After ‘A’ Levels and Art School, one thing became my overriding objective – travel. Over the next few years I visited North and South America, and Europe. These experiences left me with so many fantastic memories that refuse to fade.
I camped in an olive grove overlooking Florence which glittered below at night, slept in remote island beach huts among palm trees and my Florida Keys boathouse neighbour was a moray eel… it’s called ‘experiential travel’ these days. The quirky dwellings and lifestyles provided me with much wide-eyed inspiration, and still do. My travels were partly funded by work in hotels and restaurants operating to high levels of hospitality. I quickly learned that my personal standards were higher than most, and how important (and easy) it is to exceed guest expectations. These are principles that I still apply to my holiday rental business, and consultancy advice.
Returning to the UK in my mid 20’s, I started my sales career with a telesales job, moved quickly on to field-sales and then area manager. Leaving ‘life on the road’ to join a large corporation, I ran export sales with a multi-million pound turnover, and then set up the international licensing department. All valuable experience, but as time ticked by an urge to return to rural life prevailed, eventually prompting the purchase of a run down smallholding, which required more work than my husband and I could ever have imagined. This was my first property restoration and landscaping project and I learned a lot – mostly the hard way! Other properties followed, as did running events and festivals, and a wedding design business.
In 2010, circumstances initiated a move to Wales and it was there that I joined a holiday cottage agency where, a year later, I was asked to establish a new sister company, a glamping agency. Glamping was in its infancy but I was thrilled to find that this new sector was a perfect match for my experience, skills and personal interests. My role was very hands-on in the first few years and I learned a lot about setting up, running and marketing cottage and glamping holiday accommodation.
However, life moves us on and in early 2017, after leaving the agency to return to England I decided to start a freelance advice and design service. I’d watched glamping increase in popularity over the years and noticed a need for objective, informed advice. Running a small to medium glampsite can be a lifestyle choice or diversification project, and having run my own rural business, helping others to achieve success is incredibly rewarding. For large companies and organisations, glamping is a strategic diversification, and given my previous corporate experience I know how to deliver what they need.
Crucially however, we must always create memorable experiences for guests, because if we lose sight of what drives a successful hospitality business, we might as well pack up and go home.
Most of my work has been in the UK, but I’m increasingly approached to advise landowners from abroad and have supported companies and tourism organisations throughout Europe, Australia, the Bahamas and South America, which continues to widen my knowledge base, experience and contacts.
I also appreciate the opportunity to share my experience by giving talks at shows such as Be My Guest, The Glamping Show, and Farm Business Innovation, and by contributing regularly to magazines Glamping Business and Open Air.
I always fully support relevant organisations and events, and assisted with the relaunch of The Glamping Association in 2017, of which I am a committee member. I love this industry, and there’s nothing more exciting that creating new and innovative developments with like-minded people.