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ISSUE 44 | August 2021 | www.openairbusiness.com

BUSINESS

LUXURY ACCOMMODATION

FUNCTION VENUES

› Open Water Swimming

› Bad Reviews

/ /

GLAMPSITES

› Finding Money

› Designing Signage

EVENTS

› Travel Emissions

› Safety Consultants

CASE STUDIES:

THIEF HALL • HEDGEROW LUXURY GLAMPING • THE FOREST SHOWCASE FOOD FESTIVAL


THE POD BODS

NATURE DWELLINGS | OUTDOOR LIVING | HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS

GUEST

HOME OFFICE

THE POD BODS

CHALET

HOSPITALITY

Visit: thepodbods.com | Call: 01924 677002 | Mail: Info:@thepodbods.com


ISSUE 44 | August 2021 | www.openairbusiness.com

WELCOME

THERE ARE some interesting statistics that I have come

across in compiling this issue. Thanks to the pandemic,

dog ownership has rocketed, as have searches for

dog-friendly holiday accommodation. Cold water

swimming participation has also increased three-fold.

Savvy business owners are already capitalising on these

opportunities; welcoming dogs to a glampsite is one thing

but turning your body of water into a safe swimming

location takes some more thought. Fortunately, Charlotte

Winship has researched what you need, with inspiration

taken from Compton Verney’s offering.

Our entrepreneur of the issue, Amber Lort-Phillips, has also made the most of

her coastal location with wild swimming, one of the wellness activities offered

at her Little Retreat on the Lawrenny Estate. So in demand are her retreats that

she co-founded the Big Retreat Festival, which has grown each year into a major

event and yet another string to this remarkable estate’s bow.

The big news is that events finally have government-backed insurance – let’s

hope this allows an acceleration of the re-emergence of the industry. Not many

events have managed this summer, but things are ramping up for the autumn.

Our case study is on The Forest Showcase Food Festival in the Forest of Dean

which takes place in October. Having lost its district council support in 2010, it

is now a sustainable business in its own right – huge congratulations to coorganisers

Amanda Smith and Rachel Salway.

The Glamping Show is coming up, one of my favourite trade events. We’ll be

there on Stand OSA 14 – come and say hello!

Tally Rix

Editor / Publisher

PUBLISHERS

Steve Rix - steve@openairbusiness.com

Tally Rix - tally@openairbusiness.com

EDITOR

Tally Rix - tally@openairbusiness.com

ADVERTISING SALES

Marney Whyte - 01892 677743

marney@openairbusiness.com

ADMINISTRATOR

Kirsty Farrow – 01892 677740

kirsty@openairbusiness.com

DESIGN

James English -

www.jamesenglishdesign.co.uk

PUBLISHED BY

Coffee Shop Media Ltd

www.coffeeshopmedia.com

Milroy House, Sayers Lane,

Tenterden, TN30 6BW

01580 848555

Contents ISSUE 44 – AUGUST 2021

OPEN AIR BUSINESS IS

NO LONGER FREE

To start a paid subscription, please visit

www.openairbusiness.com/subscribe

UP FRONT

4 News

7 Product News

10 Glamping Show

Preview

12 Entrepreneur’s Chat

– Amber Lort-Phillips,

Lawrenny Estate

FUNCTION VENUES

16 Thief Hall – a no

rules wedding venue

with guest glamping

20 Bad Reviews –

Caroline Cooper

advises how to

handle them

23 Business Loyalty

– it’s time to think

about how to win

more business

24 Open Water

Opportunity –

capitalising on the

rise of cold water

swimming

28 Outdoor

Accommodation –

products in action

GLAMPSITES

31 Hedgerow Luxury

Glamping – a no

children, no pets

luxury retreat

36 Trade Secrets –

designing signage

for Leafy Fields

Glamping

39 Finding Money – the

secrets to securing

a rural business

mortgage

42 Social Media

Planning – working

out your posts for the

year

44 Infrastructure –

products in action

EVENTS

48 The Forest

Showcase Food

Festival – a foodie

haven in the Forest of

Dean

52 Safety Specifics –

how to choose your

safety consultant

56 Tackling Travel –

ecolibrium’s Travel

Carbon Calculator

app for events

60 Professional

Services – product

snap shots

62 Spotlight

63 Classifieds

65 Behind the Scenes –

Deborah Collins, The

Belfry Hotel & Resort

Find more expert advice online:

www.openairbusiness.com

SUBSCRIBE

ONLINE

LUXURY ACCOMMODATION

FUNCTION VENUES GLAMPSITES

EVENTS

› Open Water Swimming › Finding Money

› Travel Emissions

› Bad Reviews

/

› Designing Signage

/

› Safety Consultants

CASE STUDIES:

THIEF HALL • HEDGEROW LUXURY GLAMPING • THE FOREST SHOWCASE FOOD FESTIVAL

COVER PHOTO

The Roof Terrace Eco Lodge, a masterpiece of innovative

design and engineering. Introducing an Outerspace

building that takes you to a special place of comfort and

relaxation. Hand built in Britain to the highest standards

for all season use. www.outerspacegroup.com

BUSINESS

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 3


665% Surge in

Dog-friendly

Holiday Searches

ACCORDING TO a recent study based on

research conducted by Devonshire holiday

park Cofton Holidays, nearly half of Brits

(44%) got themselves a new pet over the

lockdown period and are searching for

suitable pet-friendly holiday destinations.

When comparing the most recent year on

year data available (May 2020–May 2021),

searches for the term ‘dog-friendly holidays’

has increased over 665%, from 2,900 to

22,200 average monthly searches.

When looking into more specific holiday

types, the term ‘dog-friendly lodges’ has also

peaked dramatically, increasing by 400% (880

vs 4,400).

This rise has seen Cofton Holidays expand

its pet-friendly accommodation with new

lodges launched in July.

£750m Government Backed

Insurance for Events

THE NATIONAL Outdoor Events

Association (NOEA) has welcomed

the announcement of the £750m

government-backed insurance scheme.

Partnered with Lloyd’s, the Live

Events Reinsurance Scheme will see

the government act as a 'reinsurer',

stepping in with a guarantee to make

sure insurers can offer the products

events companies need.

“We’re delighted to see this scheme

announced by the government and

are fully supportive of it,” says NOEA’s

president Tom Clements. “Although

we’ve had some events this year, a

number couldn’t run with the risk of no

insurance cover. There has remained

a massive cloud over the future of the

industry that this scheme will begin to

disperse.

“The biggest issue we have as an

industry is the confidence and risk

attached to putting on major events.

Until now there just hasn’t been the

incentive for events to take place

beyond 2021; those that have are doing

so because of commitments made,

and tickets sold, back in 2018/19. This

scheme reduces the risk and ups the

incentives. Whereas before we have had

events, now we have an opportunity to

rebuild an events industry.

“Unfortunately, we do need to

underline that we’re not out of the

woods yet. We’ve lost a lot of people, a

lot of skill and talent, and we also have

businesses that have had no income for

the last two years. We need government

to look after these businesses until

summer 2022.”

GETTY IMAGES

Leisure Firm to Build Glamping Pods

SALOP LEISURE, which operates the Love2Stay resort on the

outskirts of Shrewsbury, has applied for planning permission to

extend its business in order to manufacture glamping pods and

holiday lodges.

“The proposed development will help to sustain a key part of our

business by enabling us to relocate an existing caravan storage, repair

and maintenance facility which is soon to become unavailable,” said

Mark Bebb, Salop Leisure’s managing director.

“In addition, the manufacture of glamping pods and lodges will

further diversify Salop Leisure’s existing operation, creating new jobs

in this arm of the business”.

SALOP LEISURE

4 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


Record Numbers at 2021 Game Fair

RECORD NUMBERS of people

attended the Game Fair at

Ragley Hall in Warwickshire at

the end of July. 119,378 people

visited across three days – the

most in the event’s 62 year

history.

The first large-scale event

since ‘Freedom Day’, the Game

Fair also welcomed 1,000

exhibitors with whom an

estimated £60 million was spent.

The Game Fair’s managing

director James Gower said: “It’s

been a huge amount of effort

to actually get here with all the

changing rules and regulations.

However, we remained confident

and we have an amazing

industry supporting us.

“This year I’ve particularly

enjoyed the new outdoor

cinema; it was brilliant and we’d

like to do more of those sorts

of things. I’ve loved the party

atmosphere this year – I think

everyone wanted a release after

the past 18 months and the

Game Fair has provided that."

JOHN ROBERTSON / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Event Company Plans Venue

FLINTSHIRE EVENTS equipment company Tents and Events has entered farm-based

wedding venue plans. The proposal is for a marquee on land at Clawdd Offa Farm in

Penyffordd. A representative for the company said: “This business has been seriously

impacted by Covid-19 and its future will be determined by adapting to the future needs

within the events and hospitality sector.

“As a leading supplier to the events industry in Wales this company wants to lead the

changes and adapt to the challenges needed to survive. A permanent structure would offer a

major opportunity to showcase best practice and demonstrate to clients the ability to adapt

to a very changing market”.

Under the proposals, wedding services would be held in a wooden pergola with space for

up to 25 guests. Additional capacity would be provided by a further temporary structure in

the event of bad weather.

Plans for

Luxury

Glamping in

Chapel-enle-Frith

HIGH PEAK Retreat has

submitted plans for a

luxury seasonal glamping

site in Chapel-en-le-Frith,

Derbyshire, to include

15 glamping units, five

motorcaravan pitches and

associated facilities including

an activity yurt.

The “high quality holiday

retreat” will comprise

glamping pods, safari tents,

yurts, geodesic domes and

shepherds huts and will offer

on-site activities including

yoga and fitness within a

large yurt style structure.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 5


ISSUE 33 | January 2020 | www.openairbusiness.com

ISSUE 35 | March 2020 | www.openairbusiness.com

ISSUE 38 | October/November 2020 | www.openairbusiness.com

ISSUE 39 | January 2021 | www.openairbusiness.com

ISSUE 40 | February 2021 | www.openairbusiness.com

BUSINESS

BUSINESS

BUSINESS

BUSINESS

BUSINESS

Alfresco Dining

STAYCATION

INVESTMENT

Customer

First

SUPPLIER

SHOWCASE

FUNCTION VENUES GLAMPSITES

EVENTS

> Legalities

> Biophilic Design

> Events Report

> Seasonal USPs

> Bespoke Structures

> Changing Diets

/ /

> Wedding Insights

> Professional Services

> Marquees

CASE STUDIES: HEATON HOUSE FARM • BROOK MEADOW • DOGFEST

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

FUNCTION VENUES GLAMPSITES

EVENTS

› Promoting Events

› Market Research › Testing Times

/ /

› Contingency Plans › Booking Channels › Necessary Change

CASE STUDIES:

SKIPBRIDGE COUNTRY WEDDINGS • TRECOMBE LAKES • WEEKEND AT THE ASYLUM

FUNCTION VENUES

› Venue Searches

› Customer Excellence

GLAMPSITES

EVENTS

› Tree Advice

› Event Glamping

/ /

› Glamping Show › Coping with Covid

CASE STUDIES:

CHILLI BARN • MAD DOGS & VINTAGE VANS • HEVER CRAFT AND DESIGN FAIR

FUNCTION VENUES GLAMPSITES

EVENTS

› Changing Habits › Casual Excellence › 2021 Predictions

/ /

› Industry Taskforce › Planning Exemptions › Marketing Post-Covid

CASE STUDIES:

THE ORCHARD AT MUNSLEY • HOLLY WATER HOLIDAYS • LANTERNS AT CHESTER ZOO

FUNCTION VENUES GLAMPSITES

EVENTS

› Delegation

› Instagram 1

› Placemaking

/ /

› Start-up Venues › Small Space Design › Covid Insurance

CASE STUDIES:

HOUCHINS • THE PADDOCK RAMSBOTTOM • FRINGE BY THE SEA

Spread the Word

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PRODUCT

From Marinas to Meadows

PLASTIC PODS offers an innovative approach to the

garden room and glamping market. Marina Boats, a boat

manufacturer, ventured into a side project that has rapidly

expanded during the past year. Plastic Pods has supplied over

500 people with home offices, extra bedrooms and a place to

escape to with multiple functions.

Customers love the design, durability, eco-friendly

credentials and low price. Pods are also proving very popular

for glamping, providing a quick return on investment. All

pods are made to order in the customer’s choice of colour

and, unlike most wooden garden room competitors, they will

not rot as they are produced from fibreglass. They are even

eco-friendly due to the shell being manufactured from 90%

recycled plastic.

Based in Southampton, the company will deliver anywhere

in the UK and has franchises developing across the country.

07745 526320, plasticpods@gmail.com,

www.plasticpods.co.uk

Californian Grills

CALIFORNIAN GRILLS is a UK-based company fabricating steel

barbecues based upon the Santa Maria grill which originated

in the Santa Maria Valley, California. Run by a husband and

wife team, the couple had lived in the valley and saw how

popular and practical the grills were so launched their own

versatile version.

The key feature of the Santa Maria Grill is that the grilling

rack can be raised or lowered by a hand crank mechanism to

control temperature whilst cooking. They are also modular,

comprising the fire box, grilling rack, and stand/legs, giving

you a variety of different ways to enjoy an outdoor fire. This

versatility allows you to enjoy an open fire in the firebox or

campfire, then cook by simply adding the grilling rack and, in

the case of the campfire, the legs ready to experience a unique

way of barbecuing. Once you’re done with cooking, remove the

grilling rack and return to relaxing around the fire.

The outdoor hospitality sector appreciates the ease of use

of the Santa Maria grilling rack and because of this Californian

Grills have been commissioned by chefs and outdoor catering

establishments to make a variety of bespoke racks to fit

into built-in kitchens or large standalone grills to cater for

demanding requirements.

01732 321242, info@californiangrills.com

www.californiangrills.com

Glamping Accessories

from Marquee Floors

by William Armes

AFTER A successful year launching its glamping collection, Marquee Floors by

William Armes is delighted to announce new products to its range of accessories

for the market. With affordable luxury in mind, it has extended its range of

luxury faux sheepskin rugs to include an on trend grey colour option as well as

introducing new larger sizes (180x60cm) in white and brown colourways.

Four new faux hide designs have also been added along with the Silk Road

rug collection. With an oriental style, these statement rugs have a super soft pile

with an antique silk appearance and are available in both rug and runner sizes.

Cushions and throws are still available to purchase ensuring that your event

or structure has that perfect finishing touch.

01787 372988, info@marqueefloors.co.uk, www.marqueefloors.co.uk

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 7


PRODUCT

The Wash House

INTRODUCING THE Wash House from

Reworkshop. One of the largest outhouse

units the company offers, it is designed

to be fitted out in various configurations

from a spacious compost loo or accessible

facility to a full off-grid bathroom suite.

As with Reworkshop’s other outhouses,

the company wanted the Wash House to be

budget friendly, simple to install, portable,

strong and environmentally friendly.

They've stuck with their tried and tested

design which harks back to traditional

outback or frontier outhouses and privies,

but this is no shed! The sunroof design

floods the unit with light, saving energy

during daylight hours. The use of quality

materials and timber exceeds current

house building regulations and means

the Wash House is built to last. Prices

start from £2,499 and units are built to a

customer’s requirements.

Reworkshop is passionate about the

environment and the use of sustainable

and recycled materials. You won’t find

any plywood or manufactured wood

board here! Reworkshop are constantly

striving to ensure all the materials are as

environmentally friendly as possible while

still being fit for purpose. They believe they

offer the greenest composting toilet units

on the market, not only because they save

water and give back to the environment,

but because of the effort that’s gone into

sourcing the correct materials.

07714 719441, reworkshopwales@gmail.

com, www.reworkshopwales.co.uk

Live Events make an

Eco-Friendly Return

GREEN GOBLET are honoured to be

able to work with so many festivals

and events, supplying them with

reusable cups. It might be just a

reusable cup to one person, but

each of Green Goblet’s vessels stops

one of the 500 billion single-use

cups that are used around the world

each year and then put into landfill.

“Festivals and events are finally

happening, unfortunately it is too

late for some but for the those that

have been able to take place this

summer it has certainly been a

welcome return – rain or sunshine,

wellies or sun hats!” says Green

Goblet’s sustainability manager

Paula Hopkinson.

“These events have allowed us

to forget all our worries and the

negative effects that the pandemic

has had on our lives, and instead

divert our attention to the positive

side of life. It feels that everyone

has been locked up for too long

and people are understanding and

embracing the need to socialise and

are appreciating how lucky we are

to have so many diverse events to

attend.

“Nothing brings people together

more than a festival; it gives us a

sense of community and national

pride. From young children to the

more mature person, everyone

needs happiness in their lives and

a chance to relieve our stress and

balance our emotions.

“At Green Goblet, we are so happy

that events are now becoming

more environmentally friendly. So

let’s all work together to make the

live event sector as green and as

great as possible, celebrating post

pandemic life”. #RefillNotLandfill

01278 238390, info@green-goblet.

com, www.green-goblet.com

Smokeless Fire Pits

THE SOLO Stove firepit, features a unique 360 airflow

design to achieve an efficient burn and mesmerising

flames without eye watering smoke. Strategically

placed holes in the double-wall structure draw air in

from the bottom and feed heated oxygen to the top,

resulting in a spectacular secondary burn. This is the

key to the minimal smoke and ash leftovers.

Created in Texas, the original Solo Stove is

a lightweight, compact, efficient, eco-friendly

backpacking stove but the range has now expanded to

include grills and fire pits from smaller backyard size

through to the bigger group camping options.

Solo Stoves are portable, log friendly and very

durable. Constructed from stainless steel, each stove

has a lifetime warranty and comes with a whole range

of accessories allowing users to cook on them too.

01539 624040, info@lyon.co.uk, www.lyon.co.uk

8 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


CWC Advert (Open Air Magazine).pdf 1 23/02/2021 12:04:51

Expert

advice to help you

achieve the most

from your venue

business.

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

• Increase

profitability

• Reach your ideal

customers

• Maximise sales

opportunities

• Streamline your

processes

www.charlottewinship.com

07493 350303 / charlotte@charlottewinship.com

01295 981580 • sales@prosmokebbq.co.uk

www.prosmokebbq.co.uk



• Stocking everything

from small camping

grills to large grills and

smokers.

• Whatever your vision

for your business,

glamping site or home

kitchen we have you

covered.

Specialist retailer showcasing all the hard

to find BBQ's from around the world.

Modular Flooring

for all Applications

EverBlock® manufactures a complete

line of interlocking modular flooring

■ dance floors

■ marquee flooring

■ turf protection systems

02037 959090

www.everblockflooring.co.uk

■ exhibit flooring

■ industrial access mats

■ Online floor builder and pricing tool

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 9


INDUSTRY UPDATE

The Glamping

Show 2021

Can you afford not to be there? Exhibition manager Dan Wiseman

explains why this year’s Glamping Show should not be missed


THE RECENT boom in domestic travel has

seen a huge increase in business for glamping

sites across the country. Are you maximising

on the staycation opportunity? Can you afford

to miss the latest information, products and

solutions to diversify your assets?

The next two seasons are going to be

crucial for the glamping industry. Glamping

entrepreneurs need to stay abreast of all

new developments – products, planning,

compliance and more – in order to establish

themselves firmly and maximise on an

unprecedented opportunity.

The Glamping Show puts all of the latest

products and services that the industry has to

offer at your fingertips and takes out all of the

hassle of finding trustworthy information by

providing a panel of the most experienced and

respected experts in the glamping sector to

deliver the seminar programme.

For anyone who has, or is considering, a

glamping business, The Glamping Show is an

essential three days that will shape the future

of your business. Discover the latest products

and services, listen to the most respected

experts in the industry, learn strategies and

tactics to start and grow your business and

share the experience and knowledge of your

peers. No matter what you’re looking for,

you’ll find it at the Glamping Show!

“The Glamping show was

instrumental in the process of setting up

our business,” says Suzi Drew, owner of

Belan Bluebell Woods. “The quality and

diversity of stands were both incredibly visual

and inspiring! Equally important was the

opportunity to discuss our plans with those

producers. We then had the opportunity to

listen to expert talks and even a coffee break

became networking with people from all over

the UK. To have an event with everything you

need for wherever your business is at is really

special.”

The seminar programme will be led by

industry experts who are willing to share their

years of experience and knowledge. These

invaluable talks will cover every aspect of

running a glamping site, from the nitty gritty

details of getting set up, to guides on how

to offer world class customer service, and

everything in between.

“The Glamping Show seminars really

helped open our eyes to areas of operating a

glamping business we hadn’t even thought

of,” says Sarah Orchard, owner of The Hudnalls

Hideout. “It was vital in our business research

and planning. At the show, we were able to

meet great suppliers and learn from existing

operators to avoid costly set-up mistakes.”

The show team have made sure that every

corner of the glamping sector is covered by the

show. The event serves as a one-stop-shop for

SEE YOU THERE!

The Glamping Show takes place on 16–18

September 2021 at NAEC Stoneleigh. For

more information and free registration,

visit www.theglampingshow.com

all of your glamping needs. So, no matter

what stage your glamping business is at,

can you afford not to visit the Glamping

Show?

OAB’s Top Picks

1 Californian Grills

www.californiangrills.com

Stand OSA 322

The range of Santa Maria barbecues

from UK-based business Californian

Grills feature a unique grilling grate

that can be raised or lowered by a

hand crank mechanism to control

the temperature whilst cooking. The

grills are also modular, giving users a

variety of different ways to enjoy an

outdoor fire.

Bespoke racks and standalone

grills can be made specifically for

the catering and hospitality sector

including outdoor built-in kitchens.

2 The Qube Eco Tiny Homes

www.thequbeecotinyhomes.co.uk

Stand OSA 630

The team of modular building experts

at Northamptonshire-based The Qube

have launched a range of stylish,

sustainable and affordable holiday

accommodation. Pairing contemporary

design with robust build quality, these

tiny homes are relocatable and make

maximum use of minimal space.

Friendly to the environment,

tiny homes are also built to last

and designed with heat and energy

efficiency in mind, saving you

outgoings in the long run.

Whether used as extra

accommodation for hotels, an

alternative offering for park homes, or

as part of a wider glamping offering,

tiny homes may well be exactly

what is required to help with your

diversification.

10 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


INDUSTRY UPDATE



3 Glamptubs

www.glamptubs.com

Stand OSA 018

The range of hot tubs from Glamptubs features super hygienic LDPE

interior linings, durable and attractive Thermowood exteriors and

the choice of an internal or external wood-fired heaters. The two

sizes available seat four to six or six to eight people.

Easy to clean and with minimal maintenance, these tubs are ideal

for fast and hygienic turnovers between guests and offer a generous

water depth and unhindered bathing space.


4 Plastic Pods

www.plasticpods.co.uk

Stand OSA 558

An innovative approach to the garden room and

glamping market, Plastic Pods are produced by boat

manufacturer Marina Boats. The pod shells comprise

90% recycled plastic and come in a huge array of

colours. They are also very competitively priced,

super low maintenance and durable.

Based in Southampton, the company will deliver

anywhere in the UK and has franchises developing

across the country.

5 ProSmoke BBQ

www.prosmokebbq.co.uk

Stand OSA 610

Celebrating one of the oldest forms

of cooking in the world ProSmoke

BBQ supplies wood-fired offset

smokers for great ambiance and

delicious food with a light smoky

flavour.


ProSmoke BBQ offers smokers

of all sizes along with a team of

specialists that can provide training

prior to delivery. The Cactus Jack

chuckwagon smokers have large

cooking areas and can cater for small

to very large groups of people with

ease. They can be used for long, low

and slow cooks or quick grilling.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 11


PEOPLE

RIGHT: Adrian and

Amber Lort-Phillips

with Adrian’s parents,

David and Virginia

ENTREPRENEUR’S CHAT

Amber

We talk to Wales’ Business Woman of the Year

winner, Amber Lort-Phillips, about developing

new business ventures at Lawrenny Estate

Working in the wellbeing industry for over

three decades, Amber Lort-Phillips is a health

and wellbeing entrepreneur at heart. She met

her husband Adrian at an entrepreneurial

leader’s course at Swansea University and

the rest is history.

“I actually used to be Adrian’s personal

trainer many years ago and we met again

on the course," says Amber. "I was running

my own gym and health club in Narberth

and Adrian, who had a media company, had

moved back to his family’s Lawrenny Estate

to help run the property side of the business.”

The estate itself is an organic dairy farm in the heart

of Pembrokeshire, in the UK's only coastal National

Park. The main residence at the centre of the estate

had been a large castle which was blown up in 1954.

Adrian’s grandfather had returned from the war and

decided the structure, which had been used by the

army, was not viable as a family home. Adrian’s parents

David and Virginia took over the family business at the

end of the sixties, and the estate is now run by his older

brother, Owen.

Lawrenny Estate is now a thriving series of family

enterprises. Owen, who is a founder director of the

Calon Wen Dairy Cooperative, operates a high tech

milking operation. “It’s amazing,” says Amber. “The

cows are able to milk themselves, have food served

up to them by a robot and get followed around by

a robotic cleaner!” Amber’s sister in law, Liza, runs

Cymbrogi Futures from the estate, a consultancy

educating teachers on the new Welsh curriculum and

principles of sustainability.

When the farm moved out of the village, the old

site was earmarked for housing. Adrian is heading

up the development project, which will see nearly

40 sustainable homes built in the community. “It is

testament to my father-in-law, David’s vision that we

live in a vibrant, working community,” says Amber. “It

is a very small village and the estate business has been

focused on keeping it alive and thriving.

“One of the many things that makes Lawrenny

unique is the village shop. Locals can access it 24/7,

using a key fob system so it doesn’t need to be staffed

all the time. The village also has a great pub, a very

successful sports club, a busy church, village hall and

its own hostel. That strong sense of community is one

of the things that makes Lawrenny so magical."

MAGICAL SPACE

Thanks to Amber, the estate is now also home to the

Little Retreat, which offers glamping and wellness

workshops, and the Big Retreat festival. It also hosts

corporate events and the occasional wedding.

“Although we are very happy to limit weddings to

four a year,” says Amber. “We are part of a very small

community and weddings often mean a lot of noise.

“As the farm has modernised, we have been able to

12 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


PEOPLE

make use of redundant assets and this, along with my

father in law’s vision and the whole family’s support,

has underpinned everything we have done. The site

where our glamping accommodation now lies was

once a Georgian walled garden, the new restaurant

and retreat space was once occupied by Victorian glass

houses and the festival itself is on the site of the old

castle and the parkland around it.”

The Lawrenny hospitality offering has come together

from a holistic family vision. “My father in law had

always wanted the castle site, where he spent his

childhood before it was blown up, to be used as a place

of gathering and inspiration.

“My mother in law, Gini, was running a B&B and

we paired up to create the first version of what is now

the Little Retreat. Having run wellness courses from

the site, the accommodation is an extension of that

wellbeing retreat vision; people can come to stay for a

wonderful experience all year round. It is a priority for

the Welsh government to keep Wales open to visitors

365 days of the year, so both the council and the

National Park have been very supportive”.

LITTLE RETREAT

Today, the Little Retreat is a glamping/retreat business

with onsite experiences including foraging and

feasting, heritage walks, forest bathing and art lessons.

Workshops are run by leading practitioners in the

wellness industry including movement coach Richie

Norton, yoga from the Nordic Sisters, wild swimming

with Laura Owen Sanderson and cookery demos with

Ryan Riley. The Little Retreat was a finalist in the itravel

staycation award in 2020/21 and has a Green Key

Award.

“I really want people to come here to reconnect with

the natural world around them,” says Amber. “I want

them to discover new experiences such as foraging and

feasting, wild swimming, nature walks and lots of other

activities that enhance mental and physical wellbeing.

“We have five all-year round geodomes (from

F.Domes) with hot tubs, private bathrooms and

kitchens. We also have five seasonal stargazer bell tents

from Lotus Belle with outdoor bathtubs and private

bathrooms and kitchens. We are licensed through the

Woodlands Champions Club – Ben Carden there is an

absolute font of knowledge and an amazing man”.

“I REALLY WANT PEOPLE TO

COME HERE TO RECONNECT

WITH THE NATURAL WORLD

AROUND THEM,”

BIG RETREAT FESTIVAL

It was through a wellbeing class that Amber was

running that she met Diana Hinde (who turned out to

have been the marketing, branding and sales capability

director for Diageo!) and the idea for the ‘Big Retreat– A

Wellbeing and Adventure Festival’ was born.

“We sat round the kitchen table and brainstormed an

event that could bring the retreat experiences to more

people. Our retreats had become so popular and often

people would be crying, not wanting to leave. We had

one lady who hadn’t slept properly for seven years and

she managed to get a good night’s sleep at one of our

events!”

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 13


PEOPLE

Launched in 2017, and voted one of the top five

wellbeing festivals in the UK by the Guardian, The

Big Retreat has a capacity of 3,000 for 2022 and will

welcome headliners Reef and Toploader. Wild swimmer

Laura Owen-Sanderson has come on board to help

develop the brand.

“Laura is now also our sustainability director as

well as running wild swimming sessions at the Little

Retreat, she also runs our own community interest

company (CIC) We Swim Wild and I have just set up The

Big Retreat CIC with her and Dale Barker (who curates

some of the music at The Big Retreat)”. In recognition of

their business prowess, Laura and Amber both won the

top 2021 Welsh Women in Business award from media

company Llais Cymru, supported by the Development

Bank Wales – Laura in the nature category and Amber

in tourism and hospitality.

Amber now also works with Pablo Janczur and his

team at Orchard Live, the company behind the events

at Cardiff Castle, on the Big Retreat. Off the back of the

festival, Lawrenny will play host to a four-day LGBTQ

wellbeing festival later in the year. “It makes great

sense as they take over the site and infrastructure after

our event finishes, which cuts costs.”

INVESTMENT AND GROWTH

“We are going through a period of sustained

investment and growth at the moment,” explains

Amber. “The total investment in the business is around

£800K – we have borrowed around a third of million,

invested some ourselves and also received a grant

from the Welsh Government Coastal Communities

Fund to develop teaching spaces and fit out the kitchen

and dining areas. The Welsh Government Coastal

Communities Fund is funded by the Welsh Government

and administered by The National Lottery Community

Fund.

“The expectation is that once the business has

settled, our accommodation side should provide a

strong return on investment. It is worth pointing out

that the pressure of looking after people’s highest

expectations can be quite mentally tasking so it’s not

“WITH REGARD

TO THE

FESTIVAL, WE

ARE RECOVERING

FROM THE LOSS

OF TWO YEARS’

TRADING DUE TO

THE PANDEMIC.

THE WELSH

GOVERNMENT

HAS BEEN

EXTREMELY

SUPPORTIVE OF

EVENTS SUCH AS

OURS AND HAS

HELPED US

STAY ALIVE”

all plain sailing! Also, the physical workload can be

immense. There is a lot of very hard graft when you

start out, so aches and pains are definitely part of the

package!

“With regard to the festival, we are recovering from

the loss of two years’ trading due to the pandemic. The

Welsh Government has been extremely supportive of

events such as ours and has helped us stay alive. We

were fortunate to receive money from the Cultural

Recovery Fund and are looking forward to coming back

stronger in 2022. We cannot wait to see our Big Retreat

family again!”

EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS

Looking forward, Amber has plans to expand on

corporate retreats. “The festival has opened a lot

of doors for us. We have made lots of contact with

local businesses for sponsorship etc. and had lots of

exposure through social media, which has had a great

knock on effect for the Little Retreat. We get enquiries

three to four times a week from corporates wanting a

place with a sustainability and wellness ethos to host

influencers they are working with”.

One current development will cement Lawrenny

as a true destination venue. Amber is overseeing

the conversion of an old potting shed by the walled

garden into a restaurant offering a foraging and dining

experience.

“The foraging dining experience with Michelin

trained chef Matt Powell from Fishing and Foraging

Wales is opening in about four weeks and features a 10

course foraged meal.

“Our plan is to continue to deliver on our foraging

and feasting vision, to rebuild some of the glass

houses and turn the gardeners' cottages into further

accommodation and therapy rooms. We also want to

create some inspirational outdoor teaching spaces and

a walking ‘labyrinth’.

“Laura and I are bringing out a book too – The Feel

Good Guide to Pembrokeshire – combining wellbeing

and the power of the great outdoors. Everything we do

is about finding your feelgood!”.

14 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


PEOPLE

AN ABUNDANCE OF EXPERTISE

With nearly 30 years’ experience in the industry, Amber

is perfectly positioned to drive the retreat business. “I

have an inherent understanding that wellbeing and

nature are interconnected and this is a far cry from the

more superficial fitness industry. We are lucky here in

Wales to have some of the most beautiful spaces in the

world and, as a nation, have decided that wellbeing is

fundamental for us to be a thriving country.

“Government policy and planning frameworks are

very supportive of what we are doing and there is an

abundance of expertise to be found, which we are

continually learning from. Through social media we

have created connections all round the world with

others on this same frontier, which is pushing the

industry in this direction”.

Amber doesn’t fear competition. “Everyone who

creates spaces and experiences here in Wales has

something unique to offer and as a nation we are going

out to the whole world saying Wales is very special in

terms of wellbeing, discovery and experience. I don’t

believe there is a limit to this market; my husband

constantly (and boringly) keeps repeating that the best

thing for a good restaurant is when another great one

opens up next door!”

DETAILS

Lawrenny

Pembrokeshire

SA68 0PW

www.littleretreats.co.uk

www.thebigretreatfestival.com

See us the

Glamping

Show -

stand Stand

OSA18

• Super hygienic LDPE interior lining for quick handovers.

• Durable and classic Thermowood

exterior complements the glamping setting.

• Choice of Internal or External wood fired heaters.

• Two sizes available 4 person / 8 person.

Snowford Hill, Southam CV47 9QE t 01926 504067

e sales@glamptubs.com www.glamptubs.com

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 15


FUNCTION VENUES

CASE STUDY

Thief Hall

A ‘no rules’ farm wedding venue with

accommodation for 60 guests

When did you start your venue business

and what is its history?

Until the age of 21 I show jumped horses

professionally from my yard in Essex where

I lived with my sister and parents. Having

followed my dream, I knew nothing else but

the horses, having hardly attended school!

In 2001, I was invited to train with the

Barker family in Yorkshire for a few weeks

to train with Paul Barker, an extremely

successful show jumper. The short story is

that I never went home! I gave up the horses,

sending them back to Essex, and married the

farmer of the family, Phillip. Our wedding was

in June 2006 in a marquee on his parents’

farm.

I soon missed the adrenaline of the show

jumping and needed something to get my

teeth into and put in planning permission

to renovate Phillip’s farm buildings. When

residential use was turned down we were

devastated but we did get permission for four

holiday cottages so we set about building

them. Looking back, it was the best thing that

could have happened.

In October 2015 we went on to renovate

the remaining farm buildings and Thief Hall

grew from the four cottages to six cottages,

six glamping pods and a wedding hall, giving

us the opportunity to offer couples the

chance to get married on site and sleep up to

60 of their guests.

Tell us about your location and site

We are extremely lucky where we are based,

with views of the Yorkshire Dales that can’t be

beaten. We are also easily accessible, being

one of the most central locations in the UK.

Jessica Barker went north to

train as a show jumper and

never went home. Instead

she married a farmer and

created a destination wedding

venue from redundant

farm buildings. Sleeping 60

guests in holiday cottages

and Anthropod glamping

pods, the family business is

fully booked until 2024 – no

surprise as couple’s get cart

blanche with the facilities for

a full three days! We talk to

Jessica.

16 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


What facilities for outdoor

functions do you offer?

We offer accommodation for 60

plus guests and, as we are out of

the way, can offer the luxury of a ‘no

rules’ ethos with no finish times or

restrictions throughout the wedding

stay. We offer outdoor ceremonies

in front of the spectacular view or

can move indoors if the weather

isn’t kind.

What services do you offer?

We are 100% there for our couples

and their guests throughout, literally

24/7. Nothing is ever too much

trouble! As a blank canvas venue,

the couple can bring in their own

caterers and any suppliers they

want for their big day. We have no

restrictions at all.

Describe how you researched and

sourced your structures

When the planning permission

went in, we had to use the same

footprints as the buildings already

offered so were a little tied to what

we could create however it has

worked perfectly, which is a bit of

luck.

“WITH 20,000

FOLLOWERS

ON FACEBOOK

AND OVER

10,000 ON

INSTAGRAM,

IT REALLY

HAS BEEN A

LABOUR OF

LOVE OVER

THE YEARS,

WHICH NOW

SEEMS NO

DIFFERENT TO

BREATHING!”

How do you publicise yourself?

Our main source of advertising is

now through Instagram and TikTok,

we post at least 10 stories a day on

Instagram and also capture each of

our couples’ weddings as a bonus,

saving them a story of their day at

the top of our Instagram grid. With

20,000 followers on Facebook and

over 10,000 on Instagram, it really

has been a labour of love over the

years, which now seems no different

to breathing!

How would you describe your

style or unique selling point?

Other than our surroundings, views,

no rules vibe and 100% support for

our couples, I would say it is that

our couples can create the exact

wedding they are imagining without

restrictions for three days. It is like

them owning their own venue, with

no one looking over their shoulders.

They take the keys from us when

they arrive and enjoy a wedding

village for two nights for themselves

with their 60 guests.

What challenges have you faced

historically?

Finding the right team to follow our

ethos and be able to step into the

couples’ shoes and understand how

they feel, while having fun. Staying

one step ahead of every eventuality

is always our biggest task so that as

a family we are not always letting

How do you work with your

customers to make their event

unique?

There are never two weddings

the same at Thief Hall, from floor

layouts to décor and design.

With the no rules ethos, couples

really can create anything their

imagination allows and we

encourage them to do so – from

woodland themes to formal or

laid back, it really is their choice

completely.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 17


FUNCTION VENUES

this business take over our lives,

which of course it does because

we are so passionate about every

wedding!

How has Covid-19 impacted you?

We have made the most of Covid

and always try and stay positive

where we can. We have used the

time to extend our bar and lounge

area, added decorations including

a flower wall and love letters to our

offering. We have also diversified

to offer the most beautiful micro

weddings for 15-30 guests, which

can work perfectly when the whole

party stay for the three days. It has

however been lovely to get going

again this summer with the

full atmosphere and

dancing to

live bands

again!

How large is your team – any

special people you’d like to

mention?

My husband Phillip has got to be

the hero of this question; he is

always behind the scenes fixing

the drainage or sorting out the

beer kegs, not to mention always

having my back if I take on too much

or have another crazy idea. His

parents, Lynne and David, are also

an amazing support to us and this

business really wouldn’t thrive like it

does without them, from childcare

to gardening.

We get so many comments on

how amazing the gardens are

around the venue and this is down

to the hours Lynne puts in week

in and week out! We have a super

team of wedding coordinators and

bar staff who are all as passionate

about Thief Hall and what

we strive to achieve as

we are. We like

to think the

results of each wedding are enough

of a thank you as each couple leaves

on cloud nine!

Have you worked with any

industry bodies or consultants?

We have learnt everything from our

couples and weddings. We listen,

watch and evaluate every wedding

to make sure we learn something

every week, no matter how

small. It is the only way to

improve and build on

the reputation we have

carefully created up to

today.


FUNCTION VENUES

What are your plans for next

season?

With the craziness Covid has created

with the backlog of weddings we are

now fully booked until 2024. We are

just working through the postponed

weddings to make sure every couple

has the wedding of their dreams.

Describe your average day midseason

Oh wow! As every wedding is so

different, so is every day which

really is the beauty of this business!

There is never a dull moment, but

here goes…

We wake up to the emails, which

we strive to answer as quickly as

we can. Next, we check and sort

out the hot tubs then get changed

and dressed for the wedding (our

staff dress as wedding guests to

fit in). We check everything for the

wedding and take behind the scenes

photos for the couple, then meet

the registrar and join them in the

“IMAGINE

SPENDING

EVERYDAY

PLANNING,

PREPARING

AND JOINING

COUPLES FOR

THE BEST

DAY OF THEIR

LIVES!”

couple’s pre meetings. Then we ride

the wedding fun with the couple and

their guests, making sure everything

is perfect throughout until the sun

comes up.

What do you enjoy about the

business and why?

Imagine spending every day

planning, preparing and joining

couples for the best day of their

lives! This is the most rewarding and

addictive business that we don’t

think of as a business but a love and

passion.

What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

We have six amazing luxury

glamping pods from Anthropods,

which have been a great addition

adding sleeping spaces for the

wedding guests. Each pod has a king

size master bed and bunks, sleeping

four guests each.

What are you most proud of?

By far our couples and the days they

experience with us. Watching their

journey from planning to the day

itself, followed by the memories

and pictures is just so magical you

cannot put it into words!

What advice could you give to

someone coming into the industry?

To listen to your guests and

customers 24/7 and change as they

offer advice.

ADDRESS BOOK

GLAMPING PODS

Anthropods www.anthropods.co.uk

DETAILS

Thief Hall

Thornton-le-Moor

Northallerton

North Yorkshire DL7 9EH

www.thiefhall.co.uk

The Glampagon

A unique design for

luxurious Staycations

Use individually or in clusters of 5.

JK Designer Builds

www.jointkit.co.uk

info@jointkit.co.uk | 07887 998 033

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 19


FUNCTION VENUES

Bad

Reviews

Handle customer feedback and avoid adverse

reviews with advice from Caroline Cooper

GETTY IMAGES

IF YOU’VE ever had a damning review on

social media, you know how it can really

feel – as if someone has smacked you in the

face. And you think “What?! Why the heck

didn’t they say something?” or “What are

they talking about? It wasn’t like that at all!”

Even if there is some cause for criticism, it

can feel depressing. You feel affronted by the

comments, and now the whole world can

see this.

But if you’re old enough to remember the

“United Airlines breaks guitars” video (which

has had over 20 million views on YouTube)

you know you need to take any feedback

seriously.

It’s easy to get defensive or take things

personally when hearing negative feedback

from customers, but without it, how do you

identify what’s working and what’s not in

your customers’ eyes? Customer feedback

can give you actionable insights that help

you make educated business decisions

rather than taking a shot in the dark. Value

this honest feedback from customers.

The bad news is that most customers

won’t give you a second chance if their first

experience is bad. That’s why it is paramount

to gather feedback at the first available

opportunity, so you have a chance to put

things right before it’s too late.

Too many businesses rely on

customers completing feedback forms or

questionnaires. The trouble with these is

that firstly people have better things to do

than fill out a form, and if they’re going to

say anything they’re far more likely to post a

comment on social media, telling the whole

world rather than just you.

Secondly, if someone has taken the

trouble to give feedback it’s usually too

late to rectify things if there was anything

they didn’t like. And there are bound to be

occasions when you don’t understand what

they’re referring to, and by now it’s difficult

to ask questions to unravel the issue.

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE

Take stock of the most common themes of

any complaints or aspects that have failed

to live up to customers’ expectations. If you

can pre-empt these you can either prevent

them, or at least take steps to minimise the

likelihood of them becoming an issue. An

example would be being very specific or

making it crystal clear the things you don’t

provide or do. It’s easy for customers to

make assumptions about what’s available

by comparing you with similar venues unless

you tell them otherwise, which can later

lead to disappointment. Or when you know

in advance you’re going to struggle to meet

service expectations due to staff shortages

or a key feature is out of action. Customers

will be far more understanding if you let

them know in advance so you or they can

make some provision, rather than letting

them down on the day.

INVOLVE YOUR TEAM

Involve your team in ‘hazard spotting’ and

in looking for solutions to common issues

that impact customers. Often they’ll foresee

issues you’ve never considered and before

they’ve become a problem.

Rather than waiting for things to go

wrong, create a culture where it’s accepted

that mishaps happen from time to time

and encourage your team to come forward

with details of near misses. If they fear a

reprimand or criticism they’ll never come

clean if they were close to causing an issue.

ENCOURAGE DIRECT FEEDBACK

Feedback directly from your customers gives

you the opportunity to capitalise on positive

feedback and minimise the impact of any

negatives. It gives you the chance to ask

questions to really understand the specifics.

When a customer has had a good

experience, sharing this with you at the

time helps reinforce those positives, whilst

if it’s negative you have an opportunity to

empathise, apologise and do something

about it whilst there’s still time to remedy

the situation.

WELCOME COMPLAINTS

Some customers feel awkward about giving

direct feedback, but will still quite happily

take to TripAdvisor or Facebook. Being

visible in your business and making contact

with your customers builds rapport and

trust. Once you’ve gained this you’re in a far

better position to gain valuable feedback

first hand.

Give your team the confidence to ask

well-structured questions to get feedback

on specifics; there’s a big difference

between bland statements such as “I hope

everything was OK” rather than asking

about specifics such as “What did you think

of the...?”

Be observant and look out for clues

that things are not as they should be.

A customer’s body language, facial

expressions, the tone of their voice or

hesitation, or their behaviours might allow

you to nip in the bud any potential problems

brewing.

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

If you don’t agree with negative feedback,

rather than getting defensive find out

(tactfully) what has led to the perception, as

this may lead to the root of the problem. If

you don’t know what disappoints customers

20 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

Dealing with complaints

Try my LEARN model for dealing with customer complaints, whether in person or online:

Listen - Listen actively to the customer – they want to get it off their chest and you need

to identify the problem. Park the emotion and focus on the facts.

Empathise - Show you care and that you understand their concern and why they might

be disappointed or feel angry, even if it’s not down to you. Apologise; this isn’t accepting

responsibility, but apologising that they've been put out or let down.

Agree action or alternatives - Admit responsibility if it’s down to you or the business.

Offer alternatives so the customer feels they are in control of the situation. Even if the

problem wasn't your fault, help lead them to a solution to the problem.

Restore confidence - Keep your promise and deliver. Check that the customer is happy

with the outcome.

Never again - Learn from the feedback and take steps so you never have to deal with the

same situation again.

With the right approach, complaints can turn a negative into a positive. You can’t always

get everything right, but when you don’t, make sure you fix it!

or has led to a negative perception you

can’t improve on it, so make sure you are

prepared to listen to and take on board any

thoughts on what lets you down, so you can

learn from and address it.

RECOVERY

Even the best run businesses have

problems, and when these affect customers

it’s the recovery of the situation that gets

remembered.

A customer doesn’t care whose fault it

is, all they are interested in is getting the

problem resolved. Empower your team

members to take whatever action is in the

customer’s best interest. This may involve

seeking information, support or action from

a colleague, but the important point here

is that they take ownership and see the

problem through to its resolution.

This is made easier when you have

systems and processes in place for service

recovery, and when everyone in the team

has the same understanding of these.

ONLINE REVIEWS

Whether it’s TripAdvisor, Google, Booking.

com or Facebook, there’s no getting away

from the fact that online reviews – and the

responses to them – are shared publicly

and may be seen by hundreds or even

thousands of prospective customers.

The more positive reviews you have

the less impact the occasional negative

review will have. The most effective way

to generate positive reviews is organically,

by offering such a positive experience that

customers feel compelled to tell others.

Give people a reason to talk about you.

People are more likely to write reviews

when expectations are surpassed, and this

is often found in the small details and the

special care of customers. Do something

exceptional, think of the things that are of

high value to your guests but low cost to

you so you can give added value.

When you know the customer has had

a positive experience don’t be pushy, but

sometimes just giving them a little nudge to

post a review can make all the difference.

“I’m happy to hear you enjoyed your stay.

It would mean a lot to us if you helped

spread the word by posting a review on

TripAdvisor.”

RESPOND PROFESSIONALLY

Accept that you will (hopefully only

occasionally) get negative reviews.

Whatever you do, don’t be drawn into

defensive mode; research indicates that

when customers see a business respond

positively and professionally to a negative

review, they are more than twice as likely to

buy from that business than if they had not

responded. It shows your customers that

you care, and are willing to learn and adapt

if relevant to meet their needs.

It's important to respond promptly, and

demonstrate empathy and that you care.

An obviously copied and pasted standard

response simply won’t do!

OFFLINE

If the review is asking for a response or

needs more discussion before it can be

resolved, take the discussion offline by

asking reviewers to phone/email you

directly. This provides an opportunity for

you to get more detail and has a better

chance of resolving the situation.

Feedback that you feel is unjustified

can be frustrating, but the way in which

you handle this will reflect on your

professionalism and reputation, so deal

with it in a constructive way. What you

need to ask is what led to this customer’s

perception. If you get drawn into a debate

or argument, just think how many of your

potential (or existing) customers could

see that response. By the same token, if

you feel justified or compelled to make

a refund, you’re in danger of setting a

precedent if you make this public online.

LISTEN AND LEARN

Whatever the feedback you receive, listen

and learn from it. Keep your objectivity

and don’t take things personally. Use the

feedback to identify your strengths so you

can capitalise on these. And make sure

you share these with your team then use

the less positive feedback to identify root

causes and what changes are needed.

Remember to involve your team in the

process.

If you only do one thing, ensure you have

systems and processes in place so that

everyone understands. Gather and share

customer feedback first-hand so you can

learn from it and act it to make continuous

improvements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caroline Cooper is the

founder of Naturally Loyal

and has over 30 years’ training

and development experience

in hospitality.

Recognising that managers often

get promoted into positions without

much training, her key focus is on developing

newly promoted and junior managers to lead

and engage their teams effectively.

Caroline has a number of free resources and

guides you can access at www.naturallyloyal.

com/free-resources

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 21


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Ideal for the reinforcement of

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pitches etc. at:

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www.perfo.co.uk

A recycled plastic pod that will not

deteriorate, has no joins and is lightweight

and strong. Pods are super low maintenance,

long lasting and very competitive on price.

• 90% recycled plastic shell

• Quick turnaround • Many colours

plasticpods@gmail.com • 07745 526320

www.plasticpods.co.uk

22 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

INDUSTRY COMMENT

Business Events

Fresh Air Thinking on

Loyalty

Andrew White says now is not the time to discount but to think

about a rebate on total annual spend for business events

THE MARKET is back, apparently. Without

doubt it depends on who you talk to and the

type of venue in question.

City centres are struggling and London,

particularly where the inbound tourist

market is, is only just starting to open

again. Fresh air is the hot ticket and it’s a

key decider for corporates as they plan to

restart their events. Unique and historic

venues have always been favourites for the

corporate – add in acres of space and it’s a

double tick.

However, as the UK reopens and Covid

abates, cities will become more combative

with their offers for corporate events. So

how can countryside venues hold onto their

current heightened demand?

Having ‘demand’ implies that things

will be less rate conscious. Rather like the

housing market during the stamp duty

holiday – why discount when demand is

high? What you are far better to do is to look

at clients’ total demand for events:

• Where are the other events that clients are

putting on?

• Could your venue potentially host all of

them or a proportion of them?

• Ultimately, what is the total demand you

could host?

GETTY IMAGES

Rather than hosting one or two of a client's

events, work towards becoming a preferred

event supplier. And at this point you could

start thinking of a discount or a rebate on

their total annual spend. It’s a win-win

situation where you gain loyalty, and your

client achieves a cost saving.

WORKING WITH AN AGENT

This tactic, that all the hotel and venue

chains use, is particularly useful to bring

into play with an agent who will be pushing

for increased commission. Find out the

agent’s total demand for your local area –

understand the competitors they are working

with and what business you could convert

from these competitors. Agents regularly

work to override agreements and it’s a surefire

way of gaining more business.

The one thing the pandemic taught us is

the value of relationships and support. It’s

important to show this with your clients,

whether it’s through a regular newsletter,

client events or a drop to their office to

remind them you are there. People buy

people and you will be astounded at the

power of relationships in the events sector.

Exclusive Collection, a group of independent

countryside hotels, has created an exemplary

network of event professionals. The network

not only drives business to Exclusive, but

it has also built relationships and business

opportunities with each other, and the

members share best practices between

themselves meaning loyalty is at an all-time

high.

Offering a discount now will only lead

to undermining your rates longer term.

Countryside venues are at a huge advantage

and should be spending time understanding

and developing relationships with their

current and past clients, as well as gleaning

what their competitor set is up to.

By building relationships, even shaking

hands (who’d have thought it!), it will have

an enormous impact on demand. Regularly

remind potential clients of your location,

history and surroundings and you’ll see

business enquire, confirm and repay.

Your biggest asset is your location and, let’s

face it, what’s the cost of fresh air?

BELOW: Pennyhill Park, one of Exclusive

Collection’s independent countryside hotels

where customer loyalty is at an all-time high

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications,

a specialist in helping heritage venues and leisure

attractions build awareness and market share in the

business of events. www.triggerfish.co.uk

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 23


FUNCTION VENUES

Open Water

Opportunities

Charlotte Winship investigates the demand for open water swimming venues

COASTAL BAY, lake, reservoir or river – water

vistas have been highly prized by property

owners for centuries for their visual charm

and the associated therapeutic wins of being

near water. The appeal of water is growing

as more and more people discover that the

benefits of getting wet far outweigh those

benefits of viewing water from afar.

The health advantages of cold

water swimming are significant with

various studies 1 reporting benefits to

immune system, mental, hormonal and

cardiovascular health. In 2018 the British

Medical Journal published a case report 2

which found that a programme of regular

cold water swimming had helped treat

a woman suffering from depression

and anxiety. Early research from the UK

“I STARTED THIS PRACTICE

FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH

BECAUSE I REALISED THE

‘FEEL GOOD’ ENDORPHINS

HELP STABILISE ME WHEN

OVERWHELM AND ANXIETY

KICKS IN”.

Dementia Research Institute Centre at the

University of Cambridge also indicates

that cold water swimming may slow the

onset of neurodegenerative diseases such

as Alzheimer’s and dementia by increasing

levels of the protein RBM3 3 .

Other testimonies and anecdotal evidence

also support the theory that outdoor

swimming can have a significant benefit

to mental health. Open water swimming

fan and yoga instructor Alix Coleby says: “I

started this practice for my mental health

because I realised the ‘feel good’ endorphins

help stabilise me when overwhelm and

anxiety kicks in”.

RECENT GROWTH IN DEMAND

With mental illness on the rise, and one in

four adults experiencing a mental health

condition 4 , this could explain the recent

growth in open water swimming since 2020.

Indoor swimming venues have also been

forced to close due to the Covid pandemic

and swimmers have had to become more

24 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

inventive in finding safe places to get

wet. This has led to increased numbers of

people enjoying their local coastline and

waterways, looking for new places to swim

and discovering the benefits of outdoor

swimming.

According to a report by Outdoor

Swimmer, the number of people regularly

enjoying outdoor swimming in the UK

increased threefold in summer 2020

compared to 2019 and there are now more

than 1 million people enjoying the sport.

But with water comes risk and this

dramatic increase in popularity has raised

concern for people swimming unsupervised

in potentially dangerous locations and

conditions. This has given rise to a number

of open water swimming clubs opening

up across the UK seeking safe locations

to operate supervised outdoor swimming

sessions. These events offer safer access to

water for both amateur leisure swimmers

and more experienced and competitive

athletes.

Dave Knight from Do3 has been running

open water swimming events at the 600m

lake at Compton Verney in Warwickshire

for the past year and regularly sees up to

200 swimmers coming to each of the three

sessions he hosts each week. The Compton

Verney Estate provides a beautiful setting

within the ‘Capability’ Brown parkland. The

sessions run out of hours either first thing

in the morning or early evening when the

parkland is closed to regular visitors.

Dave and his team are all experienced

open water swimmers and triathletes who

have put in place rigorous procedures to

ensure the health and safety of swimmers

and preserve the historic lake. These include

regular water quality checks, lifeguards, first

aiders, rescue kayaks, spotters, an online

booking system, strict lake entry and exit

points, swim competency tests, tow floats

and the management of numbers to ensure

social distancing.

For Compton Verney, this relationship

offers a small out-of-hours income for

minimal effort on their part and the

opportunity to reach a new audience and

build public awareness of their art gallery

and other events and venues.

Larger financial rewards come from

one-off large scale events. Compton Verney

are planning their first Triathlon in 2021.

The estate’s event coordinator, Anona Van

Lawick, explains: “Health and safety risks

are a huge consideration. Our CCTV and

site security has been incredibly important

to ensure swimmers only engage in the

BELOW: Corinne Moss, coach with Do3 Coaching and the current double British Triathlon

Champion, swims at open water swimming venue at Compton Verney, Warwickshire

DAVID KNIGHT

GETTY IMAGES

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 25


FUNCTION VENUES

activity safely and under the strict watch

of Do3. Swimming is not permitted outside

of swimming hours. There is also an

environmental and ecological balance to

watch”.

A NEW REVENUE STREAM

As demand for safe open water swimming

continues to rise, this could be an

opportunity for land and venue owners with

access to a body of water. If you have a lake,

moat, pond, reservoir or disused quarry

that you are happy to share with members

of the public then this could open up a

new revenue stream, particularly during

quieter, early morning weekdays. If you have

on-site catering available then there may

also be the opportunity to develop your

morning trade by offering post-swim hot

drinks and breakfasts. Health and wellbeing

retreats are also becoming very popular; the

opportunity for guests to experience open

water swimming while also enjoying other

therapeutic activities is a definite winner.

However, before you don your wetsuit and

dive into the world of open water swimming,

consider the following:

Work with an experienced, accredited

1 and qualified local outdoor swimming

organisation.

Unless you are already experienced in the

risks of outdoor swimming then I highly

recommend you collaborate with someone

who is. They will be able to help put in place

all the necessary infrastructure, planning and

procedures to ensure the safety of swimmers.

Get in touch with your local club – social

media is awash with clubs, associations

and other organisations. If you cannot find

one near you then the Outdoor Swimming

Society, NOWCA or Swim England may be

able to help.

Check your water quality.

2 Water contains microorganisms that

can be harmful to humans. Purpose built

swimming pools can manage these with the

use of chemical treatments such as chlorine

however more natural bodies of water are

harder to manage. If you intend to open

your water to the general public then you

will be required to regularly test the health

of your water under the UK Bathing Water

Regulations 1991 and 2013. You will also

need to check underneath the surface of the

water for any hazards that could cause injury

to swimmers.

Public liability insurance.

3 Make sure your public liability insurance

covers you for open water swimming

DAVID KNIGHT

activities and make sure anyone you are

collaborating with also has the appropriate

insurances.

Emergency plan.

4 Be prepared. Put in place a procedure

for everyone to follow in the case of an

emergency. Make sure everyone knows what

the procedure is and rehearse it. Qualified

first aiders and lifeguards are essential.

Manage your swimmers.

5 An advanced booking system will help

you manage numbers as well as selling timed

tickets and helping to gather information

about your swimmers in advance for health

and safety. You will need to have a strict

checking in and checking out process on the

day to ensure you know who is in the water

at any time.

6 Communication.

Make sure swimmers know what to

expect when they arrive – where to park,

any facilities available or not available, swim

routes and any particular characteristics of

the water. Keep an eye on weather conditions

and give early notification if you need to

cancel or postpone your event. Two-way

radios for on-shore and off-shore lifeguards

and spotters are also crucial in the event of

an emergency.

Open water swimming is seasonal.

7 The optimum time of year is May to

September when water temperature is at

REFERENCES: 1. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7730683. 2. casereports.bmj.com/

content/2018/bcr-2018-225007. 3. www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54531075. 4. www.cqc.org.

uk/sites/default/files/20201124_cmh20_statisticalrelease.pdf

“KEEP AN EYE ON WEATHER CONDITIONS AND GIVE EARLY

NOTIFICATION IF YOU NEED TO CANCEL OR POSTPONE

YOUR EVENT. TWO-WAY RADIOS FOR ON-SHORE AND OFF-

SHORE LIFEGUARDS AND SPOTTERS ARE ALSO CRUCIAL IN

THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY”

its best, though it rarely rises above 15 o C

at any time of the year. Though some like

to swim all year round, winter swimming is

not advised for novice swimmers unused

to the reaction of their body in cold water.

Inexperienced cold water swimmers

can quickly suffer shock and become

incapacitated. This is another reason to work

with experienced, professional swimmers

and lifeguards who can quickly spot the signs

of someone in trouble.

MORE INFORMATION

www.outdoorswimmer.com

www.do3.co.uk

www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com

www.nowca.org

www.swimming.org/openwater/openwater-swimming-venues

www.comptonverney.org.uk

www.corestoriesyoga.co.uk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charlotte Winship has

over 20 years’ experience

transforming good wedding

and events venues into

great ones. She is an expert

in helping venues reach their

ideal customers, maximise sales

opportunities, increase profitability,

establish effective teams and streamline

venue operations. 07493 350303 / charlotte@

charlottewinship.com /

www.charlottewinship.com

26 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


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FUNCTION VENUES

PRODUCT IN FOCUS

Outdoor Accommodation

Kinmel Hall, North Wales

Product: 16 Plastic Pods

Supplier: Plastic Pods, 07745 526320, plasticpods@

gmail.com, www.plasticpods.co.uk

Michael Caines’s Lympstone Manor, Devon

Product: Six Blackdown Brace Huts

Supplier: Blackdown Shepherd Huts, 01460 929774, info@

blackdownshepherdhuts.co.uk, www.blackdownshepherdhuts.co.uk

Details: Michael Caines’s Lympstone Manor is a luxury five-star country

house hotel with breathtaking views over the tranquil Exe estuary and

vineyard. With 21 sumptuous guestrooms and suites, complemented

by Michael Caines’s Michelin starred restaurant, the hotel provides the

perfect retreat for discerning guests. 2021 saw the next stage of Michael’s

vision with the arrival of six luxury Blackdown Brace Huts in a perfect spot

just a stone’s throw from the Exe estuary.

Handcrafted in Somerset by Blackdown Shepherd Huts, these huts

offered Lympstone the opportunity to add a magical experience to its

offering. The installation took just four days, with minimum disruption

to existing guests, and

included three bespoke

plant rooms, two outdoor

baths and four wood-fired

Hikki hot tubs. Guests

were able to enjoy the new

accommodation within a

week of delivery.

Blackdown’s Brace Hut

is the prevalent option

in this sector due to its

unique design comprising

of two handcrafted huts,

cleverly joined together

with a glass walkway. Located in the middle of Lympstone Manor’s

woodland area, the huts are capable of hosting a family of up to five and

provide an exceptional connection to the nature immersed location.

Customer feedback: Michael Caines MBE, chef owner, said: “I wanted

to add something magical to the experience here at Lympstone Manor,

somewhere that took you away from it all, immersed you into a fairytale

of luxury and comfort in amongst the woodlands and at one with nature.

The shepherd huts provide the perfect opportunity, with Blackdown

Shepherd Huts creating an adventure of comfort and joy. It’s been a great

project, professionally managed and executed to perfection by their

team”.

EMMA SOLLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

EMMA SOLLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Details: After buying a derelict

mansion, Kinmel Hall, close

to the north coast of Wales,

owner Chris had to find

a way to help fund his

vast restoration project.

The 120 room mansion,

with a staggering 365

windows, required a

significant and steady

stream of funds for its

restoration. After much

consideration, he decided to

buy a selection of Plastic Pods for

glamping.

Since all pods are built to order he had two for

every colour of the rainbow. All pods were sited less

than four weeks after the purchase and, due to the

upgraded insulated fibreglass floors, no groundwork

preparations were needed; they went straight down

onto the grass.

His investment plan was for visitors to rent the pods

on site in a glamping set up and explore the historical

grounds. The return on his investment was planned to

provide funds to restore Kinmel Hall to its former glory

and he is already considering his next bulk purchase of

Plastic Pods.

Feedback: Chris is very happy with his pods and

would recommend the company to any respective

customer as, he says, the whole service has been

amazing from start to finish.

28 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


FUNCTION VENUES

PRODUCT

SNAPSHOT

BOUTIQUE ROOF TERRACE ESCAPE

Outerspace Buildings

01978 254150

hello@outerspacegroup.com

www.outerspacegroup.com

Whether you're thinking of diversifying or extending your staycation

offerings, it's undeniably a good time to do so. The pandemic has

changed our need for nature, and whilst out exploring there's a desire

to call somewhere 'home'. Personal space, somewhere to feel safe

and cosy. Somewhere a little different with an added sense of luxury.

Meet Outerspace Buildings, a manufacturer based in Wales that

is passionate and motivated to help hotels, landowners and holiday

destinations meet the ever changing needs of the UK staycation

demand.

Outerspace's buildings are created from a combination of unique

vision and physical craftsmanship. At their heart is a team of

passionate and motivated designers, engineers and craftsmen who

understand entirely what customer experience is all about.

Their unique and innovative building designs clearly challenge the

status quo and focus on customer experience both inside and out.

It's their attention to detail that makes their buildings so unique and

special.

QUICK AND EASY TO ASSEMBLE TIMBER FRAME

ACCOMMODATION

JK Designer Builds

07887 998033

info@jointkit.co.uk

www.jointkit.co.uk

JK Designer Builds uses the innovative, patented JointKit

system to create visually exciting and affordable timber

framed buildings. Most clients specify full electrical

installation, lining and a high level of insulation.

This new building concept is based on CNC cut plywood

pieces slotted together to form joints to which beams are

attached. Frames can be assembled quickly and without

building skills and qualify under the Caravan Act, avoiding

complicated planning issues. Construction without concrete

foundations is also possible as the lightweight units only need

JK Designer Build’s ground support system. Eliminating the

traditional concrete slab foundation is both environmentally

and budget friendly. The ground support system also

overcomes sloping site issues as the frame is supported by

varying lengths of rot proof recycled plastic wood.

The highly flexible system allows sizes from 1.2m sq to

60m sq, with shapes ranging from squares and oblongs to

pentagons and polygons.

CUSTOMISABLE TINY HOMES – BOOK TO VIEW NOW

The Qube Eco Tiny Homes

01604 785786

ecotinyhomes@theqube.co.uk

www.thequbeecotinyhomes.co.uk

Portable, affordable and energy efficient tiny homes are the perfect

way to show your site is keeping up with the rising demand for ecofriendly

holidays.

When you place an order with The Qube Eco Tiny Homes, you are

given the option to tweak the design of your structure to just the way

you want it. Choices include internal wall and roof cladding colour,

kitchen worktop and cupboard colour, Vinyl flooring colour, sofa fabric

and colour, and the external cladding finishes (timber, composite

panel, corrugated sheet and more). This means you can have your tiny

home made just the way you know your guests will love it.

The Qube’s new Northamptonshire factory is open to visit, giving

you the chance to meet the team and see the build quality of its

structures.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 29


30 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

CASE STUDY

Hedgerow

Luxury Glamping

A child free, pet free retreat on a working farm

With a large mortgage to

pay, Mark and Hilary Berry

juggle a working dairy farm

with five (soon to be six)

luxury glamping units. We

talk to Hilary about their

hectic working day and

plans for expansion to meet

demand post Covid.

What’s your back story – your life

before glamping?

My husband Mark has been a farmer all

his life after growing up on a dairy and

sheep farm. He’s always had to help out

with everything from milking to lambing. I

grew up in an old railway station which my

parents converted into a bed and breakfast.

I helped make beds and waited on tables

for breakfast and evening meals. I even had

a little shop from which I sold cakes and

pictures I had made for guests to buy.

What made you decide to start offering

glamping accommodation?

After many years as a cake maker, then

working for a local supplier travelling around

cake shows, it was time to make my dream

come true and get back into hospitality.

Mark and I bought Mark’s family farm in 2018

and now have 200 acres to look after and

250 cows. With a huge mortgage we needed

something to help support us and I was

inspired to start a glamping site after seeing

some pods at a local agricultural show.

Our aim is for Mark to stop milking and to

do glamping full time but we still have that

huge mortgage to pay off.

How did you research the business before

entering it?

Our children are grown up so I decided I

would like a child free retreat – basically

somewhere I would go glamping myself. I

am allergic to animals (yes, a farmer’s wife,

lol) so no pets are allowed so I can go into

the pods without sneezing. I looked through

so many places to visit and test out the

glamping idea but I didn’t like

any so I’ve still not been glamping yet!

Tell us about your location

and site

We chose our location because of its

amazing views over the hedge across to

Inglebourgh and Pendle Hill. The site is

south facing so we get all the sun and the

most amazing sunsets – modern living in the

heart of nature. It’s also in perfect reach of

the Yorkshire Dales and the Ribble Valley as

the field is on the boundary of Yorkshire and

Lancashire.

We now have a shop/firepit den that

seats 15, hens (collect your own fresh

eggs) and six alpacas on site. We also

have two Highland cows (Honey and

Marmalade – a few animals I am not

allergic to) that Mark bought me for

my 50th birthday, but all they do is

escape back to the farm!

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 31


GLAMPSITES

How did you tackle getting

planning?

We decided to go for planning for

six pods thinking we would only

ever get three – number six pod is

expected in September so I think it’s

time we got planning on the next

field!

Planning went through in eight

weeks with no complications in

January 2019 and work started

when the weather allowed us to start

digging.

We ordered two glamping pods

for our new site with a deadline of

December 2019 to open. With the

excitement we decided to order

another pod so we had three. Our

first pod arrived in June then the

next one two weeks later and the

final one in August. We brought our

opening date forward to 11 October

after we had our council inspection.

We now have four pods, a new

shepherds hut and another pod on

the way.

How did you finance the project?

To fund the site we used all our

savings and borrowed from family

and have done as much work as

we could on our own. Our middle

son, Russell, is an electrician so he

sorted all the electrics on the site

from laying cables to putting up

lighting. Our youngest son, Austin, is

an engineer and designed and made

a BBQ and the firepit with a laser

cutter. Our eldest son helped out

with all the finishing touches from

blinds to putting up TVs.

With the field we had to get

32 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

electric in and water, which blew a

hole in our budget but what can you

do when you need it? The electric

cost £23,000 and the water £28,000

– we had to put in a bore hole then

a water system. It wasn’t easy as all

the grants had finished.

“OUR MAIN

SELLING

POINT IS

LUXURY, HOT

TUBS, NO

CHILDREN

AND NO PETS

– WE OFFER A

QUIET LUXURY

RETREAT ALL

YEAR ROUND”

How would you describe your

ethos and unique selling point?

Our main selling point is luxury, hot

tubs, no children and no pets – we

offer a quiet luxury retreat all year

round.

I wanted to do something

different; a quiet retreat

in a romantic setting, 5*

accommodation with lots of luxuries

– all king size beds (the new one

will have a super king size), four

poster beds in some, all en-suite

with rain showers, dishwashers,

some with walk in wardrobes,

underfloor heating, luxury bedding,

fully kitted kitchens, Wi-Fi and smart

TVs, private hot tubs/firepits and

BBQs with complimentary treats of

chocolates and gin.

What occupancy levels and price

per night do you achieve?

All our accommodation is for two

people. We have been full months

in advance always – even before we

opened. With a minimum stay of

three nights (Friday to Monday or

Monday to Thursday) or a one night

stay on a Thursday night. Our winter

months and warmer months pricing

ranges from £260 per three days to

£395. In the summer we are priced

at £360 to £495. One night stays are

£150.

How did you work out your

brand and how do you publicise

yourself?

The branding just went with the

type of glamping I wanted – luxury.

I designed the logo and the name

just followed as the site is situated in

front of a beautiful hedgerow.

We use the booking system Bedful

and have the site on Cool Camping.

We use Facebook and Instagram

and have a local lady who does my

website. I wanted someone I could

talk to as I am not good with website

Build Your Own

Shepherd Huts

With Tithe Barn Shepherd Huts original parts.

Call 01262 470475 or

Visit www.shepherd-huts.com

and click on the ‘self build’ page

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 33


GLAMPSITES

things; I know what I want but just

don’t know what to do.

How have you coped through

Covid?

Covid was hard as we had only

been trading 28 weeks. It was such

a shock but customers were great

(other than one or two). We moved

them all forward to chosen dates

not knowing they would have to

move again, which was good but it

left us on a low when we reopened

in April 2021 with few spaces for new

guests. It was then that we decide

on buying pod number four using

our Bounce Back loan. Our new

shepherds hut was purchased with

our grants and council funding and

a little help from our parents again.

With pod six, we thought “sod it,

let’s just get a loan!”

We are still full but with more

accommodation it will help more

people wanting to get away for

some quality time.

What are your plans for next

season?

This year we will complete our little

retreat with its accommodation,

next year we’ll be landscaping areas

of the site that need more attention.

We will also start on plans for the

next field and apply for planning.

Describe your average day midseason

Mark gets up at 4am to milk the

cows. With around 30 calves to feed

too, he’s done at about 7am. He

scrapes up the buildings and comes

in for breakfast at 8.30am.

After breakfast we collect together

clean filters, the welcome packs

of milk, orange and crumpets and

head over to the site. Changeover

starts at 10am.

With grass cutting and hot tubs

to drop, clean and reheat, there is

plenty for Mark to do while I head off

and sort the laundry and cleaning

– we have three part time cleaners

now that we have five glamping

units (soon to be six) and a part time

gardener/handy man as Mark still

has to work on the farm.

By 3pm we are ready for new

guests but we also have the hens

to clean out and the alpacas to

feed. Then we head home ready

for milking time again. Milking is

finished by 6pm and the calves fed

by 6.30pm. Afterwards we head back

over to the glamping site to check

everything is OK and just have time

to water the plants.

At 8pm it’s time for tea then it’s off

to bed ready for another busy day on

the farm.

Do you enjoy the business and

why?

We do enjoy the glamping business

but it’s hard work balancing it with

the farm and also expanding – the

site takes so much time. I think if

we didn’t have all the farm work we

would enjoy it more but we have met

so many fantastic people it makes it

worthwhile.

What advice could you give

to someone coming into the

industry?

Our advice is to make sure you have

plenty of time, lots of money and are

willing to work hard.

What are you most proud of?

We are proud of our ‘little village’

we have created. It’s our little luxury

sanctuary, our retreat.

What other outdoor hospitality

sectors do you operate in?

So far we have had lots of marriage

proposals and lots of honeymoons.

We haven’t had any events yet but

do have a few bookings for the full

site for birthdays. Hopefully as we

grow and develop the site we can

venture into small luxury weddings

– we certainly have the land to put

marquees up.

ADDRESS BOOK

PODS

Arch Leisure

www.archleisure.co.uk

Lune Valley Pods

www.lunevalleypods.co.uk

SHEPHERD HUT

Black Sheep Shepherd Huts

www.blacksheepshepherdhuts.co.uk

HOT TUBS

Naked flame Eco Tubs

www.nakedtubs.com/hot-tubs

Rotospa www.rotospa.co.uk

BOOKINGS

Bedful www.bedful.com

INSURANCE

Woodlands Insurance

www.woodlandsinsurance.co.uk

BBQ/FIRE HUT

Arctic Cabins

www.arcticcabins.co.uk

FURNITURE

Ashton & Coleman

www.ashtonandcoleman.co.uk

WOOD PACKS

Certainly Wood

www.certainlywood.co.uk

WEBSITE

SBC Marketing

www.sbcmarketing.co.uk

DETAILS

Hedgerow Luxury Glamping

Knot Lane, Clitheroe

Lancashire BB7 4JF

www.hedgerowluxuryglamping.com

34 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


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WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 35

ss21 trade as quarter page.indd 1 06/07/2021 16:19:21


GLAMPSITES

TRADE SECRETS

Signage

Graphic designer Andy Tuohy on redesigning Leafy

Fields Glamping's logo and signage

THE STARTING point for any design or

redesign is consultation with the client. I

talk with them about what they are trying

to achieve by commissioning me then take

a look at their offer with no preconceptions.

This way I can see where the gaps might be

in terms of their communication through

design.

With Leafy Fields Glamping, the starting

point was a realisation that the brand

needed an update. We were already in

dialogue, as my family and I have been

visitors in the past, but ordinarily I

would be approached via email

or phone. Owner Dani had done

a great job with the original

logo, but she isn’t a designer

and needed help to pull things

together for other elements

including signage across the site.

Often businesses reach the point

where to help them develop and

grow they need a professional

design consultancy.

THE BRIEF

The client should be able to give an

overview of what they need, and in this

instance Dani and her husband Andrew

wanted professional signage and a map

that didn’t veer too far off the look and feel

they had already established. It should be

fun, ‘animally’, family-friendly, safe and

accessible. The previous signs had been

laminated photocopies and inconsistently

designed. The symbols for the tents were

also in places that would not be immediately

visible if driving onto the site for the first

time.

It is key to understand the client’s

business. This seems obvious but it is too

easy to get carried away and fall in love with

attractive designs to the point that what is

needed isn’t being delivered. Design is about

effective problem solving.

Part of understanding the client’s business

is knowing who their customers are and

whether they’re trying to attract a new

market or build on an established

client base. In the case of Leafy Fields,

families of autistic children are the

primary market.

At the start of any brief we ask

questions and see for ourselves if

these are born out in the design we’re being

asked to look at (if a redesign) or need to

incorporate if it’s a brand new design – how

did the business start, what are the historical

touch points and values of the brand?

It is also important to look at the client’s

competitors. There are many excellent

glamping sites in Devon but none with the

focus on families with disabilities, so that

sets Leafy Fields apart.

THE RESULT

The challenge was to ensure that the original

feel of the brand wasn’t lost in any way and

built on subtly so that it was still totally

recognisable. For the logo, we

decided to simply tighten the

design up with a similar but more

sophisticated typeface that could be

used throughout the site’s branding

and a cleaner, simpler image of the fox

head.

We knew Leafy Fields as customers so had

a ‘feel’ for the site and brand values already.

Dani and Andrew were very clear on the

elements we needed to use for accessibility

so that was the starting point – clarity.

The next stage was to create more

consistency and uniformity within the

on-site signage telling glampers about

the animals and wildlife to be found. One

of the key features, to make signs more

accessible for all guests, was the inclusion

of British Sign Language and using a pale

yellow background, which is easier to read

for those with dyslexia. It was fun to have

pictures of Dani and Andrew’s children

signing for all the animal signs and it added

to the child friendly, informal family feel of

the site.

36 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

“THE SYMBOLS FOR EACH LODGE ARE ALSO USED TO IDENTIFY THE VARIOUS

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS WHEN BROWSING AND BOOKING ONLINE”

The last pieces in the jigsaw were signs

for each lodge: Fox; Badger; Crivens (Dani

and Andrew are big fans of Terry Pratchett);

and the bell tent Clover. They provide a

great focal point for the accommodation

and clear wayfinding when entering the

site for the first time. The symbols for each

lodge are also used to identify the various

accommodation options when browsing

and booking online. These illustrations

were also extremely useful for social media

as they provided something that could

look fun and engaging when families take

photos and post about their experience

on social media. They offer another way to

generate interest and engagement beyond

the site itself.

The artwork was printed on an

aluminium composite material, which

is hard wearing and a good medium

for bright, clean signage. Signs were

positioned in front of each lodge and on

the front gate. The map is being used

online and in bookings packs.

BUDGET

How much to budget for design is a tricky

question as it totally depends on the extent

of the brief, the amount of amendments

and the time taken to complete the work.

I would advise any company to think

carefully about what they want to get out

of the piece of work and what that could

be worth to them in terms of brand value,

potential for PR, online content generation,

improving their customer experience to

ensure repeat business, wayfinding around

a site and general customer satisfaction.

We always try to give the best value for

money to our clients and often small jobs

can be worth much more than that in the

long run for a small business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy is a designer and illustrator widely

commissioned by institutions, publishers,

festivals and museums from around the world

including Tate Enterprises, Royal Shakespeare

Company, Penguin US, Royal Mail Stamps and the

British Film Institute. Andy has three illustrated

books on film, writers and art on the Octopus

Publishing imprint. Visitors to Tate Liverpool

may be familiar with Andy's A-Z of Liverpool and

Merseyside, a labour of love for Andy who studied

graphic design in the city in the 1980s.

Andy has his own studio on the south coast which

he runs with his wife Olivia. www.andytuohy.

co.uk / hello@andytuohy.co.uk / 01303 261386.

ABOUT LEAFY FIELDS GLAMPING

Leafy Fields Glamping is an autism friendly

glamping site near the Blackdown Hills in Devon.

It won gold in the Visit Devon 2020 tourism

awards.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 37


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38 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

Finding Money

Funding the

development of rural

leisure businesses can be

a minefield. Here rural

mortgage consultant Jim

Richards shares his tips

for securing finance

GETTY IMAGES

THERE ARE many reasons why you may

think commercial lending by mainstream

banks will be a non-starter for a rural

business and, for an unprepared loanee, the

banking landscape can be a minefield.

Most banks operate in a very narrow

range of parameters at the exclusion of

many sound businesses. If you have a set

of accounts that demonstrates that you

can afford the debt historically then you’ll

be ok, but how many start-up, fledgling or

expanding businesses are in this position?

Then there are the challenges banks

present themselves, many of which don’t

promote that they can fund an array of

leisure enterprises. Add to that junior staff

replacing ‘seasoned specialists’, decisions

made by remote, risk averse underwriters,

regular changes in lending policy and a

restricted loan to value for new enterprises

(the standard response is 50-60%, but in

our experience 70% max is the norm), then

the lending market can be a minefield for

customers trying to seek funding on their

own.

There is also differing lending policy

“IF YOU HAVE A SET

OF ACCOUNTS THAT

DEMONSTRATES THAT YOU

CAN AFFORD THE DEBT

HISTORICALLY THEN YOU’LL

BE OK, BUT HOW MANY

START-UP, FLEDGLING OR

EXPANDING BUSINESSES

ARE IN THIS POSITION?”

depending on whether the enterprise

is deemed to be agriculture/farm

diversification or purely leisure/hospitality.

This difference can determine the term of

the loan from 15 (for leisure) or up to 25

years (for agriculture/diversification). It

can also determine the business surplus

required to cover mortgage payments by

x1.5 for agriculture or x3 for leisure.

AVOIDING ‘COMPUTER SAYS NO’

So how to avoid the ‘computer says no’

scenario? Once a bank has formed an

opinion on your proposal you are unlikely

to get a second chance, so how to approach

things at the outset? You could use a rural

mortgage consultant, or if you want to go it

alone, here are some top tips:

› Prepare well in advance

› Get your financial house in order

› Establish your team – accountant etc.

› Research and identify borrowing

guidelines so that you know what the

challenges are and what your business

has to look like in order to attract funding

› Establish your borrowing ability against

your resources and business performance

both now and in the future

› Put in motion steps and a time frame in

which to engineer your plans

› If you have no experience in the sector it’s

important that you consider how you can

gain experience or how your skills can be

applied. Banks weight this heavily and

often to the negative if you don’t have

experience.

TOOLBOX FOR SUCCESS

Getting your financial house in order

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 39


GLAMPSITES

is essential as this will determine the

probability of the success of the funding

request. Here are a few ways in which you

can equip yourself:

› Accounts carry a lot of weight.

Unfortunately, they are rarely

accompanied by any narrative as to what

has happened. The story behind the

accounts is important to set the business

in context of the plans going forward

› Up to date trading performance

demonstrates that you are in control

and that you know the position of your

business at any point in time

› A simple plan. Again, this demonstrates

that you know where you are going and

have a focus and objective

› Cashflow forecasts explain your vision

but in financial terms that lenders will

understand – this is often the crux of the

proposal

› Adverse credit – this just adds an extra

complexity that you can do without. Use

your planning time frame to resolve any

credit issues in good time

› Pay attention to your bank conduct.

Get timings right on credits and debits

payments, arrange a higher overdraft if

required, but avoid at all costs incurring

returned items… it’s just not good!

› Control personal expenditure; know

what you need to live on a monthly basis

and extract that to a separate account.

Uncontrolled/unaccountable drawings is

a big factor in undermining the argument

for affordability based on historic

accounts

› If you have a property to sell or are

raising funds from family, then prepare

for this sale in good time and talk to the

family member. Delays can be critical to

success.

ABOVE: This is a typical forecast spreadsheet – note the number ringed in red,

the ‘net cashflow surplus’

FUNDING SUCCESS MAGIC NUMBER

This is a bit of a trade secret but it’s the

principle around which I build every lending

case.

The magic number is circled in red in

the table above. It is what we call the ‘net

cashflow surplus’ against which we test the

mortgage costs. You’ll see that this number

is £102K –remember this. Now, here's the

whole story:

› The test is predominantly based on

forecasts

› As mentioned the number is the net

cashflow which is the income minus

expenditure but before mortgage costs

› By year 3, the forecasts should

demonstrate that this net cashflow can

cover the mortgage costs by x1.5 to x3 for

agriculture or leisure respectively

› The forecasts predict a net cashflow of

£102K

› This is a live case and the clients were

requesting £220K and at a sensitised

interest rate of 6% over 15 and 25 years.

Mortgage costs would be £22K and £17K

pa respectively

› Factoring in the cover required of x1.5

to x3, the business needed to generate a

net cashflow of £33-£66K for 15 years or

£26K-£51K

› The business was forecast to generate a

net cashflow of £102K, so it passed!

› However, despite the clear ability, only two

out of five of the main high street banks

agreed a mortgage, with the others citing

other factors for declining the application

› We were delighted to have been able to

provide the clients with a choice of lending

options, but this just demonstrates the

challenges of raising funding for this type

of enterprise.

IN SUMMARY

› Funding is available to the tourism/

hospitality sector

› Finding it can be an issue

› Lending policy can vary and clearly a

proposal will live or die on this

› An understanding of lending guidelines is

essential to navigate the minefield and a

‘soft’ exercise early on in your plans would

help you to hone your plans so that the

final version fits bank criteria

› Prepare well in advance with the right

financial information and team around

you

› Identify potential obstacles and provide

the supporting information – the benefit

of underwriters is that they are humans

and we can appeal to their rationale. If it

makes sense they will ‘buy it’.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Richards is co-director

of R&BS, a nationwide

consultancy that

specialises in mortgage

funding for rural properties.

Founded in 2004, R&BS was

created to provide strategic

finance expertise to existing rural business

owners and those wishing to enter the

rural property market, helping them access

funding for purchase, expansion and

diversification. www.ruralmortgages.co.uk

40 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


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WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 41


GLAMPSITES

Social Media

GETTY IMAGES

Planning

Lisa Bullen outlines how to save time by planning out

your social media and suggests some easy wins

KEEPING ON top of your social media can

become a chore, which is why having a

content planner (nothing grand or fancy)

will save you both time and sanity. It will

also mean that your social media output

remains varied, interesting and relevant

and doesn’t resort to numerous posts of

the same thing.

WHERE TO START

I suggest that you start by looking at the

metrics relating to your previous posts. Go

to your profile on Instagram, click Insights

and head to Content You Shared, then

choose from the drop downs between

Reach, Likes, Comments, Saves etc. You

can pinpoint which posts have performed

the best based on your own criteria. It

makes sense to repeat the most successful

“style” of post as this is resonating with

your target audience.

On Facebook you can view your metrics

in a similar way. Choose Insights/Posts.

There is a myriad of data here relating to

your posts. It’s worth having a good look

around. Interestingly you can view the

most popular posts from pages that you

follow too, which is useful for competitor

analysis.

CREATE A CONTENT PLAN

There are a number of ways to do this, and

it's very personal depending on what you

want to post about. Split your year into 12

monthly segments and fill in ideas that are

immediately obvious:

› January – New Year bookings, book

for this year’s holidays while there’s

availability etc.

› February – Valentine’s Day, shortest

month of the year (leap year?), half term

› March – Easter holidays

› April – Easter holidays

› May – May half term

› June – Summer Solstice

› July – school holidays

› Aug – school holidays

› Sept – harvest time, schools go back,

adults only camping

› Oct – Halloween, pumpkins, scary fungus

in the woods

› Nov – autumn

› Dec – Christmas/winter scenes, prices go

up after 1 January etc.

Then think three to six months at a

time. What local events can you tie in

with or collaborate? Speak with your local

42 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

“DON'T WORRY IF YOU

HAVEN'T GOT PHOTOS

AVAILABLE JUST YET – THIS

IS JUST A WALL PLANNER TO

GIVE YOU SOME INSPIRATION”

tourist office as they have all the

listings some way in advance

eg. near us we have numerous

walking festivals in September.

What is your local area or county

known for eg. literary fairs, food

fairs? Add them to your monthly

segments.

Social media awareness days

are often irrelevant but there

are some that may be helpful

eg. Earth Day. Ensure that you

use the hashtag around that

particular awareness day, in

this case #EarthDay, so that

your social media post will

have a greater reach. See

www.awarenessdays.com for

a complete listing. Again, add

them to your monthly segments

sheet.

SEASONAL PHOTOGRAPHY

What can you use from a wildlife/nature

point of view? Instagram is always flooded

with gorgeous images of bluebells and

butterflies in the relevant seasons. Can

you create some lovely posts utilising what

you have in your fields or garden? The

allure of nature and wildlife is very strong,

particularly when many of your guests

may come from more urban environments.

Do you have lambs, ducklings etc? Again,

incorporate these into your planner. Don't

worry if you haven't got photos available

just yet – this is just a wall planner to give

you some inspiration.

Forward planning can be a real time

saver here too. Save and archive photos by

category and add to them each season (eg.

I have a great bank of butterfly pictures

that I add to each season).

CONTENT PILLARS

Once you have mapped out an overall

content planner by month you can start

to plan your social media around it. I

have a list of content pillars for one of my

camping clients that includes: Campsite

Cooking, Nature and

Wildlife, Family Fun, and

What’s On.

From there I will broadly

use the following types

of posts: blog posts,

promotional posts, user

generated content (ie. you

repost someone else's

content on your feed with

their permission) and

events/newsy posts.

Then I create the actual

posts (captions and

photos), normally about

two weeks in advance. Blog posts tend

to not be part of my “batch planning” as

they require a different thinking head on.

I totally recommend using a scheduler,

either Facebook Business Suite or an

external third-party scheduler like Planoly,

Buffer or Later.

So, there you have an overview of what

a content calendar year may look like,

the content pillars (topics to cover) and

the actual style of posts that can be used.

Happy posting!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa is a campsite owner

and runs a social media

consultancy. Her online

course “How to make

the most of social media

for your site” is available

to buy at £97 from www.

socialmediasussex.com/courses

Lisa is part of Pitch & Co (www.

pitchandco.uk), a collective of glamping

specialists offering business services to the

glamping industry.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 43


GLAMPSITES

PRODUCT IN FOCUS

Infrastructure

Waggoners Campsite at

Hampton Estate, Surrey

Supplier: Reworkshop Off Grid & Camping,

07714 719441, reworkshopwales@gmail.com,

www.reworkshopwales.co.uk

Product: Composting toilets and firepits

Details: A dose of nature 60

minutes from the hustle and

bustle of London, Waggoners

Campsite is 100%

environmentally friendly.

Its owners have gone to

every effort to make sure

this campsite has zero

environmental footprint,

including specifying

bespoke compostable toilets

from Reworkshop.

Reworkshops’ range of

portable composting outhouses

offer the perfect eco-friendly portable toilet

solution for nearly every off-grid situation,

from long drops to urinals and composting

toilets. Handmade sustainably with care and

attention to detail in Wales, the outhouses

were perfect for this pop-up site, being

easily movable. They were first delivered to a

different part of the estate where they were

utilised at an open farm event before being

transported to the campsite.

Reworkshop also supplied Frontier

Fireplaces, which were initially designed for

use in campsites, parks and public spaces to

help prevent damage and grass fires caused

by disposable BBQs and mis-managed

campfires. Equally at home in a garden or

outside space, they are designed and built

to be virtually indestructible. Using thick

gauge steel, these fireplaces/firepits will last

many years and are pretty much vandal proof,

especially when secured to a surface.

The Frontier Fireplace can be securely

fixed to any flat surface, or left freestanding,

and is also available with carry

handles. They can be rented to

campers to make a return on

your investment or installed

on/offered with pitches to

protect your site. Combined

with firewood sales, a

healthy additional income

can be achieved.

Customer feedback:

Bridget Biddell, manager at

Waggoners Campsite, said: “Finding

Reworkshop Wales and Joe Scott

has proved to be invaluable to Waggoners

Campsite. The compost loos provided by

Joe, with all the finishes, are very special and

enjoyed and admired by all our campers. They

work brilliantly and look so attractive, fitting

in with the eco credentials of our campsite.

“The fire pits are in huge demand and are

very effective in creating an atmospheric

campsite and are perfect for cooking Hampton

burgers and Hampton herby sausages.

It was a real pleasure to commission Joe

who delivered everything as required and

was amazingly helpful with advice on what

Waggoners Campsite would require”.

44 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


GLAMPSITES

Fledgling Farm Campsite,

Staffordshire

Product: 750 gallon waste tank and Elsan

Tipping Point

Supplier: Glampsan / Plastic Solutions

Aldridge, 01922 687545, jon@glampsan.com,

www.glampsan.com

Details: Ilexlignum Herd is a farming business

owned by Anthony and Ruth Key in Eccleshall,

Staffordshire. They breed and rear Boer goat

and grow cereals such as wheat and oats. They

have been successfully farming for several

years and felt the time had come to diversify

for a more secure future. They are located in a

beautiful part of Staffordshire, where people

like to visit, so they decided to use a pretty and

secluded field for staycations.

The field is off-grid and they needed

to supply facilities for their camping and

caravanning visitors including safe disposal

facilities for chemical toilets and running water

to clean the disposal facilities in order to gain

certification by the Camping and Caravanning

Club.

They soon settled for Glampsan's

combination of the Elsan Tipping Point and

750-gallon flat tank, which was easy to use

and simple to fit and keep clean. With the

choice made, ordered and delivered, they set

about creating a setting that was aesthetically

pleasing and easy to access. They decided to

build a picket fence around it and have since

added a chain and a stand for the lid whilst the

Elsan Tipping Point is in use.

Feedback: Owners Antony and Ruth Key

started their research at the Glamping Show

where they met the Glampsan team who were

exhibiting. The couple was not only impressed

by the company’s range of products but also

the knowledge and expertise of the friendly

staff who were able to recommend a solution

for their situation.

New Campsite, Warwickshire

Product: FuturEnergy Airforce1 1kw Wind

Turbine System and 8-meter Guyed Tower

Kit (Made in Britain Manufacturer)

Supplier: FuturEnergy, 01789 450280,

sales@futurenergy.co.uk,

www.futurenergy.co.uk

Details: Les and Steph Marsden live on

eight acres of land by the edge of an

airfield just outside of Stratford upon

Avon in Warwickshire. They are presently

awaiting certification for private camping

as they wish to offer a secure and friendly

place for ladies to camp.

They have lived on the site since 2015

and are totally off grid. In 2018 they

installed a 900m water supply pipe along

with a septic tank system. Their electricity

was supplied by two generators, one of

which failed miserably on their wedding

anniversary. It was then they decided

more back up power was required. They

bought 10 x 380W solar panels, with a

4.8kW Inverter kit with two US2000 lithium

batteries from Pylontech in 2019. They

would still use the gennies on cloudy days

to top up the batteries.

The winter months proved to Les and

Steph they needed to utilise the wind

power that was available at the airfield

site during this time of the year. Their

search led them to FuturEnergy who

were practically down the road and

subsequently manufactured and supplied

their 48v 1kW Airforce1 wind turbine

system and tower kit. The Airforce Control

looks after the wind turbine and monitors

the battery levels keeping the power

supply topped up. The Airforce Control

App can also be used to monitor the

turbine.

Les incorporated a winch system onto

the FuturEnergy tower rigging pole

system, so one man can drop the system

for safety checks and potentially in very

damaging windstorms.

Previously, the Marsdens would isolate

their mobile home when they went to bed

to save energy so they could run a freezer

24/7, lights, fridge, microwave, and TV etc.

but now, with the power produced by the

turbine and the purchase of two additional

batteries to store the energy, they no

longer need to do this and have surplus

power for potential campers.

They have now installed a water supply

and a sluice in preparation for their

camping permission.

Customer feedback: Les Marsden said:

“The Airforce1 Wind Turbine System is just

the ticket. The technical support was first

class and FuturEnergy very approachable”.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 45


GLAMPSITES

Smokeless Solo Stove

Lyon Equipment

01539 624040

outdoor.marketing@lyon.co.uk

www.lyon.co.uk

Tubs for Fast, Hygienic Handovers

Glamptubs

01926 504067

sales@glamptubs.com

www.glamptubs.com

Glamptubs.com supplies robust LDPE plastic

lined hot tubs specifically designed with the

busy glamping site in mind. Easy to clean, and

requiring minimal maintenance, these tubs

are ideal for fast and hygienic handovers.

Very popular with customers due to

generous water depth and unhindered

bathing space, Glamptubs perform

fantastically in the challenging environment

PRODUCT

Lyon Equipment is proud to present the world’s most

unique firepit, the Solo Stove. With minimal smoke

and ash leftovers, guests can enjoy all the best bits

about sitting around a campfire with family and

friends. Made of stainless steel, and with its signature 360 Airflow Design,

the Solo Stove achieves an efficient burn that give mesmerizing

flames but without making your eyes water from the smoke!

There are so many different sizes to choose from and each stove

has a lifetime warranty. Solo Stoves also come with a whole

range of accessories allowing you to cook on them as well.

Branded Self-Catering Accommodation

VRC Homes

01223 459931

mgp@vrcmodular.co.uk

www.vrcmodular.co.uk

The SleepNeat Crofters Cabin is designed to

cater for the three and four night break market.

Following the lead so successfully delivered by Warner

Hotels in the residential stay sector, this branded self-catering

accommodation is just the ideal product for the post-retirement

guest. Affordable short stays are in high demand thoughout the year, giving operators a

consistent income stream. Branded SleepNeat, the fit out from bed to kitchen will be the

same, giving guests assurance of familiarity with their surroundings.

Cactus Jack Chuckwagon Smokers

ProSmoke BBQ

01295 981580

sales@prosmokebbq.co.uk

www.prosmokebbq.co.uk

Wood-fired offset smokers are one of the oldest

forms of outdoor cooking. Our BBQs provide a

unique ambience as well as imparting food with

a light smoky flavour. This type of cooking is

considered the gold standard in barbequing and is

still used in exclusive restaurants around the world.

Our Cactus Jack chuckwagon smokers have large cooking areas and can cater for small

to very large groups of people with ease. They can be used for long, low and slow cooks or

quick grilling events, depending on the experience you want to offer at your glamping site or

restaurant.

Once the food is cooked you can hot hold it until required, or serve right away.

We have smokers of all sizes to suit your site or restaurant, along with a team of specialists

that can provide training prior to delivery. Just let us know your vision for your business and

we can assist.

encountered in the glamping/leisure

industry.

Available in two sizes – standard (4-6

people for couples and small

groups), and family (6-8

people, ideal for families

and larger groups), tubs

have both internal and

external log-fired heater

options available. Finished

externally with durable

Thermowood, these tubs

have the appearance of their Scandinavian

ancestors but without the drawbacks of being

hard to maintain.

SNAPSHOT

Matting Options for Every Occasion

Marquee Floors by William Armes

01787 372988

info@marqueefloors.co.uk

www.marqueefloors.co.uk

DandyDura from Marquee Floors by William

Armes has a long-standing reputation as the

UK’s bestselling polypropylene matting for

the marquee, tent and tipi hire sectors. The

matting is very easy to maintain, extremely

durable, fully reversible, lightweight and

weatherproof as well as being aesthetically

pleasing for all sorts of events. Available

in a range of colours, DandyDura is

fully bespoke, with all shapes and sizes

considered. Bound edges and eyelets are

also available on request.

Marquee Floors also supplies DandyCoco,

a sturdy and reliable unbacked natural

woven coconut matting which can be used

in all types of structures. Extremely durable,

eco-friendly and easy to clean, DandyCoco

has many excellent practicalities and is also

available in circles and half-moon shapes

with binding and eyelets perfect for bell

tents, yurts, geo domes and tipis. Whatever

the event or occasion, our matting is sure to

meet your expectations.

: IMAGE COURTESY OF THE SNUG TEEPEE

46 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


Photos above and below courtesy of The Bell Tent Shop Blackdown Shepherd Huts at Dimpsey - Ben Carpenter Photography Photo by thepartyphotos.net Photo courtesy of Charlton and Jenrick

THE

BUSINESS

EVENT

FOR GLAMPING

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SHARE the experience and knowledge of your peers

3 DAYS THAT WILL SHAPE THE

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www.theglampingshow.com

16-18 September 2021

NAEC Stoneleigh


EVENTS

CASE STUDY

The Forest Showcase

Food Festival

A foodie’s haven in the Forest

of Dean offering a wide range of

entertainment

Describe your event and how

many people it attracts

The Forest Showcase Food Festival

is held in the Speech House Hotel

grounds on the first Sunday in

October every year. We showcase

creative producers from The Forest

of Dean and surrounding areas,

alongside invited traders who have

something that ‘little bit different’ to

bring to the festival.

We are lucky to have a whole

array of producers who join us,

from cheese mongers, bakers,

brewers and baristas! You can

also find chocolatiers, butchers,

winemakers and those that create

delicious ice cream. Over 100

top local and artisan producers,

stunning hot food, real ale, gin and

wine, interesting talks, parent and

child cookery lessons and lots of

children’s activities, top chef demos,

excellent live music, arts and crafts;

all together it makes a lovely foodie

family day out.

The annual Forest Showcase

is now a major event in the local

calendar, attracting approximately

4,000 people per year.

Explain a bit about your venue

and its history

The Speech House Hotel is a former

17th century hunting lodge set in

the heart of the idyllic Royal Forest

of Dean. Nestled in the centre of a

tranquil forest environment, the

hotel is independently owned and

offers the perfect combination of

original charm and modern hotel

and wedding venue facilities.

The festival is held in a field

adjacent to the hotel and is

surrounded by woodland with space

for onsite parking for both traders

and visitors.

What is the event’s history and

what made you decide to run it?

The ‘Forest Showcase’ food festival

was started by the Forest of Dean

District Council in 2001 to declare

the area ‘open for business’

following the foot and mouth

epidemic. The event was funded

by the district council

and various grant

bodies until 2010

when the council

withdrew their

support due

to the credit

crunch.

Taking on the festival from

the district council in 2010,

Amanda Smith and Rachel

Salway have worked hard to

make it sustainable and now

attract 100 traders and 4,000

visitors with support from local

sponsors and the community.

We talk to Amanda.

48 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


Having been actively involved in

the event and contracted to run the

festival from 2007 onwards, I took it

on, along with coordinator Rachel

Salway, believing that it was too

good to lose. We struggled for quite

a few years, just about covering

costs and with a huge amount of

goodwill and volunteer hours.

Eventually we moved the festival

from Beechenhurst picnic site to

the Speech House Hotel field, which

allowed it to grow and offer more

free onsite car parking facilities and

therefore become more sustainable.

A new working partnership was

made with The Speech House Hotel

owners who are very keen to keep

the event at its new site.

We have previously attended

many food festivals and organised

various events so we understand

festivals from the exhibitors’ point

of view as well as the visitor. We

attract good quality local producers

who are passionate about their

businesses. That means they tend to

be extremely knowledgeable about

their produce and that’s fabulous for

the consumers.

The other important factor is that

this has always been, and remains,

a community event, and therefore

supported by both the residents

and visitors equally. This is because

we don’t rely on one major national

sponsor, instead we have a number

of smaller local companies who help

support the festival.

Also, the majority of our

participants, who range from

cheese, cider, ice cream, bread and

delicious cake makers, are from the

Forest of Dean or nearby – we accept

a few from further afield but only

if it is something we don’t already

“ AS WELL AS

BEING GREAT

FUN, THE

FESTIVAL IS

A FANTASTIC

SHOWCASE

FOR THE

FOREST OF

DEAN”

have in our area, so it supports local

business.

The festival includes a cookery

theatre, which showcases some

of the talented chefs we have in

the area, and a talks stage where

you can hear stories from local

producers and taste some of their

wares. As well as being great fun,

the festival is a fantastic showcase

for the Forest of Dean.

How does the relationship work

with your venue?

The relationship works very well. We

have a great working partnership

with the owners of the Speech

House Hotel and regular meetings

running up to the event help. They

participate by running a tea room

on festival day and their fabulous

chef also entertains the crowds in

the Cookery Theatre, so the hotel

receives a lot of publicity.

How did you find applying for

permission to run the event?

We run the event on a premises

licence from The Forest of Dean

District Council. Last year’s event

was cancelled due to Covid and

we had planned to move it to a

‘Spring Showcase’ but that had to

be cancelled too. We have produced

a detailed event plan demonstrating

Covid-security and what we are

planning for this year, which

includes larger marquees, increased

space between traders, physical

distancing etc.

How have you planned the layout

of the event?

The layout has evolved over the

years and we now hire marquees

for different elements of the festival

plus have invested in gazebos,

tables, seating, flags and site

decorations. We have a large Food

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 49


EVENTS

Hall which contains around 60 local

producers, one Cookery Theatre,

a live music tent, Kid’s Cookery

Space, plus various gazebos for kids’

activities.

New to our last event was a

Talks & Tastings tent, which was

very successful in promoting new

producers to potential customers.

How did you research and source

your infrastructure?

We have an excellent relationship

with many local companies who

have supported the event over

the last 20 years, but Covid-19 has

affected what is available this year

as it seems many structures are

on long term hire in pub gardens!

This year we have gone to market

to source new suppliers and we are

pleased to be working with Severn

Events as well as Protech Events

for our sound, lighting and cookery

theatre PA.

What entertainment do you offer?

We have live music throughout the

day, sometimes we might book a

community choir or brass band as

well. They are all sourced through

our local community music festival,

The Coleford Music Festival.

One of the festival’s key features

is the cookery theatre with

individual demonstrations from

chefs from around the area, all

hosted and compèred by head chef

Lawrence Jeffries from Cheltenham

Racecourse. We also team up with a

local award winning Deli, The Forest

Deli, that runs the Talks & Tastings

tent.

How do you manage admissions

and visitor safety?

We sell tickets online and have a

separate entrance for pre booked

tickets. Most of our customers pay

on the door, which can mean long

queues.

We have stewards and staff that

make sure the marquees do not get

too crowded and keep our visitors

safe.

Please detail the measures

you have taken specifically for

Covid-19

We will have hand sanitisers

throughout the festival on each

entrance to marquees and the event

itself. We will have larger marquees

to allow more space around each

stallholder and for the visitors to

circulate freely, they will also be

well ventilated. There will be extra

cleaning of both toilets and the

common dining areas, and stewards

to help control crowd numbers in

each marquee. The majority of the

festival is outside which helps.

What ground protection do you

use for cars and footfall?

The field is a hard flat surface, well

grassed and dries out very quickly.

We have not needed to provide

any ground protection, but the wet

weather does deter some visitors

from visiting, and some from

parking on the field.

How do you publicise the event?

We publicise the event in various

ways, advertising in local free

newspapers and ‘What’s On’

“WE ALSO

TEAM UP

WITH A LOCAL

AWARD

WINNING

DELI, THE

FOREST DELI,

THAT RUNS

THE TALKS

& TASTINGS

TENT”

websites. We also promote the

event across all our social media

channels, including Facebook,

Instagram, and Twitter, as well as

our own website. One of the best

ways for us to advertise is through

our roadside boards, which are

distributed widely, along with

posters and flyers.

We have a very loyal following and

people return to the event regularly

so we have a mailing list that

receives updates and information

running up to the festival. We

also send out information to our

exhibitors so they can promote the

event through their channels too.

What challenges have you faced?

Apart from the weather (our site

50 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


EVENTS

is very exposed), the struggle

has been to make the festival

sustainable. The Forest of Dean is a

rural area without a main centre of

population and the various parts of

the area have distinct and diverse

characteristics.

Public transport across the area

is very poor; we do try to encourage

people to take to the bicycle or use

our local Dial-A-Ride service.

How have you financed the event?

The festival was originally financed

by The Forest of Dean District

Council. They provided a grant for

one year when it ceased to be a

council run event but since then we

have strived to make the festival

sustainable.

We charge a pitch fee for

our exhibitors and a ticket fee

for visitors; the event is now

sustainable, but we still worry if the

weather is bad!

“WE CHARGE

A PITCH FEE

FOR OUR

EXHIBITORS

AND A TICKET

FEE FOR

VISITORS; THE

EVENT IS NOW

SUSTAINABLE,

BUT WE STILL

WORRY IF THE

WEATHER IS

BAD!”

What are your plans for

next year?

To put the Forest Showcase Food

Festival firmly on Gloucestershire’s

cultural map and in the festival

calendar. To create a festival

audience by involving more

people and attracting visitors

from throughout Gloucestershire,

Herefordshire, Bristol, South

Wales as well as the Forest of

Dean. To develop marketing

concepts and materials for

promoting the festival into the

future. To grow the capacity of

local businesses and organisations

to promote the festival.

What advice could you give

to someone coming into the

outdoor event industry?

Plan well and be organised, have

all eventualities covered and hope

for good weather!

ADDRESS BOOK

MARQUEES

County Marquees

www.countymarquees.co.uk

Severn Events

www.severncider.com

STAGES

Pro Tech Event

www.protechevents.uk

LIGHTING

Pro Tech Events

www.protechevents.uk

TICKETING

Ticket Source

www.ticketsource.co.uk

DETAILS

The Forest Showcase

Food Festival

3 October

Speech House Hotel

Speech House Road

Coleford

Gloucestershire GL16 7EL

www.forestshowcase.org

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 51


EVENTS

Be Specific on

SAFETY

Select

the right event safety

consultant, with advice from

Steve Allen

IMMANUEL KANT once said “Experience

without theory is blind, but theory without

experience is mere intellectual play”.

Events, as we all know, differ in type, size,

crowd profile, structure, demographics,

complexity, structures and location.

Your event may have media coverage, be

recorded or have a live feed. Some events

are indoors, some outside and others a

combination of both. Some may have

special effects, such as fireworks or lasers,

others will have nearby neighbours who

may be affected by noise, even more so

depending on the way the wind blows.

Other events may have animals,

motorsports, fairgrounds, inflatables, hot air

balloons or even aircraft. Maybe your event

is on the water; one thing for sure is that

each event will have people (we hope!). The

paying public, free attendees, contractors,

guests, artistes, traders, sponsors, the crew

that keep the event running and safe, and

the VIPs of course – let’s not forget them…

I have had the benefit of experience of a

wide range of events from local corporate

events through to concert stadium world

tours, major football fixtures, world title

boxing, festivals, and water events, as well

as conducting pre-event consultancy for

the Olympics, F1 and motorsports, Red Bull

events, the Sydney fireworks, theme parks,

at Heathrow airport and at mainline train

stations in London and Sydney. I have also

represented some of the largest brands in

the world.

At Crowd Safety, we have managed

safety at royal palace ice skating events at

Christmas, and conducted security audits

post the Manchester Arena bombing.

We continue to be asked to provide fire

risk assessments that consider human

behaviour in emergencies based on our

experience with a wide range of crowds and

demographics.

I have had the envious experience

of working across every continent on

the planet (not Antarctica though, yet),

undertaking safety consultancy for a wide

range of clients, spanning 30 years to include

war zones.

Over the past few years, we have been

asked to send more and more subject matter

consultants to the Middle East and United

States. I emphasise the need for subject

matter consultants because one size doesn’t

fit all. A safety consultant who may have

vast experience in an arena, and perhaps

only worked on indoor arena events, will

not have the necessary skill set for an

outdoor event. Equally, someone who has

no experience with fireworks, animals or

motorsport, would not be aligned with an

event with these attributes.

We are regularly contacted by new event

organisers after there has been a serious

fallout at the post event debrief with the

local authority. This only makes for an uphill

struggle to rebuild trust and confidence with

the local authority (council, police, fire, NHS

ambulance, environmental health, H&S etc.)

and the event organiser, as trust has been

tarnished by previous episodes. Far better to

start right in the first place.

AN EVENT ORGANISER’S RESPONSIBILITY

Event organisers have the legal

responsibility to engage ‘competent’ safety

consultants to assist them with their legal

responsibilities in identifying the significant

and foreseeable risks associated with their

event, that may affect those in attendance

and others.

One thing I have learnt is that it pays to

ensure you have the right people engaged

from the outset. The cheapest is often more

costly in the long run.

Do they have the relevant experience

for the type of event you are planning?

Word of warning, no one is an expert in

everything, despite what they may tell

52 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


EVENTS

you. My knowledge of lasers and noise,

together with structures, is limited and I

owe it to organisers to be clear on this from

the outset. Stick to what you know best. I

specialise in the provision of event safety

management plans, pre-event meetings

and incident management, but my specific

areas of speciality are crowds, fire, event

and personal security, and the overall safety

management of the event along with critical

decision making and front of stage barrier

configurations.

Event safety has so many areas that

need specific attention, so make sure

this is addressed from the outset. Check

the consultant’s insurance, professional

memberships and have them send you

written confirmation of their experience and

any relevant qualifications. This is key and

serves to protect you and assist you with

your choice of provider.

CHOOSING WISELY

Opt for a consultant with a professional

H&S qualification (diploma or degree). This,

combined with relevant experience of the

type of event you are organising, provides

you with justifiable satisfaction that you

have chosen the right provider. It will also

help in mitigation, for your defence, in the

event someone gets badly injured, or worse

dies, either in the build, event, or de-rig

phases.

Make sure that the provider is

approachable, amicable and ask them to

email you a list of the areas that they can

cover along with those areas that they can’t

(eg. those additional areas that they will

need assistance on). This may be noise,

crowds or fire risk assessing for example.

If you have an event where a Safety

Advisory Group (SAG) is involved, it is

beneficial to you that your choice of

consultant will get on with the SAG and

inject them with confidence. Admittedly not

vital, but I have seen both types, those that

rub the SAG up the wrong way (and frustrate

“AS THE STRESS LEVELS OF THE EVENT INCREASE, YOU NEED

A CALM SAFETY CONSULTANT WHO CAN MANAGE A WIDE

RANGE OF SITUATIONS. THIS CALLS FOR GOOD LEADERSHIP

AND THE ABILITY TO IDENTIFY SITUATIONS IN THEIR

EMBRYONIC PHASE”

everyone else with their belligerence) and

those that get on with everyone, whilst

communicating clearly. The latter is by

far the better for you and works out a lot

cheaper, and more productive, on all levels.

Equally, when the amicable choice of

safety consultant asks for assistance from

your crew, they will often drop everything

to help. The power-crazy choice of safety

consultant, with an obnoxious attitude,

strapped to their clipboard and Hi-Viz, will

see a completely different response from

those around them. This does absolutely

nothing to benefit you, or your event.

Remember, these people are ambassadors

for you.

As the stress levels of the event increase,

you need a calm safety consultant who can

manage a wide range of situations. This

calls for good leadership and the ability to

identify situations in their embryonic phase.

If you engage the right people across the

board, when these incidents arise, they are

far easier to manage. Good crew are worth

their weight in gold!

However, you equally don’t want a

situation whereby the safety consultant

takes on the role of an ostrich, clams up and

puts their head in the sand when incidents

are incoming. I have witnessed this on

numerous events with so called experts.

They want the title but dither when they

should be making decisions.

At the other extreme are those that

overreact to everything, shouting, stressing

and generally making mountains out of

molehills. Everyone talks a good talk but

trust me, it’s all about delivery and how they

are going to deal with a situation when the

proverbial hits the fan.

AVOIDING COSTLY MISTAKES

I would always recommend engaging an

event safety consultant at the earliest

stage of your event planning. By taking

this approach, you will avert costly

consequences. The site design may look

pretty, but it may have far reaching issues

in relation to crowd management, capacity,

evacuation to a place of safety, traders'

access/egress and security numbers.

Many organisers believe that a security

ratio of circa 1:100 persons is the equation

to work from. It doesn’t work like this. It

is based on a number of factors and other

considerations such as type of event,

location, demographics, structures, capacity

etc. The security management plan should

be produced by a competent person. This

document sets the benchmark for security

companies to quote on and fulfil. Note,

ensure any contractor contractually commits

to providing the numbers of staff agreed

in the plan. Further to this, every plan is

dynamic, as in what’s agreed in January may

actually change by the time your event has

come around whereby you need more or

less staff depending on what is happening.

I have met a lot of so called crowd

experts who can talk a good talk and make

documents look substantial but they are

giving organisers a false sense of security,

trying to fill their own pockets and make hay.

Beware of these people, as crowd related

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 53


EVENTS

incidents will certainly hit the mainstream

media, let alone social media, imminently if

and when it goes wrong.

Event fire risk assessing is another area

that needs careful consideration. A fire

risk assessment is not a document that

states smoking is a fire risk, don’t smoke,

ooh, and have some fire extinguishers… A

suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment

will include elements such as the means of

escape, occupant capacities, significant fire

risks and control measures to reduce these

risks to a tolerable level, amongst others.

Control measures are key. They need to

be proportionate to the risk. You ideally

want someone who can advise you on

proportionate and realistic measures. I have

met H&S consultants that claim they can do

fire safety. My advice is to satisfy yourself

that they can and that they have a proven

background in this area.

An event has a wide range of fire safety

concerns including LPG, various materials

used, hot cooking oil, arson, electrics,

smoking indoors (even though they

shouldn’t), lightning, fuel (liquid and other

combustible materials) smoke and the

effects that smoke can cause.

There is a famous line which is often

used when giving a damning verdict. “I

believe you sacrificed safety for the benefit

of financial gain”. Don’t go for the cheapest

advisor, those worth their salt know what

they are worth and know what they can

save you in the short, mid and long term.

They take pride in their work and have built

reputations over many years.

VITAL DOCUMENTS

Professional consultants will identify

the event specific foreseeable risks, the

reasonably practicable measures to reduce

those risks and effectively communicate this

without writing War and Peace.

Ensure you contract your provider to

update the documentation as required and

during the event if need be. I use the word

‘specific’ as some providers will simply copy

and paste from a previous event, change the

title and the event names and submit – not a

good look for you when the local authority,

or worse, expert witness for the prosecution,

highlights this in their reports.

My recommendation is that a safety

consultant does the following for you:

› Attends pre-event planning meetings/site

meetings

› Inputs on site design (if they have expertise

in crowds, not if they haven’t!)

› Attends SAGs (if applicable)

› Assists you with contractor selection

(this is key as your contractors’ safety

approaches will impact your reputation

as they will be picked up by the local

authority, or worse, should something go

wrong)

“DON’T GO

FOR THE CHEAPEST

ADVISOR, THOSE WORTH

THEIR SALT KNOW WHAT

THEY ARE WORTH AND KNOW

WHAT THEY CAN SAVE YOU IN

THE SHORT, MID AND LONG

TERM”

› Produces the overall Event Risk

Assessment

› Consults with the contractors to provide

advance notice of their requirements (eg.

RAMs, structural/electrical completion

certifications etc.)

› Produces version 1 of the Event Safety

Management Plan and subsequent

versions

› If competent, produces version 1 of the

Fire Risk Assessment and Fire Safety

Management Plan and subsequent

versions

› Produces the Crowd Management/

Security Management Plan (if qualified to

do so)

› Has access to suitable external

consultants in the event they cannot fulfil

certain key areas (crowds, fire, structural,

fireworks/lasers, drones etc.)

› Produces pre-event safety checklists

› Conducts incident management

› Conducts event safety monitoring

› Attends the event debrief

There is an abundance of guidance

documents available for event organisers,

the Purple Guide being the stand out.

Managing Crowds Safely and various DCLG

Fire Safety guides are also available for

event organisers to reference.

We are very fortunate in the UK that we

have some world class safety professionals

that are well versed in all manner of events

and have the necessary skills.

Remember, you cannot absolve

responsibility for the event by merely having

a safety consultant so make sure you have

the correct representation that can provide

pragmatic and proportionate advice based

on a combination of extensive experience

and underpinned by qualifications and

professional memberships.

My advice is this, picture yourselves

standing in the dock at a corporate

manslaughter case and ask yourself this:

“Who would I want to be stood next to me

when I am stating for the benefit of the court

that he or she was my safety consultant

selection and these were my reasons why”.

Because they were the cheapest should not

be your response…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founded by Steven Allen,

a professional safety

and security consultant

with proven experience at

national and international

major events, Crowd Safety

is a professional health and

safety, event safety, fire safety and

crowd management consultancy based in

the UK.

Crowd Safety provides clients with subject

specific consultants, each with seasoned

judgement and proven track records of

national and international major events. The

organisation offers a solution based, cost

effective, pragmatic and balanced approach to

the full spectrum of event projects worldwide.

www.crowdsafety.org

54 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


Temporary Roadways,

Walkways, Flooring, Barriers,

Fencing & Seating.

All ready for YOU to hire

FULL NATIONWIDE INSTALLATION AND REMOVAL

SERVICE ~ serving the event industry since 2005

Walkways

Foldtables

Roadways

Outside Flooring

GT Trax Ltd, High Trees Farm, New Road,

WARBOYS, Cambs.

Tel 01487 823344

info@gttrax.co.uk www.gttrax.co.uk Twitter @GTTrax

Portable

Flooring

Specialists

Covering every

flooring option

for your event.

Call Us:

01509 768 252

First Class Cleaning

for Your Event

Site Cleaning | Recycling

Toilet Hire & Servicing

Compostable Food Packaging

Trackways

Walkways

Carpets

Astro Turf

efseurope.co.uk

sales@efseurope.co.uk

01443 844492

07841 120411

info@eventclean.co.uk

www.eventclean.co.uk

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 55


EVENTS

Tackling

Travel

ecolibrium’s communications manager Bethan Riach

details the charity’s new Travel Carbon Calculator app

ECOLIBRIUM IS a charity that helps event

organisers, audiences, artists and suppliers

tackle the impacts of travel at events.

Since 2015 it has helped members, which

include large festivals such as Boomtown

Fair, Download and Reading, international

artists such as Joss Stone and Novo Amor,

event suppliers and many smaller events

and theatre tours, balance the equivalent of

13 million travel miles of carbon emissions

with investment in renewable energy and

ecosystem protection and regeneration.

Although the live events industry is still

in the midst of the Covid crisis, this pause in

the headlong rush to create events has given

many people the chance to reflect on how

we can #BuildBackBetter and work towards

a green recovery. With travel causing 80%

of the average event’s carbon footprint, at

ecolibrium we believe that finding ways

to tackle travel is key to creating a more

environmentally responsible live events

industry.

The latest of our tools and resources

designed to help everyone in the live events

industry understand, record, reduce and

balance emissions from travel is our Travel

Carbon Calculator app.

There is no quick fix to the issue of travel,

reliant as we are on the current transport

infrastructure and future government

targets for phasing out fossil fuel use

in vehicles – but we’ve helped over 100

members to find ways to reduce their

carbon emissions. We provide tools to

event organisers to measure and reduce

carbon by working with their audiences,

artists, staff and crew to engage in travel

initiatives, promoting audience lift sharing,

incentivising public transport and coach

travel, and encouraging people to engage

with understanding their travel footprint

through our travel calculator tools.

Travelling completely CO2 free to events

that are hundreds of miles away is not

usually feasible, although some hardy souls

do cycle to events, companies offering

festival bike tours have emerged and EV

cars are on the increase. Despite these

alternatives, petrol or diesel cars and

live-in vehicles are still the go-to option for

festivalgoers, suppliers need diesel-heavy

vans and trucks for kit, international artists

fly or bring a tour bus, and even the more

sustainable options, such as trains or coach

travel, cause carbon emissions. So, for

unavoidable travel emissions, ecolibrium

has the option to balance CO2 through one

of its climate solutions programmes: Trees+

which supports tree planting, rainforest

56 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


EVENTS

“WE BELIEVE ARTISTS, MANAGERS, EVENT

PROFESSIONALS AND FREELANCERS CAN

USE THIS APP TO MAKE A SIGNIFICANT

DIFFERENCE TO THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF

THEIR WORK ...”

protection and ecosystem regeneration,

and Energy Revolution, which invests in

community-owned renewable energy

projects.

HOW IT WORKS

Over the first lockdown we worked with

software developer Digitwell Solutions

to transform our online Travel Carbon

Calculator and offline Travel Logging tools

into an app, to make it even easier for people

in the live events industry (and beyond) to

calculate, record and balance their travel

carbon emissions.

We believe artists, managers, event

professionals and freelancers can use this

app to make a significant difference to the

carbon footprint of their work and increase

the industry’s shared understanding about

the impacts of travel. It helps users analyse

and understand the carbon emissions from

different travel choices, models carbon

lighter routes to reduce emissions and

balances unavoidable CO2 through climate

solutions.

Free to download, the app helps keep

track of travel associated with different jobs

or for different events and clients. Users can

also choose to share their carbon-balancing

action with fans, audiences and clients to

help positively frame the wider changes

we need to see in our travel behaviour. It

can be downloaded from GooglePlay or by

searching ecolibrium in the App Store.

SOCIAL SHIFTS THROUGH EVENTS

In many ways we must see the

environmental impact of events as a

problem, but from another perspective they

present opportunities. In the microcosm

of an event we can trial new ways of doing

things, powering stages with renewable

energy, completely banning plastics and

getting meticulous about recycling. In this

sense, arguably the biggest opportunity

for the live events industry is its capacity

to influence audiences in terms of their

attitudes to climate change and their part in

taking positive action.

With emissions from audience and fan

travel adding so heavily to event carbon

footprints, the scope to encourage audiences

to understand the impact of their choices

and change how they travel, both to events

and in their daily life, offers event organisers

the chance to be part of the societal shifts we

need to make for a sustainable future.

One of ecolibrium’s missions is to hasten

this change – empowering audiences and

everyone working in the live events industry

to understand their emissions, choose

lower carbon forms of transport, balance

unavoidable emissions and share and

celebrate their positive action to create a

movement for change that ripples out wider

than the industry.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 57


HEATER MARQUEE

PACKAGES.

AT ARCOTHERM WE OFFER A RANGE OF

MARQUEE HEATER PACKAGES TO SUIT

YOUR EVERY NEEDS.


CHOOSE FROM ONE

OF OUR PACKAGES:

GOLD SILVER BRONZE STANDARD

01773 836 999

sales@arcotherm.co.uk

arcotherm.co.uk


EVENTS

PRODUCT SNAPSHOT

Professional Services

Bespoke Funding for Outdoor Events

Fit Outdoor Finance

01494 422614

mark@fitoutfinance.co.uk

www.fitoutdoorfinance.co.uk

It’s fair to say that the industry has had the toughest year

on record, however, from any downturn there is always

opportunity. Fit Outdoor Finance is here to help you make the

most of that opportunity.

As an offshoot of the established and respected Fit Out

Finance, our team has over 30 years’ experience of helping

businesses to access finance for a wide range of equipment –

through good times and bad.

As a small, independent brokerage we work closely with

customers, suppliers and consultants to the events and

hospitality sector to achieve the most viable and appropriate

funding solution for your specific needs and circumstances.

We are always happy to chat – give us a call!

Getting Your Events off the Ground

Charlotte Winship Consulting

07493 350303

charlotte@charlottewinship.com

www.charlottewinship.com

Do you have an

idea for a public

event and are not

sure how to get

it off the ground?

Do you need

help finding your

audience?

Charlotte

Winship has over

20 years’ event

planning and

coordination

experience –

everything from

exhibitions, fayres,

festivals, theatre

productions,

garden parties,

weddings,

wellbeing retreats,

corporate events,

product launches, fashion shows, workshops and conferences.

Having worked as events manager for some of the world’s most

prestigious venues, she also understands the unique nuances

of a venue that work well for some events and how to capitalise

on these assets.

Charlotte is well versed in the operation and administrative

processes required to deliver a successful event, understanding

audiences and the promotion needed to help reach them.

Give Charlotte a call for sensible advice, bags of enthusiasm

and the determination to help you succeed.

ALL YOU NEED FOR DRIVE-IN CINEMA

Skylight Cinema

01872 303737

info@skylightcinema.co.uk

www.skylightcinema.co.uk

As one of the leading providers of drive-in cinema, Skylight

supplied equipment for over 250 events last year alone.

Providing everything needed to put on a hassle free drivein

cinema event, turnkey packages include: a 10m wide

inflatable screen, a powerful 10K projector, Bluetooth

speakers for each vehicle (saving a lot of time and money!),

a projectionist and technician, support and advice. The price

for a mid-week event is £1,495, and £1,895 at weekends.

You organise the event and sell the tickets, then Skylight

turns up with the screen, projector, sound system and

technician to operate everything.

60 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


EVENTS

Eco Branding for Event Organisers

Harrison Creative

01325 355433

hello@weareharrisons.com

www.harrisoncreative.co.uk

Harrison Creative is keen to partner with companies that believe

as strongly as it does in caring for the environment. Its eco

branding range, Envirofamily, is the product of choice for event

organisers that care about the planet.

The company is continually working to reduce wastage and

become more environmentally friendly and is committed to

helping clients deliver more sustainable events and festivals with

its range of eco-friendly branding and signage products.

Working closely with leading fabric manufacturers, it has

developed a range of materials that can be used as alternatives

for a number of its most popular products. These include

Enviroflag, an alternative to knitted polyester, Envirodisplay,

made from 100 per cent recycled plastic waste, and

Envirobanner, which is PVC free.

Hire, Sales and Service of voice and data radio

communication systems, bodycams and applications

TWO-WAY RADIO HIRE, SALES AND SERVICE

SPECIAL RATES FOR 2021/22.

Book with confidence as we offer

a no cost cancellation policy.

Terms Apply.

By Appointment to

Her Majesty The Queen

Supplier of Two-Way Radio

Communications and Paging Systems

Direct Communications Radio Services Ltd

St Ives

Selene Events

Big Top Hire and Outdoor

Event specialist

A simple solution for those who need

temporary communications. This solution

has proven to be invaluable for such sectors

as; event organisers, council teams, TV and

film crews, security and parking to name

but a few, with both short and long term

contracts available.

Organising any event or general on-site

communication requires total dedicated

support and at DCRS, there is always a

team on-call or on-site ready to assist you.

Call FREE: 0800 043 2688

email: sales@dcrs.co.uk

www.dcrs.co.uk

WE BOAST A COMPLETE HIRE

SERVICE INCLUDING:

Bespoke radio solutions for large,

wide area events

Motorola digital and analogue radios,

mobiles and repeaters

Wide area Nationwide coverage

WAVE and ICOM hand portables

A full range of audio accessories,

radio allocation systems and

voice recording available

Free radio licence or free programming

to your own frequencies

Delivery and collection to your

specified addresses

On-site support and out of hours

call-out, 24/7 if required

For all your bespoke marquee hire and outdoor event requirements

contact 07778 765724 | seleneevents@gmail.com

www.seleneevents.com

DCRS Open Air Business Magazine Advert-90x132mm.indd 1 24/05/2021 18:05

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 61


Spot light

A roundup of products for the outdoor hospitality industry

UNFORGETTABLE SILENT DISCOS

Silent Noize Events

0203 727 5382

info@silentnoizeevents.com

www.silentnoizeevents.com

Silent Noize Events is the leading

supplier of silent discos and

wireless headset hire in the UK. We

provide everything you need to

create an unforgettable Silent Disco

including a few new additions to

help you keep guests safe.

Our multi-channel headphones

have a range of up-to 200m which

provides equal audio quality

across a large space, plus our

revolutionary new mobile app

allows you to stream sets straight

to your audiences’ smart phones.

From weddings and festivals to

yoga retreats and cinema nights,

our headsets provide an immersive

and inclusive experience for any

outdoor event.

WORLD RENOWNED

SHEPHERD HUTS

Blackdown Shepherd Huts

01460 929774

info@blackdownshepherdhuts.co.uk

www.blackdownshepherdhuts.co.uk

Market leading shepherd hut

makers Blackdown are recognised

globally, however they design,

craft, and display their high-end

luxury living spaces in Somerset,

exhibiting the high quality of build

and interiors that Blackdown

Shepherd Huts are renowned for.

Duly inspired, many buyers add

their own unique touches to their

bespoke hut, delighting their guests

and earning an excellent return on

investment.

This year at The Glamping Show,

Blackdown will be showcasing new

designs of their signature double

shepherd hut, The Blackdown Brace

Hut and their Turnkey Huts. With a

few more surprises up their sleeves

to come, you can see it all first at

stand OSA 140.

BEN CARPENTER PHOTOGRAPHY

LEAF GLAMPING PODS

Logspan

01389 887158

info@logspan.com

www.logspan.com

Leaf glamping pods from Logspan

offer a new style of plug-and-play

guest accommodation with a

unique shape. The range includes

the Leaf Maxi, a 5.7x2.5m fully

equipped family unit with kitchen

and shower room, as well as the

4.0x2.4m Standard Leaf and the

5.2x2.5m Wheelchair

Accessible Leaf.

Built almost entirely from 58mm

sustainably sourced Scandinavian

spruce, the Leaf range has great

environmental credentials. For

extra manoeuvrability, add an

optional steel trailer base with

wheels.

Call today to learn how Logspan’s

INVEST system can help take the

stress away from setting up your

glamping site.

EVENT EQUIPMENT HIRE

GT Trax

01487 823344

info@gttrax.co.uk

www.gttrax.co.uk or call

Established in early 2005, GT Trax

is one of the UK’s leading suppliers

of temporary roadways, walkways,

flooring, seating, fencing and

structures. They offer a complete

delivery, install, uplift and

collection service, with fully trained

and experienced site personnel.

Their range encompasses heavy

duty trackway and hardwearing

non-slip walkways, alongside

picket and Heras fencing. They

also have a line-up of single and

double Starshades, with seating

provided by the unique Foldtable.

So, for your next event, get in

touch with the GT Trax hire desk

and see how their equipment can

enhance your visitor experience.

62 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


PERFO GROUND

REINFORCEMENT SYSTEM

S2T Group

01992 522797

www.perfo.co.uk

S2T Group’s PERFO range of

ground protection products

comprises a system of

interlocking, self-anchoring

permeable plastic tiles which

are embedded into an existing

surface, eg. a mature grass area

or prepared base consisting of a

layer of crushed stone chippings,

depending on the application.

A number of light to heavy duty

solutions are available to suit

varied ground conditions, traffic

profiles and loading requirements.

Unlike other geogrid systems,

PERFO tiles are usually installed

without the need for excavation,

being compacted directly into

the existing surface using rollers

or compactor plates. Installation

is therefore rapid and planning

issues less problematic.

ECO TINY HOMES AND MODULAR

BUILDINGS

The Qube Eco Tiny Homes

01604 785786

ecotinyhomes@theqube.co.uk

www.thequbeecotinyhomes.co.uk

Northamptonshire based modular

building experts The Qube has

launched a range of stylish,

sustainable, and affordable holiday

accommodation. Having supplied

modular buildings to the education

and leisure industry since 2007,

The Qube has expanded its

product and service offering to

cater for the hospitality sector.

Specialising in SIP (structural

insulated panel) construction,

it offers bespoke solutions for

modular buildings and tiny

homes. Whether you are looking

for a tiny home as an alternative

accommodation offering, or a

modular building for a park home,

office, or small apartment, The

Qube covers all requirements. Get

in touch to learn more!

Classified Directory

Finman

Glamping

Cabins and

BBQ Huts

From

£4,992

UNIQUE • QUALITY • CUSTOMISABLE

01389 887205 www.logspan.com

Call 01262 470475 or visit

www.shepherd-huts.com

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 63


Classified Directory

Modular Flooring

for all Applications

02037 959090

www.everblockflooring.co.uk

www.vrcmodular.co.uk

01223 459931/ mgp@vrcmodular.co.uk

The Glampagon

A unique design for

luxurious Staycations

Use individually or

in clusters of 5.

JK Designer Builds

www.jointkit.co.uk

info@jointkit.co.uk | 07887 998 033

Bringing comfort

and luxury to

any type of

landscape.

outerspacegroup.com

TWO-WAY RADIO

SUPPORTING

YOUR EVENTS

Call FREE:

0800 043 2688

sales@dcrs.co.uk

www.dcrs.co.uk

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

01278 238390

64 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


PEOPLE

Behind the Scenes with…

Deborah

Collins

Deborah Collins, account director for corporate,

entertainment, media and sport at The Belfry Hotel &

Resort, shares her experiences looking after VIP guests

THERE IS no typical day in my role at

the Belfry. It is a 24/7 job; my phone is

always on and ready to receive texts and

calls to ensure I meet the requirements of

our guests and events held at the resort.

My main role is to make our guests feel

comfortable, safe and at home.

Part of my job role is VIP guests. Behind

the celebrity they are just lovely people who

want to feel looked after. Our VIP guests are

used to spending many nights in hotels, so I

want to make sure we create a ‘home away

from home’ experience for them, and that

does often mean we receive lots of unusual

and last-minute requests. Last week I had to

source a grand piano for a guest – and I did

manage to find one which was available for

rent for 24 hours. Nothing is impossible!

I’ve been working in the hotel industry for

over 20 years and I’ve been at The Belfry for

seven years. I love my job as no day is the

same. One day I may spend the morning

welcoming guests and responding to their

requests or I may be meeting agents and

security for site inspections ahead of a VIP's

stay. Then I might spend the afternoon

looking for new opportunities for the

resort, this includes communicating with

event organisers requiring accommodation

for their artists, crew or sports teams, or

looking for and gaining bid opportunities.

WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 65


PEOPLE

A TALE TO TELL

My role means that I have got a lot of

interesting stories to tell – and some

embarrassing ones too! Once I was in

a lift with an American rock band who

were asking me about the hotel’s three

golf courses, including The Brabazon and

The PGA National, which are recognised

as world-class. The whole time I thought

they were asking me about goths not golf,

which meant we had a very confusing and

awkward conversation.

There was also the time I met Gary

Barlow on arrival, and he said it was one of

the best hotel welcomes he had ever had.

I said thank you and without thinking I

curtsied – it was the middle of the night, so

I was tired!

The highlight of my role has to be

receiving glowing feedback from our

clients. It is a great feeling knowing all of

our hard work has paid off, especially when

you hear that clients who visit us for the

first time say that they will definitely be

coming back to stay.

THERE’S NO I IN TEAM

Teamwork is key at The Belfry; we are like

one big family. We all work together to

ensure each guest’s visit is seamless from

start to finish. Each team has adapted their

procedures to ensure we can continue

our usual exceptionally high standard of

service in the new Covid safe environment.

Weeks, even months, of planning go into

winning new business. I am part of the

incredible sales team, but the whole Belfry

team are involved with every visit, from our

health and safety manager, security team

and front of house team. I also liaise with

our fantastic operations team, who work

their magic to help to arrange the logistics

of our VIP visits, and our amazing awardwinning

chefs to discuss menus. Every

single client always comments on the food

and service and how fabulous it is, which

makes me so proud.

When it comes to VIP guests, our

relationship with the agents is crucial to

ensure communication is right so that the

process is seamless. There needs to be

trust; we have a strict discretion policy and

always respect the privacy of our guests

so everyone can enjoy a relaxing stay. It is

also vital that we get to know our guests,

their likes and dislikes, so we spend a lot of

time putting in the research to make sure

they have a comfortable stay and so we can

surprise them with treats throughout their

visit. It’s the little touches that make them

feel relaxed, thought of and welcomed.

“OUR USUAL HIGH LEVELS OF SERVICE ALONG WITH OUR

NEW PROTOCOLS HAVE ENSURED THEIR STAYS ARE SAFE

AND COMFORTABLE AND, IMPORTANTLY, ENJOYABLE”

The Belfry is renowned for its warm and

welcoming hospitality; we take the time to

get to know our guests to make sure that

every visit to the resort is a special one.

We were delighted when elite sports

started last summer; we really appreciate

having the teams stay with us. Our usual

high levels of service along with our new

protocols have ensured their stays are

safe and comfortable and, importantly,

enjoyable. Our staff and guests have had

access to daily rapid testing since the

summer to ensure a safe environment for

everyone on site. The health and safety

of our guests and teams has always been

a priority at The Belfry and we will do

anything to ensure everyone feels safe with

us and that business can continue for our

clients. We are also very fortunate to have

550 acres of outdoor space surrounding

the resort, which provides our guests with

plenty of space to get out to get some fresh

air and also physically distance.

Now we are out of lockdown, we are

excited about welcoming more of our

guests back to The Belfry. We missed

having our VIP entertainment guests with

us and we can’t wait to welcome everyone

back once shows, tours and festivals can

ABOUT THE BELFRY

The Belfry Hotel & Resort is an award-winning

hotel situated in the heart of the country in

Royal Sutton Coldfield, North Warwickshire,

and is home to 319 bedrooms and suites,

several restaurants and bars, events and

meetings spaces, a leisure club, and The Belfry

Spa. The hotel’s three golf courses, including

The Brabazon and The PGA National, are

recognised as world-class, having previously

hosted The Ryder Cup four times – more than

any other venue in the world.

The Belfry’s extensive outdoor space

also plays host to mini festivals, outdoor TV

screenings and teambuilding activities.

www.thebelfry.com

66 66 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM


Photo Credit: Rachel Bragg Photography

& Matt Sweeting Photography

Blackdown, discerning makers

of inspired spaces ...

blackdownshepherdhuts.co.uk

info@blackdownshepherdhuts.co.uk | 01460 929774

Shrubbery Farm | Catherine Wheel | Ilminster | Somerset |

Huts for home | Huts for business | Huts to build yourself

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