Seminars, exhibitions, roadshows and site visits – does this woman ever stop?!
It’s that time of year again with back to back industry events, annual conferences, summits and get-togethers. The annual Glamping Show was held at Stoneleigh Park in September, with a well-attended seminar programme and a wide range of exhibitors. There were also new product launches, such as the Timber Tipi, and an astonishing infra-red solar-powered heating system by Universal Glamping.
The European glamping specialists got together to discuss what’s going on in respective countries and to get a feel for how the European landscape is shaping up overall. Individual country issues aside, it was interesting to note that similar trends for higher end, more experiential, and proper ‘back to nature’ glamping, are gaining momentum throughout. I also had many other conversations with industry colleagues about how the sector is developing, new products and companies entering the marketplace, as well as those who have already departed.
Dare I mention ‘the B word’? Some conversations also pondered the effects of Brexit – London demonstrations notwithstanding. In the event of us leaving the EU, the withdrawal of rural development funds could see less projects going ahead, while, perhaps ironically, the withdrawal of EU subsidies would see more landowners looking to diversify. I hear conflicting information about how imports and exports may or may not be affected, even so, for our industry, an impact on costs of imported timber and cheap pods and cabins from Europe isn’t to be entirely overlooked.
Another subject that came up many times was the lack of research and consultation being undertaken by some before deciding on a glamping business model, choosing the accommodation structure, and submitting the planning application. Having been asked to get involved in such projects some way down the line, I have to say it’s a dispiriting situation because unless they have the necessary additional funds (and personal motivation) to invest in rectifying the project, what’s done is done. While some resulting sites might still do well, in an industry that’s developing so fast, and with other influencing factors now on the horizon, surely it pays to do one’s homework?
On a personal note, the Glamping Show was a slightly different experience for me this year, because as well as running workshops and seminars, one of the new businesses being launched there was my own new venture, Morel & Co. And very interesting it was too, with enquiries and discussions about planning permissions, bespoke treehouses, cabins, and even iron-age roundhouses. The show ended on a high with team members Leigh, Carwyn, Allan and myself being interviewed by TV presenter Max McMurdo. The resulting video gets the message across nicely – even though my performance is best described as ‘rabbit in headlights’ – the boys however were as cool as cukes!
‘Be My Guest Roadshow’ in Torquay was next on the calendar, their roadshows are always well attended, with a good mix of local and national exhibitors and informative seminars. After that was the Carmarthenshire Tourism Summit, with a great range of local suppliers, producers and companies. I’d like to extend a diolch yn fawr to the Carmarthenshire Tourism Association for asking me to give the headline seminar.
Up & Coming
Next up is the Farm Innovation Show, held at the NEC on 7-8 November, also incorporating Country House, Destination Hotel & Spa, Holiday Park & Resort, and Leisure Hospitality & Tourism World. It’s an inspiring event, clients of mine that attended for the first time last year were most impressed so do come along if you’re looking for business ideas. When I’m not on the Glamping Q&A Panel and giving seminars I’ll be with Morel & Co’s exhibition stand so hopefully see you there, it’s always good to meet OAB readers… Oh, and wear comfy shoes, it’s a big show!
Be My Guest will be in Lincolnshire, at Skegness on 13 November with an in depth seminar from Google Digital Garage between 11.30am–12.50pm. This was hugely popular at the Torquay event so grab your seat early.
One event that I couldn’t get to this year, but is definitely in my diary for 2019, is the Salon Atlantica at La Rochelle in France – because with just under 500 exhibitors it’s quite likely the biggest glamping related show in the world (see www.salon-atlantica.fr).
From the Diary
I flew to Scotland recently to provide two workshops for the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, along with a tour of the region to view potential and existing sites. They very kindly arranged for me to stay at Loch Katrine Eco Lodges, which blends beautifully into the landscape amidst the trees. The view from the rear window was of woodland, edged with undisturbed boulders still covered in moss. Through the front glazed wall were views of the loch itself with steamship, Sir Walter Scott, serenely moored on the opposite bank. It was absolutely idyllic.
Thank you to James Fraser for highlighting glamping as a key leisure initiative in the area, to Jared Bowers for organising the workshops (and picking me up at silly o’clock due to a cancelled flight), and to Gordon Allen and his staff at Loch Katrine Eco Lodges for superb Scottish hospitality – right down to little chilled bottles of bubbly and a champagne glass in the fridge.
The glamping industry is still in its infancy in Scotland and there remains a huge amount of untapped potential with existing sites achieving remarkable rental fees. On a personal level, I was enchanted by the beauty of the area, little wonder it’s a favourite shoot location for movies and TV series such as Outlander. Fortuitously, I’m planning to return just after the Farm Business Innovation Show to visit potential sites and projects, which I have to say I am really looking forward to.
Whisk me Away
To the captivating Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge resort in Botswana. ‘A timeless explorer’s lodge that beats with the pulse of wild Africa’, where elephants stroll by in their natural habitat and the Milky Way illuminates the night sky. Activities include a game hide for watching the animals from (elephants in particular), safari drives and trips to see ancient rock art and baobab trees. A tour of all three of Belmond’s resorts would be a trip of a lifetime, a proposal here would be unforgettable and a celebration package would be exceptional… and did I mention there were elephants?
All it needs is a Robert Redford look-a-like to wash my hair by the river… or maybe I’ll stick with the elephants!
Kate Morel’s consultancy work specialises in the alternativeand glamping accommodation sector, offering feasibility reports and creating concepts for new developments. Her advice brings a clear and experienced focus to proposed projects, and she understands that successful glamping businesses rely on creativity as well as sound financials, keeping an eye on both.
Kate has also teamed up with other industry specialists to create Morel & Co, which is supporting projects with expert planning application advice, bespoke designs and structure installation. Specialising in design-led projects – treehouses, cabins and natural builds such as roundhouses – the team brings refreshingly honest advice, in-depth experience and genuine enthusiasm to every project. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.morelcompany.co.uk / www.katemorel.com
Join Kate’s Facebook business support group by searching Glamping Business Link.