Iain is the founder of Venues and Ventures, a management consultancy specialising in delivering strong returns on investment across historic venues, rural estates and outdoor spaces. He has worked for some of England’s grandest country estates and leading luxury venues, refining his eye for spotting new opportunities and helping businesses realise their potential.
Layona is the owner of Artifex Designs, which provides fun, magical and scary seasonal events focussing on Halloween, UV 3D Scaremaze Artwork and provides fully immersive Christmas experiences. Having worked with a variety of entertainment venues across the UK, and who’s screampark artwork was featured in the Guardian and the Times in 2019, Layona is passionate about working with venues to start up or grow their seasonal events to provide fun, engaging and immersive entertainment for all.
A regular contributor to Open Air Business, Kelly is a long term preferred service provider for exclusive venues such as Syon Park, Highclere Castle, Spencer House and Stoke Park Club. Kelly’s consulting services to wedding venues draw to prior experience in international conference and event planning, over 15 years of business management, and working directly with discerning couples planning their weddings in diverse locations and forging successful relationships with all components of the wedding industry.
Shelley is an experienced Town and Country Planner and chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute with over 13 years' experience within both public and private sector planning. She holds post graduate qualifications in Town and Regional Planning as well as Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Shelley began her planning career in a local planning authority in Lancashire and now is an Associate Director at Rural Solutions, leading on a variety of projects, across all sectors including leisure and tourism, residential and renewable energy, working with clients to maximise the potential of land and assets.
Sheena is the owner and co-founder of The Forge and the Wild Bushcraft Company. Based in North Wales, Sheena and her husband Jamie offer glamping retreats with a twist. As well as the usual luxury camping facilities, The Forge encourages guests to engage in a wide range of bushcraft activities, ranging from lighting their own campfires to wild food foraging and star gazing, all with the aim of helping guests step off from the modern world and find a deeper level of relaxation and wellbeing. With a background in corporate diversity and inclusion, The Forge perfectly complements Sheena’s career, which focuses on encouraging better mental health in the workplace.
After graduating in environmental management and outdoor education, Richard moved into corporate development training before joining forces with business partner John Maddy to become one of the early pioneers of glamping in the UK, launching Long Valley Yurts in 2007. The pair has worked with the Irish Tourist Board to consult and advise on glamping nationally, and are now bringing together over 17 years of experience to offer consultancy, training and qualifications through Canopy, a new glamping and camping industry association.
Joe is the director and programmer of Towersey Festival, the oldest independent festival in the UK. Established in 1965, it continues to be one of the country’s leading festivals of acoustic, folk and roots music, attracting over 8,000 people annually.
Steve is the chairman of the Events Industry Forum (EIF) and a contributor to the Purple Guide. He has been the general secretary of Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) since its formation in 1987, is the director of Mrs Casey Music and was director of Towersey Festival for 45 years, having retired last year.
Daniel owns the Quiet Site in Ullswater, and his pioneering commitment to sustainability has seen over £1million invested in the latest technologies to make it one of the greenest parks in the land. The Quiet Team was delighted to win the ‘Ethical, Sustainable and Responsible’ Award for from Cumbria Tourism for a record 4th time last year and maintains a Green Tourism Gold award.
David Boyle is the next in line to inherit Kelburn Estate, which includes his family home, a 16th Castle. He took over the day to day running of operations from his father Lord Glasgow 10 years ago and has set about delivering diversification projects which include glamping, an expansion of the wedding and corporate events side of the business, seasonal attractions and the Kelburn Garden Party, often referred to as “the best festival in Scotland.” Putting Kelburn well and truly on the map as a destination venue was the family’s bold move to give the Category A listed building a facelift with a difference – Brazilian street art courtesy of 1,500 cans of spray paint. Considered a triumph by Historic Scotland, the estate featured in global news and the Culture Show, with visitors increasing by 25 per cent.
Amy-Lee has worked alongside wedding venues of all shapes and sizes across the UK and internationally for over 6 years, helping them to manage their online presence and marketing with the UK’s Number 1 Wedding Planning Website. As Head of Client Success, Amy-Lee combines her previous experience as a Sales Manager for a group of exclusive use wedding venues with her time at Hitched to help deliver results for all her clients. She’s passionate about helping venues navigate the constantly changing wedding market while deepening her understanding of the behaviours and needs of wedding planning couples.
After graduating in outdoor education and leadership, John moved into corporate development training before joining forces with business partner Richard Coulter to become one of the early pioneers of glamping in the UK, launching Long Valley Yurts in 2007. The pair has worked with the Irish Tourist Board to consult and advise on glamping nationally, and are now bringing together over 17 years of experience to offer consultancy, training and qualifications through Canopy, a new glamping and camping industry association.
Kate’s hospitality-dedicated businesses support development projects that include alternative accommodations such as glamping and treehouses. Her consultancy service offers informed advice on how to diversify into this niche sector, and her design service combines her holiday property rental and glamping experience with design and construction to produce creative commercial treehouses and cabins.
Matt is a meadows adviser at Plantlife, advising and supporting anyone interested in restoring, creating and managing wildflower meadows. Plantlife is a British conservation charity working nationally and internationally for over 30 years to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi. Its team of experts work with landowners, businesses, conservation organisations, community groups and governments to help save the rarest flora and ensure familiar flowers and plants continue to thrive.
Tim Rees is managing director of Quality Unearthed, Quality Cottages and Quality Villas, three self-catering agencies representing nearly 1,000 properties at the quality end of the accommodation Wales, England, France, Italy and Morocco. With a focus on e-commerce, he is perfectly positioned to give an overview of the current market and its likely movements in the medium term. He has a personal interest in sustainability and founded the Unearthed Festival, an event focused on positive social change through the expansion of consciousness. Tim is currently also working on a luxury treehouse development near London.
Kate Symonds has been running the glampsite, Round the Woods, for the past five years, with two yurts and a roundhouse that her family are building using natural materials. Kate has experience of advising the Church of England and London Wildlife Trust on environmental sustainability and runs her glampsite with eco friendly practices at its core. She lives amongst 20 acres of woodland and meadow, including a County Wildlife Site, with her young family and attempts to live off the land as much as possible while home educating her children.
Louis is CEO of Nomadic Resorts, an interdisciplinary design and project development company servicing the hospitality industry. Using a holistic approach, Nomadic creates sustainable resorts, tented camps, lodges and residential projects that reflect a true sense of place and fit organically into their natural surroundings. Its work includes the Wild Coast Tented Lodge in the south of Sri Lanka, Soneva Kiri on Ko Kut island in Thailand and Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in Namibia.
Sue is director of Wicked Events which has been in operation since 2000 and recruits volunteers for festivals and events around the country. Wicked Events has grown year on year due to the emphasis on treating all with respect and ensuring volunteers enjoy their time.