Review: Open Air Business Gathering 2019

Blowing off the cobwebs at our inaugural conference with a difference! Report by Tally Wade

Just three months from the seed of an idea to us welcoming 160 guests through the door of Hothorpe Hall in Leicestershire, we are delighted to report the first Open Air Business Gathering was a great success – we sold out all of our accommodation and had to increase seating in the glamping stream. Born of feedback from readers and advertisers seeking the opportunity for a good ole’ ‘face to face’ with genuine networking and learning opportunities, we immediately went into a huddle and worked out a BETA version of what we believe will become an important part of the outdoor hospitality calendar – a pre-season get together to put a springtime entrepreneurial step in all our boots.

conference attendees at outdoor hospitality seminarNaturally there were teething troubles and we have learned an awful lot (next year expect slick AV, more food and a backup speaker should someone let us down) but the emails pinging into our inbox show we must have got most of it right as we are definitely feeling the love!

A big thank you goes to our overall sponsor FOLK2FOLK and our three streamed sponsors Blackdown Shepherd Huts, Boutique Camping and Event Equipment. Their support in year one means an awful lot to us. We also take our hats off to our 18 speakers who turned up and did their thing – you were brilliant.

Open Air Business conference at Hothorpe Hall

I am not going to go into too much detail about the programme or topics covered, needless to say our three streams were well served by experts from across the venue, glamping and outdoor event sectors.

Kart-fit go karts at the OAB GatheringThe informal, friendly vibe we had set out to achieve was realised and the format with the pre-conference party the evening before worked very well in warming everyone up. The illuminated pedal powered go-karts from Kart Fit (complete with headphones piping in Mario Kart jazz) were so much fun and perfect for the meandering paths en-route to the spectacular treehouse, which was open for viewing and impromptu business meetings.

It was great to see the 21 tradestands we squeezed in looking busy too, next year we will build on the outdoor exhibits which included a hot tub, mini treehouse structure, a bell tent village and super silent 100kw generator.

We will be announcing dates for the 2020 Gathering soon along with an invitation to grab tickets at an early bird rate. Spaces are strictly limited so do check your calendars and reserve your place to avoid disappointment.

Visitors to OAB Gathering viewing bell tentsWhat you said…

“Thank you very much for an inspiring Open Air Business conference at Hothorpe Hotel last weekend. I enjoyed every aspect. I realise this was your first outing and having run conferences myself, I would comment that you and the team laid on an excellent event which you should be really proud of.”
Adrian Johnston, chief executive, Newark Showground

“I would just like to thank you – it was a pleasure to be involved with the event. My colleague Richard Goodwin had mentioned how good the event had been and very well organised with excellent topics.”
Annabelle Gardner, events manager, CLA Midlands

“Just wanted to say thank you for inviting me as a speaker. I loved it. Such a great event and much needed in our industry. I would love to support next year.”
Sarah Orchard, Orchard Marketing Associates

“Well balanced, informative, topical and up to scratch on content”.
Mike Sands, deputy director, Secret Widget Fest

“I think the streaming worked well, while still giving people the option to swap to other streams. Lots of people learning new things.”
Mary Corfield, event director, Greenbelt

“A breath of fresh air for the industry – thank you for such an important learning opportunity”
Lisa Evans, glamping entrepreneur

A huge thanks again to the following:

Overall Sponsor

Folk2Folk logoPrivate mortgages secured against land or property from £50,000 upwards, FOLK2FOLK has helped hundreds of rural businesses fund their diversification projects from glamping to venue redevelopments and more. Finance is provided by private individual investors who receive a better return on their money than through a traditional bank, and protecting rural communities and livelihoods is very much part of this institution’s agenda. Loans are approved in weeks and are interest only with rates from 0.38% p.m.

Function Venue Sponsor

Boutique Camping logo

An amazing array of quality canvas and lightweight polyester bell tents from 4m to a huge 7m in diameter. Check out the colours and patterns in the range along with the new Star, Luna and Emperor tents. A great resource for glampsite and venues alike that want to add accommodation to their offering, the online shop has over 600 products in stock.



Glamping Sponsor

Blackdown Shepherd Huts logoConsidered one of the highest quality shepherd hut manufacturers out there, the team at Blackdown match quality craftsmanship with innovation, creating beautiful structures for discerning clients. Take a look at the ‘Brace’ hut (two huts linked together), stargazer glass panels (lie in bed and look up at the sky) and Towby catering hut.

Event Sponsor

Event Equiupment logo for OAB GatheringA one-stop-shop for event organisers of everything from festivals to light shows to private parties. Marquees, staging, power distribution, AV, flooring, furniture, heating and more, the friendly team at Event Equipment offers management services and love to get stuck into the creative side of event production, from the traditional to the contemporary.

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