Continuing from strength to strength, the Farm Business Innovation Show is a unique mix of seminars and suppliers for all manner of diversification options. Tally Wade reports
It isn’t difficult to see why the Farm Business Innovation Show (held on 9-10 November at the NEC, Birmingham) won the 2016 Best Trade Show at the Exhibition News Awards. It has grown phenomenally since its launch in 2013 and now occupies two halls at the NEC, alongside sister shows Holiday Park and Resort and Country House Business Innovation.
Proud to be media partners, the Open Air Business team was in attendance and recruited a huge number of new readers from its stand; it really was the perfect demographic for us – landowners and entrepreneurs investigating the best paths forward for their businesses. Of course, our niche is outdoor hospitality and the show is much broader than that, but with a reported 8,000 attendees and 400 trade stands, there was plenty for us. I was there for the full two days and could have definitely done with more time to see and hear everything!
The seminar series was as impressive as ever, with over 200 sessions spread across 13 theatres, two debate areas, and a demo arena. Topics were just as diverse and delivered by experts in their fields. The schedule covered so much but of particular interest to me were: ‘Is a festival a good idea on your farm?’ with Ben Leek of Capability Events; ‘Insider info on getting into glamping’ with Mark Scott of Clear Sky Safari Tents; ‘So you want to run an event?’ with Linda Krawecke of Tiger Tea Services; Making money from weddings’ with Isabel Smith; and ‘Sustainable diversification for woodlands’ with Jason Thawley of Tree Tents International.
Below are just a handful of the exhibitors I spoke to and represent my highlight products and services at the event.
Green Eco Living
This UK manufacturer/supplier of energy efficient glamping pods is based in Lancashire. The team has developed highly thermally efficient structures with an ingenious wall construction. Among the range is the Chalet pod; fully insulated, double glazed and with a full en-suite bathroom (not a wet room), it is available with an optional kitchenette and wardrobe space. Green Eco Living has teamed up with a professional town planner to help customers with any planning issues, and can manage the process on their behalf. www.greenecoliving.co.uk
Providing the venue for Theatre 3 at the show, there is no better way to show off these magnificent giant event tipis than in the flesh, and it was a great opportunity to get inside Tentipi’s offering. Considered the founder of the Nordic Tipi event industry, the company offers six different tipi types, accessories, training, safety documentation and support. Creating amazing spaces for weddings, parties and corporate functions, tipis in this range work together to provide a modular solution for any size of event or configuration of space. www.tentipi.com
Totally off-grid, Scandinavian wood-fired hot tubs in various sizes and shapes. Particularly popular was the LuvTub – perfect for two at a romantic retreat or in smaller spaces, it has low water consumption and heats up in an hour. New for 2017 will be the Naked Flame wood-fired sauna, a great compliment to glampsites that want to offer something extra. People seemed to be making the most of the show discounts as the stand was very busy! www.nakedtubs.com
Tree Tent International
The team at Tree Tent design, build and install sustainable outdoor structures, engineered to meet the ever changing environmental conditions of the world’s wild and natural places. The suspended Tree Tent on display was a beautiful spherical structure made from green ash hardwood integrated into a structural aluminium airframe. It has a fabric outer and insulated lining, and can house a micro wood stove, dimmable LED lighting, skylight, desks and good sized folding beds. Tree Tent International took the show’s first ever Innovation Award, created to celebrate an idea that has truly pushed the boundaries of design and service. www.luminair.co.uk/ttshop
Created by Suzi O’Neill, Jofli Bear was originally created to encourage families to record their adventures together but is equally fun for youngsters to document their time on holiday. With a range of branding options available, Jofli is an excellent add on for glampsites, either as a freebie or a paid extra, allowing children to record their adventures and memories. Jofli packages include a toy bear with a backpack and journal. Customised postcards and journals can promote glampsite activities and generate sales while providing a treasured keepsake of customers’ stay. www.jofli.com
The Septic Tank Store
A friendly, family team were welcoming all manner of enquiries for sewer systems. With a wealth of experience in planning, supplying and installing sewage systems, The Septic Tank Store uses up to date, eco friendly products to take foul effluent and process it naturally to leave water with reduced pollutant levels for discharge to the appropriate point. Services include site visits, sizing of plants and servicing. www.theseptictankstore.co.uk
The PERFO system of interlocking ground reinforcement tiles can be directly installed onto grass without excavation. Grass will grow back through the holes in the product and natural drainage is maintained; they can also be removed at a later date if required. These tiles have many uses, including vehicle parking, access tracks, airfields, helipads, equine and livestock, showgrounds, driveways and more. Talking to the husband and wife team, it seems that planning permission is not required in most instances. www.perfo-uk.com
I just love the look of this product, and the spirit of the designer. A stylish, portable oven that heats up quickly and not only cooks authentic pizzas and flatbreads but also doubles up as a BBQ with a reversible griddle – ridged one side and flat on the top. A bonus is the specially deigned ‘hot rock’ that can be lifted out of the oven for fun table top cooking. The Firepod reportedly heats up ready for pizzas in 10 minutes and reaches temperatures of over 600°F. www.thefirepod.com