February 2020

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

ISSUE 34 | February 2020 | www.openairbusiness.com




› Interiors

› Starting Up

› Green Events

/ /


› A Global View

› Storytelling

› Landscaping


› Creatives

› Food Trends

› Event Glamping

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


Roadways ~ Walkways ~ Flooring ~ Seating ~ Structures




ISSUE 34 | February 2020 | www.openairbusiness.com


THE QUALITY of speakers at the Open Air Business Gathering on

22-23 March, and what they have in store for attendees, is getting

us very excited. Split into four streams of content, we have five

topics in each plus plenary sessions in which our panel of experts

will discuss industry trends.

For venues, we have everything from how to attract high net

worth bookings, to working out pricing strategies for maximum

yield, to creating business in the off season with creative

attractions at Halloween and Christmas.

In Glamping, whether you are established or just starting out, you will leave knowing

how to be legally compliant, how to integrate sustainability across your whole operation

and how to tap into emerging markets for maximum profit.

At the high end of alternative accommodation, the Resort & Retreat steam looks at how

to create experiential accommodation with emotional impact, why ‘wellness’ is good for

business and how to create luxury outdoors and challenge mainstream hotel stays.

We also have one of the most experienced planners in the sector taking questions on

rural planning for leisure and tourism; she can help you turn your dreams into reality.

In Festivals & Events, learning includes how to secure sponsorship, making artists work

for you in generating ticket sales, recruiting and managing volunteers, and creative ‘how

tos’ on decorating your site for good vibes.

If you can’t make it yourself, it’s a great opportunity for other members of your team to

get some industry know how under their belts.

Look out for more in this issue and I hope to see many of you at the pre-event party,

either chilling in the treehouse, peddling round on silent disco go-karts or making friends

at the prosecco and gin bars!

Tally Wade

Editor / Publisher

Get your ticket at



Steve Rix - steve@openairbusiness.com

Tally Wade - tally@openairbusiness.com


Tally Wade - tally@openairbusiness.com


Marney Whyte - 01892 677740



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The House on the Hill, Friezley Lane,

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Contents ISSUE #34 February 2020


4 News

6 Product News

9 Open Air Business Gathering


12 Entrepreneur’s Chat – Kris and

Darrel Morgans, Roost Merthyr Tydfil

16 Factory Visit – a look around

TruDomes’ factory


18 Alcott Weddings – a lakeside events

field with huge flexibility

22 Starting Out – Iain Beaumont gives

an overview on setting up a venue

25 Business Event Insights – Andrew

White on getting deep green

26 Wedding Insights – Kelly Chandler

discusses when to hold open events

and ‘what3words’

29 Interiors and Furniture – mini case



31 The Private Hill – making the most

of the view with geodesic domes

36 Nomadic Musings – could

pandemics could be good for


41 Storytelling – Kate Morel on

accommodation that creates

emotional impact

45 Landscape and Exteriors – product



47 Towersey Festival – a 56 year old

family festival

53 Planning – the importance of getting

your event plan on paper

56 Food Trends – book the right food

offering with these insights

58 Creating Utopia – why relationships

matter in high production events

60 Event Glamping – mini case studies

62 Spotlight

63 Classifieds

65 Behind the Scenes… Nigel Whiston,

Newbury Racecourse








Find more expert advice online:







› Interiors

› Huts

› Sponsorship

› New Venues

› Storytelling

› Food Trends

/ /

› Consultants

› Landscaping

› Event Glamping

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



A corporate anniversary event held at Newbury Racecourse

across a four day period with exclusive hire of the whole

site (see page 60). For further information on the unique

internal and external spaces at Newbury Racecourse

contact the team on 01635 40015 or visit




Stand-out Growth in UK Glamping Market

THE GLAMPING market in Europe by

revenue is expected to grow at over 11 per

cent from 2019–2025 according to a report

published by market research specialist


The UK was the stand-out growth

market in Western Europe from 2011 to

2016, growing at an average of 7.3 per cent

annually, while the rest of the region grew

by 0.4 per cent.

“The tourism market is increasingly

marked by a trend to discover places,

which are more difficult to access or are

relatively unknown. Hence, rural-based

glamorous camping experiences are

expected to gain ground,” says Arizton.

“Fuelled by popular culture, travel

bloggers, and Instagram influencers, rural

glamping is becoming organised and

formal. Farm stays are witnessing the

second wave.”

Arizton also explains growth among the

baby boomer generation – with more time

and money on their hands – and millennial

families that have young children. Another

primary driver is the growing demand

for weekend getaways for stressed-out


The report includes detailed

segmentation by accommodation type,

end-user, land ownership, area size and

geography. Cabins are witnessing an

overall growth in glamping. It also puts UK

companies Canopy & Stars and Wigwam

Holidays among the leading vendors in the

European glamping market.





Plans for new


Holiday Park

A COMPLEX of timber lodges,

static caravans and glamping

pods is being proposed at

Swannington Lakes on the edge of

Coalville, Leicestershire.

In total 106 twin timber lodges,

82 caravans and 20 glamping

units are proposed on the 58-acre

woodland site.

Planning officers at North West

Leicestershire District Council

are currently considering the

scheme that has been proposed

by Finney’s Park Homes.


FIVE YEARS on from its

inaugural edition, the

second Show Must Go On

report has been published,

offering a comprehensive

insight into outdoor event


The report is the result

of years of planning,

research, data gathering

and crowdfunding from

within the industry and

launches alongside a freeto-access

online resource,

the Vision2025 website,

that features case studies,

briefings and a supplier


Both resources reflect

the progress made in

terms of the technologies,

materials and operational

practices used to reduce

the environmental impacts

of live events. The report

is divided into chapters on

governance, resources and

waste, water, food, energy,

travel and transport.

So far, more than 100

festivals and events have

made the Vision:2025

pledge, committing to

cutting the environmental

impact of the events sector

in half within five years.

Live industry

professionals will discuss

ways to reduce the

environmental impact of

events at music business

sustainability gathering

the Green Events and

Innovations Conference

(GEI) on 3 March, presented

by A Greener Festival

in partnership with the

International Live Music



Spike in Farmers Looking

at Diversification

ALMOST HALF of British farmers

are looking at diversifying their

businesses due to the biggest

change in funding for decades

following Brexit, states a report by

NFU Mutual.

It shows that 48 per cent of

farmers are planning to set up or

expand diversification businesses,

moving into new areas such as

tourism, hospitality, retail and

renewable energy.

This figure has doubled since NFU

Mutual carried out similar research

in 2018 and found 23 per cent of

farmers were planning to expand or

start diversification enterprises.

“The next seven years will be

crucial for the farming industry,”

explained Chris Walsh, NFU Mutual’s

farm specialist.

“Whether it’s building holiday

cottages, launching a wedding

venue, or opening a farm shop,

not only can these new businesses

supplement the farm, they often

provide other members of the

family with a crucial role.”

Defra statistics show that

diversification activity brought in

£740m of income in 2018/19 – up 6

per cent on the previous year.


Lock up Your Phones

IN LIGHT of research that shows 83 per cent of

Brits think that the country needs a digital detox,

Visit Isle of Man is encouraging visitors to relinquish

their smart phones in return for ‘analogue’ items

including a paper map, film camera and postcards.

Holidaymakers can make the exchange at

phoneboxes at Knockaloe Beg Farm and Glen Helen

Glamping. They can also take away guidebooks,

bird and plant identification books, a selection of

binoculars and magnifying glasses, a travel journal,

a notepad and a pack of playing cards.

Angela Byrne, head of Visit Isle of Man, said: “We

want to encourage our visitors to disconnect, switch

off and step away from digital distractions in order

to disassociate from work and social media and

concentrate better on surroundings.

“By installing Phoneboxes in glamping locations

around the island, this will help people escape from

everyday life and embrace the many activities that

the Island has to offer as well as spending time

connecting with each other, without relying on

technology for entertainment or communication.

“Although life without a phone can seem

daunting at first, there's nothing that cannot be

solved the good old-fashioned way.”


£1m Glamping Development gets Funding

A £1M glamping and leisure

complex next to the North

Yorkshire Moors railway is set

to be completed in the spring,

supported by funding from Reward

Finance Group.

The three-acre site, which is

being developed by husband

and wife team Paula and Alex

O'Donnell, will comprise nine

glamping units housed in

converted railway freight wagons

and guards' vans.

Paula O'Donnell, said: “The site

formed part of the family's fish

farming business, but the lake was

filled in a number of years ago. We

turned part of the land into a car

park for the station but there was

still a significant amount of land

that was not being used.

“To create such an innovative

scheme requires a huge

investment and we are grateful

to Mark Tudor at Tudor Financial

for introducing us to the team at

Reward Finance Group.

“We were impressed that the

£800,000 funding facility was set

up quickly, without having to

jump through hoops, so we could

progress the project to ensure we

were open for the forthcoming


David Jones, Reward Finance Group, with Paula O’Donnell,

the Engine Shed



£50m Redevelopment makes Newbury

Racecourse Perfect for Events

A Temple

to Nature

THE NEW Temple to Nature is

more than just a composting

toilet, it also features a roof

pond which fits over the main

hexagonal body of the building,

making it an extremely robust

design. The pond holds up to

65ltrs of water and the water

level can be adjusted to enable

planting on top. A free bird box

can be ordered too!

Only a spirit level, a spanner

and an Allen key headed

screwdriver are needed for

the simple construction. The

hexagonal shape allows for space

saving ground allocation when

units are placed adjacent to each

other and a main collection bin

can be hidden behind.

There is a fully fitted separating

unit inside with an integrated

seat for ease of cleaning –

options include a urinal and

small children’s adapter seat.

The overflow from the roof is

directed under the floor and can

be allowed to follow the urine

into a soakaway or be collected

separately in a water butt or flat

underground tank. The water

‘diluted’ urine is a valuable

nitrogen fertiliser that can be

applied to fields with no danger of


A machine is also being designed

for the ‘Loo Fibre’ biochar mix to

be dispensed from behind the

toilet, propelled by a press button

battery operated switch.



one of the top racecourses

in the country, puts the

finishing touches on a

£50m redevelopment in

Berkshire. After commencing

the agreement with David

Wilson Homes to build 1,500

homes on the racecourse’s

land in 2012, Newbury

Racecourse then invested

in what was known as the

Heartspace redevelopment

focussing on improvements

of internal grounds and

facilities. There is now only

one element left which is the

renowned Royal Box, due to

complete in March 2020.

The development

included refurbishments

to all of the stands to

improve the experience for

racegoers and corporate

clients. A new paddock and

pre parade ring benefits

from landscaped designs to

create a greener and more

attractive environment.

On non-race days,

The Owners Club acts

as the most prestigious

conference and events

space. Bi-fold doors lead

onto an outdoor terrace

overlooking the parade

ring. Another unique

feature includes new

entrances to improve the

arrival experience, one

being a personalised LED

screen which has become

a very popular feature

for large corporate and

outdoor events when

bigger crowds are expected.

The redevelopment was a

key milestone in the growth

of Newbury Racecourse,

not only as a racecourse but

also in the expansion of the

conference and events side

of the business. For further

information or to enquire

about holding a conference

or event, email events@


New Developments on Show for Wigwam

WIGWAM HOLIDAYS will be on Stand 60 at the Energy and Rural Business Show on Tuesday

3-4 March 2020. Taking place at the East of England Arena, Peterborough, Wigwam Holidays

will be on hand to reveal recent developments including the launch of the brand new sixberth

Wigwam Lodge and its sister cabin, the Wigwam Lodge Accessible. Both are part of an

extensive cabin portfolio that offers flexibility for would-be glamping site owners.

With its timber cabins handcrafted in Scotland, Wigwam Holidays is also keen to focus on

sustainability, accessibility and offering staycations which everyone can afford.




Safe Stoves

THE EKOL ApplePie small

space, modular design stove

was launched last year. Part

of a very niche group of stove

products designed specifically

for the outdoor space market,

the stoves are engineered for the

specific safety and environmental

requirements of glamping.

Combustible walls/material are

no longer an issue with the stove

able to be sited very close to such


Years of development have produced one of the most user friendly and

cleanest compact stoves available. DEFRA exempt for use in Smoke Control

Areas, and Ecodesign compliant (all stoves sold from 2022 will need to be), the

ApplePie is perfectly suited for all types of leisure accommodation.

Highly efficient and clean-burning, it has modular bolt on options for

cooking. A funky design aesthetic with multiple paint finishes and bespoke

options also means the ApplePie fully satisfies the design-led interior styling so

important to commercial glamping accommodation.

Part of the Saltfire Stoves Group based in Dorset, Ekol has many years of

experience building small space stoves, all of which are fully engineered and

designed in-house. Ekol also has expert flue and chimney designers to advise

on simple ways to ensure stove installations remain safe.


Shady Spot


THE SHADY Spot from Hunter Outdoors can be

easily branded. Whether colour matched to the

sails with a stencil style print or in full colour.

Hunter Outdoors can produce both printed

square sails and internal back walls (as pictured).

The rear wall is great viewed from the front,

perfect for a pop-up reception, while the square

sail used to enclose the rear is great viewed from

behind. www.hunteroutdoors.co.uk




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.




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.









Open Air Business



What you will learn at this year’s Open Air

Business conference on 23 March, Leicestershire

23 MARCH 2020

Get your ticket at



› How the wedding and

corporate event industries

are changing

› How to identify and market

to your ideal customer

› How to create a pricing

strategy to maximise yield

› Getting creative around seasonal

opportunities including Christmas

and Halloween

› Attracting bookings from high net worth


› How to create and manage wildflower


› Got any planning permission questions?

Ask our leading expert in rural leisure

› How to maximise your digital marketing

in 2020


› How the glamping industry is changing

› How to make sure your operations are

legally compliant

› How to tap into emerging markets for

alternative accommodation

› How to integrate sustainability across

your whole operation

› How to create and manage wildflower


› Got any planning permission questions?

Ask our leading expert in rural leisure

› How to maximise your digital

marketing in 2020


› How the glamping resort and boutique

retreat industries are changing

› What you can learn from developments


› How luxury outdoors is challenging

mainstream hotel stays

› How to create experiential

accommodation with emotional impact

› How to incorporate ‘wellness’ for

maximum profitability

› The future of boutique resort and retreat


› How to maximise your digital marketing

in 2020


› How the outdoor event industry is


› How to secure sponsorship for your


› How to improve your event’s


› How to get the creatives right to ‘vibe’

your site

› How to recruit and manage volunteers

› Best practice for booking artists and

getting them to drive sales

› How to maximise your digital marketing

in 2020




02476 326585 TruDomes.com Hello@TruDomes.com



Kris and



How brothers Kris

and Darrel Morgans

created The Roost

Merthyr Tydfil, a

purpose built haven

for hikers, bikers and

lovers of the outdoors,

in their childhood

stomping ground

WITH THE growing market for activity tourism in

South Wales, brothers’ Kris and Darrel Morgans

saw an opportunity to develop some overgrown

land at the back of their childhood home.

Ash Villa is situated in the village of Troedyrhiw

on the outskirts of Merthyr Tydfil in the South

Wales Valleys. The village has a rich industrial

heritage linked to the extraction of coal and

iron ore in the 19 Century. Built in c1830, the

house and the neighbouring Dynevor Arms

public house originally formed part of a terrace

of cottages facing the historic Glamorganshire

canal, which was used for transporting industrial

goods from the Valleys to Cardiff docks.

“As children, the land was our playground;

home to games of rugby, cricket and a DIY BMX

course,” says Kris. “Nearby Gethin Woods (now

home to BikePark Wales) was our extended

playground and we explored the mountain on

foot and on two wheels – though we were into

motocross rather than mountain bikes.

“The site is an acre of land nestled in a natural

bowl with panoramic views of the opposite

valley. It has a stream running along its rear

boundary and is surrounded by trees but it had

become very overgrown.”

It is ideally sited halfway along the Taff Trail

(cycle route 8 which runs for 55 miles from Cardiff

to Brecon), on the edge of the Brecon Beacons

National Park and just a mile away from the

popular mountain biking trail centre, BikePark



Activity tourism is big business in the region.

The Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council

Destination Management Plan 2016-18, states:

‘The region is fast becoming a hub for activity

tourism and is well on target to becoming one

of Wales’s most desirable regions in terms of

adventure tourism.’

“Visitors to the area are coming to take part

in activities including mountain biking, cycling,

hiking, fell running, rock climbing, sailing and

more,” says Kris. “BikePark Wales attracts

c.75,000 visitors a year and these numbers are

increasing year on year.”

Merthyr Tydfil has a few hotels, B&Bs, a single

campsite and an increasing number of houses

being used as holiday lets. The area was crying



out for purpose built accommodation tailored

to the needs of the many visiting outdoor

adventurers so Kris and Darrel decided to take

advantage of the gap in the market.

“The plan was to offer comfortable yet

simple accommodation with shared facilities

including hot showers, decent cooking

facilities, secure parking and plenty of secure

storage for equipment (mountain bikers and

cyclists often spend thousands on their bikes),”

says Kris. “We also felt it was important to

include a drying room as adventuring can be a

soggy business!”


One of Kris’ oldest friends was the architect for

the scheme, Warren Williams of London based

Studio Cherry. Warren also grew up in Merthyr

Tydfil and was keen to get involved in the

brothers’ new venture as it chimed with his love

of the outdoors and Studio Cherry’s interest in

heritage and eco-friendly design.

“Warren developed the brief, reacquainted

himself with the site and worked with us to

prepare an initial design strategy. Inspired by

the semi-rural site, we came up with timber

clad, green roofed ‘eco-cabins’ and a wash

block arranged around a gently meandering

path through the existing trees.”

Plans also included the sensitive extension

and refurbishment of the main house and

outbuildings to create B&B style rooms and a

self-contained bunkhouse respectively.

Sustainable environments should take into

account the social and economic context, in

addition to energy use, so part of the brief

included the support of local business, labour

and materials where possible.

With regards to energy use, a ‘fabric first’

approach was adopted where the cabins were

designed with compact forms and high levels

of insulation to limit heat loss (and allow for

their occupation for most of the year) and the

existing family home would be retrofitted. A

strategy augmented with photovoltaic panels

and rainwater used to flush the WCs.

“Landscaping was also important,” says Kris.

“We used it to enhance the natural beauty of

the site through the planting of local species,

native hedging and undulating earthworks










integrating the buildings to their surroundings

and creating a series of private and more public

spaces lined with subtle lighting. Non-human

guests are also being encouraged to stay in bug

hotels together with bird and bat boxes.”

Warren felt that it was important to involve the

planners at an early stage to open up a dialogue

and test the viability of the scheme in terms of

policy relating to land use, scale of development,

massing and amenity overlooking.

A series of hand drawn sketches including

plans, sections and 3D views were prepared

for a pre-application planning meeting and

fortunately were well received by the planners.

Following this, the Roost could proceed to

planning with a greater peace of mind and

Warren could evolve the masterplan, fleshing

out the details of landscaping, servicing,

utilities, phasing and the appointment of other

consultants such as the ecologist.

Planning was gained in April 2018 for nine

cabins, a wash block, refurbishment of the

existing Ash Villa and extension of the existing

garage into bunkhouse accommodation, not

too dissimilar from the original reapplication



The brief for the accommodation was for

a structure that could sleep four people

comfortably with living space and bike and

equipment storage. The team researched a



variety of ‘off the shelf’ options for pods and

cabins, visiting a number of suppliers and

exhibitions but struggled to find anything that

fitted the brief so they decided to go bespoke.

They chose a local company that specialises in

bespoke timber structures for the manufacture

of the cabins.

“A big consideration was bike storage,”

says Kris. “Visitors to the area, staying in a

well-known budget hotel nearby, were paying

additional cleaning costs so they could take

their bikes into their rooms with them. It

therefore seemed important to provide each

cabin with its own secure bike/equipment

storage area.”

After much research of ‘tiny houses’ online,

the team initially came up with a design that

incorporated a mezzanine floor and bike

storage underneath but this was deemed too

high at pre-planning when it was confirmed

that the maximum height for the cabins could

be no more than 2.5 metres, so they went back

to the drawing board.

The final, approved cabin design

incorporated a single pitched roof, a bike/

equipment storage porch and a generous

living area.


The process of taking the land from the

overgrown space that it was to the Roost as

it is today took time. Darrel, a civil engineer,

designed the foundations for the cabins

and the wash block. A local team of building

contractors were employed that Darrel had

worked with previously and the required

services also had to be brought into the site.

The outdoor work was at times delayed by wet

and icy weather.

“The cabins were built off-site and

reassembled in situ where they were insulated

and boarded with OSB,” says Kris. “Lighting

and heating were added and the simple

interiors designed to be comfortable and easy

to maintain. The storage porch has a washable

floor so guests can hang up their bikes and

dirty gear without worry. Super comfy four foot







wide bunk beds are spacious for one and cosy

for two.”

Once the build was complete, the land was

seeded with grass and wildflowers, and native

bulbs and hedging were planted in and around

the site boundary – over 800 whips in total.


“Initially the plan was to call the site Plantation

Pods as it was located just off Plantation Square

but, with the move away from pods to cabins,

this needed a bit of a rethink. We settled on The

Roost Merthyr Tydfil. A roost being a place for

sitting, resting or lodging, plus the site is home

to lots of birds and a roost is a mountain biking

term (meaning the mud and dirt that flies up

behind the bike after a rider goes into a corner).”

Kris’ wife, Kath, who is responsible for

marketing and design at the Roost, set about

coming up with ideas for the logo and branding,

trying the DIY approach to begin with. With

these designs not quite cutting the mustard, she

approached a graphic designer who was within

their target market (a mountain biker) and had

produced other designs that appealed. The

result is a modern, hip and eye-catching logo

and brand that is reflected in the Roost’s selfbuilt

website and all other materials.


Having a strong online presence has been

important from the start and marketing has

revolved around the Roost’s website, social

media, Google advertising, listing on Airbnb

and on relevant websites including Visit Wales,

Visit Merthyr, BikePark Wales, MB Wales and dog

friendly accommodation sites. Guests can book

directly via the Roost’s website using FreetoBook

or via Airbnb and Google Hotels.

From the outset, Kath and Kris liaised with the

local council’s Destination Management team.

This helped in the planning process and with

the ongoing promotion of the business. Kris and

Warren were invited to speak at the council’s

2019 destination management event about the

Roost’s journey and future plans. Kath and Kris

also attended Visit Wales events which led to a

site visit and its subsequent grading of the Roost

as a Visit Wales’ Quality Assured Glamping Site

and accreditation for its Cyclists and Walkers

Welcome scheme.

“The concept of the Roost fits perfectly with

Visit Wales’ 2020 plans to celebrate the outdoors

in Wales (OAB, December 2019),” says Kris. “The

Roost is also making itself known locally and,



where possible, we have chosen to work with

and support local businesses. We encourage our

guests to do the same.”


After test driving with groups of mountain bikers

and friends, the Roost launched. Feedback

from guests has been very positive with useful

suggestions. Guests are also asked to leave

reviews via the booking site and/or Google.

“We had a great stay at The Roost and can't

wait to return. The cabins are thoughtfully

designed and beds extremely comfortable. The

cabin was cosy and warm even in the January

weather,” said Chloe, Bristol. “A little gem nestled

in a Welsh hillside. Brand new shared facilities and

the kitchen! Best camping kitchen ever,” said Scott

from Preston who stayed in his campervan with

his son.

Having opened in October 2019, bookings are

looking positive for 2020 with most weekends in

quarter one already booked up.


With the Roost still a fledgling, there are plenty of

opportunities for it to fulfil its booking potential.

On site there are plans to install solar panels on the

facilities building and green roofs on the cabins.

There’s still some landscaping and planting to be

done and, with the opportunity to add more cabins

and the planning permission for the conversion

of Ash Villa and the garage into a bunkhouse, the

Roost has a great deal of future potential.


Roost Merthyr Tydfil

Ash Road, Troedyrhiw

Merthyr Tydfil CF48 4HH

07484 697392



Big Lawn Care has

never been easier!

At STIGA we don’t just cater for the

discerning domestic gardener, we also

offer two high-end tractors designed

and built to meet the demands of

commercial operators, from contractors

and estate managers, through to

groundskeepers and professional


Powerful engines, advanced functions,

ergonomics and high quality

construction, STIGA garden tractors

are the ultimate choice for

Big lawn care.

With a variety of accessories that

can simply be attached these

mowers are versatile in any season.








TruDomes’ Nuneaton factory produces

geodesic domes for glamping,

weddings, festivals and events. As

members of Made in Britain and

MUTA, its aluminium and steel-framed

structures are all manufactured and

sourced in the UK, and each tube used

is manufactured on site.

The company works with many materials but uses aircraft

grade aluminium wherever possible for its geodesic dome

frames. The inherent properties of aluminium mean that

over time they withstand the rigours of outdoor living and

will not rust or corrode. Just like an aircraft, these frames

are strong but lightweight. A 5.8m diameter dome frame

weighs in at 86kgs – other brands would use the equivalent

of 253kgs of steel as standard. This enables a TruDomes

dome to be lighter and easier to install and it can be built in

locations that are off the beaten track.

The company has calculated that an aluminium dome

has a carbon footprint nearly two-thirds less than that of a

steel-based product. Aluminium is widely regarded as one

of the most sustainable building materials as it is highly

recyclable - two-thirds of the aluminium ever produced is

still in use in some form or another today! On a percentage

basis, it is the most recycled of any industrial metal.

Frames are manufactured, stored and shipped from

TruDomes’ warehouse, which means fewer transport and

storage costs as well as less stress on the environment. The

PVC canvas coverings for each dome are also manufactured

here in the UK and made on a bespoke basis for each order.



Each new product

begins with the design

team Dan and Neresh, who

use state-of-the-art software

to create domes for all

occasions. Whether it’s the

next addition to the dome

range or something bespoke,

it all begins with a digital

mock-up and prototype.

Current designs can also be

adapted to fit specific needs;

to suit unusual terrain or

weather conditions, or just to

bring an unusual idea to life!




Once the design

is complete, the

project then moves to the

manufacture stage – the

factory is located right on site

so there’s no delay once a dome

is ready to be made. The team in

the factory hand-cut and shape each

tube, and innovative rounded and flattened ends ensure

the angles at each connection point are perfectly positioned.

By shaping each part in-house, the team is able

to check the quality of all parts before they

are packaged into ready-to-build kits.



Domes are available

both as ready-to-build,

‘out of the box’ kits and as

bespoke, made-to-order

solutions. The goods-out team

ensures that everything is

carefully picked and packed

and then either sent out on

TruDomes’ carrier network

or delivered to a customer’s

door by the installation team.

No matter which option a

customer chooses, the team

is on hand to advise on terrain

and the placement of a dome

and provide plenty of advice

about installation, upkeep and




CONTACT: 02476 326585


LOCATION: Moreton House,

Whitacre Road, Nuneaton,

CV11 6BW


Glamping and event domes





A lakeside event field with dedicated

hosts and a stellar preferred suppliers list

Having pulled off her own special event – a 30th birthday party –

Lucy Poole set about transforming her family’s farm into a summer season events venue

with vast flexibility, investing in making the dry hire space fit for purpose with drainage,

car parking and a dedicated service road for structure deliveries. We talk to Lucy.

When did you start your venue

business and what is its history?

Growing up at Alcott farm, which my

parents have lived at for over 40 years,

I knew that it was a stunning venue

that needed to be shared. In 2014, I

held my 30th birthday party there; I

loved organising it and I have never

looked back.

Tell us about your location and site

We are ideally located in the middle

of the countryside with unspoilt views

yet are only a five minute drive from

Junction 3 of the M42, which makes

us very accessible to Birmingham

International Railway Station and

Airport. The site is a large field opposite

very picturesque lakes surrounded by

rolling Worcestershire countryside.

There is a hard-standing car park for

approximately 100 cars and we are

accessible for large coaches. We had

dodgems in a huge lorry get in without

a problem!

We have fitted a land drainage

system in the field which prevents

it getting boggy in the lovely British

rain. There is a service road in the field

too which leads from the car park so

the vehicles delivering structures can

drive on that and not put any wheel

marks on the land, keeping it pristine

for every event. Walkway matting can

lead straight from this road into the

entrance of a marquee/structure. We

have not faced any challenges with

setup, but we keep to the summer

months only, operating between May

and September.

What facilities for outdoor functions

do you offer?

We have a selection of preferred

suppliers with a number of structures

to choose from to make an event



completely unique and bespoke.

There are clear-span marquees, capris

marquees, sperry tents, tipis and a

giant yurt, and we are always keeping

our eyes on what new structures come

to the market. Ceremonies are held

via a wedding celebrant currently

and most are held outside, if weather

permits. Some couples have hired the

yurt for their ceremony room, which is

stunning, and then made use of it as a

kid’s cinema room later in the day.

There is an on-site B&B that sleeps

up to nine guests and a bridal suite

in a separate barn conversion. There

are also two one-bedroomed holiday

cottages. Camping and glamping is an

option in the field. It is lovely for guests

to wake up on-site; the main marquee/

structure is then re-used with caterers

coming back to make some breakfast

while all the antics of the day and night

before are discussed.

What services do you offer?

We can plan the whole event from

the choice of structures to catering









choices, including street food, BBQs,

buffets, food served on boards, sit

down meals and so on. A choice of

fab bars, indoor and outdoor, coffee

stands, prosecco carts and cocktail

bars are also available. Every element

can be taken care of if required. We

can do as little or as much as couples/

companies want.

There is also an endless choice of

games, inflatables, water activities etc.

I will list a few to give you a flavour:

crazy golf, ultimate inflatable obstacle

course, sumo suits, human table

football, rodeo bull, fairground side

stalls, laser clay shooting, archery,

laser sniper, indoor shooting simulator

and so many more. Water activities

on the lake include kayaks, stand up

paddleboards and canoes.

Companies have chosen us

wanting to experience some great

teambuilding games such as duck

herding and initiative exercises with

physical logic problems that can only

be solved by a group of people working

together. Such activities have been

designed to promote teamwork and

creative thinking as well as to provide

leadership and communication

challenges. Games may involve

handcuffs, isotope, skis, and include

Number Punch, Towers of Hanoi and

Folding Square.

Describe how you researched and

sourced your structures

All of our structures are temporary

and we did a lot of homework on

each company that makes it on to our



preferred suppliers list. We contact

other venues that use them to check

on their reputation, service, quality

and reliability. Equally, we ask that

each supplier visit our site to make

sure they are happy with where the

structures will be positioned. They

are over the moon that we have a flat

space, land drainage and the road in

the field.

How do you work with your

customers to make their event


We get to know the couple or company

very well and gain a very good

understanding of their requirements.

If there is something that they would

like, that isn’t on our preferred

suppliers list, we will go and source it

for them. We pride ourselves on not

having an option A, B and C to choose

from and provide unique and unusual


How do you publicise yourself?

Through many venue finding platforms

such as Hitched, For Better For Worse,

Bridebook, and Marquee Hire Guide,

and our own website, social media,

open days and word of mouth.

How would you describe your style

or unique selling point?

We are a family run farm where you

are made to feel very welcome and

special. We offer a very quick response

and look after our clients from the

very start to the very end – we have

become personal friends with lots

of the bookings. The vast choice and

flexibility we offer makes us very

unique. We do not overuse our site

and, once the setup of a structure

is completed, we give a whole day’s

access for dressing and decorating.

What challenges have you faced?

We had initial negativity from the

council when I enquired about a

premises license, so I decided to

start off with temporary events

notices (TENs). 15 events a year is the

maximum granted and it turned out to

be perfect as the site isn’t a conveyor

belt and it feels very special to our

customers as it is always in such great


Have you worked with any industry

bodies or consultants?

I have had initial chats with Kelly

Chandler and found her very helpful.

She recently recommended a book

called ‘Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama?’,

which I have just started reading and

it’s full of insight and inspiration so far!

Kelly works with the author and fellow

venue owner Celia Gaze, and it goes to

show how impressive she is.

What are your plans for next season?

Firstly, to look after each individual

booking to the utmost of my

capabilities! I also want to develop

the woodland area next to the field for

team building games, ceremonies and

photo opportunities.

Describe your average day mid-season

Busy, filled with laughter, getting

to know the clients, couples and

their friends and families, turning to

amazing suppliers for any questions

that arise that need solutions and

always making sure the customer is


What do you enjoy about the

business and why?

This is a vibrant happy business to be

in. I am very much a ‘people person’








Covered By Canvas


Fews Marquees


Prestige Events


Ridgeway Marquees


Sami Tipis www.samitipi.co.uk

Shire Tipis www.shiretipis.co.uk

Smart Party Marquees


Yurt Maker www.yurtmaker.co.uk


Key Event Network



Posh Potties



The Tipi and Bell Tent Hire Company



BBC Inflatables



Bridebook www.bridebook.co.uk

For Better For Worse


Hitched www.hitched.co.uk

Marquee Hire Guide



Kelly Chandler Consulting



NFU Mutual www.nfumutual.co.uk


Alcott Weddings

Icknield Street


Birmingham B48 7EH

07725 882097


and love gauging what is going

to work well for each person,

putting it together and seeing

everything develop with the

wedding or event that takes

place. Some key suppliers have

become like family as you spend

so much time with them in the

summer and this is such a special


One of my favourite parts is

the dressing day for a wedding.

Usually for a Saturday wedding

the structure is set up on the

Thursday and on the Friday

the couple with their friends

and family turn up with car and

van loads of props to dress the

structure. Each and every

one of them has a unique style

and it’s so lovely to see it all

come together.

What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

We have had family fun days,

team building days, a company

mini festival, birthdays and

charity events. These integrate

perfectly well as we turn to lots

of our key suppliers to help

create completely bespoke

events. We only have glamping

alongside a wedding or event.

What are you most proud of?

Turning an idea in my head into

a reality and seeing how many

people have had so much joy out

of Alcott. As it’s a family home,

I have seen my parents turn it

into what it is today, and I am so

proud of them.

What advice could you give

to someone coming into the


Don’t rush, spend lots of time

researching, get to know other

businesses that are similar

(maybe not right on your

doorstep) and ask them for

advice; when I started, other

venues loved helping me and

gave me very valuable tips. Also,

make sure to meet as many

suppliers as possible and create

good relationships - follow your

gut and trust!





Size can be adapted to the venue, fully weatherproof,

flexible hire length, full on site technical support

and available Nationwide.

W: ellievisionav.co.uk | T: 07790 132298 | E: info@ellievisionav.co.uk



As with any new venture, getting

off the starting blocks can be one

of the most daunting aspects.

For some of you reading this,

you may already be well versed in running

events but are now looking to diversify

your business to include outside space or

take advantage of emerging trends. For

others, it may be that you are sitting on a

piece of real estate and are not quite sure

how to really get the most out of it.

This short guide is designed to help get

you thinking about the steps you’ll need to

take to get off the ground.


Before you dive headfirst into renovating

an underutilised barn into a hedonistic

cavern Led Zeppelin would covet, you

should first take a step back and put

together a number of ideas based on

your income aspirations, market trends,

investment capital and operating costs.

While it may take some time to really get

into the details, this exercise is absolutely

necessary. You may find that weddings and

outdoor music are far more profitable than

conferences and camping.

Writing a three year business plan,

including a draft budget and cashflow

projection, is essential. Not only will it

help focus you and your team but will be

a useful reference when you’re looking at

how to grow your business in the future.



Venue and Ventures’ Iain Beaumont offers an

overview on getting your event up and running


Once you have determined the type of

business you wish to operate, you are

likely going to have to obtain consent from

a number of different statutory bodies. If

you’re looking to sell alcohol or play music

into the small hours, you’ll almost certainly

need a premises license. If you are looking

to hold civil ceremonies, then you will

require a wedding licence from your local

authority. It is important to deal with these

aspects early on as once they’re sorted you

can really start to focus on energising the



You’ve run the numbers, you have a plan

and the licences are in hand – so far, so

good. The next step you need to look at is

the condition of your site and its facilities.

If you already have good facilities and a

structurally sound site, it may just be a

simple requirement of getting things tested

to ensure that you’re safe and compliant.

If it involves knocking down the internal

walls of a listed building, you’re going to

need to get consent to make it happen. If

your idea involves opening up rooms to

provide guest accommodation, then you

may find it is necessary to upgrade your

heating and plumbing – eight baths running

at once from a single boiler might prove too



It is likely that you will have already

identified who your business appeals to and

therefore will understand who you need to

reach out to. The next step is knowing how

you connect with your audience and get

them excited about your offering.


This should be your first real marketing

investment; it will be your primary platform

from which you can promote your offering.

It should be slick, easy to navigate and

professionally built. Once up and running,

it is likely that you will need to invest some

time and resources into search engine

optimisation (SEO) to ensure you’re high up

the rankings in Google.

From the outset, I would recommend that

you focus on imagery and video to highlight

your offering – a 90-second video clip will

give visitors to your website a great overview

of your venue. While words are important

to help build your search engine profile,

don’t get bogged down with paragraph after

paragraph of clunky text – the reality is that

most people will skim read at best.


Having a good stock of high-quality and

brand-aligned imagery and video on your

website is very important. I really cannot

stress this enough, and your iPhone image

library is unlikely to give you the professional

feel that you’re after. Once you have a great

range of media, you can also start linking it

with your chosen social media.


If you have not embraced social media

already, then you will need to get this

established early on. The key platforms

which will help inspire a large cohort of

your market are most likely to be Instagram

and Pinterest, with YouTube, Facebook and

Twitter following closely behind. If you’re

struggling to find the time to source and

post fresh, relevant and timely content, I

would recommend outsourcing this aspect



to a trusted agency or freelancer who is able

to manage this on your behalf.


Using online directories is an excellent and

cost-effective way of promoting your venue

to a far-reaching audience. Typically, each

directory enables people to search for a

venue based on their specific parameters,

but you are often able to pay a supplement

to secure a premium listing if you want

to promote your venue to a much wider

audience. If you have a rather unique or

special venue, you may benefit from working

alongside agencies who are matching clients

with their ideal location, but be prepared to

pay a commission for any bookings.


Good PR can be huge for your business

and I would suggest reaching out to media

organisations working in your sector to

identify opportunities for building brand

awareness. When you launch your venue,

you should invite a good mix of print and

online journalists, together with those

who you know are likely to promote your

business within their own circles or at

networking events.

The rise of the influencer in recent years

has added another avenue which you may

wish to pursue. While it is not necessarily a

new concept, the reach of the modern-day

influencer can be far and wide, therefore


giving you an opportunity to promote

your offer to a massive audience. Before

you jump into the influencer market by

either paying for an influencer to visit and

review your venue or giving away too many

freebies, do consider who their audience is

and whether you will be able to get a decent

return on your investment.



Once you have your marketing platforms

established you should start to see

enquiries pick up. It is important that

you are able to manage these effectively

and investing in customer relationship

management (CRM) software may prove

sensible at this stage. If resources are

limited, you should at least keep an

electronic record using a programme

such as Excel. As with all information that

you hold, ensure that you remain GDPR


You should aim to convert as many

solid enquiries into a showround (a visit

to your venue) and subsequently convert

every showround into a booking. In order

to ensure that you get the best rate of

success, I recommend mapping out the

sales journey and refining each stage until

you have the perfect method for converting

enquiries into confirmed business.


Unless you are intending to run the venue(s)

by yourself, you are most likely going to

require a number of staff to support both

the sales and operational aspects of the

business. At first this may be something that

you can manage but as you get busier you

will either need to recruit a team to support

you or outsource different functions to

specialists who can manage this on your

behalf. It will be a careful balancing act at

first but I advocate rolling your sleeves up

and getting stuck in from the outset in order

to really understand what support you



One of the most reassuring and exciting

aspects of the events world is being able

to use a multitude of different suppliers to


support your clients’ needs. Pretty much

everything you can imagine is on offer,

from Michelin starred chefs and organic

florists right through to Bear Grylls survival

academies and international DJs. It is

important to establish a good relationship

with your most important and regular

suppliers, as they will know how to operate

in your venue and will ultimately be one of

your biggest advocates.


As with most business arrangements, you

will need to enter into a contract with your

clients in order to set the terms of the event

and protect yourself against cancellations,

damage and event ‘creep’ (e.g. where

an outdoor party starts to morph into

something much more substantial). Your

clients will expect this, and a well drafted

contract should be easy to manage without

being overly restrictive for either party. If

a client refuses to enter into a contract or

agreement, I would walk away from the

proposition without hesitation.


Setting up your own venue is tremendous

fun and can be a very profitable enterprise.

As with all new ventures, taking the time

from the outset to ensure that you build the

right foundations will ultimately pay huge

dividends in the future.


Iain Beaumont is the

founder of Venues

and Ventures,

a management

consultancy specialising

in unlocking a venue’s

potential across both built

and natural environments. As

a consultancy focused on heritage

venues, private ownership and outdoor

space, the aim is always to balance the

sensitivities of individual assets and the

owner’s needs with the requirement to

generate a strong return on investment.

Iain has worked on some of England's

grandest country estates and leading

luxury venues including Powderham

Castle and Cowdray Estate, refining his eye

for spotting new opportunities and helping

businesses realise their potential.



Venue Owner?

Clear your diary for Monday 23 March

Get to Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire, LE17 6QX

Meet fellow organisers, network, chat to suppliers and take home the

following knowledge to apply to your business this year:

• How the wedding venue and

business event industry

is changing

• How to identify and market to

your ideal customer

• How to create a pricing strategy

to maximise yield

• Getting creative around seasonal

opportunities including

Christmas and Halloween

• Attracting bookings from high

net worth individuals

• How to create and manage wildflower areas

• Got any planning permission

questions? Ask our leading expert

in rural leisure

• How to maximise your digital

marketing in 2020


Accommodation on site – join us for the pre-event

party with silent disco go-karts, gin/prosecco bar

and luxury tree house…

Full line up and speakers at www.oabgathering.com



Business Events

Go ‘deep green’ with a holistic

view on your operations and what

it means to event buyers

THE START of spring is on the horizon with fresh

growth on the trees, fields across the country

showing the first signs of life and spring greens

on menus too. The term ‘green’ is increasingly

used in the events industry as planners show a

conscientious outlook towards the sustainability

of their live events.

Corporates are becoming swayed by working

with a supply chain that has a social conscience

and values; whether it’s using sustainable meat

suppliers, banning paper at events, ditching the

conference giveaway or giving left over food to a

local charity.

Green is ardently on the agenda for event

planners, however, it’s no longer solely about

being sustainable. People are recognising that a

fully sustainable event is hard to achieve and is

fraught with pitfalls. While local food suppliers

may be contracted, and their electric vehicles may

carry out the delivery, there’s a school of thought

that the lithium battery powering the transport

has significantly more damaging airmiles

attached to it. Thereby negating the whole benefit

of sourcing locally. Even recycling paper is being

scrutinised for the damage it does to the planet

with some asking if it’s better to simply bury it and

let it turn to coal?

Most businesses now have CSR initiatives

rooted in their core values which means that

conferences, dinners and team-builds must mirror

social responsibility. What is clear is that there are

no hard and fast rules and venues should realise

that every little effort can collectively add up to

a large impact. Whether it’s specifying a local

supply chain, putting in electric charge points for

delegates’ cars, ensuring conference table waters

are bottled in glass, supporting the local catering

college for manpower or supporting a

diverse workforce.

People buy people in any

sector and never more

so than in the events

industry. If you think

that being green ticks

the box for today’s

buyer, go deeper.

How you manage and

interact with people is

scrutinised even more

by today’s event buyer

who is influenced by

cause and culture.

It’s a given that venues

must be able to trace their supply


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.










chain but now there is far greater ownership

placed on people: from the impact on employees

to the interaction with suppliers. When sending a

proposal back to a potential client, venues may

want to consider differentiating themselves by

sharing details on their employee engagement

policies and their supplier code of conduct. How

you deal and interact with people highlights your

values, after all no one wants to work with the

customer who advocates making a 30 day invoice

payment a three month trial. And potential

partners will soon switch off if you ask for a

proposal and fail to acknowledge their response.

If you think that being green ticks the box for

today’s buyer, go deeper and consider the interpersonal

relationships by:

› looking at your team’s length of service

› their vicinity to the venue

› your diversity

› how you manage partner

and supplier relationships.

Being conscientious

doesn’t just mean banning

plastic – it’s a holistic

overview of every touch

point in the supply chain

including your outlook on


And just by considering

your cause and culture you too

can turn your competitor set ‘green’

with envy this season.





Wedding industry insights from Kelly Chandler


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.





THIS MONTH has been full of one-to-one

consulting as I’ve found myself working with

rural venues in Norfolk, Gloucestershire and

Devon. Variety has most definitely being the

spice of my life at the moment as those venues

have ranged from a 12th century castle to a

purpose built 1980s blank canvas home of


I’m known for working with rural heritage in

the main, and so it was music to my ears when

I heard about a brand new TV programme

dedicated to just this, uncovering the reality

behind the running of Britain’s great estates.

Over on Smithsonian Channel on Tuesday

evenings you’ll find the utterly engaging (and

fabulously fun) Julie Montagu, Viscountess

Hinchingbrooke of Mapperton Estate, exploring

what it really takes to run a rural country

estate in the 21st century, with a razor focus on

balancing the books. I highly recommend you

take a look at ‘An American Aristocrat’s Guide

to Great Estates’, it’s certainly a diary date for

me this month.

So how often does a sat

nav not quite do the job in

effectively communicating

your location? For so many

of my rural clients this is

often the case. Some large

estates will cover multiple post codes,

have different entrances and frankly send sat navs into

a tailspin.

So I’m rather excited by the app what3words that I am in the early stages of testing out.

The team at what3words has assigned each 3m square in the world a unique three word

address that will never change. For example ///filled.count.soap marks the exact entrance

to what3words’ London headquarters.

what3words’ addresses are easy to say and share, and are as accurate as GPS

coordinates. Their vision is to become a global standard for communicating location.

People use what3words to find their tents at festivals, navigate to B&Bs, and to direct

emergency services to the right place.

You might like to take a look and consider whether it would help your clients, for

weddings, glamping or otherwise find exactly where they are supposed to be more easily!


Lesson of

the Month

I’ve been doing plenty of deep

dive work with my clients this

month and I thought it might

inspire you along the same lines.

I have:

Spent time with wedding

1 venues really mapping out

their ideal client type in a lot of

detail. This is vital work, not just

for a new business but to revisit

regularly as your ideal client

leads everything from what your

offering is to how you market it.

I’ve spent a lot of time with venues

really exploring who their ideal

client(s) are and who they are not,

and we’re talking super specific

including giving them a name and

even finding a “could be” photo

not to mention hobbies, interests,

travels, sources of inspiration,

learning and more.

You might like to do some

more reading on client avatars

if this piques your interest and

is something you need to review

yourself. Remember, in 2020,

success is all about being niche

and really talking to those spoton

clients for you, not going for

everyone and everything.

Worked with a number of

2 clients on the importance of

clarity in their venue hire pricing



Ask Kelly

and the trend towards giving

pricing earlier in the enquiry

process. Today’s wedding

customer wants to know it

all up front in their initial

research. It is always satisfying

when a client implements

your advice and tells you that

including base line pricing on

their website has led to a 151

per cent increase in brochure

downloads in a like for like

month comparison.


Worked closely with

a venue that has just

completed its first year of

weddings to improve the

clarity of information giving to

potential clients and minimum

expected operational

standards for working with

external caterers to ensure it

books ideal (and profitable)

clients, retaining and building

on a strong reputation.


When did you last look at your venue’s Pinterest?

I urge you to as there are big gains to be had by

developing and sticking to a Pinterest marketing

strategy for your venue. It’s often neglected and has

often had the tag: ‘Oh it’s nice for the pretty but does

it bring us any venue enquiries?’ The reality is that it’s more used

than Instagram according to one major industry survey (Splendid

Insights UK Market Study 2020 of over 18,000 individuals married in

the UK in 2019). 69 per cent of them used Pinterest for the planning

of their wedding versus 63 per cent using Instagram.

Pinterest is a search engine rather than social media, although

it often gets put in that box. With a targeted Pinterest key word

strategy you can be driving couples to your venue, place or space

in the same way that you might only be able to dream of doing

with Google, without significant spending. If you’d like to know

more, then I have a brilliant free ‘mini training’ by Pinterest expert

Becca Pountney inside my private Facebook group for venues. Look

for ‘Wedding Spaces Going Places’ on Facebook and if you’re a

venue, come and join and take a look for it, among plenty of other


When should we plan our ‘open events’

for wedding couples?

It’s a question I’m often asked and it’s not a

blanket answer. First off, what’s meant by ‘open

events’ as the terminology is often confusing?

We’re talking an open marketing event (for free)

for couples getting married (and generally without

a venue booked) to come and visit your venue.

These event are usually supported by a handful

of your closest suppliers but are not a full-on

wedding fair.

I do have some clients for whom open events

are not the right strategy at all. However assuming

that you think they are, when should you host

them? Particularly if you’re newer to the market,

this can be hard to know.

› Late January – this is an excellent time to host

your first event of the year. December and early

January usually produce a volume of enquiries

and it’s nice to have an event to direct those

enquiries to, not least as most venues encounter

the greatest number but the least valuable

enquiries at this time with a lot of couples in the

very early stages of knowing their mind. Too early

in January and the event can run the risk of not

capturing these couples.

› Mid/late March - a second round for the busy

spring market of weddings and usually where

couples are more certain of what they are looking

for, plus there is the added benefit of showing your

venue in some springtime beauty.

› Mid October – it’s best to leave the summertime

free of open days. Even if your own venue’s diary

isn’t full yet, couples are generally attending other

weddings and summer events, and it can be a

trickier time to get your recommended suppliers

to commit if they have an established wedding

business. Mid October tends to be a time for

couples to get organised and look ahead before

the festive season.


Increase your Wedding Sales

Join Kelly and friends on 27 March at RSA House, London, for

a day of learning on how to increase your bookings

and elevate your wedding offer.

Visit www.kellychandlerconsulting.co.uk/wedding-spacesgoing-places-live

for more information and use code

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The Norfolk Mead Hotel

Product supplied: Mattresses and

divan bases

Supplier: Mattressman (0333 577 5773


Details: The Norfolk Mead Hotel, a

four-star Georgian country house

within eight acres of private land, hosts

unique outdoor weddings and functions

throughout the year in its ‘Garden

Room’ venue. The entire hotel can be

hired for guests.

Mattressman has provided services to The

Norfolk Mead Hotel for over seven years. Most

recently the hotel enquired about updating

some of their rooms to help cater for new

guests staying overnight following weddings

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Promoting a better occupancy rate for the

hotel, Mattressman provided luxurious super

king size zip and link divan and mattress

sets that met all commercial and fire safety

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the hotel to unzip the mattress and the

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depending on the guests they have booked to


Feedback: The Norfolk Mead Hotel has been

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The hotel recently used and praised our free

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Undisclosed Location

(due to client


Product supplied: Chairs

From: Europa International

(0345 430 3015


Details: The brief – to provide the

seating for an upcoming fashion

line launch that would take place

over a number of weeks, attracting

a range of audiences and spanning a

myriad of tailored events. The venue

was a contemporary Grade II listed

building with personality galore and

the challenge was to design a furniture

hire package that would complement

its beautiful neoclassical look. Another

hurdle to overcome was delivering and

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them to multiple locations within a

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Europa International came up with

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Feedback: We’ve worked with Europa

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Glampsite Owner?

Resort or Retreat Developer?

Clear your diary for Monday 23 March

Get to Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire, LE17 6QX

Meet fellow owners and developers, network, chat to suppliers and

take home the following knowledge to apply to your business this year:

• How the glamping and boutique

retreat industries are changing

• How to make sure your

operations are legally compliant

• How to tap into emerging markets

for alternative accommodation

• How to integrate sustainability

across your whole operation

• How to create and manage

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• Got any planning permission

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• How to maximise your digital

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Plus (for bigger developments)

• What you can learn from developments abroad

• How luxury outdoors is challenging

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• How to create experiential accommodation

with emotional impact

• How to incorporate ‘wellness’ for

maximum profitability

• The future of boutique resort and

retreat developments


Accommodation on site – join us for the pre-event

party with silent disco go-karts, gin/prosecco bar

and luxury tree house…

Full line up and speakers at www.oabgathering.com



The Private Hill

Glamping in geodesic domes on the hillside

of a working farm in North Yorkshire

From one world of hospitality to another, Roddy Hamilton and

his wife Jane have created a Quality in Tourism 5* Gold rated

glampsite in less than one season. We talk to Roddy about why

his high street bank got it wrong and how maximising on a view

with the right structures makes great business sense.

What’s your back story – your

life before glamping?

Following a lifetime working

within a premium brand global

environment (FMCG Hospitality) I

purchased Thrussendale Farm, on

the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire

Wolds, in 2015. Having been

involved with farming, in one way

or another, throughout my life I

then established a premier league

pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd

breeding bulls for the commercial

beef and dairy sectors.

What made you decide to

start offering glamping


As a small grassland farm, we

needed to diversify the business














to ensure sustainability in the long

term, and particularly post-Brexit.

Having considered renewables,

briefly, and then been awarded a

contract to grow high welfare pork

for Waitrose, we decided instead

to look at tourism as a means of

bringing new visitors, and their

money, to our gorgeous part of

North Yorkshire in order to boost

the local economy.

How did you research the

business before entering it?

Recognising that our spectacular

views offered visitors something

very, very special we wanted to

push the boundaries of glamping

as far as we could.

Instead of shepherds huts and

wooden pods, which seem to be

everywhere, we looked at geodesic

domes and quickly realised that

these could offer our guests all the

luxuries of home with a massive

window to the world beyond. We

looked at five possible sources

for our domes before deciding to


Tell us about your location

and site

Thrussendale Farm is surrounded

by some of the most beautiful

North Yorkshire scenery. The

site we identified on the farm

had always been my personal

favourite, where a sense of

wellbeing seemed to pervade. It is

an exposed hillside facing South

and West with views for over 60



miles across the Vale of York. Of

course it had no power, water,

sewerage options, access road or

Wi-Fi coverage but the view was

the principal factor in our decision

to base our new business where

we did.

How did you tackle getting


We approached our local planning

authority who were incredibly

helpful throughout, understanding

the need for small farms to

diversify, and following requests

for numerous reports (ecological,

visual impact etc.) we were finally

granted permission to proceed

approximately 14 weeks later.

The NFU supported our

application as did one local family

and we had no objections to our


How did you

finance the


We self-financed

much of the cost but

did also approach

a wonderful peerto-peer


called Folk2Folk that

bridged the gap between

what we had and what we

needed. Regrettably our high

street bank, while supportive

of the concept, was not in a

position to lend us anything due

to the projection led forecasts we

offered. They have since admitted

that they got it wrong and have

been impressed by the way in

which the business has evolved.



What glamping accommodation

do you offer and why did you

choose it?

We offer four guest geodesic

domes ,each large enough to

accommodate up to two adults

and two children (up to 12 years

old). With individual views and

layouts largely similar, we also

built a fifth, larger dome to act as a

guest reception and restaurant for

breakfast and dinner. This dome is

fully licensed so guests can enjoy a

locally distilled G&T, beer, glass of

wine etc.

How did you work out

your brand?

As a private hillside on the farm

our brand The Private Hill seemed

a logical one. We use social media

and a number of booking platforms

to promote the business globally.

How would you describe your

ethos and unique selling point?

Our key is the guest experience.

To try and exceed expectations

at every moment and to provide

unquestionable luxury for those

that might otherwise not be keen

on spending time on an exposed

hillside, albeit with one of the best

views imaginable! Truly en-suite

facilities, full electrical power,

excellent water pressure, loads

of hot water and a sumptuously

comfortable super-king size bed

with Egyptian cotton bedding.

Perfect your outdoor

lounge space



How did you choose your

interior decoration?

My wife Jane and I designed the

layout and chose the furnishings

to maximise comfort and ‘wow’


What are your plans for

next season?

To continue to build our brand

and reputation within a busy


Describe your average day


We only opened on 1 June 2019 so

each season brings with it more

learning and improvements to

what we offer. After a three-week

testing period we welcomed our

first guests at the end of June 2019

and saw occupancy levels through

July and August at around the 85-

90 per cent level.





















Following guest breakfasts,

and when they have departed

for the day to explore the many

local attractions, we then check

domes as required and open our

café to local walkers and cyclists

so that they too can enjoy the

views. We have a minimum twonight

stay policy which gives us

the opportunity to really get to

know our guests who may want a

farm tour to meet the pet sheep

or even to walk the alpacas on

the farm.

Check out is at 1100hrs with

check in from 1500hrs, during

which we offer a welcome drink,

freshly home baked cake and an

opportunity to learn the history

of the farm and the facilities we

offer. In the evening guests have

the option of dining in or visiting

one of our excellent local pubs

and restaurants.

Do you enjoy the business

and why?

I absolutely love it, and

the opportunity to meet a

wonderfully diverse and very

special group of people - our


What are you most proud of?

Achieving an officially recognised

5* Gold rating and a Unique

Accommodation Accolade

from Quality in Tourism. I’m

equally incredibly proud of

our guest reviews which are a

true testament to the massive

commitment of our small team.

We all love what we do.

What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

We have chosen not to offer

weddings but do make The

Private Hill available for charity

fund raising events, automotive

meetings, corporate ‘away day’

meetings and family gatherings

when the whole place is taken

very privately by a group of

family members and friends.

What advice could you give

to someone coming into the


Decide on your business offering

and positioning then stick to

it. Aim high, keep focussed

and pay particular attention to

the smallest detail. Running a

premium glamping business

certainly isn’t for everyone but

ensuring, at every opportunity,

that guest expectations are

exceeded by a generous margin

should always be the number

one priority, whatever level the

business is at.


The Private Hill

Thrussendale Road


Malton YO17 9RG

01653 917288



Finman Glamping

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Our fantastic range includes

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“We are delighted with the Finman BBQ Hut. The

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



Nomadic Musings

An International Perspective on Glamping

Far from the

Louis Thompson discusses alternative

lodging in the age of pandemics

Madding Crowd


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


The team specialises in

sustainable architecture,

contemporary bamboo

construction, treetop living

concepts, as well as tent design,

engineering, manufacture and


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.



Firstly, I would like to start with

a disclaimer – I did not receive

the gift of prophecy, I am an

amateur clairvoyant peering

into the future at the request of

Open Air Business magazine.

The following predictions are

entirely sourced through my

rather grubby crystal ball and I

cannot vouch for the fidelity of

the images projected to me via

the ether.


The global travel sector has

been on a constant growth

trajectory for over 70 years, and

the trend would, under normal

circumstances, continue

unabated to reach around 1.8

billion international travellers

by 2030. However the party

could be coming to an end

and we may be witnessing

the growth trajectory slowing

over the coming decade. The

spread of the Coronavirus

this month has illustrated

the fragility of the global

travel industry – the sudden

interruption of flights to and

from one of the world’s leading

emitter markets illustrates the

potentially devastating effects

a pandemic, or worse still a

series of pandemics, could

have on tourism.

Since 2012, tourists from

China have been the world's

top spender in international

tourism, leading global

outbound travel year after

year. In 2016, the country

accounted for 21 per cent of the

world’s international tourism

spending, or $261 billion.

Now, consider that only

seven per cent of Chinese

people have a passport. A

lot of people have bet a lot

ABOVE All the planes in the air, across the world, at a given

moment in 2018

of money in a lot of sectors

on the continued expansion

of the Chinese international

outbound tourism market

across the entire planet. To

give an idea of the scale of

the opportunity one statistic

speaks volumes – the Chinese

population alone took five

billion domestic trips in 2017


The fallout from the virus

may topple giants across

multiple related industries –

notably airlines, cruise ships,

travel agents and hotel groups.

The financial consequences

could be disastrous, not only

for the travel industry but

for the world economy as

a whole. In an increasingly

interconnected, digital

economy a sneeze in Wuhan

may create a tidal wave of

turmoil that sweeps across the

entire planet.

Without wishing to be a

harbinger of doom, we should

bear in mind that the Spanish

Flu in 1918 killed over 50

million people when the world

population was only 1.8 billion

(affecting an astonishing

three to six per cent of the

world population at that time)

significantly more deaths

than the combined combat

casualties in both World Wars


In 1918 there was virtually

no international air travel –

fast forward 100 years and the

landscape has changed quite

significantly; pictured is a real

time image from an interactive

global map showing all the

planes in the air, across the

world, at a given moment in


In many ways, each of the

lines that appears can be

considered a potential vector

of contamination and the

map illustrates the significant

challenges required to contain

the disease. Though, it may

seem slightly inappropriate

or even crass, the logical

consequences of the outbreak

may have significant benefits

for the glamping sector at

the expense of some other

trending travel sectors. It is

very probable that an age of

contagion would cause some

significant changes in public





The number of deaths from the

virus is, to date, pretty insignificant

on a global scale – 800 people as

of 9 February, which is a small

percentage of the 37,000 known

infections. Despite the relatively

small numbers involved, the global

panic is undeniable – the virus has

in fact gone viral; the pandemic has

caused pandemonium.

The media, in all its wisdom,

has done everything possible to

fuel a growing sense of panic and

paranoia (which I am not guilty of

in the least), morbidly portraying

the spread of the dreaded ‘lurgi’, as

it creeps across the world country

by contaminated country – the

poignant combination of drama and

fear always makes great content.

Online, the soil is fertile for social

media conspiracy theorists – they

dig up photos of perfectly innocent

people tucking into bat soup,

mad military scientists creating

apocalyptic bio-weapons in secret

labs and fabricate wondrous tales

of melting glaciers releasing deadly,

dinosaur viruses to provide some

kind of gruesome origin story.

This collective madness

associated with the illness may be

the most important lesson of all for

the hospitality industry – whether

or not a vaccine is discovered and

distributed effectively over the

ABOVE A snapshot

of Airbnb listings

in Wuhan on 9

February 2020

BELOW Share price

of Japanese face

mask manufacturer

Kawamoto at the

outbreak of the


coming months,

as a society we

ought to ask

ourselves some

tough questions

regarding media

responsibility: at

what digit will the

mainstream news

outlets review their

decision to publish

daily reminders

of the numbers

of infections

and fatalities

(a thousand, a

million, two)? When should the

major players in Silicon Valley start

controlling the spread of misleading

content that could aggravate a

public health emergency? Is that an

infringement of freedom of speech?

Would it be in their interest to do


The Common influenza (flu) kills

approximately 650,000 people

a year but who’s counting? The

impact of the resulting hysteria

is difficult to gauge, but the

consequences on the collective

psyche, personal stress levels and

our sense of community should not

be underestimated – consciously

or unconsciously the traumatic

imagery will take its toll by further

atomising an already fragmented

society in which individuals

increasingly fear contact with

others. The impact on our children’s

lifestyles may be dramatic

(supermarkets, gym memberships

and restaurants could all suffer).

Indeed, if these incidents recur, they

may have a very different approach

to traditional social interactions

than we do today – a collection of

isolated, lonely, masked individuals

working from home and buying all

commodities online (a reality which

may prove extremely profitable for

a few well-known large companies),

but it is a far cry from the more

sustainable, egalitarian society that

most of our young people aspire to.


Over the last decade, over-tourism

in key destinations has become

a serious issue and caused high

profile conflicts between visitors

and local inhabitants in numerous

destinations (see my musings from

October 2019). That could be about

to change – ask yourself whether

you would fancy queuing up for six

hours with a very large number of

complete strangers from across the

world to visit the Eiffel tower, the

Vatican or the Tower of London? Or

how about taking a stroll through

the throngs in Barcelona or Venice

to see the sites? Do you even want

to be cooped up on an international

flight with multiple stopovers in

crowded airports? What about a

lovely long cruise?


I think not. On 7 February 2020,

Royal Caribbean, one of the largest

cruise ship companies in the world,

indiscriminately banned all Chinese

passport holding staff and clients

from boarding their ships – whether

they were ill or not, regardless of

whether they had even been to

China recently. That decision may

seem reactionary but it may well be

indicative of things to come. For the

cruise industry, contagion could be

as daunting as the iceberg looming

up in front of the Titanic – illness

could ravage the typical ageing,

conservative clientele. Systematic

racial discrimination by private

companies could develop into

a legal minefield with inevitable

accusations of human rights

infringements and high profile court


Now, ask yourself whether you

would want to go and stay in a 400

room luxury hotel, managed by

one of those big international hotel

chains? The international buffet

suddenly doesn’t look quite so

appetising after the arrival of that

tour bus, the swimming pool looks a

little opaque and that air conditioner

filter looks a bit fuzzy. Could similar

radical discriminatory measures

be implemented in the hospitality

industry as a protectionist measure?


The sharing economy might be hit














even harder than any other tourism

sector – mutual trust and a sense of

global community are the basis of its

success. The very idea of staying in

someone else’s home or apartment,

or riding in a stranger’s car, relies

on a series of mutual assumptions,

assumptions that could prove to

be very fragile under scrutiny in

the current climate (a point made

by many of the original venture

capital companies that rejected

these companies when they were


The Airbnb hosts in Wuhan are,

not surprisingly, offering some

serious discounts at the moment;

but it is in many ways surprising

that Airbnb is operational at all

under the circumstances. The lack

of regulation in the sector has

long been criticised by traditional

hoteliers competing in the same

space who must navigate a complex

regulatory environment, but it

is now a matter of urgency to

address some of the concerns that

have remained conveniently unaddressed

by the authorities.

In response to the crisis, an

‘extenuating circumstances’ policy

has been added to the Airbnb

website to warn hosts and guests to

follow WHO guidelines and health

advisories, but if you and others

catch a fatal disease after staying

at one of their listings, is the final

liability with the company or its


The truth is that the Coronavirus

(or a similar outbreak) may radically

change tourist behaviour long

term for generations to come. Our

governments and health service

infrastructures are clearly illprepared

and under-resourced to

combat a global epidemic in many

destinations across the world,

and some business models and

companies are inherently vulnerable

to public health risks and natural

disasters of this type.

At Nomadic Resorts, we believe

that the unfortunate events may be

a catalyst for positive changes in the

sector: traditional, unsustainable,

exploitative mass tourism platforms

will probably be hit hardest if

the catastrophe persists, simply

due to the sheer volumes of

travellers involved and the scale

of their operations. In parallel, the

proportion of tourists willing to risk

using independent, unregulated

services from the sharing economy

may also decrease significantly

which may leave a bit of a void. It is

not unfathomable, that exclusive,

smaller scale, boutique glamping

products offering privacy, fresh air,

personal space and bespoke service

in a hygienic natural environment

may find that the tide has finally




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How to create an emotional connection with unique

glamping and indie boutique accommodation

ONCE UPON a time, far, far away

(sorry, couldn’t resist) I did a lot of

travelling, and although it was a

long time ago, I can still clearly recall

some of the places I stayed in. They

had such an impact on me that I can

still sense myself being there, even

while sitting at my desk on a spring

afternoon in Somerset. When I think

about what made these places so

special, it’s because they had some

sort of story about them, which

created a particular atmosphere

making them impossible to forget.

When it comes to hospitality

accommodation, there are several

ways that we can create a unique

selling point that will set our

development apart or ahead of

the crowd, one of which is through

this kind of storytelling. It creates

a unique and engaging experience,

and when I say ‘engaging’ I mean

that it evokes an emotional

connection, one which leaves an

indelible mark in our memories.

In my mind at least, there are two

types of story here, one is organic

which develops naturally from an




















existing feature or subject, the

second is borrowed from another


I tend to see borrowed stories

as more of a fabricated ‘theme’

because something is being

replicated from elsewhere such

as a period in time, a design

style, or fictional place. Themed

accommodations can be small or

large scale (the Alton Towers hobbit

houses are a good example of the

latter) and although they might

lack a personal connection to the

land or people, on the up side there

aren’t any limits to what style their

design might take. Themes can be

really useful in the absence of a

strong organic story, or where the

accommodation is an add-on to an

existing business, however it’s worth

remembering that they might also

be easier to reproduce by others.

At South Causey Inn their themed

accommodations are a super

example of taking quirky ideas and

making them all your own (www.


‘The Boot’ in New Zealand has

to be one of the most uniquely

themed accommodations (it’s

certainly up there with the ‘Dog

Bark Inn’ in Idaho) where they’ve

brought the ‘old woman who lived

in a shoe’ tale into full-scale life




When creating an organic story,

the bones of it are often right

underneath our noses and it’s a

case of finding a hook that all the

components of the experience can

hang from – the logo and branding,

structure design, interiors, facilities,

features and guest activities. This

creates a cohesive and congruent

experience for our guests, from their

first impression as they land on

our website, to their last over-theshoulder

glance as they reluctantly

check out.

There are many ways we could

create a story or themed experience

and here are some pointers to

consider as possible sources of

inspiration, along with one or two

personal experiences:

› Landscape: Both natural and

human created features such as

woodland, water, caves and quarries

can all be a great source of ideas

for our story. For example, during





a site visit last year I learned that

there was an Iron Age fort on the

land, just uphill from the proposed

glamping location. It turned out

to be a fabulous example with

ditches and ramparts clearly

defined, I was suitably taken by

surprise. Equally surprising was

that nobody had considered this

could be the key to a great story

for the glamping development,

especially as we were in Wales with

its strong Celtic heritage. Naturally

my thoughts turned to roundhouse

style structures, and as the site was

sloped this developed into a semisubterranean

design. The project

concept took further shape as I

considered layering contemporary

Celtic over tradition and could

actually ‘see’ the finished structures

overlooking the sweeping Welsh

hills - echoes of the past blending

seamlessly with contemporary


I appreciate that not every site

has a rather handy iron age hillfort,

but the UK is blessed with a rich

cultural rural heritage and there is

usually some feature to work with,

if not on the land itself, at least

near enough. Which leads us nicely


› Previous use of the property or

land: This is one of my favourites

because of its inherent authenticity.

Historical uses can require a little

investigative work especially if

you’re new to the place or area, but

information can be gleaned from

deeds, online and local records,

historical societies and sometimes

even old books about the area.

Best of all, I like talking to people

whose family have lived in the area

a long time, very often they can

impart little gems that were never

committed to paper. Sometimes

though, it’s right there under our

nose and we just need a fresh pair

of eyes to see it.

One such time was about seven

years ago, I was walking a site with

LEFT South

Casey Inn,

County Durham


Reins, Dorset

the landowner whose plan was

to add some rather plain huts. I

commented on the plentiful hazel

which had obviously been coppiced

many years ago and was told that

‘back in the day’ it was harvested

to make lobster pots for the local

fishermen – bingo! I immediately

envisioned a rustic weaver’s cabin

nestled in the copse with a deep

porch, a couple of rocking chairs

and throws, bundles of cut hazel

leaning against the wall with a

couple of woven lobster pots (one

half-finished of course) and some

tools of the trade hanging on the

wall. As we were in Cornwall, in my

mind the rustic theme continued

inside with crafted furniture, a log

stove, local textiles, Cornish pottery

and punched tinware to round out

the experience. This one unit would

generate the same revenue as two

of the proposed plain huts and be

more future proof. All that from

coppiced hazel – see how easy it

can be?

› Owner vocation or on-site

business: These stories are inspired

by the owners or an existing

business operating from the site

and are often also connected to

the property or land. They’re easy

to create because they’re part and

parcel of what’s going on at the time

and are usually very much fuelled by

the owner’s enthusiasm.

Loose Reins is a great example

of this, with its equestrian themed

accommodations and styling, you

can even take your own horse

with you to complete the ranch

experience (www.loosereins.co.uk).

I am seeing a lot more enquiries

for these types of accommodation,

sometimes a whole farm is being














turned into a tourism or leisure

focussed venture, where alternative

accommodation is included as a

lucrative aspect of the business


› Destination-led experience:

Sometimes a property or land

in itself might not have a strong

enough hook for a story and we’ll

cast the net a little wider to find

something locally that we can tap

into. There might already be a

big tourism attraction or historic

property, maybe the region is known

for a particular craft or produce that

we can build a story around, or at

least take some design inspiration


› The name of the property or

place: Another way of teasing out a

story if other routes aren’t so fruitful,

is to look back in time to how the

place arrived at its name. Depending

on which part of the country we’re

in, names are usually rooted in old

languages giving us clues about

the history, what the place was

known for, who lived there and

what they did. Sometimes these are

fantastic stories in themselves and

if there’s nothing else to hook the

story on they can provide surprising



At the indie boutique level these

types of accommodation can be a

little tricky because their success

doesn’t necessarily rely on accepted

and understood hospitality features

like high thread count sheets.

Instead they rely on a living story

told through a carefully curated

experience, using appropriate

design, colours, furnishings

and details that run through



the entire business. For larger

scale developments this isn’t so

important, a quirky structure design

and a nod to something different on

the inside will be enough as these are

often ancillary to a core business.

This particular business model

can also be tricky to grasp and have

confidence in because return on

investment is directly affected by

the authenticity and creativity that

goes into the project to begin with.

Creativity can be an uncomfortable,

unknown factor for some investors

but fortunately there are more

comparable accommodations in the

market place these days which give

something to gauge occupancy and

rental fees against.

Using storytelling to design unique

accommodations is an effective and

more future proof way to establish

a glamping business or diversify

an existing hospitality business.

It’s an increasingly popular holiday

and short break choice, profitable,

and helps to develop the industry.

Last but by no means least, it

creates wonderful experiences and

memories for our guests.

If you would like to explore

the concept of experiential

accommodations, how they might

contribute to your business, and

how to create them, I’m giving a talk

about them at the Open Air Business

Gathering over 22-23 March. It will be

different to any of my previous talks

because I’ll be sharing stories and

experiences from my own travels,

as well as what I’ve learned during

almost a decade in the glamping

industry. I’d quite like to have a go

at creating a project concept for

someone there and then, so bring

your photos and imagination!

We’re really looking forward

to it, see you there:


ABOVE: The Boot,

New Zealand


A leading


and design

consultant, Kate

Morel’s practical

and creative

approach draws on

first-hand experience

that has included

managing a leading glamping

rental agency, working on glamping

start-up and diversification projects,

property restoration and holiday

property rental. Kate’s consultancy

supports projects with expert advice

on creating successful alternative

accommodation developments,

and her design and build company,

Morel & Co, is a collective of industry

professionals specialising in

commercial treehouses and cabins.

www.morelconsultancy.com /

www.morelcompany.co.uk / info@

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A 56 year old event celebrating

everything a family festival should be

Now in the hands of third generation family member

Joe Heap, Towersey Festival has grown from a few music fans in his

grandad’s back garden to an 8,000 attendee event which this year is

at Claydon Estate, Buckinghamshire, over the August bank holiday

weekend. We talk to Joe.

Explain a bit about your venue and

its history

Towersey Festival this year moves

to Claydon Estate. Located in

the beautiful Buckinghamshire

countryside, Claydon is a thriving,

family-run country estate and has

been the ancestral home of the Verney

family for 400 years.

The estate has over 170 acres of

scenic parkland, lakes, woodland

and gardens. At its heart is Claydon

Courtyard, a vibrant hub for arts,

crafts and retail. Visitors can also

discover the splendid National Trust

property, Claydon House.

Describe your event and how many

people it attracts?

Discover another lovelier world. Where

three generations can party together,

where people still talk to each other. A

place you can wear whatever you want,

sing your heart out, play like a child

and dance like no-one’s watching.

An authentic independent festival

with an amazing community spirit.

It’s an exciting, inspiring, relaxing and

homely place where you can see a

line-up of top musicians and artists as

well as discover new music, learn new

skills and experience new things. It’s a

festival for everyone, from small kids to

grandparents, a place you can create

family memories together. And from

the moment you arrive you will feel

part of the bigger Towersey family.

Towersey will always be a folk and

roots festival with one foot firmly in

our proud history and foundations,

and one excitedly in the future of

festivals and music.

We aim to bring people an

experience which will live with them

forever, provide them with life-long

friends and ensure there is nowhere

else in the world they would rather be

on the August bank holiday! It attracts

around 8,000 people over four days.

What is the event’s history and what

made you decide to run it?

Towersey Festival was started back in

1965 by my grandad, Denis, in his back

garden in the Oxfordshire village of


It quickly grew from a handful of

music enthusiasts and friends to a few

hundred, moved onto a small field in

the village and was then taken on by

my dad, Steve.

It continued to grow, attracting

more families and new generations

of fun-loving festivalgoers. Its goal, to

provide a culturally significant event

for the local community, is a mission



that continues today.

And now? I took over as festival

director 10 years ago, with many other

family members also closely involved

in keeping the festival running.

How does the relationship work with

the venue?

One of the reasons for moving to

Claydon Estate is that they want the

festival and they understand the need

for partnership between the festival

and the venue. We have a great

open dialogue and they have been

wonderful at facilitating our unique


It has to be a partnership for an

event to work. All parties have to want

it to succeed and have a vested interest

in success.

How did you find applying for

permission to run the event?

The application process has been

smooth so far (we are currently

pending a SAG meeting). Having run

the event successfully for 56 years

without major incident and very few

resident complaints we are confident

on developing a great working














relationship with local residents and

the local authority.

Dialogue and discussion are

crucial as is the understanding that a

festival is a culturally important event

and not just a commercial entity.

Towersey is more than just a festival

that parachutes in. It becomes part of

the community it works in and offers

genuinely life affirming experiences.

How have you planned the layout of

the event?

With 56 years of experience behind

us we have a fairly well tested layout

although we tweak it each year. This

year, on a new site, we are trying to

keep as much of the layout the same

as possible in order to create some

continuity for customers and retain all

of the lessons we have learnt over the

years in terms of access etc.

All of our venues are covered in

either big tops or clear span structures,

with the addition of a couple of stretch

tents that we own.

How did you research and source

your marquees, flooring, bars etc?

We have a long-standing relationship

with many suppliers, but we do have

a look around every year. We work

with companies that understand

how important the event is to us. We

look for partnerships as opposed to

simply suppliers and have a string of



volunteers to concessions and artists.

This way we know numbers on site and

have contacts for everyone.

We work with a combination of very

loyal and experienced volunteers and

professional event staff to run our

sites and venues, and fully qualified

security staff who understand the

‘soft’ approach we want at our friendly


We have a comprehensive

emergency procedure plan which is

published in our Event Management

Plan, volunteer notes and in all venues.

relationships with some longstanding

suppliers including

Flying Hire for power, Albion

Woods for the big tops, Oxford

Marquees and many others.

We run our own bars in

partnership with Bar Nation from

Oxford. This gives us the control

we need but also gives us the

confidence that the bars will

be great.

What entertainment do you


We have 12 stages/venues and

over 200 artists with everything

from main stage bands down to

circus workshops and puppet


We work with most of the main

UK agents but also get to a lot of

other events, showcases and gigs.

We try to see as much as we can

throughout the year in order to

keep our programme fresh and

ahead of competition.

What provisions do you make

for power, lights and sound?

We work with a number of

production companies with main

stages being produced by One

Big Star. We are very conscious of

keeping fuel consumption down

so have moved almost entirely to

LED lighting on main stages and

work with Flying Hire (our power

partners) to reduce fuel use every


Great sound is vital to us and

our audience. We only work with

PA companies that understand

the music we put on. They have to

have a working understanding of

the types of bands we have.

How do you manage admissions

and visitor safety?

We work with just one ticketing

company (Gigantic) who look

after all of our accreditation.

Everyone on site goes through

their system, from customers to



What ground protection do you use

for cars and footfall?

We use a mix of metal trackway for

heavy duty traffic and deliveries, plastic

trackway for cars and car parks, and

walkway mats for heavy footfall areas.

Ground protection is important for

both customer safety and enjoyment

but also to protect the beautiful site we

work on.

How do you publicise the event?

We have a comprehensive marketing

timeline and plan. Because we do not

have major headliners, we focus on

selling what makes Towersey so special

and unique in a flooded festival market.

We focus all marketing on being as

targeted as possible. Festivals are not

for everyone so being clear about who

it is that wants to hear about us is vital

when working with a limited budget.

We have national and regional

focusses but more and more we focus

locally as people tend not to travel for

festivals as much.

What challenges have you faced?

How long have you got? Competition

is the biggest challenge. There are so

many more events and some that are

not always as thought through as they

might be. We pride ourselves on being

the original and still the best for a true

(but easy) festival experience.

Access and ground protection is this

year’s big challenge and the ongoing












drive to be carbon neutral is always on

our mind and in our planning.

How have you financed the event and

how profitable is it?

The event is self-sustaining, completely

independent and with very little

sponsorship and funding (although we

would love a bit more!). We focus on

making the budget work based on sales.

What are your plans for next year?

We already have plans to develop

certain areas of the programme but

because 2020 is a big change year for us

we want to see how things work. One

thing we will be aiming for is to offset

carbon with tree planting and other

initiatives that festivalgoers can join us


What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

We own a fair amount of event

equipment and decoration - flags,

bamboos, furniture etc. and have plans

to start renting some of this out and

helping other events look great.

What advice could you give to

someone coming into the industry?

Find something different. Something no

one else is doing. Start small and grow

organically. Don’t rely on investment,

funding or grants. Be self-sustaining and

do the event for a reason that isn’t just




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Getting the

Plan on Paper

Planning, ignore it at your peril says Carl A H Martin

SEVERAL YEARS ago I was asked to be

involved in a question and answer session

at a festival association meeting. The

question of planning arose and the more

the discussion developed the more blank

faces I saw. I was shocked.

Basically, there is a good reason for

planning an event; it ensures the artistes/

athletes and/or other participants and the

audience are safe, comfortable and happy.

If people walk away talking only about the

event, and not the venue or infrastructure,

you have achieved your object and people

will return for future events. A win/win


Since working at the Scottish Event

Campus (SEC), Glasgow, in the eighties

(yes I am that old), whatever the event

we produced a General Information (GI)

document. This document included all the

available information about the event and

was revised on a regular basis up until the

event itself. It was shared with anyone and

everyone that could possibly be involved

both within and outside of the organising


Glasgow was not the first to issue a

document such as this, Wembley has to

take that credit, but we ‘relocated’ and

improved it. Whoever worked with it and

moved elsewhere took it with them, all over

the world. Please God GIs / event schedules,

or whatever name is now given to them, are

still in use!

A GI is not a bible as there always

needs to be flexibility in any operation,

but it is there on the day in case one or

more essential people are not, due to

circumstances beyond their control. That

way others can take responsibility and be in

ownership of all the facts.

I strongly recommended you develop a GI

for any of your events, but before you begin,

you must get as much information on the

requirements of the event as possible. The

event coordinator (or whatever fancy title

you give them) is the essential person when

planning and running the event, they are

what the title says, the coordinator. While

they will not have the specialist knowledge

of a lot of those involved, they ‘coordinate’

those needed to produce the event and are

the ‘go to’ person, the one person to deal

with, which saves an awful lot of confusion.

Of course if the event is larger, or running

longer hours than is safe for one person

to control (a very important element

to consider), there will be a team of

coordinators, but they are still the essential


Once a decision to go is made, whether

the event is promoted in house or

externally, planning/design meetings

should be started immediately, with a

minimum of one a week at least, and

continue on a regular basis.

Those that need to be included from day

one will be those involved in managing

the event and operationally such as those

responsible for power, sound and light,

water and waste, staging and production,

venue cleaners, in house security, the

relevant stewarding/security companies

and box office personnel. Also include

outside agencies such as local authorities,

the police, ambulance and fire brigade and

other relevant folk. If it is a sports event, for

example, then you need to involve the local

and national, sometimes international,

associations (speaking from experience,




good luck if you are trying to organise any

of these!).

The point of these regular meetings is

to ensure the event’s requirements will be

met, the venue will be able to run efficiently,

any local, national and international laws

are met and the police, ambulance and

fire brigade are reassured and in place, as

necessary, on the day.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, we

also have to be sure that protection is in

place against potential terrorist action.

Martyn’s Law will mean that UK venues

have to have this in place – your security

company, the Police, local authorities and

possibly other agencies will give advice as to

what is required.

The GI referred to earlier should be started

immediately after the first meetings. Initial

items could be as minimal as the event

name and dates, the organiser’s details, the

coordinator’s details etc. The coordinator

must then ensure that additions/revisions

are made on a daily basis, if necessary, and

that the GI is issued to all those involved,

both internally and externally.

Further items that should be included

(but not limited to) are event timings,

projected attendance, areas in use, keys,

car parking, cleaning, water, waste, power,

staging, barriers, draping, lighting, first

aid, security, firemen, fire extinguishers,

furniture, internet, radios, food and

beverage, merchandising, signage etc. There

are more subjects but it all depends on the


Those receiving the document must

notify the coordinator as soon as possible

of any changes or clarifications that may

not have been previously discussed. There

are, of course, other meetings that will take

place outside of the regular meetings, these

will typically be with specialist suppliers,

staging, power, audio visual, stage design,

etc - all these details must be included in

the GI.


There is another side of planning that is

unfortunately ignored, even today. That is

the manpower required and the working

schedule. It is a fact that people even today,

particularly in the festival industry, see it as

a badge of honour that they work impossibly

long hours and not just for one day – more


often for the length of the event.

Safety is naturally one of the most

important factors of a sensible working

day, but probably more important is the

health, both mental and physical, of those

working on site. No one should work more

than 14 hours a day, be it for one day or

for the time required to produce the event.

After this time the body and mind start to

go downhill rapidly, by 18 hours the person

is as dangerous as a drunk driver – they can

kill! Not only themselves but others.

Sufficient time for your team to rest

is also essential, preferably in their own

rooms, that way other folk aren’t putting

temptation their way with substance abuse.

It happens, not always because the people

are bad but it is their way of ‘relaxing’.

The suicide rate in the event industry

is horrific, as is bad health. Last year a

band’s production manager I have known

for years told me he had recently looked

through the list of people he had worked

with over the years and more than two

thirds of them had died before they

reached the age of 50.

Another friend, a production person

who has recently quit touring because of

stress, told me he had been to 14 funerals

of people he’d worked with who had

committed suicide in the past year.

No one should be made to work long

hours and promoters/organisers need

to have sufficient budgets to avoid this.

Fortunately the industry seems to be

coming around to the realisation that we

have to look after folk. We all need to keep

reminding ourselves and others.

Arranging sensible schedules is not

difficult and is a major responsibility; it’s

good to see that common sense is becoming

common! The touring production side of the

industry is also aware of the problem and it

was enlightening to hear that the production

manager of the one of the UK’s top bands

had told their management that this year’s

European tour was not possible because of

the number of dates in a short period. The

management responded and the tour dates

were revised – very positive.

Another point to be taken into account

when planning is to think of the audience

(and therefore the crews). With the

cooperation of promoters, it is possible to

start an event in a fixed venue on time and

to finish at a reasonable time, of course the

artistes also have to be persuaded, which is

maybe a bit more difficult. But if the event

starts at a reasonable time then it can finish

by 10-10.30pm, latest. So, this allows the

audience to get public transport, which

helps towards sustainability, and the venue

and production crew to get dismantled and

finished at a reasonable time so as to give

them a good night’s sleep. Of course, things

are a wee bit different for a festival but

working personnel still need to be thought


One last thought, when you have done

all these things and the event has gone

swimmingly, keep your GI and meeting

notes, have a debrief and record it. Next time

the planning will be a lot easier!

If you need more clarification you can

contact me through the links provided. Have

a good one!


Carl A H Martin is a member of the founding team at Event Advice Agency (EAA), which was set up with the primary aim to support

and advise the live events industry and in particular event organisers. EAA brings together a consortium of senior industry

professionals, each with many years of experience and knowledge specialising in specific areas within the sector. With an

extensive network of high-level professionals at hand, EAA can deliver a full support solution for any sized event. uk.linkedin.com/

in/carlahmartin / www.eaagency.co.uk


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The Right People

for the Right Job

At EEP we have great staff to

support your events, covering:

· Health & Safety, pre-event and on-site

· Floor Management

· Security Management

· Crowd Management

· Emergency and Evacuation Planning

· Crisis Management, including desk top


01483 266 486 or 020 8545 2492





It’s been a decade of change for the

food industry. Just 10 years ago,

hashtags such as #avocadotoast

and #plantpower were nonexistent,

sriracha sauce was scoffed

at and fish free sushi would have been

laughed out of town.

What we eat is constantly changing, as is

the way we buy, consume and order food. To

mark the start of the Twenties, we’ve taken a

comprehensive look at the food trends that

are set to take over the culinary world in the

next 12 months.


A good majority of people recognise the

need to eat less meat in order to help the

planet but going from full carnivore to

cauliflower can be challenging and costly

for many who are not accustomed to the

diet. Becoming vegan-ish, AKA, a Flexitarian

(someone who follows a mostly plant-based

diet), may provide the perfect balance in

2020. The rise of part-time vegans is a trend

we’ve already started witnessing as caterers

strive to create vegan options packed with

protein, are Instagram-able and as tasty

as their meat equivalents. In fact, research

from Kerry Foods found that 20 per cent of

people would be more likely to visit a pub if

it promoted its plant-based dishes.

It’s not out of the ordinary now for

meat eaters to opt for a vegan dish in a

pub simply because it looks good, or for

consumers to take part in initiatives such

as #MeatFreeMonday in order to increase

their five-a-day intake. According to the

Vegan Society, the number of vegans in

Britain has quadrupled to 600,000 since

2014 and flexitarians will make up half of the

population by 2025.

The rise in vegan cheese, meatless mince

and the array of fresh vegetables available

to market these days means that we have

more of an opportunity than ever to enjoy a

balanced Vegan-ish diet.




Make sure to plan the right food offering

at your next event with a trend report

from Mark Laurie


The past decade has seen the likes of

superfoods such as kale, eggs, pulses and

kefir take centre stage, but it’s the rise of

healthy substitutes for comfort food that

has really tickled our taste buds. Courgetti

spaghetti, sweet potato fries and cauliflower

crust pizza – of which Grubhub’s ‘Year in

Food’ report showed a 650 per cent rise in

popularity – are just some of the protein

packed alternatives to greasy junk food that

we’ve been loving, and the trend has no

intention of slowing down this year.


After a recent YouGov survey reported that

one in 10 Brits had used CBD products – a

non-psychoactive compound found in

marijuana plants – experts believe its use

in food is set to soar in 2020. “Cannabis is

the new kale,” says Rich Woods, co-owner

of London’s Scout. He predicts that CBD oil

will be used more and more as an infusion

in drinks, adding that “2020 will continue to

see the trend rise, with more high-street bars

experimenting with it.”


Whole Foods predicts a surge in the

demand for West African foods in 2020,

with tomatoes, onions and chilli peppers

expected to pop up in various dishes

alongside peanuts, ginger and lemongrass.

The 16 nations that make up West Africa

each have their own individualistic cuisine,

but tangy jollof rice, sweet and spicy

groundnut stews and deep-fried plantain

are just some of the colourful dishes you can

expect to look forward to this year.


Research from Attest found that waste is one

of the top concerns for consumers, with 31

per cent of that relating to plastic, packaging

and food waste. Globally, around 1.3 billion

tons of edible food is thrown away each year

and this is expected to increase to 2.2 billion

by 2025, with many countries across the

globe having now set targets to reduce food


In response to the conversation

surrounding the climate emergency,

supermarkets have begun to stock ‘wonky

veg’, festival organisers have got on board

with food salvage schemes such as 8th

Plate and catering businesses have outlined

sustainability practices to ensure that plastic

packaging is near on eradicated and food

waste is prevented wherever possible. There

will undoubtedly be a big focus on zerowaste

cooking in 2020 – a trend that street

food traders are already very hot on in order

to reduce costs and help the environment.



Coconut, chickpea, cauliflower and green banana

are just some of the flours set to hit the market this

year as consumers search for low-carb, grain-free and

adventurous alternatives to traditional cornflour. The

Great British Bake Off could prove to be particularly

interesting this year as amateur bakers trial out these

lesser-known ingredients.


Kiss goodbye to spreading Lurpak and

marmalade on your toast and make way

for nut butters! We’ve already seen a rise

in sunflower and cashew butters hitting

the shelves, now it’s time for the spotlight

to shine on pumpkin, pea, cacoa and

macadamia nut butters. Why? In addition

to it adhering to paleo and keto diets, the

trend has arisen due to brands looking

to eliminate palm oil and make use of

ingredients that have less of an impact on

the environment.


According to Whole Foods, syrup reductions

from monk fruit, pomegranates, coconuts

and dates will be a big hit in 2020

when it comes to desserts and glazes.

The controversy surrounding artificial

sweeteners such as stevia has led to an

increase in natural sugars being used in food

– 31 per cent of people surveyed by Attest

preferred using natural sugars rather than

refined, and there’s set to be a surge in low

sugar chocolate making its way to market.

The new year will present an array of new

syrups that are perfect for putting in puds.


Stricter laws on drink driving, healthier

lifestyles and the pushback against the

booze-fuelled networking culture of old has

led to the introduction of mocktails and low

alcohol drinks to the market. With 19 per

cent of both Gen Z and Millennials being

teetotal according to University College

London, the free-from movement has

spread in an extremely short time frame and

Heineken’s 0.0 beer, launched in Europe in

2017, has grown 142 per cent in the last year

according to The Grocer. 2020 will see the

arrival of more unique options, including

hops-infused sparkling water and zero-proof



A variety of different food items infused with squid ink

have recently hit shelves, including pasta, burger buns

and risottos. Not only does it look and taste great

when drizzled over a dish thanks to its

slightly salty, briny taste, it has been

associated with various potential

health benefits due to it being

rich in iron, antioxidants and

other nutrients.


Waitrose’s latest Food and

Drink report has predicted

a surge in popularity for

‘seacuterie’ – the seafood

equivalent of a traditional

charcuterie board using

meat – think octopus salami,

shellfish sausages or swordfish

ham. Seacuterie includes pickling,

fermenting, smoking and/or aging

seafood and it’s set to convince a nation of

unadventurous fish eaters to sample the

delights of what Britain’s coastlines have to



Sharing food pics on Instagram shows

no sign of slowing down, especially

when it comes to tikka masalas, kormas

and biryanis. Stay in Cornwall analysed

Instagram data from the last year and

found that the most popular food that Brits

shared on Instagram was a classic curry,

with 551,701 posts. Avocado, fish and chips,

Yorkshire pudding and cream tea were in the

top five, followed by sausage roll, trifle, chip

butty, Cornish pasty and beef Wellington.

A recent study found that 13 per cent of

Londoners choose to go to a restaurant

based on how ‘Instagram-able’ it is, making

it more important than ever to post hunger

inducing creations on the gram this year.


Bourbon, Baileys, Piña Colada

and Malbec are just some of the

flavours you could sample in

2020 as the demand for adult

ice creams intensifies. Wasabi,

avocado and goat’s cheese

are also some of the unusual

ingredients cropping up in

your scoops this year. Here’s to

hoping for a hot summer!


Whether these predicted trends take off in

great numbers is yet to be revealed, but one

thing’s for sure; the makeup of our national

cuisine is certainly changing and bringing

with it new, exciting and exotic flavours and

ingredients to play with. When you consider

the fact that 15 years ago the humble

avocado had barely been heard of outside of

the ultra-hip burbs of Australia, we’ve come

a long way as an industry in welcoming new

dishes into our staple diet and re-inventing

the tiresome classics that were plated up

in British households and restaurants once

upon a time.

Whatever is in store for the culinary

industry, we can depend on the fact that

passionate chefs will always find a way to

create mouth-watering dishes that continue

to impress, push boundaries and create

memories for food enthusiasts.


Mark Laurie is director of The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS),

a trade association for independent caterers in the UK. NCASS works

closely with event organisers and government bodies and has created

NCASS Connect, an online hub for due diligence documentation. Working

to encourage compliance in the industry, the system also makes life

easier for event organisers, traders and enforcement officers by reducing

administration in the lead up to events. www.ncass.org.uk



Adventures in Utopia

Building Utopia


matter when

creating a high

production event,

writes Shambala’s

Kate Burgess

THE PRODUCTION value of many of the UK’s cherished greenfield

festivals is truly a feat. The creative (and logistical) muscle that

goes into transforming a green canvas of fields into intricate worlds

to escape to every summer is often staggering. One only needs to

walk through Old Town at Boomtown or Block 9 at Glastonbury to

see this. This attention to detail is an invitation for our audiences to

leave constraints and worries at the door, and immerse themselves

in the new spatial order. Starting from scratch on estates and farms,

we populate our sites with the intriguing, imaginative, beautiful and


We get to design a city that encourages playfulness and

exploration, celebrates creativity, and invites humour and awe. At

Shambala the way our site looks hugely contributes to the way it

feels to be there. The design consideration works in a feedback loop

with our considerate crowd. As a mid-sized festival on a pretty small

site, Shambala is packing. With stages and micro-venues at every

corner, we’re bursting at the seams with tents, yurts and immersive

dens that host live music, workshops, talks and more.

Each of these venues has its own distinct feel, created by the

fantastic venue managers’ teams. They are supported in their

purchasing for the barebones structures in order to make the magic

happen, and this feeds into the work our creative team does with

our main venues and with threading décor and art between in every

nook and cranny.

Getting the barebones structures in place from which the décor

teams can do their magic is very important. I asked our site office,

resources and event manager Christine Dent for her go tos for site

procurement. Shortlisted for the UK Festival Awards 2019 Women

in Festivals, Christine has a knack for eking out relationships

with contractors and suppliers that are a dream to work with,

meaning that the site build is slick and everything is in position for

transforming the Northamptonshire estate on which Shambala takes


For special build scaffolds we opt for Gorilla UK, who supply the

equipment and the (brilliantly friendly and hardworking) team to

erect the special builds and more complex scaffolding structures

like venue frontages and vehicle bridges. Working in greenfield sites

presents a number of challenges with adjustments and last minute

changes sometimes required during build. For functional, clearspan

structures we use the incredibly accommodating T&L Marquees,

who Christine dubs a “dream to work with.” It’s important to find

contractors and suppliers that work for you, finding teams that offer

reasonable flexibility, and who understand the changing demands

of festival builds. Beyond more functional ‘blank canvases’, one of

my personal favourites is the structure that becomes Sankofas – our

gorgeous stage honouring folk traditions. For this stunning, huge

yurt we use LPM Bohemia, who have a roster of utterly beautiful

structures and décor in abundance.


Turning to the décor and site art, Shambala’s creative production

coordinator Abi Moores names a few of the folk who help realise the

delightful details on site. Starting with signs, the beautiful signage

scattered about site quite literally signposts the considerate and



Another key player in making our iconic lakeside scene is Jig at

Jigantics. They supply the giant flowers around the lake and the

flower archway that marks the entrance to the Enchanted Woods.

Lightning Rod is the master of projections and not only lights up

the house behind the lake but also creates the installations at our

House Party venue.

Elsewhere, our Shambala Stage is decked out in reams of

Nepalese prayer flags as a symbol for our yearly Flags For

campaign. These are supplied by Pam Rafferty who does

incredible work with her charity Help Rural Nepal which supports

local communities in Dhading District. Pam is our music director’s

mum and the now mainstay main stage flags feel the perfect nod

to how Shambala’s family and community spirit is still at the fore,

at every level, 20 years on.

Fostering good relationships down the supply chain and with

creative collaborators is essential for putting on a high production

event without corporate funding. For us, it’s always got to be “by

hand and with heart”.

creative design going into creating Shambala for the August bank

holiday weekend.

We’ve long worked with FlySigns who sets up shop in our crew

canteen with a small team of artists to amend and create bespoke

hand-painted signage for anything from signposts to venue frontages

to water point signs. Ahead of the show, a list is compiled of any

new signs which might be needed, where venue managers, ops and

creative teams log their requirements for a spruce up, re-write or

new signage. Opting for hand-painted has that nice touch, as well as

providing some flexibility of not relying on ordering expensive, often

plastic laminated, board signs which cannot achieve the artistic flair

we are looking for.

From the minutiae to the monumental, we enlist the brilliant Pyrite

Creative to build our iconic structure on the lake. This is designed in

collaboration with us to produce a different floating sculpture each

year that goes up in flames at our closing ceremony. Pyrite are an

awesome company to work with and always tune in in exciting ways

to the themes populating our festival and closing ceremonies of any

given year. Their wooden mandala of 2018 was so spot on it now

heads up our website, reworked by Victoria Topping and animated by



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.kambe-events.co.uk



Corporate Event for a Hedge Fund

Investment Company, Berkshire




Facilities: Newbury

Racecourse glamping area

(01635 40015 / www.events.


Details: The conferences

and events team at Newbury

Racecourse received a request

from their client, a hedge

fund investment company,

to create a glamping village

for 250 tents at the centre of

the course (although it could

host many more!). This was

to accommodate attendees

of an exclusive four-day event

involving various conferences,

meetings and a party to

celebrate the business’s


The glamping tents and

tepees (which housed the

party) were all outsourced

from external suppliers,

including the toilet facilities

that were brought onto the

course for overnight use.

However, when it came to

catering for 1,500 people in this

space, the racecourse was able

to provide BBQs, bars, lounge

areas and other food outlets.

The 225 acre site is surrounded

by natural beauty and has

excellent infrastructure for

events of any kind with water,

power and numerous facilities

on site. The camping took

place in an area that had

reinforced grounds so it was

ideal for all the products that

got brought onto site to sit


There were no real

challenges encountered for

this event however, as it was

so bespoke and involved

many different elements, the

team at the racecourse had to

think outside of the norm. The

whole team, from the event

coordinators to those working

in the catering department,

had numerous planning

meetings leading up to the

event in order to make sure all

elements were covered from

every aspect.

Feedback: The feedback

following the event was very

positive and the company was

very impressed with the space

provided for the glamping

and that everything could be

accommodated so well.



Open Golf

Camping Village

Products supplied: Camping

tents with mattresses for 2,000

campers and bell tent glamping

for 250

From: Tent2Hire (01403 785751 /


Details: Tent2Hire has been

providing tents for the Open Golf

Tented Village since 2016 when

the R&A came up with the great

idea to provide free camping for

visitors under 25. Each year the

village has grown in numbers

and in 2018 a luxury glamping

bell tent option was added.

Tent2Hire provides a range

of tents from two man to eight

man camping tents that guests

can easily stand up in. The bell

tent glamping option is dressed

with Indian style rugs, storage

facilities and bedding that

includes luxurious mattresses

and duvets and linen you would

find in a hotel. Solar power

lighting and phone charging

points complete the luxury


As the Championship moves

around different parts of the

UK each year, one of the many

challenges is the different sites

the village is pitched at. The size

of the operation also means it

not a simple case of loading the

kit into the back of a van and

driving up to the location. In

2019, the golf was in Northern

Ireland and required five

containers worth of equipment

to be shipped across the Irish

Sea. This year’s event is in Kent

so a bit closer to home. Another

challenge is pitching over 700

tents in a very short space of

time – it requires a large event

team to pitch and dress all the


Feedback: Tom Critchley, Open

Golf Tented Village director, said:

“Each year we have grown our

tented village and the Tent2Hire

crew has been very adaptable

and flexible to meet our needs.

They have also made sure all

the accommodation is ready on

time without hassle, so we can

welcome our guests.”

the perfect event space

alongside the river thames


Spot light

A roundup of products for the outdoor hospitality industry



Saltfire Stoves

01929 555211


The Saltfire Peanut3 is designed

for very small chimney openings

and bridges the gap between

standard domestic stoves and

tiny home, outdoor space or

glamping-specific wood burners.

With minimum clearances behind

the Peanut3 as low as 75mm,

it is suitable for use in all sorts

of combustible material clad

buildings. The highly effective

double heatshield on the rear

comes as standard. Early 2020 will

see the launch of a boat-specific

version named 'Peanut Marine',

with incorporated cook-top, fiddle

rail and a compact marine hearth,

making it the perfect package for

boat installations and much easier

to comply with BS 8511:2010.





01389 888215


The Finman range of BBQ huts

and glamping cabins is available

through family owned business

Logspan and offers fantastic

ROIs. It includes the Bunkhouse,

Loft (with a mezzanine), Retreat

and Sleeper cabins – a 17sq

m Finman Sleeper Cabin is

expected to return a profit within

the first year based on 25 per

cent occupancy at £75 rental

per night. Recently introduced,

the Burrow range of cabins has

been designed to nestle within a

landscape, whereas the Clansman

Modern Pod is for those after a

contemporary look.


Cheeky Monkey Treehouses

01403 732 452


Our team has over 15 years’

combined experience in

designing and building

treehouses of all shapes and

sizes. From simple elevated

cabins to a complex maze of rope

bridges and tree top hideaways.

Whether it is a single structure

as a luxury escape for two, or a

field of individually built family

glamping pods, we provide a

personal treehouse consultation

service with you at your

proposed treehouse site, where

ideas can be gathered, shared

and implemented. Hand-drawn,

illustrated and three-dimensional

drawings are then created to suit

your needs and those of your

desired end user.



GT Trax

01487 823344


Established in early 2005,

GT Trax is one of the UK’s

leading suppliers of temporary

roadways, walkways, flooring,

seating, fencing and structures.

It offers a complete delivery,

install, uplift and collection

service, with fully trained and

experienced site personnel.

The range encompasses

heavy duty trackway and

hardwearing non-slip

walkways, alongside picket

and Heras fencing. It also has

a line-up of single and double

StarShades, along with the

unique MegaSol.

So, for your next event, get

in touch with the GT Trax

hire desk and see how our

equipment can enhance your

visitor experience.




Hunter Outdoors


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?



01908 538055


The Glamping Barrel has been

launched into the UK courtesy

of CampPlus. The company that

manufactures en-suite camping

and glamping shower rooms is

now an exclusive distributor of the

Finkota structures, which can be

supplied static or mobile, in 4.3m

and 5.9m lengths. Comfortably

sleeping four, the Barrels have

wide appeal in Europe, with over

600 installed at 150 sites – 30

at Legoland Denmark and 39 at

Legoland Germany.

Features include a super king

bed, pull out table, storage, USB

sockets, and 12V LED lighting

for easy use off-grid. Optional

electrical packages and infrared

heating are available, as are

connections to CampPlus en-suite






Cabins and

BBQ Huts




01389 887205 www.logspan.com

Don’t pack your guests in

like sardines, Event Profs!

With nearly 60 years’ experience

and more than 30,000 pieces of

kit there ain’t nothing fishy about

our event furniture hire advice!

hire happy



Classified Directory

01278 238390

First Class Glamping & Event Domes

01654 700030

07956 878157






TruDomes.com 02476 326585

The ultimate solution to reducing the use

of plastic drinking cups at festivals and

events. Manufactured in the UK from

100% recycled stainless steel

Durable – Brandable – Recyclable

A new drinking experience

0121 523 0011

enquiries@enviro-cup.co.uk • www.enviro-cup.co.uk

If you need help with the

Safety, Security or

Stewarding at your events,

please get in touch

01483 266486 / 020 8545 2492




Weddings, Parties and Corporate Events

In partnership with…




Events’ Event

Planning and

Equipment Hire

T&L Marquee Hire LTD

01604 859748



Sunley Events LTD

020 7889 5014






Nigel Whiston

With 650 people on site at Newbury Racecourse for two days of

filming, event manager Nigel Whiston has a lot to contend with

I STARTED to work for Newbury Racecourse

in 1990 and, with a few gaps between 1990

and 2020, I have been involved on and off

with the site for 30 years. This racecourse

has always been very dear to my heart

throughout because it has formed a major

part of my working life. I left a full time job

five years ago but am very happy to say that I

am still involved in a variety of events.

During my time at the racecourse the

tendency has been to focus more towards

indoor conferences and exhibitions, however

this is now moving to a lot more bespoke

outdoor events. Back when I started outdoor

events were not really considered, but in the

last 12 to 15 years there has been a shift of

emphasis. The racecourse has had to focus

on using its external facilities as well as the

indoor ones, mainly due to the size of the

site but also because they are extremely

suited for all sorts of events, from weddings

to filming to exhibitions - of course, always

weather permitting!

In the last five years Newbury has gone

through a large makeover. The management

has invested over £50m in both the indoor

and outdoor areas but the racecourse

remains a place of history, having been

around since 1905.

One specific event which is worth

mentioning is a recent film shoot. I was

approached by the racecourse to be the

main client contact and event manager for

a very large and famous filming event. It

took place in March and

April 2019 and wasn’t

something that I had

been involved in before,

especially at that scale.

My first thoughts

were that I needed to

find out what was going

to be involved in the

organisation of such

an event, trying to get

an idea of the itinerary

in respect of timings,

who would be my main

contact, and who would

be the director and the

producer. On top of that,

I needed to understand

how many people would

be involved (650!) and all

the logistics associated with the event, not

just on the day, but also on all of the days

prior to shooting. I had to answer all sorts of

questions in my head: “Where were people

going to park?”, “What refreshments were

going to be provided for them?”, “What are

the expectations of the client?” I for sure

didn’t want to have any nasty surprises on

the day.

For the majority of events I tend to meet

the client prior, but if this is not possible, and

I only can meet them on the day, I always

try to be as prepared as possible, especially

in the instance you receive unexpected

requests which you are not ready to deliver.

The secret is to remain calm, professional

and always maintain a “yes I can” attitude.

My duties on this specific occasion were

to open the event. I was on site at 5am to

make sure that everything was in place as

requested. Pre-event checks are essential

because you always spot something which is

not right, especially when you work on such

large sites. Experience taught me that the

earlier you arrive the better; it gives you time

to think and plan what is going on so you

can make sure there are no imminent issues

to deal with, and if the client arrives on site

early there is someone to welcome them.


My responsibilities were to meet the client and to

liaise with them during the day without being seen

to interfere with what they were trying to achieve. I

was asked to open certain areas that would normally

be under lock and key, under jurisdiction of the

racecourse. Certain areas weren’t included in the initial

proposal, but when you work with film producers

you quickly learn that they can change their mind. I

suddenly found myself opening areas which weren’t

supposed to be opened and then securing those

premises while trying to be as flexible and adaptable as


The client can unexpectedly change schedule or

timings, or want something which is not in the brief -

you just need to be ready. I had to be contactable 24/7,

and for the client to have the constant presence of my

support, without me stepping on their toes. One such

example was when the producer came to me with a

specific request. It was a crew member’s birthday and

I was asked if I could get a pineapple cake. I called one

of my contacts, Linda, and asked if she could bake and

deliver a cake to the racecourse within the day. The

pineapple cake arrived and the client was delighted. I

am not sure if this was a test to see if we were able to

deliver such a random request, but to see his surprise

was priceless.

There were no major challenges on the day but of

course there were a few small ones, one of them related

to electrical power. One of the film crew’s generators

broke and I suddenly found myself in the middle of a

power source crisis. Luckily we have some ‘pod bars’

located across the site so I decided to open one of them

and run an extension lead from it which gave enough

power for what was needed.

The majority of the shooting was done around

our brand-new parade ring, so not only did I have to

consider the client needs but also the keeping of our

site and people’s safety. I remember my heart was

jumping a bit during that time. At my age you still get

that adrenaline rush which is different for each event

and situation; you never know what can happen next

and you just need to be able to deal with it.

I would like to highlight that at Newbury Racecourse

I always feel I have great back up from the on-site team.

For this event we had all departments involved: Clerk

of the Course, the conference and events team, stable

managers and operations. It was the great team effort

that meant we could deliver such a large event. People

were able to step in at all times and run around in case I

needed support.

My direct responsibility was to deal with the






production and lighting crew and I met some great

people. One thing I noticed was that hardly anyone had

any breaks throughout the two days. People seemed to

be completely absorbed in their roles. I myself would

never expect to have breaks at set times as this would

never work, especially in situations where the schedule

changes on a regular basis. I always use my own

judgment as to when and where to take a break but if

my phone rings then that is simply the end of the break

and I think this is something that one has to accept.

At the end of the day I checked in with my main

contact. I always like to have a debrief before a

client departs to make sure that if there were any

fundamental issues we can discuss them so I can

feedback to the racecourse. On this specific occasion

I felt a good degree of satisfaction. I was once again

very proud to have been asked to perform the role

and knowing I executed it well meant a lot, not

only because the client was happy, but because the

racecourse succeeded as a strong location and team

once again. I look forward to doing more events in

the future and I can’t wait to fully embrace the next

project and all the variety that will arise with it – this

is definitely not a job which is the same every day. You

need to like and embrace the unexpected and always

confront any situation with a smile on

your face.


Nigel Whiston

Nigel is one of

Newbury Racecourse’s

longest standing

event managers. He

comes with a wealth

of knowledge and

experience within the

events industry and

has been involved at

Newbury Racecourse

for over 30 years in

both the racing and

conference and events

sides of the business.

With impeccable

attention to detail and

the drive to always

deliver exceptional

customer service,

Nigel is an asset to the

racecourse team.

Newbury Racecourse

Newbury Racecourse

is one of the largest

conference and event

spaces in Berkshire,

with over 50 unique

spaces that can be

adapted to fulfil client

requirements and

deliver wow factor.

Set amongst 225 acres

of natural beauty, it

hosts many private

and public events,

including the Colour

Obstacle Rush. www.




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