching Events has a fully

licensed mobile bar, giant games and

structures including inflatable party

igloos! www.icatchingevents.co.uk

Event Genius by Festiticket – Stand F30E

A complete events management and ticketing

platform, Event Genius allows event organisers to

streamline and simplify their ticketing and event

management. This multi award-winning provider

of event technology joined forces with Festicket in

2019 – the world’s largest platform for music festival

experiences – to create the most complete end-toend

platform for organisers and fans alike.

The partnership brings together technology

and expertise including ticketing, marketing, data

insights and analytics, access control, POS and

cashless payment services, fan engagement tools

and more to plug a gap in the live entertainment

market. www.eventgenius.co.uk

8 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FestivalChairs – Stand D07E

The FestivalChair is the ultimate

sturdy and recyclable cardboard

stool. Ideal for special events,

conferences, festivals or as a

promotional gift, they are lightweight,

easy to assemble and can be printed

for limitless branding opportunities.

And after use it simply folds away flat

for the next time. Chairs hold up to

440 pounds (200kg) with ease and are

100 per cent FSC certified and 100 per

cent recyclable.

Patented in Europe and the

USA, FestivalChair has secured

a prominent place in the world

of international events and was

awarded the American prize for Best

Marketing Tool by the International

American Event Association.

www.festivalchairs.com

Green Goblet – Stand F38E

The average festival cup is used for less than

20 minutes but, under the mantra of ‘Refill Not

Landfill,’ Green Goblet produces cups that can be

washed and reused hundreds of times. Bespoke

designs can be created to accompany generic

festival cups, which are distributed and reused

at festivals, stadiums and events all over the UK.

At the Black Deer Festival last year, 28,000

pint cups and 14,000 half pints were used over

the three days, preventing nearly 400kg of

disposable waste going to landfill. All Green

Goblet reusables were used on a £1 levy system.

www.green-goblet.com

RentaHedge – Stand F02E

Providing a wide range of fully living

hedging, trees and topiary of all sizes for

indoor and outdoor events, RentaHedge’s

completely mobile, living installations

provide attractive barriers and zoning. As

seen at the Isle of Wight Festival, BT London

Live and the Royal County of Berkshire Show,

RentaHedge’s environmentally friendly

temporary hedge boundary solutions are

also perfect for screening, creating VIP

areas, directing people along walkways and

as a natural looking backdrop or real life

maze! Hedges can be delivered nationwide

and throughout mainland Europe. www.

rentahedge.com

Event

Management

Support

We are leading suppliers

of Event Management

in Warwickshire and

around the UK. Whether

you need road closures,

car parking stewards or

show and event security,

we have a team of

professionals on hand to

make sure your event

runs smoothly.

■ Traffic Management ■ Road Closure

■ Signs ■ Planning ■ Logistics ■ Stewarding

■ Car Parking ■ Staging ■ Barriers & Fencing

T: 02476 796 455 E: info@saltem.co.uk W: www.saltem.co.uk

b @saltemCV12

a@SaltemLtd

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 9


PEOPLE

ENTREPRENEUR’S CHAT

Jamie Corry

The Forge and The Wild Bushcraft Company come together at

a site in Corwen to offer guests a true taste of the good life

JOHN M HAYWARD

HUSBAND AND wife team Sheena and

Jamie Corry run two successful and

complementary businesses. Jamie,

having worked with the Wildlife Trust

delivering bushcraft courses and youth

conservation schemes, set up on his own

as the Wild Bushcraft Company in 2010.

“We were living in Hampshire at the

time,” says Sheena. “Jamie was running

courses and residentials for youth groups

and families. He has since evolved the

business to appeal to other types of

groups including corporates and hen/

stags dos. The Wild Bushcraft Company

now offers the UK’s only ‘Stalk to Fork’

course where clients learn all about

sustainable deer conservation, how to

stalk, kill and butcher a deer, and enjoy

a venison feast and luxury glamping

accommodation. Other courses include

knife making, bow making and wild

gourmet evenings. He also offers a

fantastic venison spit roast for events.”

With sites in Hampshire, Shropshire

and Scotland, Jamie’s business was

thriving, but five years ago the couple

were about to have their second daughter

and wanted to be closer to family. “My

parents lived in North Wales so we

started to look around for a property

with some land, the idea being we could

bring the Wild Bushcraft Company

with us,” says Sheena. “We ended up

buying an ex-petting zoo in Corwen with

ramshackle outbuildings, that previously

housed bunnies and Guinea pigs, and an

Iron Age hill fort! We have renamed it The

Forge, which is a loose translation from

the Welsh name of the farm (Anvil Field)

and also hints at how people can forge

their own adventures, new skills and new

friendships while they are staying with us.

“Eventually we’d like to convert

the outbuildings into self-catering

accommodation and to have an event

space for weddings and corporate events,

but that is a long term plan. To start with

we concentrated on adding glamping and

applied for planning for five bell tents

and a gypsy caravan.

THE WALES COLLECTIVE

10 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


PEOPLE

“We never set out to offer glamping

– we were more interested in helping

people to be outside and learn an

alternative way of living. But the

glamping market was expanding so we

thought there was an opportunity there.

The Wild Bushcraft Company has a great

USP in that it is the only business out

there offering Stalk to Fork and venison

spit roasts. Glamping at The Forge

benefits from having these activities on

site, as well as the fact we are just one

hour from England. There aren’t many

accommodation options in the area as

most sites are further West.

“We studied the reports from

VisitWales and some of the operations we

admire, like Fforest (Open Air Business,

February 2019) which has achieved the

sort of vibe we are going for. We also did

some competitor analysis when building

our website.”

PROVIDING AN EXPERIENCE

The Forge has been open for two years

and offers much more than an overnight

stop for people travelling to and from

the nearby Snowdonia National Park.

“In bringing the two businesses together

we intend to create a whole experience

for our guests. First off, they get to

experience what it’s like to live on a

smallholding. We have a polytunnel

and grow a lot of our own food. We also

have chickens and host artisan guests

including an oil painter and potter, that

guests can learn from. Then there are the

courses Jamie runs, which fit in really

well. Our glamping is entirely off-grid and

guests can also get involved in our longer

four-day courses, such as knife and bow

making that take place on our hill fort

using only primitive hand tools.”

The site is also host to a variety of

retreats. “In March we have a trail running

residential with Tim Higginbottom

and Adventure Tours UK. Tim held the

Paddy Buckley Round record for 10

years, a 100km fell running challenge

in Snowdonia over 47 summits. He is

also the current Welsh Orienteering

Champion. We host a yoga retreat with

Trika Retreats – they rent the whole

site and bring their own chefs – and for

the first time this year I am organising

a women-only Wild Wellness Retreat,

which will include a foraged feast,

mindfulness, Welsh folklore, some

stand-up paddle boarding and the

opportunity just to escape from the

world for a few days.”

Jamie and Sheena met at St. Andrews

University. “When we had finished our

studies, Jamie stayed on to manage

one of the restaurants there. He is a

passionate foodie and taught himself

butchery as well as how to elevate

wild food to a whole new gourmet

level. His experience with venison

in particular has put him in demand

and he has demoed butchery at the

Good Life Experience festival and been

commissioned by Glen Dye Cabins to

provide bushcraft and wild food courses

there too.”

In charge of marketing, Sheena says

there are some interesting challenges in

bringing both businesses together. “The

retreats are often vegan/vegetarian and

obviously some of the Wild Bushcraft

courses are, by their nature, very meat

focused, so it can be bit of a juggling

act. The Forge is more female and

family friendly so lends itself to a softer

brand identity while the Wild Bushcraft

Company attracts more men and

couples.”

INCLUSIVE STAYS

Sheena still works four days a week as

a Diversity and Inclusion consultant at

a City law firm. “I am often a couple of

days a week in Birmingham, Manchester

or London, but I thrive on the balance

this brings to my life – I get to appreciate

both worlds. I love spending time with

the guests when I am at The Forge. I

did feel a bit isolated when I was on

maternity leave and we weren’t up and

running with the business.”

Sheena also says she was concerned

that being so remote may put their

children at a disadvantage. “But I

needn’t have worried! We have such

a wonderful cross section of cultures

and international visitors, especially

in July when people flock to the

area for the Llangollen International

Musical Eisteddfod. The children all

play together and mine get involved

changing sheets and taking their new

friends off to collect the eggs or explore

the hill fort.

“I am very keen to weave my

background in diversity and inclusion

into what we offer at The Forge. Because

the site is very private, people feel safe

here. On our opening weekend we

welcomed 17 deaf lesbians from inner

city Hull, and we have worked closely

with a local charity to provide holidays

for autistic children. We had particularly

rewarding feedback from them with

reports of the children sleeping really

well and being much calmer. We put

this down to being somewhere with no

screens, helping them create things with

their hands on the bushcraft courses

and socialising in a safe, low pressure

environment.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING

The Forge has an off-grid and selfsufficient

ethos. “We encourage guests

to go plastic free when they are with us

and provide everything they might need

to store and prepare food. We have

recycling bins everywhere and catch all

the greywater in barrels underneath the

sinks and use it to water the 2,000 trees

we have planted. The waste from the

composting toilets can also be used on

the trees after two years.

“We try to engender a spirit of

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 11


PEOPLE

conscientious living with minimum

impact. In our own house we have solar

powered hot water and a wood burning

stove with a back boiler. We are looking

into installing a ground source heat

pump and are trying to work out how

to get the barns incorporated into the

system too once they are renovated.”

LOCAL ECO SYSTEM

On asking about how the two

businesses stay ahead of the

competition, Sheena says: “It’s like

buying a new car – you start driving it

around then notice them everywhere!

Local activity providers have started

offering accommodation with pods etc,

which isn’t great for small providers

like us. So we started to offer a bit more

for free – we have a minimum three

night stay for a weekend in the summer

holidays, and a minimum four nights

mid-week but guests get bushcraft

activities thrown in for free. They get a

taster in fire lighting, shelter building,

axe throwing and a guided walk up to

the hill fort. This means they get more

value for money, an experience that

will stay with them, and we get to know

our customers better. We are already

looking at a strong level of return

business, with people booking in for

the next year as they leave.”

The couple also keeps ahead by

building partnerships with other

businesses. “There are lots of high

octane, New Zealand-esque outdoor

adventure people in this area. We have

done trade deals with them to create

packages for guests where everything

is laid on. This plays nicely into our

desire to get to know people better and

for them to treat our site as more than

just a place to rest their head. They are

more likely to return and it gives us a

chance to show them how they might

be able to live differently.

“It’s important to tap into this local

business eco system; if you support

each other you can all grow together.

Our local, The Grouse in Carrog, has

been awarded Pub of the Year, for

example, and by promoting them we

are likely to benefit too. We are friendly

JOHN M HAYWARD

“WE RUN THE

GLAMPING

FROM MARCH

UNTIL THE

END OF

OCTOBER

WHEN WE

GET BUSY

WITH THE

BUSHCRAFT

COURSES -

THE STAG DO

WEEKENDS

ARE ALL

FULLY

BOOKED

FOR 2020

ALREADY!”

MONICA STOTT AT THE TRAVEL HACK

with a lot of people offering ‘quirky

stays’ in the area – we don’t think of

them as competitors, it’s more about

getting people into the area. In a small

Welsh community, you need everyone

on side!”

There are trends in tourism that

Sheena is keen to capitalise on. “With

an aging population and a shift in

what people are spending their money

on - away from things and towards

experiences - we want to create

something new. I did a talk at the

Glamping Show on this and why sites

should be looking at the 50-70 year

old age group, which is increasingly

more active, as well as the teen

market - think A-Level celebrations, the

Extinction Rebellion crowd who avoid

air travel, and anyone wanting content

for their Instagram account. Capture all

this and you are future-proofing your

business.”

GROWING

“We were lucky enough to take

advantage of the Accelerated Growth

Programme set up by the Welsh

Government for high potential

businesses. We had support from View

Creative, a local design agency, who

advised on our website and PR. We

put in our own money and the local

authority gave us a grant to kit out

the bell tents. They have been very

supportive, and we have received

AONB grants for rewilding – they paid

for 75 per cent of our tree planting and

hedge regeneration projects.

“The Wild Bushcraft Company has

been profitable for a long time, but

when we merged the two businesses it

took a little while to get back up there

again. Last year we turned a profit on

both businesses.”

With Sheena still working and

Jamie continuing to commute to the

various Wild Bushcraft Company sites,

the couple has now taken on a full

time member of staff. “We found him

by a complete stroke of luck. He was

a friend of a friend that had started

helping Jamie on the courses, so it was

a natural transition. He works across

both businesses.

“Eventually I would like to get

to a point where I can decrease my

consultancy work to two to three

days a week and concentrate more

on attracting corporate bookings

mid-week. The courses are very

popular with business bookers for

team building; at the end of the day we

are all human and cooking and eating

around a campfire on foraged food is a

great leveller.”

LOOKING AHEAD

The future is looking good for both

ventures. “We run the glamping from

March until the end of October when

we get busy with the bushcraft courses

- the stag do weekends are nearly all

fully booked for 2020 already! I think

we will always keep the Wild Bushcraft

Company as the go anywhere, do

anything, mobile arm of the business,

although it will have increasing

prominence at The Forge.”

Short term plans include the

12 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


PEOPLE

JOHN M HAYWARD

JOHN M HAYWARD

addition of some more glamping units.

“I am on the look out for a railway

carriage,” says Sheena, “but long term,

we plan to convert the outbuildings

into accommodation and add a

function space. The whole site could

then be rented out as one with the Wild

Bushcraft Company activities, and we

would employ a full time manager. I

can see us providing accommodation

for up to 100 people and having 15-20

instructors so we can manage big

groups. It is lovely living on site at the

moment but when the children are

grown up I can see us moving a little

way away so the site can be maximised

for exclusive use.

“I always think of our business plan

like the ‘Three Little Pigs’. “It’s a story

of sticks, wood and bricks. We started

out with sticks in the bell tents, are

moving on to wood by refurbishing the

barns and finding our railway carriage,

and hope to eventually be onto bricks

when we transform the outbuildings!”

FEELING GOOD

As runners up in the regional Rural

Business Awards for Best Rural Tourism

Business in 2018 (for The Forge) and

winners of the Wales and Northern

Ireland Best Rural Recreational or

Outdoor Pursuits Business in 2019

(for the Wild Bushcraft Company),

Jamie and Sheena are rightly proud of

their achievements. “The awards are

fantastic, but nothing beats our first

guest feedback. It was the couple’s

first night away from their kids and

they wrote such a lovely review. I must

have been tired because I just broke

down and cried! The feedback from the

autism charity is phenomenal too.

“Of course, the awards are the

icing on the cake. Jamie says I am too

competitive but getting recognition

at industry level gives you confidence

that you are doing things right. We are

on the road to becoming self-sufficient

in how we live, with two young

children, yet we have kept the show

on the road with the launch of a new

brand and business. Neither of us rest

on our laurels but I am pretty proud of

what we have achieved so far.”

ADDRESS BOOK

DETAILS

The Forge / Wild Bushcraft Company

Cae Einion

Corwen

North Wales

LL21 9BY

01490 412972

www.theforgecorwen.co.uk

www.wildbushcraft.co.uk

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 13


INDUSTRY NEWS

Unique Event,

Unique Opportunity

22 -23 MARCH 2020

The Open Air Business Gathering is just weeks away and promises to deliver a pre-season

pick-me-up for venue, glampsite and outdoor event professionals. Join the party!

ONCE A YEAR, outdoor hospitality

and events professionals gather in the

tranquil surroundings of Hothorpe Hall,

Leicestershire, for 24 hours of learning,

networking and special treats.

Following an informal and fun evening

get together, the conference day welcomes

delegates to four streams: Function Venues,

Glamping, Outdoor Events and, new for

2020, Resort and Retreat. This new stream is

aimed at professionals in the holiday park,

family attraction, hotel and eco-tourism

sectors interested in expanding their offering

into alternative accommodation at any

scale.

Led by sector experts, with plenty of

opportunity for sharing knowledge and

experiences peer-to-peer, the programme

Programme

Sunday 22 March

7pm-late

Food, prosecco/gin/beer

bar, Party Karts with silent

disco, chill in the treehouse

or chat around the fire pit

Monday 23 March

9.15am-5pm

PLENARY

› Industry trends

› Your business online

VENUES

› Who is your customer /

Pricing strategies

› Seasonal experiences

› Business events

› Wildflower meadow

management

› Planning

permission Q&A

GLAMPSITES

is comprehensive and designed to provide

inspiration, knowledge and, importantly,

contacts to get you set for 2020 and beyond.

A trade village and outdoor showcase area

offers the chance to get up close to products

and have meaningful discussions with

suppliers, and we are delighted to welcome

Clear Sky (safari tents) and Morris Site

Machinery on board as sponsors.

Tickets are strictly limited to maintain the

intimate nature of the event and maximise

on the opportunity for attendees to chat,

connect and do business. With seven weeks

to go, over two thirds of places have been

taken and we are anticipating another full

capacity event. Visit www.oabgathering.

com and secure your ticket to avoid

disappointment.

› Policies and procedures

› Emerging markets

› Sustainability at all scales

› Wildflower meadow

management

› Planning permission Q&A

EVENTS

› Securing sponsorship

› Sustainability at events

› Vibing a site

› Volunteer management

› Booking artists

RESORT & RETREAT

› International lessons

› ‘One Planet’ holidays

› Experiential

accommodation

› Luxury outdoors

› Future trends

Secure your place now www.oabgathering.com

First Speakers Announced

Iain Beaumont

Venues and Ventures

www.venuesandventures.co.uk

Iain is the founder of

Venues and Ventures, a

management consultancy

specialising in delivering

strong returns on

investment across historic venues, rural

estates and outdoor spaces. He has worked

for some of England’s grandest country

estates and leading luxury venues, refining

his eye for spotting new opportunities and

helping businesses realise their potential.

Kelly Chandler

Kelly Chandler Consulting

www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk

A regular contributor

to Open Air Business,

Kelly is a long term

preferred service provider

for exclusive venues

such as Syon Park, Highclere Castle,

Spencer House and Stoke Park Club.

Kelly’s consulting services to wedding

venues draw on her prior experience

in international conference and event

planning, over 15 years of business

management, and working directly

with discerning couples planning their

weddings in diverse locations and

forging successful relationships with all

components of the wedding industry.

Joe Heap

Towersey Festival

www.towerseyfestival.com

Joe is the director and

programmer of Towersey

Festival, the oldest

independent festival in the

UK. Established in 1965,

it continues to be one of the country’s

leading festivals of acoustic, folk and

roots music, attracting over 8,000 people

annually.

14 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


INDUSTRY NEWS

Steve Heap

Events Industry Form

www.eventsindustryforum.co.uk

Steve is the chairman of

the Events Industry Forum

(EIF) and a contributor to

the Purple Guide. He has

been the general secretary

of Association of Festival Organisers (AFO)

since its formation in 1987, is the director

of Mrs Casey Music and was director of

Towersey Festival for 45 years, having

retired last year.

Kate Morel

Morel Consultancy

www.morelconsultancy.com

Kate’s hospitality-dedicated

businesses support

development projects

that include alternative

accommodations such as

glamping and treehouses. Her consultancy

service offers informed advice on how

to diversify into this niche sector, and

her design service combines her holiday

property rental and glamping experience

with design and construction to produce

creative commercial treehouses and cabins.

Matt Pitts

PlantLife

www.plantlife.org.uk

Matt is a meadows adviser at

Plantlife, advising and supporting

anyone interested in restoring,

creating and managing wildflower

meadows.

Plantlife is a British conservation charity working

nationally and internationally for over 30 years to

save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi. Its

team of experts work with landowners, businesses,

conservation organisations, community groups and

governments to help save the rarest flora and ensure

familiar flowers and plants continue to thrive.

Louis Thompson

Nomadic Resorts

www.nomadicresorts.com

Louis is CEO of Nomadic Resorts, an interdisciplinary

design and project development

company servicing the hospitality

industry. Using a holistic approach,

Nomadic creates sustainable

resorts, tented camps, lodges and

residential projects that reflect a true sense of place

and fit organically into their natural surroundings.

Its work includes the Wild Coast Tented Lodge in the

south of Sri Lanka, Soneva Kiri on Ko Kut island in

Thailand and Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia.

Sue Torres

Wicked Events

www.wickedevents.co.uk

Sue is director of Wicked

Events which has been in

operation since 2000 and

recruits volunteers for

festivals and events around

the country. Wicked Events has grown year

on year due to the emphasis on treating all

with respect and ensuring volunteers enjoy

their time.

Daniel Holder

The Quiet Site

www.thequietsite.co.uk

Daniel owns the Quiet

Site in Ullswater, and his

pioneering commitment

to sustainability has seen

over £1million invested in

the latest technologies to make it one of the

greenest parks in the land. The Quiet Team

was delighted to win the ‘Ethical, Sustainable

and Responsible’ Award from Cumbria

Tourism for a record fourth time last year and

maintains a Green Tourism Gold award.

More speakers announced soon

OFFICIAL UK IMPORTER

First for outdoor leisure

0115 966 3838 | Nottingham

Lowdham Leisureworld,

Lowdham Road, Gunthorpe, Notts NG14 7ES

www.airstream-uk.co.uk


FUNCTION VENUES

CASE STUDY

Heaton

House Farm

This Cheshire-based family farm has diversified into

an award-winning sustainable events venue, catering

for everything from christenings to car launches

Owned by Mick and Margaret Heath, this venue business started with a conversation at a

charity concert in a cow shed. 20 years on and the farm has created purpose-built facilities

supported by a dedicated events team and its own on-site catering business. We talk to

Mick and Margaret’s daughter, Sarah.

When did you start your venue

business and what is its history?

Here at Heaton House Farm, we’ve

been hosting weddings and events for

just over 20 years. A family farm since

the late 1800s (seven generations ago)

we have created a beautiful venue but

still farm our 182 acres.

The venue diversification started

in the 1990s when the cattle barn was

transformed into a music venue in

the summer months, hosting charity

concerts when the cows were out in the

fields. At one of these events, a couple

approached my dad to see if they could

hold their wedding reception there and

in 1999 we held our first wedding.

By 2003, we were hosting several

weddings a year, so we took the

difficult decision to sell the dairy cows.

Although it was a sad day to see them

go, we still kept the beef herd and

sheep and had plenty on our hands to

look forward to.

We set about converting our

existing barns and outhouses to better

accommodate wedding parties and

transform the buildings into a luxurious

events venue. With the money raised

from selling the cows, and with our own

on-site stone and oak craftsmen, we

turned our attention to every building

on the farm and, one-by-one, made

each of them a wonderful place for an

event.

Steeles Barn was built in 2007 and

we added permanent marquee linings

along with all the latest sound and

lighting equipment. The Old Stableyard

breakfast room was converted in 2014

from the milking parlour and we added

award-winning toilets (outstanding

quality is important everywhere!) along

with purpose-built accommodation

and step-free disabled access.

More recently we added a beautiful

bridal preparation room that overlooks

our countryside views, and last year

we launched a brand new company,

Stable Yard Catering. Our very own

on-site caterers, we’ve developed this

company to allow us to reduce costs for

our customers, allowing us to cater for

midweek corporate events and smaller,

intimate weddings. We are also growing

our own crops to use for the meals,

developing our menus around seasonal

produce.

Tell us about your location and site

Driving to the venue you are

surrounded by the beautiful

countryside views over Cheshire,

Derbyshire and Staffordshire. We’re

very lucky to be in such a tranquil area

away from busy city life.

You arrive in our courtyard to find

a farm façade and enter our beautiful

barns, all with their own unique

16 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

features. From a rustic oak beamed barn

covered with twinkling lights, to our

indoor night sky area to dance the night

away, each barn has been developed

with weddings in mind, making the farm

the perfect venue to host events from 20

guests up to 600!

Our smaller, oak beamed barn

features old stonework and is perfect

for ceremonies and smaller events. The

doors open up to a patio with amazing

views. Steele’s Barn is much larger,

fully insulated and features underfloor

heating and gorgeous drapes for the

perfect cosy experience on even the

coldest day.

These spaces work brilliantly for

corporate events too. Steele’s Barn

is very flexible, perfect for large

conferences, gala dinners or even a

car launch. The Old Stableyard is an

excellent meeting room, perfect for

smaller events including seminars,

board gatherings, or meetings for

up to 60 delegates. We also have

several quirky areas for breakouts and

brainstorming.

What facilities do you offer?

We also have 15 bedrooms available

for guests to stopover. These vary from

double rooms to family rooms which

have been converted from redundant

farm buildings.

What services do you offer?

The idea of getting married outside,

surrounded by beautiful countryside

“WE’RE PROUD

TO BE ONE

OF THE MOST

POPULAR

ASIAN

WEDDING

VENUES IN

CHESHIRE

AND THE

NORTH WEST”

views, is one that many couples dream

of, especially when getting married

in the summer. With this in mind, we

created our Oak Pagoda, a beautiful

wooden structure which can be used

for the ceremony.

We’re not just all about weddings

however as we also host other events

such as charity balls, Christmas parties

(where we welcome over 900 guests

over three nights), christenings, private

dining and corporate events.

One of our fields is also used as an

activity centre, which can be open to

the public or used to host corporate

events with zorbing, segways, archery,

skybow and other team building

activities. This works really well with

our dining options and meeting spaces

here at the venue.

Stable Yard Catering provides the

food for all of our events, from sharing

bowls to food stalls, with options for all

dietary requirements.

We’re proud to be one of the

most popular Asian wedding venues

in Cheshire and the North West.

Our expert team is experienced in

understanding the requirements of

Muslim and Hindu weddings, along

with a number of other faiths. Easily

accommodating up to 600 guests, we

can also arrange for arrivals by white

horse or helicopter.

The flexibility of the site allows for a

civil ceremony and religious ceremony

to be held on the same day, with the

combination of three interlinking barns.

We can even provide two separate

entrances for each side of the family

for grand entrances! We have a license

to hold a small fire on our grounds for

Hindu celebrations and for a Mandap to

be set up in the same or different area

from the civil ceremony.

We offer flexible segregation options

for Muslim events, with stewards

meeting guests at their cars, allowing

men and women to enter two separate

barns from two separate entrances,

and our extensive range of preferred

suppliers includes halal catering, venue

dressers, florists and entertainment.

We hold many Jewish weddings too

and have our own modern Chuppah,

which can be used for the ceremony,

along with a circular stage and white

aisle carpet. We also have a fully

licensed kosher bar.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 17


FUNCTION VENUES

Describe how you researched and

sourced your structures

A lot of research is conducted before

creating the plans for new barns and

structures, each barn has been made

fit for purpose. Photos from the history

of the farm have been used to recreate

some of the architectural structures, in

keeping with the style of the farm.

How do you work with your

customers to make their event

unique?

Every event here is very different, one

day we could have a wedding for 50

guests, and the next day could be a

conference for 300 delegates. We are

here to support our clients throughout

their planning stages and where clients

can’t come to the venue, we can

accommodate Skype or over the phone

meetings. We are also open seven days

a week where our awarding-winning

team can help guide and answer any

questions.

How do you publicise yourself?

Word of mouth has always been

incredibly important to us. People

look to their friends and family for

recommendations, and they are our

most passionate advocates. We have

also spent a lot of time and effort

on our new website and our online

presence. They’ve proved essential in

helping us to attract interest. Social

media – especially Facebook and

Instagram – is great for us to show off

our venue.

How would you describe your style or

unique selling point?

We are a beautiful countryside venue,

with breathtaking views certain to wow

anyone who comes for a Heaton House

Farm experience.

We are also one of the most

environmentally-friendly venues in the

area. We do everything we can to take

care of the environment we live in and

are striving to eliminate our carbon

footprint.

We’ve been recycling at Heaton

House Farm for decades and were one

of the first places in the area to set

up our own recycling station on-site

and commission our own recycling

companies to collect full skips (and

stop wasting fuel on half-full bins!).

We separate everything and even use

external companies like Refood to

recycle all waste food.

Our barn roofs were also one of

the first places in the region to host

solar panels, with 125 installed by

2011. Today we have 250, generating

up to 60kWh of energy every day. To

take advantage of this green energy,

we have low energy LED lamps, our

laundry team alter their hours based

on the season; working longer hours in

the summer and shorter hours in the

winter to make use of the power created

during daylight hours. In 2014, we

rebuilt the old horse and cart barn and

installed a brand new biomass boiler

and a specialist insulated water storage

unit; it heats water and stores it for

“WE DO

EVERYTHING

WE CAN TO

TAKE CARE OF

THE

ENVIRONMENT

WE LIVE IN

AND ARE

STRIVING TO

ELIMINATE

OUR CARBON

FOOTPRINT”

our guests to use later – it uses waste

from the venue, our agricultural work

and sustainable woodland to heat our

whole venue.

Our other commitments include

reducing the frequency of our waste

recycling and our deliveries, sourcing

our food as locally as possible with a

field-to-fork mantra, off-setting carbon

emissions and replacing used wood with

the planting of new trees every year.

What challenges have you faced?

Over the years we have seen many

venues pop up over the county

giving people more choice but more

competition for ourselves.

Have you worked with any industry

bodies or consultants?

We haven’t used consultants, we’ve

just used a lot of common sense and

practical experience. We’ve been

hosting weddings for 20 years but

we’ve been hosting charity events for a

lot longer.

18 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

What are your plans for next season?

2020 is our busiest year to date, so our

plan is to stay organised and ensure

smooth transitions day today while

making sure each customer feels unique

and valued.

Describe your average day mid-season

Each day is very different at the venue

but it tends to begin with serving up a

delicious breakfast for our overnight

guests in The Old Stableyard restaurant,

then back across to show a newly

engaged couple around the venue.

Then it’s wedding time! From

guest arrival, ceremony, canapes and

reception drinks all the way through

to the wedding breakfast and guest

departure. We aim to ensure guests

have had a fantastic experience here at

the venue and special memories to take

away with them.

What do you enjoy about the

business and why?

We have a large team, some that join

us just for a season. It’s very exciting

to watch as they grow and develop

their skills to take away with them for

their future careers. As well as seasonal

staff, we have many team members

who have been with us for years,

progressing through the company as

they develop with the business.

What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

We have a campsite for any keen

campers or caravanners who fancy

a night under the stars. This works

perfectly with our summer weddings

as alternative accommodation, and it’s

right here at the venue in one of our

fields.

What are you most proud of?

We are most proud of how far we

have come, from a family farm to an

award-winning venue. We’re very proud

to have won titles at The Wedding

Industry Awards for the past three

years, including ‘Best Events Team’ and

‘Best Countryside Venue’ in the North

West, and our brilliant team deserves

every one.

It’s been a fantastic development

from cow sheds to the venue we

see today. And the best part? We’ve

enjoyed every minute!

ADDRESS BOOK

DETAILS

Heaton House Farm

Rushton Spencer

Macclesfield

Cheshire

SK11 0RD

01260 218303

www.heatonhousefarm.co.uk

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 19


FUNCTION VENUES

Kelly

Chandler

A new look column from wedding venue expert Kelly

Chandler – enjoy, and make sure to do your homework!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Chandler Wedding Consulting

helps unique places and spaces to

thrive in the modern wedding market

via a range of specialist one to

one consulting and group training

programmes.

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 with a unique grasp

of both modern bridal expectations

and a venue’s commercial needs.

www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk

THE START of the year is an exciting and

action-packed time as the number of

couples recently engaged and searching

for their dream location is at an annual

high. Venues should be capitalising on

these enquiries while also using the

January/February quiet time as a window

of opportunity to make repairs, paint,

redecorate, build, clean and generally

prepare for what’s just around the corner.

One such venue client of mine, who I

checked in with very recently, has a big

project on their hands preparing for their

first wedding season as the completely

revamped and redesigned Baddow Park

House near Chelmsford, Essex.

The owners behind this intimate property

are working tirelessly to bring a stunning

heritage house up to date as an on-point

exclusive use country house with nine

bedrooms. They are also blending the very

best of the parkland setting within their

offer. Building is underway of a stunning

new light-filled orangery for dining and

partying, a new garden pagoda and

ceremony space and the most brilliant

chill out shed of dreams – who says you

can’t have a rustic fire pit, snuggle under

blankets, feast on pizza fresh from the oven

and still have the most elegant country

house backdrop? I’m excited to see their

first weddings unfold this summer.

The redesigned

orangery at Baddow

Park, Essex

LIAM WALES

20 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

Industry

Trend

SMALL AND INTIMATE

I’m having lots of conversations

about ‘small and intimate’ weddings

and the growth of these in 2020.

The average number of wedding

guests tends to sit at around 80 but

this is dropping slightly year on year

according to industry surveys and

anecdotal evidence from those in the

industry. On the up is the small and

intimate wedding, be that very small

(an elopement of the couple with the

minimum of two witnesses) or the

wedding of 30-40, usually incorporating

close friends and family.

In a lot of cases these intimate

weddings are taking in very personal

ceremonies with intimate daytime

meals often followed by larger

evening parties, sometimes same day,

sometimes in a different location and

on a different day entirely.

I am not surprised at the change;

I’ve seen it before, albeit more than

a decade ago when there was far less

choice out there and budgets were

particularly stretched post financial

crisis. Personally I can see the merit – in

theory it costs less on the food front

at least, but it also goes hand in hand

with a lot of couples really wanting to

personalise their ceremonies, making

them incredibly meaningful, intimate

and joyous, often using independent

celebrants rather than the registrar’s

rather paperwork-driven approach to

achieve this. A small guest number

seems to align and helps couples spend

more quality time with those closest to

them.

In the industry I see a mixed reaction,

often with financial concerns that small

means less. It’s not always the case and

I speak to a lot of wedding planners

who are reporting equal budgets spent

on 30 guests as 100. Welcoming smaller

guest numbers may not work or suit

some venues and locations but the rise

of smaller weddings can be excellent

news for others. They can either market

a currently underused small space that

already exists, get better value from

a much larger space ideal for parties

that currently has been too large for

the average wedding dining guest list,

or create midweek offers to specifically

target the elopement couple keen

on your very unique setting and

experience.

DRIED FLOWERS

Weddings and flowers go together

like salt and pepper! Well that’s my

view anyway, but I love the evolution

of the use of flowers in weddings that

continues each year.

In 2020, I’m excited to see that dried

flowers are going to be much more

present in our weddings. Everlasting

blooms and grasses in warm and muted

tones are not new but are a trend that

is picking up pace. I have been a fan

of excellent quality faux flowers to

dress wedding spaces for a long time,

and again, while not new, I think we’ll

continue to see more venues investing

in them to create that desirable flowerfilled

look that is very high on the

wedding trend charts.

One of the top three words used by

couples to explain how they wanted

their wedding to be described in 2019

was ‘lush’ (according to the Splendid

Insights UK Wedding Report 2020).

Foliage, greenery, the great outdoors,

nature and blooms are very important

in creating that feel.

Ask Kelly

WOW

FACTOR

GETTY IMAGES

What do we need to keep an eye on in how we deal

with wedding customers in 2020?

Lots of course, but one area I think we can expect to see huge

change this year is how customers are choosing to communicate

and be reached by their wedding venue and other suppliers.

We’ve already seen a big shift away from the use of the phone by

millennials to the use of email, but 2020 will see us all getting more

communication via other channels, specifically Instagram

Messenger, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and text.

I’m having conversations with colleagues who are

working on fresh tech, finding ever more simple, clever

ways of chatting to customers via adaptations of live chat

on web platforms and more. Bite size, quick exchanges of

information are favoured and I have many clients reporting

to me really good conversion and response rates when using

WhatsApp in particular as a way of conversing. I’m a huge fan of VoiceNotes that

I use via WhatsApp, Telegram and Voxer – the best of both for me, quicker than

typing, much more emotion and rapport building possible but not disruptive to

somebody else’s schedule!

HOMEWORK

Take a look at your communication channels; how clients can currently contact you

and how they might like to. Ask a sample of your clients (as not all platforms are for

everyone) and then test out any new channels you would like to add. If you’re not

familiar with some of the technology, think about how it could be used to communicate

more efficiently and convert more enquiries into showrounds and sales.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 21


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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

FUNCTION VENUES

JANUARY

Veganuary

Dry January

Why January?

New Year resolutions are always set with great intentions,

however, how many are kept for longer than two weeks

into the month of January? asks Andrew White

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

www.triggerfish.co.uk

IT’S BEEN said that it takes anywhere from 21

days to form or break a habit, therefore the month

of January doesn’t really give a long enough

opportunity to reboot the mindset. And as you are

reading this heading into February, you’ve either

ticked off a month without meat or booze or you

just couldn’t quite get there.

Marketeers and commercial departments in the

hospitality industry used to focus their sales and

marketing activities around the national holidays

such as Christmas and New Year, Easter and some

of the headline traditions such as Valentine’s

Day, Mothering Sunday and Father’s Day. This

is no longer the case; National Hamburger Day,

Afternoon Tea Week, Pride Month, British Food

Fortnight are all dates where hospitality and event

marketeers are now also trying to find a voice.

Add in your local or regional key dates such The

Cheltenham Festival 2020, F1 British Grand Prix

2020 or RHS Chatsworth Flower Show and venues

have a lot of messages to get out over the year. It’s

fortunate that 2020 brings about an extra day in

the annual marketing plan.

With so much to shout about, to be social with

and to share across different platforms, how can

venues be heard and more importantly drive

delegate numbers and revenues? My answer

would be to: Prioritise, Plan and Publish.

PRIORITISE

The glut of national days means it’s key to

decipher which ones are truly relevant to your

organisation, which will drive business, and most

importantly, which can be activated?

Your regional headline events should form

the backbone of the marketing plan with

activity targeted towards driving awareness

and business. Large scale local events present

enormous opportunities for offshoot events such

as private dinners, meetings and accommodation.

Dependent on your business needs, the traditional

national holidays should feature next and then,

and only then, a well curated list of national days.

The days should reflect your brand, after all,

why champion national burger day if burgers

simply do not feature on your delegate dining

menu? And however much you personally love

cocktails, National Cocktail Week isn’t relevant

unless you have a bar onsite.

PLAN

There’s a misconception that the media will

jump on your story and automatically write

about it. The media is interested in ‘new’sworthy

stories, ones that impact on the local community

and ones that have a human interest angle…

essentially ‘new’ information. On the basis that

the national press each receive upwards of 1,000

media releases daily (the local media around

200) it’s key that you give pertinent information –

not a badly veiled advert.

The key is to plan well ahead and release your

information in a timely manner, approximately

as follows:

› National media 6 weeks prior for food and

travel sections

1 week prior for news

sections

› Glossy nationals At least 3 months prior

› Local news Up to two days before print

date

› Trade press 1 month prior

› Social media Start 2–3 weeks before and

use the correct #

PUBLISH

Information needs to be concise, ‘new’ and

with an angle that the target publication will

find of interest. Taking part in the Dry January

campaign is great but competition will be

stiff and just offering a couple of thoughtless

non-alcoholic options won’t break headlines.

Consider working in partnership with a local

alcohol supplier on a unique offering, concoct

amazing alcohol-free cocktails using local

produce or take inspiration from the big brands –

Brewdog offered free re-fills of alcohol free beer

throughout January and it went down a storm!

Image is always the big win, therefore make

sure you send a high resolution, quality image of

what you are promoting. And ensure you have

details and costings of the products or dates that

you are trying to promote. Journalists will rarely

come back to you for information, therefore give

them everything they need to do their job.

Ultimately, think about your core values;

if you champion sustainability as one of your

USPs, then reinforce this message repeatedly

throughout the year, not just as a one off.

USPs take time to bed in and will ultimately

inform your buyers’ habits far more than a

one-off quick hit. It takes anywhere from 21

days to form a habit, and with 366 days in 2020

that equates to just over 17 message you can

drive forward. Take out the key national dates

and traditions (Christmas, New Year, Easter,

Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday and Father’s

Day) and that’s 11 messages to go for, or one a

month.

Choose which messages you want to be

known for rather than those that will have

a quick hit and little effect on your delegate

numbers or revenues, then prioritise and plan

them in to your annual sales and marketing plan.

Veganuary and Dry January are both great

campaigns to kick start the year but make sure

to keep the momentum going throughout 2020

to really push those key messages. Get creative

and show people how and why your business is

worth their time.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 23


FUNCTION VENUES

ALTHOUGH BECOMING a venue can be

an excellent way to diversify, there can

be unexpected issues not necessarily

anticipated when the idea is explored

round the kitchen table on a dreary January

morning…

No one wants to be persuading a

particularly grumpy sheep that he really

shouldn’t be behind the bar in the marquee

when guests leave the neighbouring

farmer’s field gate open. What do you say

when the wedding couple can’t live without

a firework display to rival London on New

Year’s eve? What duties do you owe to

neighbouring landowners and animals?

Who is liable if temporary structures are

not secured properly and blow away or fall

down (or worse, injure someone)?

With the British climate being

unpredictable at the best of times, and 2019

being one of the wettest years on record,

the weather is often not on a venue’s side.

Who foots the bill of putting walkways down

when the proposed parking field resembles

Glastonbury on a bad year? Or worse, what

happens when you have paid for metal

trackway in parking fields only to find them

washed away by rain on the morning of a

big event?

Sadly, all of the above (and more) are real

situations clients have found themselves in,

so what can you do and what should venues

be thinking about?

GETTY IMAGES

Legal

Foundations

Thinking of setting up a venue? Geldards’ associate solicitor

Rebecca Stojak offers six tips to help prevent you getting

into legal difficulties

1 KNOW

YOUR AREA

Firstly, what can and can’t you do on your

land? Do you actually own the property/

land where you want to create your venue?

If not, check your tenancy or licence (or

check your deeds if you own the land) to see

if there are any restrictions on what it can

be used for or what types of structures you

can put up. Look into any rural development

grants which may be available in your area

to encourage regeneration for the type of

venue you want to set up.

Check if there are any rights of way – do

you want a group of ramblers wandering

through a black-tie event? Can you do

anything to stop them? It is important

to seek advice from your local planning

authority on what rules and regulations

apply and find out what licences you will

need, eg. will you need a personal alcohol

licence or event licence? Find out if you are

limited to how many events you can have a

year or the type of event you can hold. These

are all important considerations as they will

impact what you can do and potentially how

much money you can make.

2

CONSIDER YOUR

NEIGHBOURS

It is important to consider the venue’s

neighbours both during the proposed use

of the venue and set up periods. Talk with

them and let them know well in advance of

any plans you may have.

Ensure there is adequate and clear

signage around your venue (including the

perimeters and entrances/gates) to stop

guests wandering into places they shouldn’t

be. If signage is clear, any damage they

cause to neighbouring property may be

able to be claimed back, if not you may be

liable for damage or losses suffered eg. if a

guest lets the neighbour’s animals out and

the animals are injured you may have to pay

vets fees, or the losses suffered as a result of

a lucrative crop being trampled.

Any dangers should be clearly cordoned

off or signposted to avoid potential claims.

You should ensure that the venue is as

safe as possible, that appropriate health

and safety checks have been done and

risk assessments are in place. I once had a

colleague tell me of a client who had a claim

against them when their employee hadn’t

replaced a manhole cover which a guest

then promptly fell down resulting in a civil

claim.

24 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

3 FIREWORKS

AND ANIMALS

Often parties and weddings want a spectacular

firework display. Before you can agree to this (and

when you are first setting up) consider if fireworks

are something you are going to be able to offer. I

have acted for both sides of civil claims relating

to fireworks where expensive animals have been

injured when insufficient notice (or sometimes no

notice at all) has been given to neighbouring animal

owners by venues.

It is important to consider if your venue is next

to stables or a farm that has livestock. Section 4 of

the Animal Welfare Act 2006 confirms that it is an

offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any

captive or domestic animal (this could include farm

animals or horses). For breaches of the act, venues

could be fined up to £20,000 or the owners could

be imprisoned for up to six months. The landowner

could also bring a civil claim for losses incurred

such as vets’ fees and personal injury caused to

individuals by scared animals.

GETTY IMAGES

4

HOW WILL YOU

OPERATE?

Once you have decided that you want to

open an event venue, talk to a solicitor.

Although you may want to get on with

the ‘fun stuff’ (and actually earning

some money) it is important that you

understand exactly what you are getting

into, legally. It is important that you

ensure the business is set up correctly

and that you are as protected as possible

– be that as a sole trader, partnership or

limited company.

You should also consider who is going

to be part of your business and what

would happen if you fall out. Where

would you stand in terms of continuing

it? Would there be any employment law

implications? What if your marriage or

relationship breaks down – can your

partner claim a share of the business or

even insist that part or all of the business

is sold? These are all things your solicitor

can help you protect against.

I would recommend talking to a

solicitor as soon as possible; they will be

able to advise you on your options and

the potential risks so you go into your

new venture with your eyes open.

‘I WOULD RECOMMEND TALKING TO A SOLICITOR AS SOON AS

POSSIBLE; THEY WILL BE ABLE TO ADVISE YOU ON YOUR OPTIONS

AND THE POTENTIAL RISKS SO YOU GO INTO YOUR NEW VENTURE

WITH YOUR EYES OPEN’

5

WORST CASE

SCENARIO DOCUMENTS

Make sure that you have appropriate terms and conditions and contracts in place (that

are actually used, incorporated and signed by customers) for both those wanting to hire

your venue and traders/suppliers. Make sure you also know what external terms and

conditions your venue has agreed with third parties and the implications.

I describe these to my clients as “worst-case scenario documents”. Hopefully, they

can be signed by all parties then left to gather dust in a file never to see the light of day

again. However, if things go wrong, the contract and terms and conditions set out what

will happen; they are the rules that both parties agree to abide by and can cover a range

of issues, eg. if someone doesn’t pay on time is there interest due? If the deposit is paid

but then the event is cancelled with a week to go is the deposit refundable? How much

notice would you want of a cancellation?

I would always recommend having your quotes and estimate documents, as well as

your terms and conditions and contracts, drawn up by a solicitor. They will often have

seen your type of business many times before and will be able to advise on specific

(often specialised) clauses to include.

Even if your venue has been set up for years, I would still recommend that your terms

and conditions and contracts are regularly reviewed to ensure they are offering you

maximum protection and are fit for purpose. Often solicitors will do this for a small fixed

fee (or in some cases for free).

I have seen clients with a dispute that their terms and conditions document does

not adequately protect them from as it has been cobbled together over the years from

various sources (sometimes even contradicting itself). In my opinion it is always better to

invest in robust, fit for purpose terms and conditions and contract documents than have

something go wrong.

Always ensure that you have adequate insurance policies in place for when things may

go wrong, and review these every year to ensure they still cover your venue’s needs.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 25


FUNCTION VENUES

6 FORCE

MAJEURE

During the terrible rain and flooding of 2019 I

had clients who had a big event planned after

a week of heavy rain. The site was inspected

and, as it was a lucrative event, they chose to

hire metal trackway to try to preserve the land

and ensure the site was safe. However, on the

morning of the event, when the organisers

got to the car parking fields, they found it

had been washed away by a huge deluge

overnight. The decision was then made to

cancel the event.

Although this was not a small task, the

venue team already knew exactly what it

needed to do – who was contacting who etc. -

as they had an adverse weather policy in place

together with an up-to-date list of all of the

suppliers’ and traders’ contact details.

The venue’s contract with suppliers and

traders also had a force majeure clause in

order to mitigate any losses. In this case, the

venue was not under any obligation to repay

any portion of the fees that had been paid

prior to the occurrence of the force majeure

event. This however always needs to be a

commercial decision and venues need to

consider how important relationships are with

suppliers and traders, and what impact the

decision will make to future events.

I would advise any decision to cancel an

event due to adverse weather to be made

in conjunction with a solicitor, so that the

owners are fully aware of any potential risks,

eg. the potential of being sued, and ensuring

that the notice is sent out correctly and in

accordance with any contract so it is effective

and there is no right of recourse.

Ultimately, when considering any new

venue business, planning and implementation

are key to making sure an unforgettable time

is had by all. It is important to ensure that all

parties understand their role in supporting

this, and contractual agreements and terms

and conditions ensure everyone knows exactly

what is expected of them. These documents

form the basis of any agreement, and are the

foundations on which success is built.

If you are reading this and thinking, “hmm,

how would this affect me?” then please

contact Geldards for further information, and

we will be happy to lend our expertise.

GETTY IMAGES

‘ULTIMATELY, WHEN CONSIDERING ANY NEW VENUE

BUSINESS, PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION ARE KEY TO

MAKING SURE AN UNFORGETTABLE TIME IS HAD BY ALL”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Stojak is an associate solicitor at Geldards LLP and is part of the Commercial Dispute Resolution team. She is also a

member of Geldards Agriculture and Rural team. Rebecca advises a range of clients from individuals and charities to large national

and international companies.

Geldards’ Agriculture and Rural team is a multi-disciplinary team specialising in agriculture, rural and equine disciplines across

all fields such as commercial property, corporate and commercial, family, dispute resolution and planning. Geldards advises a range

of clients, from individuals, well known venues, large estates and events companies to suppliers and traders. Over the years, Geldards

has come to advise its clients on a range of matters over a business’ life span - from the initial set up of a new business to diversification

to advising when things go wrong.

If you have any legal queries, please do not hesitate to contact rebecca.stojak@geldards.com or visit www.geldards.com

26 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


OUTDOOR LED

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Size can be adapted to the venue, fully weatherproof,

flexible hire length, full on site technical support

and available Nationwide.

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FUNCTION VENUES

PRODUCT IN FOCUS

Heat, Power

and Lighting

Towcester Racecourse,

Northamptonshire

Products supplied: Outdoor/indoor LED

lighting and festoon lighting

From: Ellievision AV (07790 132298 /

www.ellievisionav.co.uk)

Details: The challenge was to take a

racecourse, with two opulent main

function buildings and over 300 acres of

beautiful countryside, and turn it into a

wonderful winterland experience for the

Winterland MK event, which ran over a

six week period.

From the start, as the event is held in

the darkest months of the year, it was

clear the use of lighting would be key.

Lighting can capture the imagination

and transform a venue, but with such

an expanse to cover, Ellievision AV

worked with the Winterland MK project

team to ensure the key focal points and

routes were illuminated by up-lighting

the iconic buildings, magnificent trees,

walkways and chalets with

dramatic effect.

The company provided a

complete lighting solution

including a woodland trail

to Santa’s grotto! With such

expansive grounds, the festoon

lighting guided visitors from the

entrance to the heart of the action

where the ice rink and chalets were

located.

Feedback: The team at Winterland MK

truly appreciated having Ellievision AV

on site for the duration of the event.

Ellievision AV became an extension of

the Winterland MK project team, on

hand for any eventuality that came

its way. Continuous attention to

detail throughout the event, and an

ability to adapt to the evolving events

programme, meant the delivery was

actioned seamlessly.

28 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

PRODUCT SNAPSHOTS

Hot Water Wind Turbine

FuturEnergy

01789 450280

www.futurenergy.co.uk

stop heating should a required

temperature be reached. The

package costs £2,250 (incl.VAT).

FuturEnergy's new British

manufactured water heating

micro wind turbine package is

now available. This is the first of

its kind, focusing directly on heating water.

This sounds easy but the clever thing about

the package is that the Airforce Controller

can extract more energy from the wind than

a typical 'off-grid' battery charging system.

It does this by precisely controlling the rotor

speed of the turbine to perfectly match wind

speeds at any given time.

The package includes an AirForce1

wind turbine, Airforce Controller V4 and

Anemometer. Additionally, up to three

temperature sensors can be connected

to the controller which can be used to

Marquee Heating

Thermobile UK

02476 357960

www.thermobile.co.uk

Thermobile heaters are manufactured in Holland

and built to a very high quality. They have a

minimum efficiency of 90 per cent, which means

that 90 per cent of the fuel burned goes as useful

heat into the heated space and only 10 per cent 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.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 29


GLAMPING

PODS

Luxury on a Budget

Contact Robert Mycroft

Low Road Nursery, 61 Low Road, Clowne

Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S43 4LQ

01246 810488 / 07958 498331

robert.lowroad@btinternet.com www.lowroadnursery.co.uk

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30 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

CASE STUDY

Brook

Meadow

Designer lakeside accommodation

on a working farm in Leicestershire

“Build a lake and they will come” thought Jasper and Mary Hart

28 years ago – and they were right! With the help of their daughter

Claire, Brook Meadow has been brought up to date now catering for

discerning campers, glampers and for those that require even more luxury in bespoke

designer lodges. We talk to Claire.

What’s your back story – your life

before glamping?

Before returning to the family farm

my career was based in design. I’m

a designer to my core and had been

employed as both an architect, an

interior designer and latterly a tutor in

interior architecture. My parents, Jasper

and Mary, had run Brook Meadow almost

single-handedly with me helping from a

distance.

I designed a house with reception and

shop on site so a manager could step

in and take the pressure off. The new

management worked for a period of time

but it became clear (despite growth)

that the business was not reaching its

full potential. It took a big leap of faith

to uproot, leave my home and job in

Winchester and return to the farm with

my young son. The drive was there to

rejuvenate the family business, which

was becoming Leicestershire’s best-kept

secret.

“ IT TOOK

A BIG LEAP

OF FAITH TO

UPROOT,

LEAVE MY

HOME AND

JOB IN

WINCHESTER

AND RETURN

TO THE FARM

WITH MY

YOUNG SON”

What made you decide to start

offering glamping accommodation?

My parents spotted a demand for

self-catering accommodation, and in

1991 they began building their five-acre

lake to create a holiday destination in

its own right. Our farm is not located

near a beach, a beautiful city or major

attraction so they built their own.

Everyone relaxes near a body of water;

the fisherman enjoy the benefits and

people book early to steal their favourite

pitch with the best view. It was simple -

build a lake and they will come; create

blue space, fishing, and attract wildlife

and guests alike.

How did you research the business

before entering it?

My parents ran a bed and breakfast

business in their farmhouse for

several years and had struggled to

accommodate all the guests knocking on

the door wanting a bed for the night, so

they knew there was an unquestionable

demand for accommodation.

The first two Scandinavian log cabins

were second-hand and we refurbished

them ourselves. Although the initial

investment was a little tame, the cabins

satisfied expectations at the time. Times

have changed however and people now

want an experience, hence the growth

we’ve seen in glamping, which enables

guests to wake up to bird song under a

luxurious duvet in the great outdoors.

Young children would sooner glamp or

stay in a cabin than the lodges, as the

novelty of these spaces is so magical to

them and I don’t think the grown ups feel

so different with the desire for escapism.

This is why we have introduced glamping

and revived the lodges to link to nature,

celebrating the setting.

Tell us about your location and site

Being located in the middle of a 400-acre

working farm is a plus as families with

small children love the educational

benefits it brings. Guests enjoy the

space and tranquillity of the stunning

lakeside setting and the variety of

accommodation and activities on

offer. There are three design-led lodges

boasting high-end botanical interiors.

Along with our lakeside cabin, there is

glamping, camping and caravanning.

Guests can enjoy walks, fishing and, for

an adrenalin kick, Avalanche Adventure

and the Gliding Centre adjoin the site.

We are located centrally in the country

and are increasingly finding that groups

meet here from opposite ends of the UK

for their annual get-togethers.

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GLAMPSITES

Mixing glamping and high end lodge

accommodation with those prepared

to rough it camping may seem a little

confused, however the variety of

accommodation suits larger groups

getting together. Young families enjoy

the excitement of a camping trip, while

their granny and grandpa can stay in

the comfort of a lodge, and the princess

in the party can glamp under luxury

canvas.

How did you finance the project?

The lake cost £23,000 to build,

capitalising on a government grant

funding 25 per cent. Subsequent

investments have taken place gradually

as we continue to invest profits back into

the business.

What glamping accommodation do

you offer and why did you choose it?

While the business is seasonal, we are

open all year round and the variety

of accommodation on offer includes

insulated and heated lodges. The quiet

times provide a welcome chance to

recoup, evaluate and put plans into

action. We aim to innovate while we

hibernate and staying busy allows us to

hold on to our staff through the quiet

times.

How did you work out your brand and

how do you publicise yourself?

Our brand is centred around the

beautiful lakeside setting, connection

with nature and wildlife with a familyfocused

philosophy. Design is valued

and guests are made to feel extra special

on many levels through design. We

have dramatically increased our online

presence and social media is our main

tool. Thinking in these terms has fuelled

change and reinforced the strength of

brand. Our website utilises engaging and

emotive images and film which helps

us attract like-minded guests who will

appreciate the setting.

How would you describe your ethos

and unique selling point?

We are set apart from other family

friendly lakeside holiday parks in a

number of ways. Brook Meadow is

located on a working farm with activities

on site, from egg collecting to the

adrenalin kick of off-roading. We are a

family run business offering a personal

service.

Sustainability and conservation are

paramount too; photovoltaics generate

at least 50 per cent of our electricity, a

wood chip boiler generates heating and

hot water for the campers and lodges,

the office is an eco-build, and planting

has been a large area of investment too.

We consider ourselves to have an ethical

approach to business and support

other rural businesses. We celebrate our

ruralness such that guests may find they

have coincided with a ploughing match

or the harvest festival on the farm during

their stay.

How did you choose your interior

decoration?

The design of the lodges and glamping

are unique to Brook Meadow. The lodges

are not simply luxurious with Egyptian

cotton bedding, fluffy towels and chic

décor; our high spec interiors link to

the lakeside setting through design

referencing birds in flight with the light

fittings and nature through wallpapers,

colour pallets, materials and the soft

furnishings. These design choices are

luxurious and subtly reinforce the brand

with authenticity, offering escapism and

an experience unlike anywhere else.

32 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

The glamping tent is also designed

with a strong vision, presented to the

highest level with colonial style antique

furniture. I so loved the film Out of

Africa and aimed to evoke the same

atmosphere through carefully sourced

pieces. After much searching, a rattan

daybed was bought as a statement

piece (allowing children to top and tail),

an antler candelabra hangs from the

centre with fairy lights and two rhino

lamps sit on folding side tables guarding

the bed. Old leather chairs and a handtufted

rug complete the look such that

it takes little imagination to dream that

Robert Redford might return for his hat

at any point!

What challenges have you faced?

The scale of the work to be done

was a little overwhelming and the

newness of the tasks a challenge but I

find the process of regeneration both

satisfying and invigorating. Finding

ways to monitor our progress has been

a real boost. By modernising the office

systems and increasing online booking

we keep track of our performance.

Similarly, building our own website may

have been a little challenging but we are

able to modify it on a weekly basis and

check performance.

The transition period to build a new

customer base takes a leap of faith as

inevitably we put off many of our existing

customers by aiming for a new target

market, but the biggest challenge of all

has been working with my parents to

get their approval and buy in. While they

have always been supportive, they could

not hide their discomfort with the pace

and number of changes implemented!

In two years they have undergone

a gradual letting go of their project,

they’ve seen investments they maybe

deemed unnecessary - rebranding,

reduced camping capacity, an online

presence and streamlining office

systems. Quickly my father felt like a

fish out of water in the office and he was

tutting with each package that arrived

for a refurbishment. Downscaling and

becoming more exclusive didn’t make

sense and the level of trouble we were

going to to elevate customer experience

and engagement seemed ridiculous to

him. Why were festoon lights strung up

all year round and why would customers

have time for amusing posts about him

in a digger?!

However, they have come around.

First a higher spec lodge, then a new

website, a promo video, safari glamping,

quieter camping weekends, the

recognition of the multiple awards that

followed and now they are on-board,

trusting and proud of all we have

achieved. My mother enjoys welcoming

children for their egg collecting

experiences and waxes lyrical about her

hen husbandry, while my father built

Perfect your outdoor

lounge space

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 33


GLAMPSITES

the timber base for the glamping, buries

treasure for children’s parties, is creating

a children’s play area and delivers a

relaxed smile for the next social media

post.

What are your plans for next season?

We have landscaping projects for the

campsite to create cosy camping areas

with long grasses and meadow flowers,

which will also benefit the bees and

pollinators. We are planning a large

sandpit for the organic play area to suit

little ones and we will be resurfacing the

hard standing pitches. Our oldest lodge

is also planned for refurbishment.

Describe your average day mid-season

I focus my efforts on strategic planning

and creativity. There is a lot to maintain

and we are constantly upgrading the

quality of our offer and reflecting this in

our website. I take on anything design

from planning refurbishments to the

photography, copy and media posts.

I make little promo videos and have

roped in members of the team and

family friends to feature in our short

films. My favourite was our ‘Man in Red’

blog which was an enchanting interview

with none other than Father Christmas

himself who was found to be taking a

well-deserved break in one of our lodges.

Happily, he agreed to an interview and

photoshoot with unimaginable access

to his life outside of the festive period

holidaying at Brook Meadow!

Do you enjoy the business?

I enjoy the creative aspects and the

flexibility to work hours to suit family

life, which can sometimes mean

burning the midnight oil but then

having time off the next day to take

my son on a day out. I’ve enjoyed

the sense of achievement through

transformation, seeing the brand

strengthen with every move we’ve

made. I’m a creative person so am

always looking for ways to improve

things. Playing to my strengths with

design has enabled us to have full

control over the brand.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my parents for

having the foresight to build a lake

and the guts to do it on a grand scale.

They were spirited pioneers in their

day, making a hugely bold move.

I’m also proud of my father for being

environmentally conscious before

it reached such heightened public

awareness, and lastly I’m proud of how

much we have achieved in such a short

time frame as a family with the support

of our amazing staff. In just two years

we’ve turned the business around to

become multi award-winning with a

website that stuns previous guests as

they can barely recognise the brand.

What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

The fishing dovetails in very well

providing an income from syndicate

members as well as guest fishing. We

also offer whole site hire whether for

a wedding or another kind of event.

What advice could you give to

someone coming into the industry?

Think about what the strengths

of your site are, the location, your

personal strengths and interests

and celebrate them. These things

together can create your own unique

brand. Have the self-awareness that

you may also need to take training or

employ specialists to do the things

you are not so good at and learn from

them.

It may feel like smoke screens

and mirrors at the beginning but

stick to the brand identity you are

aiming to create and in a short time

frame you can make it a reality from

a cumulative effect. The layering of

visual media, copy, website content,

advertising, social media, awards,

press, reviews etc. all culminates

to form brand perception and

recognition. Your company's brand

is a promise you make to customers.

Communicating the right feel and

information helps you attract guests

whose expectations are pitched right,

enabling you to meet them.

ADDRESS BOOK

Brook Meadow

Welford Road

Sibbertoft

Leicestershire

LE16 9UJ

01858 880886

www.brookmeadow.co.uk

34 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

2020 Trend

Forecast

Travellers will be living a life more wild with forest stays,

outdoor bathing and group getaways, says Canopy &

Stars’ trends report

CANOPY & Stars predicts that more people

than ever before will discover a ‘life more wild’

in 2020 as the appetite for glamping holidays

shows no sign of slowing down[i]. After seeing

a 30 per cent increase in forward bookings for

next year, our team has crunched the numbers,

spoken to guests and owners and hunted out

the biggest trends in outdoor holidays for 2020.

THE STAYCATION IS HERE TO STAY

Staycations are no longer a nice add-on to

our yearly plans, they’re now a major part of

how us Brits holiday. 90 per cent of Canopy &

Stars’ bookings in 2019 were for the UK, and

52 per cent of consumers are now planning

to take most or all of their holidays in the

UK[ii]. As British breaks play a bigger part

in our calendar, we’re also booking them

increasingly earlier. Canopy & Stars reports a

30 per cent increase in forward bookings for

2020 versus this time last year.

With so many places to discover on

the British Isles we predict that in 2020

people will be searching out new areas and

experiences, with trending destinations

including the North East and the

Midlands[iii]. Some of our most exciting new

places that we expect to be big hits next year

are Alnmouth Huts in Northumberland and

Knotting Hill Barn House in Leicestershire.

GROUP GETAWAYS

Booking a break is one of our favourite

ways to celebrate, with over 50 per cent

of Canopy & Stars’ bookings in 2019 made

for a special occasion. We’ve seen a 40

per cent increase in people searching for

places that can cater for 10+ guests and

predict that this trend will continue to

grow as people look for spaces that can

comfortably accommodate their friends

and family.

Some of our most popular group

spaces include Rufus’s Roost in Yorkshire,

a treehouse for up to six, and The Lost

Garden Retreat in Sussex which can

accommodate up to 24 in four luxury

safari tents.

Birthdays are the most popular

reason to book, but they’re not

the only reason to celebrate.

There’s no better way to escape the

pre-wedding stress than with an

off-grid escape, and we have seen a

107 per cent increase in traffic to the

Canopy & Stars hen parties collection

as ‘bride-tribes’ ditch the deely-boppers

and discos in favour of nature retreats.

FOREST STAYS

We’ve been talking about the benefits

of getting outside for 10 years, but

2020 will be the year that travellers

want to be closer to nature than

ever before. Google has shown that

searches for ‘Forest Holidays’ has

grown by 55 per cent[iv] as people tap

into the wealth of wellness benefits

associated with spending time in

nature.

We predict that glamping in the

UK’s national parks will be one of the

biggest trends in 2020; searches for old

favourites like the Lake District have

risen by 50 per cent in 2019, but we

have also seen an increase in searches

for the New Forest (+99 per cent),

Snowdonia (+92 per cent) and the

Brecon Beacons (+75 per cent).

Head to The Lodge on the edge

of the Lake District or Lost Meadow

Treepod on Bodmin Moor to feel fully

immersed amongst the trees.

Rufus’s Roost, Yorkshire

Alnmouth Huts,

Northumberland


GLAMPSITES

The Old Piggery,

Bedfordshire

Devon Dens, Devon

Lost Meadow Tree Pod,

Cornwall

TYPES OF SPACES TO WATCH

2019 was the year of the Great British treehouse; our

UK treehouse collection has grown by 77 per cent

in the last 18 months. Spaces have become even

more luxurious and unique with features such as the

flowing wooden headboard and hot tub on the deck

at Woodland Chase, or magical fairy-inspired interiors

at Faraway Treehouse. With more treehouses than

ever to choose from, we are predicting that there’s

no better time to head to the trees and stay in one of

these amazing structures.

Glamping has evolved from its early days of canvas

and summer seasons; people are looking for spaces

that go beyond the expected and they can book

year-round. For the first time we have launched a

collection of bothies on Canopy & Stars, after seeing

an increased interest in stone structures from our

guests. These spaces have proven to be some of our

most booked places in 2019 and we predict that this

will only grow into next year.

With people choosing to stay close to home, guests

are looking for more than just a place to stay; they

want more excitement and elements of play that

connect them to the great outdoors. One of our

guests’ favourite activities is outdoor bathing. Views

of our hot tub collection have risen by over 50 per

cent this year, and while wood-fired hot tubs continue

to be the most popular we are seeing an increased

interest in outdoor baths and showers too.

TRAVEL GIVES BACK

We’re in the middle of a climate crisis and consumers are demanding more

ecological awareness and action; latest statistics from YouGov show that concern

for the environment is at the highest level on record[v]. At Canopy & Stars we have

a lot to thank nature for so we think it’s important to give back. We have pledged

to plant a tree for every booking through our partnership with Treesisters and have

an ambition to plant one million trees in the next five years.

By its very nature, glamping is already ahead of the game when it comes to

sustainability and some of our favourite eco-friendly places include Devon Dens,

where owners Ben and Jo have built their cabins from local timber and rewilded

the land where they sit, and The Woodcock which is totally off-grid on a carbon

neutral farm.

ABOUT CANOPY & STARS

Canopy & Stars inspects and

selects the most inspiring places

to stay in the great outdoors, for

those in search of a life more wild.

Our mission is to inspire people

to connect with nature through

meaningful experiences, have a positive

impact on the environment, and to care

about the people we work with. We have over

700 inspiring places to stay in nature, from a humansized

beehive, to floating cabins on the water, to

isolated bothies in the wilds of Scotland.

www.canopyandstars.co.uk

FOOTNOTES

i. Google Trends results for the term ‘Glamping’ from January 2009 – October 2019: ii. From Barclay’s ‘Great British Staycation’ report, June 2019: https://www.

barclayscorporate.com/content/dam/barclayscorporate-com/documents/insights/industry-expertise/HL-report-staycation.pdf iii. Data from www.canopyandstars.co.uk

(October 2018 – October 2019): Searches for Northumberland are +116% YOY, searches for Leicestershire are +400% YOY, searches for Nottinghamshire are +170% YOY and

searches for Yorkshire are +70% YOY iv. Think with Google report, June 2019: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/summer-holiday-trends-travellers-go-backnature-and-back-time

v. YouGov report, June 2019: https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/06/05/concern-environment-record-highs

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 37


GLAMPSITES

Nomadic Musings

An International Perspective on Glamping

Genius Loci

Louis Thompson explains how he captures

what makes a place ‘biologically special’ in

his work creating glamping developments

worldwide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louis Thompson is CEO

of Nomadic Resorts, an

interdisciplinary design and

project development company

servicing the hospitality

industry with offices in the

Netherlands, Sri Lanka,

Mauritius and South Africa.

Using a holistic approach,

Nomadic creates sustainable

resorts, tented camps, lodges

and residential projects that

reflect a true sense of place and

fit organically into their natural

surroundings. Its ethos is that

designs should serve as a bridge

to connect nature, culture and

people.

The team specialises in

sustainable architecture,

contemporary bamboo

construction, treetop living

concepts, as well as tent design,

engineering, manufacture and

installation.

Over the last 15 years Louis

has worked on some of the

leading luxury tented camps

across the world including Wild

Coast Tented Lodge in the south

of Sri Lanka, Soneva Kiri on

Ko Kut island in Thailand and

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

in Namibia. The projects have

won multiple awards in both the

design and hospitality sectors

including the 2019 Ahead award

for the best resort in Asia and

the 2018 UNESCO Prix Versailles

for the best restaurant design in

the world.

louis@nomadicresorts.com

www.nomadicresorts.com

“This song of the waters is

audible to every ear, but

there is other music in these

hills, by no means audible

to all. On a still night, when

the campfire is low and the

Pleiades have climbed over

rimrocks, sit quietly and

listen, and think hard of

everything you have seen and

tried to understand. Then you

may hear it - a vast pulsing

harmony - its score inscribed

on a thousand hills, its notes

the lives and deaths of plants

and animals, its rhythms

spanning the seconds and

the centuries.” ALDO LEOPOLD

OVER RECENT years we

have heard a barrage of

buzzwords used to describe

our work – biophilic, organic,

regenerative, biomorphic,

sustainable – each of the

concepts is, in its own way,

relevant and useful; but in

reality these terms have all

been coined by the design

press to try to capture an

unconventional approach to

hospitality design that is in

many ways, intangible. What

we truly aspire to is a timeless

way of building that offers

guests an opportunity to tune

into the vast pulsing harmony

so elegantly evoked by Aldo

Leopold.

Nomadic Resorts’ design

approach is inspired by the

Genius Loci or the protective

spirit of the place. We strive

to identify the physical

characteristics, geological

ABOVE The masterplan for Wild Coast Tented

Lodge which mirrors a leopard’s paw prints

features, native vegetation,

natural energy flows and

traditional migration patterns

particular to an area, to gain

an understanding of what

makes that place biologically

special and identify how

we can celebrate its natural

features.

In parallel, we look at

the wider context of the

project to understand the

historical land use, indigenous

culture, local art, vernacular

architecture and traditional

building materials of the

area to examine the dynamic

interactions between man

and nature. This data basically

serves as an initial blueprint

for the development which

guides our design decisions

from concept through to

technical design.

During our appraisal

phase we use an integrated

design process to uncover

the needs, aspirations,

dreams and concerns of the

stakeholders. We consider

the term stakeholder in the

broadest possible sense –

obviously the opinions of land

owners, investors, operators,

developers and consultants

are paramount to create a

coherent design brief to give

the project its overall direction

and financial parameters,

but for us the term also

includes members of the local

community, as well as the

land’s existing inhabitants –

plants, animals, insects and

even fungi. This may initially

seem to be an outlandish

prospect, but the reality is that

the biotic community is a part

of the sites’ natural capital,

and that natural capital is

the essence of the final guest

experience.

As a result of this pre-design

research, our landscape

concepts often combine

endemic plant species, local

materials and naturally

occurring organic shapes on

the site with a functional,

experience based hardscape.

The source of the concepts

varies widely depending on

the specific mix of parameters,

from the cantilevered structure

of a saprophytic fungi on

a tree trunk to the ovate,

aerodynamic form of a seed.

At this stage we still typically

38 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

use an old fashioned pen and

paper – tracing paper, hand

sketches or watercolours

superimposed onto a

topographical survey showing

the existing contours, trees and

rock outcrops.

The preliminary masterplan is

a critical element in tented camp

projects where the research

from our initial appraisal phase

comes into play – water flows,

wind directions, solar incidence

and migration patterns all

influence our set out.

A SENSITIVE STRATEGY

Our design decisions relating

to the site’s protection at this

The landscape concept for

Nomadic’s new leaf suite tent

early stage can have a massive

impact on the final product. A

sensitive strategy could result in

clouds of migrating butterflies

enchanting guests, while a more

aggressive approach could

result in an ecological wasteland

that will take decades to recover.

As our understanding of ecosystem

management improves

and our ability to process data

evolves we can now regenerate

landscapes to enhance the final

experience, creating biophilic

spaces that celebrate the

biological value of the site. We

can, in principal, attract clouds

of butterflies by creating the

right conditions for them to

thrive.

Once we have an approved

concept and masterplan, we

start to flesh out the concept

using 3D images to create

accurate visualisations to

ensure that all the functional

and aesthetic requirements

of the client are satisfied. We

can now see how the buildings

integrate the landscape and

get a clearer picture of the

outdoor living spaces and water

features.

At this point we focus

our attention on the guest

experience to understand how

the end user will experience

the camp in different seasons,

different weather conditions

and at different times of day.

We create a narrative that

guides the client through the

space so we understand where

to position various reference

elements. Our experience of

the hospitality industry quickly

becomes apparent during this

phase; lighting, signage, decks,

firepits and swimming pools

can transform a field with a few

tents into a spectacular event

space, or turn a rocky outcrop

into a romantic private dining

venue.

The softscape and planting

selection is the joyful

finale. Here we can

play with leaf

shape, density, size, color and

texture to remarkable effect

– we can turn a shower into

Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing)

or make a green roof into a sun

shade.

Glamping is an opportunity

to help people reconnect with

the living world – this is in fact

its main selling point compared

to traditional hospitality

projects or Airbnb. Surprisingly

often, owners and operators

assume that a beautiful site

is sufficient to provide a great

guest experience, and don’t

understand that a coherent

landscape design can radically

influence the quality of

that experience. Functional

pathways, subtle lighting,

water features and planting can

transform a beautiful site into a

destination.

By using the concepts

of biophilic design and

regenerative landscaping,

we can curate the guest

journey and avoid experiences

that could jeopardise their

enjoyment – the simple truth

is no one really wants to walk

into a muddy puddle in pitch

darkness after a romantic

dinner and a few glasses of

wine.

Tri Lanka, Sri Lanka

Dining deck in India


GLAMPSITES

Going Bespoke

Kate Morel breaks down the process of commissioning a unique glamping

structure and explains how going bespoke can influence your bottom line

COMMISSIONING A custom design, whether

it’s art, clothing or even a new house, is an

exciting process. We have the freedom to

call the shots and influence the finished

product into something tailored to our very

own needs and taste. When commissioning

a rental design, it’s less personal and more

about investment involving additional

expectations and responsibilities. The

resulting product needs to meet relevant

market demands, offer an immersive

experience, be highly photogenic and,

naturally, deliver a good return.

It can be a little daunting, which is quite

understandable given that we buy pretty

much everything ‘off the peg’. It’s not

something we do every day and takes us

into unchartered waters provoking many

questions - where do we start, how does the

process work, how much will it cost, do we

really need a unique design?

WHY BESPOKE?

When we commission a new design we are

(hopefully) creating something fresh and

40 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM

original, which is an exciting, rewarding and

unique experience in itself. Since I started

Morel & Co I’ve become fully involved in the

process and it’s fantastic to see a design

take shape on paper and then come to life

in the build.

Unique designs are the perfect

alternative or glamping accommodation

solution for some places, and as a business

investment in a developing industry they

have certain advantages over off-the-peg

structures:

› There’s a growing demand for unique

experiences in travel and tourism - a

bespoke design is an effective way to

deliver experiential accommodation

“IT CAN BE A LITTLE

DAUNTING, WHICH IS

QUITE UNDERSTANDABLE

GIVEN THAT WE BUY

PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING

‘OFF THE PEG’”

› Original accommodations can create

a more future-proof rental business -

they’re not subject to the same direct

competition and comparisons as mass

manufactured structures

› They attract more organic media

attention, especially if we’re creating a

‘first’, which is why we use the phrase

‘UK’s first A-frame treehouse’ to describe

Hudnall’s Hideout - what publication is

going to ignore that? One-off designs

can create thousands of pounds worth

of free media coverage because they are

outstanding or express an original idea

› For areas with low visitor numbers, a

bespoke design might be the answer

to a successful glamping business. It

creates a strong USP in an otherwise

difficult geographical destination. The

accommodation becomes the destination

› If the bespoke structure is ancillary to a

core business, such as a couple’s suite

for a wedding venue, it could also be

an influencing factor in, for example,

deciding which venue to book.


GLAMPSITES

TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

Before we look at ‘how’, there are a few

things to bear in mind that can differ from

buying off the peg and might not necessarily

be anticipated:

› Timescale – the design process will take

time; how much will depend on the

supplier in question and how quickly a

final design is agreed upon

› Planning – with an off the peg design

we already have visuals which we can

immediately submit with the planning

application. With a bespoke design these

have to be created, even if it’s just a

sketch, and the design has to be finalised

before a planning application can be

made

› Installation – depending on the supplier,

the build itself probably won’t start

immediately on obtaining planning

permission as they will have other

projects in the pipeline. Most build

companies will only put a bespoke (or

sometimes any) job into their schedule on

receiving a deposit payment

› The stress factor – any number of issues

can slow a project down or create

frustrating obstacles which can cause a

lot of stress and be truly demoralising.

A positive, patient and solution-focused

GETTY IMAGES

approach is sometimes needed - or lots

of gin

› Costs – bespoke structures cost more

than off the peg structures, usually

much more and this can take people

by surprise. Designers and architects

are skilled, creative and experienced

professionals and charge accordingly.

The structures themselves are one-offs;

there is no template to follow or kit to

put together, nobody has built it before

and this requires skilled and experienced

makers or builders, again they charge

accordingly.

THE DESIGN PROCESS

I’ve commissioned many things over the

years and been commissioned to create

designs for others, so appreciate both sides

of the process and have included factors

from each in the following. A bespoke

structure project can be influenced by many

factors, not least budget, and while there

are always exceptions, for a bespoke design

to succeed it usually requires some key

influences:

› Knowledge of the industry and how it is

developing – bespoke designs sometimes

miss the mark because they are not in line

with glamping and tourism developments

› An understanding of guest expectations

– the design needs to function for, and

appeal to, the specified demographic

› Excellent visualisation and creative skills

will push the design and set it apart

› Use of the same company for design and

construction. With glamping structures,

one company’s vision isn’t always easy for

another company to construct.

Most supply companies charge a fee to

create a bespoke design. Depending on

the structure this might be a small one-off

payment or a larger fee broken down into

percentage payments at different design

stages. If the project doesn’t go ahead

payments made are usually non-refundable.

For larger, more complex structures such

as treehouses, the design process usually

incurs higher design fees because these

structures need to be professionally

designed and engineered to meet building

regulations.

The design process route ultimately

depends on the type of structure and the

supplier in question so the following is an

overview. I’ve used the word ‘designer’

throughout to represent the architect,

supplier, builder or specialist that might be

dealing with the project.

An initial phone call between client and

1 designer should convey a feel for the

project and outline the defining criteria.

It might be possible for the designer to

give an indication of feasibility within the

given budget and timescales. It should also

establish if there is a synergy between what

the client’s business needs and what the

company can produce, to ensure that the

final product ‘delivers’. Before contacting

a designer gather some ideas of what you

want, images, website links, the guest profile

and how much you will be investing in the

structure(s). Also get some advice around

planning permission and any habitat survey

requirements as they can slow things down

and add to costs.

A site visit from the designer is usually

2 next, where they check over the location,

explore the design concept further, evaluate

potential build costs, and consider on-site

issues that may affect it, such as vehicular

access. Depending on the structure it may

also involve discussions about utilities such

as water, electricity and waste management.

As a business consultant, I would also

want to take into consideration the overall

business model and branding, a futureproofing

strategy, and if necessary/possible,

evaluate how to drive the development

further with landscaping and creative

features. For me at least, the whole ‘guest

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 41


GLAMPSITES

Hudnalls Hideout

mid-build

experience’ needs to

be thought through to

the last detail, not just

the structure design.

Drawings might

3 now be produced

for the client to review

or approve, but for large

or complex structures,

writing a design brief is

more likely. This outlines the

full scope of the project - the design

style, facilities, features, criteria, functions

and budget. It might be created from a

questionnaire that the client fills out, or

simply from discussions. If you have strong

ideas about what you want, getting the

right message across to your designer is

important at this stage. This will facilitate

an accurate design brief, making the

subsequent consultation process more

efficient. Ideally your designer should

also be able to guide you on popular

features and facilities that will enhance the

performance of the finished structure.

Working to the brief, the designer will

4 create design concepts, usually two

or three, from which the client chooses

one that goes forward through a design

consultation process to reach a finished

design – which is a fancy way of saying we’ll

tweak the design until we’re happy with it.

For example, I’ve just finished a design of

my own where I moved an interior wall to

make the kitchen bigger, changed the roof

line in two places to improve aesthetics,

and moved the sleeping area so the space

functioned better. It’s important that each

change is carefully considered and makes a

positive impact on the overall design. If you

have an experienced designer do trust their

ideas and advice. Some changes can impact

on build costs and several might even push

it beyond budget; your designer should

make you aware of any changes that impact

on final costs.

Once the finished design is complete,

5 final drawings, CAD renders and, if it’s

a treehouse, maybe a

3D model will be made.

All these are very useful tools

that enable planning officers and finance

companies/funding organisations to fully

appreciate your vision, so although there

are often additional fees for them, they

could have a positive influence.

Assuming that planning permission is

6 granted, depending on the company in

question/structure type, the client would

be asked to confirm instruction to build by

paying a deposit.

Commissioning a bespoke design might

not be the easiest route, or cheapest,

but the trade-off is a robust USP, organic

marketing, and sometimes a faster return

despite the higher investment. It’s also one

way to create an outstanding glamping or

alternative rental in a sector where some

structures and low to mid-price business

models are becoming commonplace. Some

places (even the award-winning successful

ones) are struggling to achieve previous

year’s revenues without having to work

much harder and spend more money on

marketing.

There are always exceptions of course and

competition and geography often play a big

part, but this sector has grown considerably

over the last few years and is showing no

signs of slowing down. Best to plan ahead

and create something that can hold its own,

bespoke or otherwise.

One has to weigh up the overall business

model and location to evaluate whether or

not bespoke is the right way to go. Not every

site or development warrants or needs a

“COMMISSIONING A BESPOKE DESIGN

MIGHT NOT BE THE EASIEST ROUTE,

OR CHEAPEST, BUT THE TRADE-OFF IS

A ROBUST USP, ORGANIC MARKETING,

AND SOMETIMES A FASTER RETURN

DESPITE THE HIGHER INVESTMENT”

bespoke structure, and sometimes an off

the peg design in a stunning location, or

with a decent theme, will suffice very nicely.

For a bespoke design to deliver its maximum

potential return however, do remember that

it’s important to get those key influencing

factors in place to ensure the structure not

only meets current market demands, but

also has room to evolve as those demands

develop over time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate’s hospitalitydedicated

businesses

support development

projects that

include alternative

accommodations such as

glamping and treehouses.

Her consultancy service

offers informed advice on how

to diversify into this niche sector,

and her design service combines her holiday

property rental and glamping experience with

design and construction to produce creative

commercial treehouses and cabins.

As one of the glamping industry’s most

versatile and experienced figures, Kate

presents keynote seminars at reputable

events, runs business workshops, and is a

regular contributor to Open Air Business.

www.morelconsultancy.com / www.

morelcompany.co.uk / info@morelcompany.

co.uk / www.linkedin.com/in/katemorel24

Kate is offering a free bespoke design

service on cabins and 10 per cent off

treehouse design for qualifying projects

until end of March.

Email info@morelcompany.co.uk

42 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


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WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 43


GLAMPSITES

PRODUCT IN FOCUS

Professional Services

Blackberry Wood,

East Sussex

Service provided: Insurance

From: Towergate Insurance (07483 929500

/ www.towergate.co.uk)

Details: Blackberry Wood is an established

holiday park site that branched out

into the weird and wonderful world of

glamping. Its accommodation selection is

certainly diverse, including tree houses, a

converted double decker bus, helicopter,

fire engine, log cabins and shepherd huts,

alongside more traditional holiday site

pitches for tents, touring caravans and

motorhomes.

When approached for a quote,

Towergate Insurance began by looking

at the park’s claims history, the existing

facilities and the park policies in place.

Blackberry Wood was able to demonstrate

good site maintenance, staff training and

a great approach to health and safety

and risk mitigation. This was also carried

through to the new niche accommodation,

which demonstrated the same considered

approach in construction, installation and

risk mitigation.

Although this park was claim free,

should you have encountered a claim in

the past, you can help your site’s overall

risk view by showing measures have been

taken to diminish further risk.

With its dedicated in-house

underwriters’ expertise, combined with

Blackberry Wood’s clear policies, good

planning and attitude to risk provided,

Towergate Insurance was able to go from

quote to cover in just a few days.

Feedback: As well as placing Blackberry

Wood on cover, including all facilities,

accommodation and full liability,

Towergate was able to take £1,000 off the

cost of the site’s existing policy premium.

Copsegrove

Farm, Cotswolds

Service provided: Ecology

From: Diversity Environmental

Consultants (01452 771010 / www.

diversity.biz)

Details: Copsegrove Farm is a family run

livestock farm of around 300 acres where

animal welfare, encouraging natural

wildlife, and raising environmental

awareness are amongst its highest

priorities. The farm hosts a highly

renowned ‘forest school’ for local schools

and provides a much sought-after

venue for ‘nature immersive’ camping,

with views across the Cotswolds

countryside. The farm is continuing

to diversify its portfolio with the

addition of glamping and luxury

holiday accommodation.

Its proposals include the

installation of glamping units

and conversion of disused barns

for farm-stay holidays. From early

planning stages owners Kate and

Martin Bankes have worked closely with

Diversity Environmental Consultants (a

company that specialises in ecology and

landscape architecture) to ensure that

the design reached is sensitive to the

farm’s landscape, its natural features and

the inhabitant flora and fauna.

Diversity’s staff are knowledgeable in

the subject areas of farm diversification

and eco-tourism and, being consultees

to a number of local authorities, are

familiar with the complexities of the UK

planning system. Clients include the

National Trust, private estate owners,

local authorities, architects and property

developers.

Feedback: Owners Kate and Martin

Bankes said: “We chose Diversity

Environmental Consultants because we

knew them to be genuine in their interest

of farming and nature, and experienced

in how to meet the planning and legal

requirements associated with land use

change. We have found them easy to

work with and responsive to our own

needs and ideas on farm diversification.”

44 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


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EVENTS

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CASE STUDY

DogFest

The growth in this dog-focused festival is such that it

now runs over three weekends in three glorious venues

Conceived to be as much fun for dogs as for their owners, DogFest has

expanded rapidly over the last six years from a one day event to three

full weekends and is complemented by a roll out of en masse dog

walks around beautiful country estates. Capitalising on Instagram

influencers (both human and canine) and celebrity ambassadors, the event

has a phenomenal draw. We talk to head of marketing, Emily Foulkes.

Lighting

Describe your event and how many

people it attracts?

DogFest, which is now in its seventh

year, is the UK’s biggest festival for dogs,

and has grown to include three venues.

It is the ultimate day out for dogs and

humans alike! The DogFest brand

has grown from strength to strength,

starting as a one day event in 2014, to

three two day events across the country

attracting over 70,000 visitors.

It returns this year for three weekends

in stately homes and grounds;

Hertfordshire’s Knebworth House on

2–3 May, Cheshire’s Tatton Park on 13-14

June, and Bristol’s Ashton Court on

20–21 June.

Last year were the largest DogFest

events to date, attracting thousands

of visitors over three summer

weekends. The three 2019 shows

attracted sponsorship from leading

pet industry names and over 540

exhibitors.

Explain a bit about your venues

The selection of the venues is the

most important element of the event’s

production, offering a great setting

with an exclusive element along with

parking and accessibility options.

What is the event’s history and what

made you decide to run it?

Dogfest was born out of a desire to

bring together people who love their

dog(s). The first event took place in

2014 and the brand has grown year on

year.

How does the relationship work with

the venues you hold the events at?

Our relationships with all of our

venues are vital. They have the local

knowledge that is so useful to us and

the experience of hosting other events,

providing vital intelligence to make sure

the visitor experience is seamless. We

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 47


EVENTS

work in partnership with the venues and

treat them as an extension of our team

to get the best out of the spaces. Each

one is slightly different.

How did you find applying for

permission to run the events?

At one there is an existing licence that

we use and at the other two we apply

for TENS licences for each premises. The

majority of our activities do not require

a licence so there are not necessarily the

same processes for our events as there

would be for a concert, making this one

of the most straightforward elements.

How have you planned the layout of

the events?

The circulation of the audience to all

parts of the event is vital. Owing to the

nature of DogFest, it features a number

of rings and have-a-go activities that

dominate the central part of the event

with traders filling the perimeter.

The DogFest team has been working

with each other for many years as the

events have grown. For each location,

we use existing suppliers and source

new ones through recommendations

or visiting trade shows. For such a

big show, we actually have very few

structures. We use clear span marquees,

saddlespans and smaller 3x3m

structures.

What provisions do you make for

power, lights and sound?

Power for the entire site is provided by

an in-house supplier. They provide for all

of the traders as well as the various rings

and feature areas throughout the site.

Sound is handled by Aztec who provide

all of the ring PA as well as the sound for

the stage.

What ground protection do you use

for cars and footfall?

We use various products from GT Trax to

ensure the ground is suitably protected.

They have fantastic response times and

their products are really versatile.

How do you manage admissions and

visitor safety?

Visitor and animal safety are an absolute

priority for the show. We have an Animal

Welfare Officer working with us all year

round as a consultant to advise on best

practice and to ensure the safety of the

dogs attending.

We manage the overall strategy

through the Event Safety Management

Plan and usually we engage with

48 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


EVENTS

“THE WHOLE EVENT IS DESIGNED TO CARE FOR DOGS’ WELFARE BUT THE CAR JOURNEYS

TO THE EVENTS AND KEEPING DOGS COOL ARE ELEMENTS WHICH WE TRY TO ENSURE

WE INFLUENCE WITH OUR TICKET BUYERS”

the local Safety Advisory Group for

the assistance they can offer. We

communicate with all of our audience

through social media and through our

website to ensure our safety messages

reach them. We have a Health and Safety

Advisor who is on site throughout, and

through our show team we continually

monitor all conditions on site and react

accordingly. We also employ the services

of a security company who assist us with

crowd management on site.

Giving owners advice on how to care

for their pets on site is a vital part of

the show management when we have

particularly inclement weather, like in

2018 when we experienced a heat wave.

We have a dedicated on-site vet and

the whole event is designed to care for

dogs’ welfare, but the car journeys to

the events and keeping dogs cool are

elements which we try to ensure we

influence with our ticket buyers.

What entertainment do you offer?

The main attraction is the dog friendly

attractions, entertainment and activities

for dogs to get involved in. Each day

DogFest sees The Fun Dog Show, a

participatory event where dogs can

compete across a number of categories,

leading to the chance to be crowned

Best in Show, or the best celebrity looka-like

at the event. Dogs can get involved

in hay bale racing, test their ability and

agility on a variety of courses, and make

a splash over at the dog diving pool.

The event also features a Dogs with

Jobs area, where visitors are invited

to meet some of the most remarkable

working canines in the country. The

Hound Hangout is the place to say hello

to some of the most famous dogs of

Instagram, housed in a stylish space,

designed for its photo opportunities and

hospitality for its owners.

For those with younger dogs, the

Puppy Zone is the perfect place to teach

them some basic skills and introduce

them to new sights, sounds and

sensations which they’ll experience in

everyday life.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 49


EVENTS

Wellbeing and education are also at

the heart of DogFest 2020, with much

of the show content focusing on health

and the emotional wellbeing of dogs

and their humans. With everything

from first aid training, nutrition advice

through to the mental health benefits

of getting outdoors with a dog.

Do you have any celebrity

involvement?

Celebrity appearances are also at the

heart of DogFest, with Noel Fitzpatrick

and Clare Balding as regulars at the

event, which is a massive pull for fans

of Supervet. Talks and presentations

of the main show features are a key

element to their show activity.

Our ambassadors are a major pull

for our visitors who value their expert

opinion and also watch them on TV.

We have changed up how they get

involved with the event throughout the

years and work with their management

to ensure they can bring their own

passions to life through the event.

For example, this year Clare will be

interviewing rescue dog charities

at each of our locations as she is

passionate about the cause. Giving

her insight alongside the charities will

make a great piece on stage content.

We have also worked with dog

trainer and Britain’s Got Talent’s 2016

finalist Lucy Heath to film our video

series with Bought By Many that

provides practical tips and advice on

topical issues.

“MARKETING IS A VITAL ELEMENT OF DOGFEST’S SUCCESS

AND THE TEAM MANAGES ALL THE INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT,

FEATURE CREATION AS WELL AS DRIVING FOOTFALL TO THE

EVENT”

What retail partnerships do you have?

Each DogFest event offers a shopping

experience as a central element, with

a Retail Village featuring hundreds of

well-known brands, bespoke producers

and food and drink for humans and

their dog(s). These partnerships act

as a natural extension to the event’s

marketing as each one has its own

following of dog owners, which when

amplified together give them a good

reach in their ever-expanding niche.

How do you publicise the event?

Marketing is a vital element

of DogFest’s success and the

team manages all the influencer

engagement, feature creation as

well as driving footfall to the event.

We have an in-house marketing and

communications team, who work

alongside our PR team, Plaster.

Publicity-wise we work with both

national and regional press, who run

previews ahead of the show; we offer

ticket giveaways to select media,

as well as working with influencers

and bloggers which is increasingly

important for the success of the event

on site and for future years.

ADDRESS BOOK

DETAILS

DogFest

2-3 May, Knebworth House,

Hertfordshire

13-14 June, Tatton Park, Cheshire

20-21 June, Ashton Court, Bristol

www.dog-fest.co.uk

50 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


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WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 51


EVENTS

The Value of

Outdoor Events

Dr Caroline Jackson reveals the findings of a joint report on the impact of outdoor

events by Bournemouth University and the Events Industry Forum

THE VALUE of Outdoor Events report was

published at the end of October 2019 as a

joint project by Bournemouth University

and the Events Industry Forum (EIF).

The headline results, based upon a

UK-wide representative population survey

with 4,463 respondents, showed that you

and your businesses were responsible

for generating nearly £40 billion worth of

income to UK PLC as part of the outdoor

event sector in 2018. The research showed

that outdoor events have been much

undervalued for the contribution they

make to the UK economy, both locally and

nationally, with a gross value added (GVA) of

over £30 billion, providing employment for

some 589,000 people.

Steve Heap, chair of the EIF, commented

on why the research project was

commissioned. “Facts and figures are

needed to help all of us make the right

decisions. Local and national government

need them to understand the socioeconomic

impact outdoor events have as

well as to help make decisions on such

things as licensing and transport. Organisers

need them to make business decisions and

to better understand the thinking of their

audiences.”

HEADLINE FINDINGS

The main findings of the study

demonstrate the economic

contribution that outdoor events made

to the UK economy in 2018. There were

141.5 million visits, with a total on-site

and off-site spend of £39.5bn. Using

accepted multipliers, this means that

the GVA contribution was £30.4bn, with

a full-time equivalent employment of

just under 600,000 people.

It is important to know how much

outdoor events are worth to the

economy because they support

so many businesses and people’s

employment, and this needs to

be safeguarded and nurtured. It is

also essential to understand their

contribution to the fabric of our

communities and to each of us

personally.

Event economic contribution

measures the GVA and employment

that exists because of events. This

treats events as a demand-side

activity in a manner consistent with

the treatment of tourism in tourism

satellite accounting. All expenditures of

visitors to (in this case, outdoor) events

were accounted for, with the direct

and indirect contributions to GVA and

employment counted at each stage.

As you know, outdoor events come

in all sizes and types. For this research

project, outdoor events were defined

as those events that:

› were predominantly outdoors

› made use of temporary structures,

whether for cover or not

› planned/coordinated activities that

were temporary in nature (did not

last longer than a month)

› were public (i.e. not private

weddings or meetings)

› were ‘special’ and not part of a

programme of outdoor activities,

such as weekly park runs.

ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION BY TYPE OF OUTDOOR EVENT

The data collected provides

information for five different types

of event: outdoor music festival or

concert; outdoor arts or cultural

festival, show, fete, carnival or

parade; outdoor fair, exhibition,

trade show or rally; outdoor

recreational and sporting event,

tournament or regatta; outdoor

corporate event. The following

graphic displays what the overall

figures were, distinguished by

type of event. Outdoor music

festivals and concerts made the

greatest contribution in each

area.

52 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


EVENTS

REGIONAL FINDINGS

Not only was a UK-wide picture created but also

attendance, spend, jobs and GVA by nation and

English region:

› The contribution to each region varied by type

of outdoor event attended and the spend.

Music events therefore contributed most to

each nation and region, except for the North

West of England where recreational outdoor

events contributed the most by spend per visit

› The largest region for outdoor event

attendances was London, with 18 per cent of

attendances and 21 per cent of total outdoor

event spend

› Other regions of England add up, however,

to make up the majority of outdoor event

attendances (68 per cent) and spend (63 per

cent)

› Spend per visit is highest in Northern

Ireland (£354), Scotland (£348) and North

West England (£338), and lowest in the East

Midlands (£191), Wales (£212) and Yorkshire

(£231). These differences are a combination

of prices at the event, type of event and travel

costs

› London has the highest number (25 per cent)

of music event attendances in the UK and

34 per cent of corporate events. South East

England has the highest number (15 per cent)

of fair attendances.

NOT SO SEASONAL

Open air events are often thought of as just a summer months activity. The results of

the research show that this is not necessarily the case, especially for events such as

markets and fairs. The Christmas markets and festive light shows that have just been

completed demonstrate this.

Lessons can be learnt from across the outdoor event sector and how seasonality

can be overcome. The resilience of people and advancements in staging events have

resulted in their ability to be offered all year round.

THE DETAIL

NUMBER OF EVENT

TYPE VISITS PER

MONTH (2018)

SOCIOCULTURAL

SIGNIFICANCE

Outdoor events were seen as providing

entertainment and an opportunity for all to

engage with the particular form of activity at

the event (e.g. music, art, physical activity or

nature) as well as being important for the local

economy. They were perceived to be a source

of community spirit and pride, helping to create

a positive image for the location and helping to

safeguard heritage and traditions.

There are many reasons why people attend

outdoor events and why they are important to

them. These were measured using a number of

Likert scale statements. When asked generally

about outdoor events, people responded

positively about their contribution.

People recognise the contribution that

events offer and that they should be supported.

There are however indications of unease about

the potential for over commercialisation and

offering good value for money that should

be important factors in designing and pricing

events.

Over 80 per cent of respondents said that

outdoor events create a positive image for the

community/destination where they are located

and are important in providing local businesses

with additional customers.

ITEMS OF EXPENDITURE

(TOTAL £ MILLION)

Read the full report and you will be able to obtain free information about the average

spend by type of outdoor event, as identified for all outdoor events.

The research gathered enough data to be able to identify the value by five different

types of outdoor events. The full report has sections on each of these and, for those

supplying or providing a particular type of outdoor event, you can find information on

the demographic characteristics of those who attended those events, along with details

on expenditure items.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 53


EVENTS

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF ATTENDEES TO

OUTDOOR MUSIC EVENTS

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF ATTENDEES TO

OUTDOOR FAIR EVENTS

Compare here the demographic profile of those who attend music festivals and those who attend outdoor events in the fair category.

There are differences in gender, age, ethnicity, geographical location and employment status. These could be seen as something to

address and areas in which to focus event design and communication messages and channels.

VIEWS ON MANAGEMENT

The outdoor event sector covers a diversity

of types of event for a variety of people and

organisations. What brings them together are the

challenges of being temporary in structure, as well

as in time, and their openness to the vagaries of

the weather. Overall people are satisfied with the

events that they attend, which offer good quality

content in creative and attractive sites that are

well staffed, safe and secure.

The good news for the industry is that 84

per cent of those attendees were satisfied with

the way events are run and the majority of

interviewees felt that outdoor events were very

important to them.

The only areas of concern, for a minority of

people, are around the acknowledged issues

of antisocial behaviour, congestion, waste and

over commercialisation. Coping with weather

conditions, given the nature of outdoor events,

is also seen as an area that could be better

managed. The problems identified are not

necessarily of the outdoor event organiser’s doing

but are ones that they have the challenge of

managing.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

The research, although a snapshot

of a year, does indicate what this

means for outdoor events for 2020

and beyond. These factors can be

summarised as:

› Audiences will be increasingly

demanding but also more

socially and environmentally

aware. Concern should be

given to looking at diversity of

audiences and content of events

› Creativity and innovation make

experiences special and are

valued. They have also extended

the outdoor event season to an

all-year round activity.

› Engagement and communication

will continue to be important.

Engaging more effectively with

community stakeholders is

‘ECONOMIC

PRESSURES WILL

CONTINUE, SO

EFFORTS HAVE TO BE

MADE TO USE THIS

RESEARCH TO EXTOL

THE BENEFITS OF

OUTDOOR EVENTS’

imperative so events are seen

for the benefit of the organisers,

suppliers and attendees. The

trends for going local and making

good PR out of this is important

› Turning challenges into

opportunities. As with the

reaction to the negative

environmental impact of

54 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


leaving tents behind, campaigns

to change people’s behaviour and

encourage insights into potential

negative reactions can work. Many

of the sociocultural issues, such as

antisocial behaviour, congestion and

environmental impacts, reflect society

in general but events can demonstrate

how they are challenging these and can

contribute to the wider agenda

› Economic pressures will continue, so

efforts have to be made to use this

research to extol the benefits of outdoor

events. As austerity measures continue,

with local government focusing on

statutory requirements and venues

on reducing costs, outdoor events

will need to justify their existence and

will need evidence to do this. Outdoor

events are important to individuals and

communities, as well as the national

and local economy. These factors need

to be celebrated and communicated

more effectively

› Political support will become more

important to ensure licensing and

Safety Advisory Group success. Financial

burdens of increased managerialism

can be offset by demonstration of

professionalism and empathetic

management

› Technological advancement will be

utilised to enhance experiences and

manage outdoor events more safely and

securely. The impression of attendees

is that they are safe and secure at

events but there is a lot of work being

undertaken behind the scenes, from

intelligence gathering and sharing to

geo event tracking mechanisms.

The full research report is available free of

charge on the Events Industry Forum website

at www.eventsindustryforum.co.uk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Caroline Jackson,

event educator

and researcher, is

the former head

of department of

Events and Leisure at

Bournemouth University.

Caroline has recently left

academia to pursue her interests

independently. Coming from an event

background, she has always maintained

her links with industry. This includes being

elected as vice chair of the Business Visits and

Events Partnership (BVEP), 2016-2022. BVEP

is the umbrella organisation that represents

the UK’s leading trade and professional

organisations, government agencies and

other significant influencers in the business

visits and events sector. Caroline was a

founding member of the Association for

Events Management Education, where she is

on the executive committee, with positions as

secretary and chair.

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EVENTS

Adventures in Utopia

Gone

off Milk

Discussing dietary

changes at events, Kate

Burgess presents a case

study from Shambala

on ditching dairy

THE NEW year is a time of resolutions.

For many it offers a clean slate, a date on

which to pin often deferred goals of selfdevelopment

or altruism. Veganuary, a

movement dreamt up in a Yorkshire pub in

2014, has gained huge momentum over the

years. Designed to open up the conversation

around the positive impact of plantbased

diets on the planet and for animal

welfare, Veganuary invites people to try out

veganism for a month.

Half a decade ago I tried it myself, and

after two pretty shaky attempts over

successive Januarys I felt ready to go

plant-based. This decision is one I try not

to be evangelical about. There’s no catchall

solution to the global problems that our

individual diets have influence over. I try to

keep it mutable and take in new arguments

for and against as they emerge.

This same openness around the food

question informs a culture of continued

evaluation and research around what we are

serving at Shambala. Food is an important

avenue through which the festival plays out

its “adventures in utopia” - as its tagline

goes. In 2016, we went meat and fish free,

to spark a conversation about how our diet

shapes the world around us.

Four years on, with an estimated impact

of 100 tonnes of GHG emissions saved

each year and glowing audience feedback,

meat is going to remain off the menu.

However, we will continue to review this and

explore alternatives. We do this behind the

scenes, with our sustainability coordinator

undertaking research and evaluations on

our impact as a festival. These explorations

and debates are also staged creatively over

the festival with provocative programming

such as panels on invasive squirrel meat,

crayfish and future insect farming.

New information is constantly emerging

as scientists from all disciplines research the

links between agriculture, our food systems

and the climate. The IPCC report published

last year stated: “Agriculture and the food

system are key to global climate change

responses. Combining supply-side actions

such as efficient production, transport, and

processing with demand-side interventions

such as modification of food choices, and

reduction of food and waste, reduces GHG

emissions and enhances food system

resilience.”

The evidence laid out in parts of the IPCC

report reiterated the findings of a study

we had undertaken as an organisation on

the impact of milk. Overwhelmingly, when

considering supply-side aspects such as

transport and water-usage, taking cow’s milk

off the hot drinks menu was a no brainer.

Here was an opportunity, in the microcosm

of a festival, to measure the impact of

changing our suppliers and festivalgoers’

diets, over a weekend. 2019 saw Shambala

take another step towards the reduction of

our intake of animal-products; something

the IPCC report claims is needed to put the

brakes on the escalating climate crisis.

After we found that cow’s milk was by

far the worst for its overall environmental

impacts, we starting thinking about what

to do about this information. Going full

vegan in a year’s turnover was unrealistic,

and undesirable. The jury is still out about a

vegan diet, with growers and permaculture

experts favouring integrated biodynamic

approaches to farming that, based on an

ecological understanding, does not totally

eliminate good grazing animals on smaller

scales. Cattle animals, if managed well, are

keystone creatures in enabling grass carbon

sequestration.

Certain aspects of a totally vegan diet

within a globalised food system have bad

socio-cultural and environmental impacts,

so prescribing it as a catchall solution is over

simplified and can be alienating to a lot of

56 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


EVENTS

come in. Our soy and coconut m*lk options

were organic and European grown.

When we launched our Gone Off Milk

campaign we presented the science in a

pun-laden, accessible way. This way our

audience could see, with transparency,

the reasons for the initiative. We published

a condensed version that was structured

as a FAQ, providing answers to any

questions our audience might have. This

also demonstrated that the decision was

considered and evidence based.

The results of making the switch were

overwhelmingly positive. The production

of an average pint of dairy milk requires

about 1,020 litres of water, whereas oat

m*lk requires only 150. By swapping out

cow’s milk on site we saved 4,927,680 litres.

That’s nearly enough to fill two Olympic size

swimming pools! In terms of carbon impact

(CO2e emissions) Gone Off Milk helped us

reduce a total of 15,123kg CO2e (that’s 15

tonnes). These figures just go to show

what a huge impact our individual

purchasing habits make.

Checking in with our audience

post event, we found that half

our audience “didn’t notice the

difference,” showing just how

easy it is to make the switch. 24

per cent of our audience, and 26

per cent of our crew, said they

intended to reduce their diary

intake after seeing how it can play

out over a weekend. One in five

cow milk drinkers reported to being

total converts to plant-based milk

alternatives after Shambala 2019.

The success of this campaign was really

heartening, especially considering how it was

playing with people’s brew. What transpired

was that people can be open to changing

things precious and particular to them. Many

of our audience were very sceptical when we

launched the campaign; some outraged we

were tampering with their tea. However, by

presenting the science, and by being able to

monitor and report on the initiative’s results,

our audience was able to see the impacts

directly.

What was staged over the weekend,

similar to Veganuary, is a glimpse at

alternative ways of consuming. It opens up

the conversation to event organisers and

audiences alike. Explorations in dietary

changes at events seemed like a niche

exercise only a few years ago but the impact

in trialling out small changes can be huge,

and audiences might be more willing to go

with it than you might think.

As we usher in a new year, we should all

resolve to experiment with creative solutions

as an industry. With Festival Vision: 2025

launched at the UK Festival Awards last

month, it’s time for us to band together,

share solutions and strive for a more

sustainable industry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Burgess works as marketing assistant for

Kambe Events, covering its events Shambala

Festival and Starry Skies Camp. She joined the

team in 2018 and runs Shambala’s Adventures

In Utopia blog. Headed for a part-time Masters

degree in cultural theory, Kate, like Kambe, is

passionate about where culture, creativity and

community can intersect to bring about more

ecological, sustainable futures. www.kambeevents.co.uk

people. How then do we gesture towards

the science to our audience without being

prescriptive? We turned our eyes to that

most sacred of brews, the cup of tea.

Interfering with a person’s cuppa and

their morning coffee was not done lightly.

We knew that where we were limiting choice

by opting out of dairy milk, we needed to

present an array of more eco alternatives

to choose from that also catered for those

with allergies. Trawling through the Ethical

Consumer ratings and looking into supplychain,

travel miles and brand ethics, we

complied a list of the best m*lk alternatives.

Favouring UK grown crops where we could,

we went with Minor Figures as our wholesale

oat m*lk provider. Getting in a wholesale

provider with tanks was also important to

mitigate the energy that goes into recycling

the tetra-pak that many m*lk alternatives

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 57


EVENTS

GETTY IMAGES

GUEST COMMENT

The ‘Ex’ Factor

NCASS director Mark Laurie explains how the 'experience economy'

has put food centre stage at festivals

THE PAST five years has seen music

festivals grow and diversify enormously.

One of the reasons for this is because the

way we spend money has changed. The

‘Experience Economy’; a term used to

describe the influx of people spending

their money on experiences rather than

commodities, isn’t going anywhere

anytime soon. In fact, recent research by

Barclaycard has found that 52 per cent of

consumers would now rather pay for an

experience than splash out on shopping.

What’s more is that food is becoming an

important part of the experiences we now

spend our money on. A recent survey

found that food is the biggest daily spend

at a music festival at an average of £46 per

day.

When it comes to the opportunity for

new and immersive experiences, on-paper

music festivals seem to tick all the boxes,

but each generation has its angle. For

Generation Z, granular detail and online

networking is a huge driver - its experience

of the world is significantly different to

Millennials who are more likely to be

attracted to a taco truck with sustainability

credentials and a nod to provenance rather

‘NOW MARKETING TO A

WIDER DEMOGRAPHIC,

MUSIC FESTIVALS HAVE HAD

TO EVOLVE AND ADAPT TO

AUDIENCE EXPECTATIONS

ACROSS THE BOARD,

INCLUDING THEIR FOOD

OFFERING’

than a burger van. Baby Boomers enjoy a

much higher level of disposable income,

time and freedom and Generation X, many

of whom may have been part of 90s rave

culture, is placing more importance on

food now they are in their 40s and 50s.

Now marketing to a wider demographic,

music festivals have had to evolve and

adapt to audience expectations across the

board, including their food offering. The

current landscape has inspired festival

organisers to go to great lengths to secure

the best traders for their anticipated

events, sometimes creating as much noise

about the food line-up as the music acts

themselves.

Street food has brought the bustling

markets of Marrakesh to Manchester

and the gaucho culture of Argentina to

Abergavenny, and is something that is now

58 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GETTY IMAGES

expected to be a key feature and enhance

audience experience across festival fields.

So much has food changed at festivals,

that food businesses are now beginning

to cook up their very own part of the

festival scene. Street food membership

organisation KERB now has its own

festival, Jam on Rye. In 2019, singer Kelis

not only headlined on stage but also

collaborated with one member to create

the hugely successful Kelis x Only Jerkin’

menu, headlining Jam on Rye’s food

offering too.

GETTY IMAGES

creation of a festival food scene. Search

for the hashtag of any music festival on

Instagram and, as well as the line-up in

a traditional sense, you’ll now find the

show’s food offering.

Music festivals have the opportunity to

provide audiences incredible cuisine at

affordable prices. Social media provides

people with a medium to show off their

new foodie finds and, in the weeks leading

up to an event, festivalgoers are now

taking as much interest in the line-up of

food vendors as that of their favourite

bands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Laurie is the

director at the

Nationwide Caterers

Association (NCASS), the

only trade association

and primary authority for

mobile caterers and street

food sellers in the UK. NCASS also

supports event organisers with its free

online service, NCASS Connect. Organisers

can search a huge variety of quality traders

and see all their documentation at the click

of a button, avoiding chasing documents,

pushing paper and calling EHOs.

If you would like further information

about running an event, promoting fairness

to traders or sourcing caterers, please

contact the NCASS Support Team on

0121 603 2524 or visit www.ncass.org.uk

THE FORCE OF FOOD

With the cost of music acts going up,

organisers can no longer solely rely on

spending big bucks on a headline act to

draw in crowds. Additional experiences

are often the differentiator now and food

can offer the opportunity for a more

rounded experience. Ideally, people

should go home at the end of an event

thinking they’ve had an experience that

not only resonates with their lifestyle and

ambitions but is also value for money.

Changes in what and how we eat,

coupled with how we tell people about

it, is also a significant contributor to the

GETTY IMAGES

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 59


EVENTS

PRODUCT IN FOCUS

Marquees

Leicester City Festival 2019

Products supplied: 18m event dome and

5.8m glamping dome

From: TruDomes (02476 326585 /

www.trudomes.com)

Details: Leicester’s City Festival 2019

included activities for children and

performances designed to celebrate the city’s

culture and bring together the community.

The focal point was TruDomes’ 18 metre

clear event dome, which played host to

performers, families and tourists during the

seven day event in August. Located in Jubilee

Square, the dome was in use both day and

night – during the day as a hub for familyfriendly

activities and during the night as

a performance space for live concerts and

shows.

The clear PVC covering maximised on the

summer sun while allowing attendees to

enjoy the feel of an outdoor venue without

worries about weather. The strong steel

frame also allowed for all lighting, camera

and sound equipment to be supported

without issue.

A glamping dome was also supplied as

a green room and backstage area. The two

areas were joined at the back of the stage to

allow for easy and convenient navigation.

TruDomes’ experienced team was up

bright and early to build both domes before

the festival began and worked with event

officials to ensure nothing was out of place.

The assembly team didn’t leave until satisfied

the domes were exactly right and everyone

was happy.

The unusual, modern and spacious dome

shape caught the imagination and attention

of the public and local news channels and

became quite the gathering and talking

point. It became famous as the location of

choice for news and weather reports, and

the live music each night was a particular

highlight of the festival.

Feedback: Theo Crew, senior festivals and

events officer for Leicester City Council, said:

“Working with TruDomes has completely

transformed our festival in Leicester. The

look and feel of the structure, along with the

professionalism of TruDomes, has made this

a fantastic experience both internally and for

the public.”

Glastonbury Festival,

Somerset

Product supplied: Marquees, solar

power and production

From: Selene Events (07778 765724 /

www.seleneevents.com)

Details: One event that Selene Events

frequents is Glastonbury Festival

where the round little big top was first

put up in the only Green Field in 1986.

Now the festival has grown to the

size of a pop up city, the Green Fields

are eight separate areas, of which

Selene Events runs one; known as

the Croissant Neuf field, it is all about

sustainability.

The four pole big top,

accommodating 1,000 people,

complete with stage, PA tower and

seating, is entirely run from solar

power, as pioneered at the festival

33 years ago! The matching smaller

marquees make a backstage area and

artistes’ green room, and others are

used by exhibitors in the main arena.

Among the trials and tribulations

of putting up marquees and running

outdoor events is the weather and

being exposed to the ever changing

elements. Glastonbury Festival is no

exception, being famously known for

mud! Wind has not been a problem as

the marquees stand up to pretty hefty

gusts, sun is only a problem when the

ground turns to dust and sticks to the

tents, and of course rain is a problem

when the ground, trodden on by many

thousands of people, turns to mud,

mud, glorious mud, which then has

to be cleaned off meticulously so the

structures are sparkling clean and

fresh for the next event.

With a wealth of experience in the

festival, wedding, private parties,

educational and corporate fields,

Selene Events tailors a customer’s

special requirements to suit all event

needs, offering anything from a

60 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


eautiful single marquee of a chosen

size to a fully themed event.

Feedback: Michael Eavis, Glastonbury

Festival founder and organiser, said:

“Selene Events runs a tight ship and

has been an integral and respected

part of the festival family since the

eighties. Their Croissant Neuf venue

has its roots firmly stuck in the mud

at the Green Field’s entrance. It’s been

around for over 30 years and has

set the tone of those fields and will

continue to do so forever.”

PRODUCT SNAPSHOT

Master Craftsmen and Marquee Hire

Top Cat Big Tops

01654 700030

www.topcatbigtops.co.uk

Top Cat Big Tops has been going for a few years,

directed by Rob Sage (formally of Roustabout). We

are both a colourful marquee hire company as well

as master craftsmen, manufacturing marquees with

expertise and love in our workshop. One of our private

commissions was featured recently on a Channel Four

show where the proprietor rigged it himself in his

Chateau grounds, next to his Orangery! We concentrate

on manufacturing over the winter months with our core

local team, expanding the crew during the hiring festival

months. Our clients vary widely, from the well-known

festivals, smaller niche ones, corporate dos as well as

funky weddings and private parties.

Marquees and Big Tops

Meerkat Marquees

07966 402696

www.meerkatmarquees.com

Offering traditional marquee

and colourful big top hire,

Meerkat Marquees’ versatile

range caters for any event need.

With 30 years’ experience, the

company is well respected and

enthusiastic about making

large scale events and private

parties happen without a

hitch. Check out The Big Red,

a real circus tent with standing

capacity of 1,600 or around 500

seated at round tables. It has 13

foot side walls and a four king

pole truss with 20 foot cupola.

Green Goblet Ltd

Reusable Branded Cups

A Greener Event

Less Landfill

Souvenir Cup

Sales & Serviced Solution

100+ Washes

100% Recyclable

TOPCAT

BIGTOPS

T E N TS & MA R Q U E E S

TOP CAT BIG TOPS manufacture & hire

out colourful Big Big Top Top style style Marquees.

Staffed by a crew of highly experienced

personnel with many years of in experience the

festival, in the festival, local authority, local authority, educational educational &

corporate & corporate fields. fields. We We can can supply supply small small

to

to

large

large

colourful structures built

built

by

by

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own craftsmen, that can withstand

our own craftsmen, that can withstand

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info@green-goblet.com 01278 238390 www.green-goblet.com

01654 700030/07599 882654 Email: info@topcatbigtops.co.uk Web: www.topcatbigtops.co.uk

t: 01654 700030

07956 878157

e: info@topcatbigtops.co.uk

w: www.topcatbigtops.co.uk

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 61


Spot light

A roundup of products for the outdoor hospitality industry

SAFE, SUSTAINABLE CABINS

Scotia Cabins

01738 850203

www.scotiacabins.co.uk

Your cabin will become part of

your family, so it is essential that it

is of the highest quality in terms of

build, materials, and also safety.

Every cabin comes with a smoke

detector and a CO monitor as

standard to ensure your guests

are as safe as houses. Being the

only British made BBQ cabins

available, the carbon footprint of

a Scotia cabin is very low, and our

wood is also approved by the FSC

and PEFC.

The lead-in time for all our

products is four to six weeks from

ordering, so you can be up and

running very quickly.

SHADY SPOT – WHAT WILL IT

DO FOR YOU?

Hunter Outdoors

www.hunteroutdoors.co.uk

At Hunter Outdoors we produce

the Shady Spot, an architectural

tensile canopy that can be set up

in 10 minutes by one person. This

is the lounge space for your tipi,

the terrace for your yurt and the

shade for your sand pit. Soak up

the view from your stunning spot

in the shade.

Enclose the space by simply

clipping on side and rear sails;

or connect Shady Spots together

to grow the space. The studio

for your yoga class, the pop-up

dining room with a view, the

shaded walkway to the beach or

a dozen champagne serveries.

What will it do for you?

SUPERB AFFORDABLE

SHEPHERD HUTS

Cabinville Shepherd Huts

01379 687467

www.cabinvilleshepherdhuts.co.uk

Cabinville supplies log cabins and

shepherd huts which have been

designed from the ground up to

be suitable for glamping. With

four unique shepherd hut designs

and great log cabins, they are

sure to have a structure 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 the

hut a lower total height (now

under 3m), greater stability and

the possibility to be easily moved.

The shepherd huts are on show at

Bressingham, near Diss, Norfolk

IP22 2AE, and a full description can

be found online.

SOLAR POWER FOR HIRE TENTS

Tent2Hire

01403 785751

www.tent2hire.co.uk

For guests that get fed up

camping out and not being

able to charge their phone, or

don’t want to rely on torches for

lighting, Tent2Hire, working with

Solar Technology International,

has come up with an eco-friendly

solution. It now hires out a solar

panel system, perfect for use with

its event tent hire packages, with

prices starting at £25/weekend.

The system uses a solar panel

which sits outside a tent, and in

the summer will provide power

for two lights – a bed light and

a main light. It also has a USB

port so guests can recharge their

phones too.

62 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


SHEPHERD'S HUT KITS

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leaving you to complete it and add

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starts at £4,180 ex VAT.

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WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 63


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64 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


DAY IN THE LIFE

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH…

Matt Pitts

The important work carried out by meadows advisor Matt Pitts as he

works with landowners nationwide to restore wild flower meadows

MATT PITS

NO TWO days are the same in my role as

meadows advisor at the conservation charity

Plantlife. My job is to help others create meadows

– from small community meadows to large estates

– and I am delighted my work is supported by The

Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.

It took around 6,000 years to create the

meadows for which the UK is globally famous. Yet

in less than a century, we have lost 97 per cent.

This matters. Stand in a field of intensively farmed

grassland and, despite the lushness at your feet,

barely any life will be evident. No movement,

no sound, no colour. Stand in a meadow in

midsummer and the hum of life around you is

almost overwhelming: bees, butterflies, birdsong

– and colour.

That’s why my job is great… I meet interesting

people, spend time in beautiful landscapes, get

up close to wild flowers and rare plants, and learn

new things every day. I feel lucky to be doing this;

it’s hard but rewarding work.

As a charity, Plantlife relies on voluntary

funding. Our action plan for saving and restoring

the UK’s meadows is available on our website and

is called ‘Hay Festival?’ Created by the Save Our

Magnificent Meadows partnership, led by Plantlife,

it is a clarion call to protect, love and restore our

meadows and species-rich grassland against their

devastating disappearance from our countryside

and the impact that this is having on wildlife.

I work with many different audiences, from

schools keen to create wild flower meadows for

children to owners of large estates. Meadows

currently under creation or restoration also

include gardens of up to 25 hectares. While many

enquiries come from small landowners wanting to

make a difference to their local environment, we

work on landscapes such as The Chilterns Area of

Outstanding Natural Beauty, providing advice and

support to other charities and agencies.

SURGE IN INTEREST

In July 2019, we were delighted to be involved with

BBC Gardeners’ World for a wild flower special.

With a viewing audience of over two million,

this special edition with Monty Don meeting

Plantlife’s Botanical Specialist Dr Trevor Dines,

was hosted from our own Joan’s Hill Farm reserve

in Herefordshire. The one-hour programme led to

a huge rise in interest and enquiries, including

from local communities and parish councils.

Although the UK has lost an astonishing

97 per cent of its meadows since the 1930s,

I feel positive about the current situation.

Plantlife and many other conservation bodies

are driving the restoration and creation of

meadows and the health of the environment

is now on the public’s radar. We can all make

a huge difference to wild flowers and the

wildlife that depends on them.

From May to September I am away from home

frequently, with long days visiting sites across the

country. Most of the visits are to new potential

meadow sites, some owned/managed by Plantlife

members or supporters. I may go away for a few

days at a time to look at a particular locality,

clustering visits for both cost and time efficiency.

Although I am based in South East England, my

work in 2019 took me from the Lake District to

Cornwall. Everywhere and every site is different

and I never quite know what it’s going to be like

until I get there. The really good days are when I

discover a wonderful rare wild plant; while walking

through a meadow near Bristol last year, I came

MATT PITS


DAY IN THE LIFE

MATT PITS

“MUCH OF MY DAY MIGHT BE

SPENT DEALING WITH ENQUIRIES

BY PHONE OR EMAIL FROM

INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS AND

ORGANISATIONS WHO ARE

INTERESTED IN EITHER CREATING

OR RESTORING A MEADOW”

across a cluster of beautiful waxcap fungi which

were a joy to find. After site visits, I provide reports

on creation or restoration and offer ongoing

support to owners and managers.

Much of my day might be spent dealing with

enquiries by phone or email from individuals,

groups and organisations who are interested in

either creating or restoring a meadow. Many have

specific issues. Plantlife has expertise in lots of

different grassland habitats and if I come across

something new, I make it my business to find out

more, often by asking other Plantlife colleagues

who are incredibly supportive and knowledgeable.

I work closely with our team around Britain,

including national offices in Wales and Scotland.

We have a new Magnificent Meadows project in

Wales, run by Plantlife Cymru, which will run for

three years. Plantlife Scotland is currently looking

at meadows in the Cairngorms and at special

coastal meadows.

While much of the help I give is free of charge

or low cost, we offer a full consultancy service for

larger sites where we can give bespoke advice.

All proceeds from consultancy contracts fund

Plantlife’s direct charitable activities to benefit

our native flora. Detailed advisory work can range

from land management and botanical surveys

to interpretation, publicity and stakeholder

reporting.

Plantlife is keen to share knowledge and best

practice for meadows management through

publications including our members’ magazine

and websites. I am currently working with our

communications team to create a new online

meadow ‘hub’ for our website, encompassing

interactive information and advice including

videos, downloads and tools to enable everyone

to manage their grassland more positively for wild

flowers and biodiversity.

I also help promote National Meadows Day, an

annual celebration of wildflower meadows across

the UK, held during the first weekend of July

when meadows are at their finest. Keep an eye

on Plantlife’s tweets for more information – just

follow @Love_Plants. Every year organisations

and individuals across the UK open their meadows

for people to visit. Events range from guided

walks and bug hunts to training workshops and

arts and crafts. This is a chance to see the huge

range of wild flowers, insects and reptiles found

in the meadows, plus find out more about the

management and the value of meadows. Last

year, more than 125 events took place and we are

always looking for new meadows to join in on this

wonderful day.

FEELING GOOD

Staff wellbeing is important at Plantlife; we

encourage each other to get away from our desks

at lunchtime and for breaks. I often go for a cycle

or into the garden to look at the birds. When not

working, it’s often a busman’s holiday for me with

a recent visit to the Knepp Estate in Sussex, for

example, to see their rewilding project and its

progress (Open Air Business, May 2019).

I am proud of all we do for meadows, but

highlights include working with the South Downs

National Park helping the ranger service develop

a seed harvesting network, producing wildflower

seed for local restoration. I worked with Natural

England on a National Nature Reserve in Wiltshire

to reseed arable farmland restoring species-rich

grassland but there are also important smaller

projects, such as community groups starting to

manage meadows more positively or creating new

ones.

I am delighted when something practical

happens after I’ve been in touch with someone.

The work I do is vital to the survival of the speciesrich

grassland which is part of our heritage and

critical for a wide range of wildlife including many

butterflies, bees and insects. As Plantlife says,

where wild flowers lead, wildlife follows…

MATT PITS

PROFILE

MATT PITTS

Matt is a meadows

adviser at Plantlife. He

advises and supports

anyone interested in

restoring, creating and

managing wildflower meadows.

Matt has over 20 years’ experience advising

landowners on conservation management

and enjoys getting out and exploring

meadows and sharing his passion for wild

flowers.

PLANTLIFE

Plantlife is a British conservation charity

working nationally and internationally

for over 30 years to save threatened wild

flowers, plants and fungi. It owns nearly

4,500 acres of nature reserve across

England, Scotland and Wales and has

11,000 members and supporters.

Its team of experts work with

landowners, businesses, conservation

organisations, community groups and

governments to help save the rarest flora

and ensure familiar flowers and plants

continue to thrive.

Plantlife was instrumental in the

creation of the Global Strategy for Plant

Conservation that the UK Government is

signed up to and is a member of Planta

Europa, a pan-European network of over 60

conservation organisations.

With headquarters in Salisbury, it has

field staff across Britain and national offices

in Wales and Scotland. HRH The Prince of

Wales is its patron. www.plantlife.org.uk

MATT PITS

66 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


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ple Thing Full page.indd 1 20/06/2019 1

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