*As seen in The Logbook. January 2019.
Whatever your special day entails be it a wedding, birthday, corporate event or festival you want to work with a supplier who can appreciate the importance of the day. One who can not only supply you with a product or service, but also a memorable experience.
Blossom Bell Tent Hire, based out of The Scottish Borders, provides bell tents for all occasions. Including weddings, festivals, glamping and corporate events. As well as alternative marquees and soon-to-be-available unique outdoor photo-booth hire. Speaking with owner and co-founder Craig Hooper, he explains that his business takes care of everything from the initial enquiry and liaising with venues, to erecting, furnishing and finally the removal of the tents. This all-in-one service allows clients to completely focus on the important things of the day, knowing that their location and venue is sorted.
Over the last two years, the company has evolved steadily from being part-time with a pair of tents, to a full-time business with thirty tents in stock and a large number on order for 2019. Craig explains that this year is going to be a time of innovation and growth, a genuine opportunity for the business to blossom.
“We’re developing our product offering and are currently converting a vintage horsebox to a highly unique outdoor/indoor photo booth,” he says, “Also, we are expanding our coverage area. Previously we’ve covered Southern Scotland and North East England but are now expanding to cover the whole of the UK. We feel confident about this as we have already proven that we can cover all of the country and offer the same high standards to our clients, both new and current.”
Anyone who has set up a tent will agree that it’s important to know which direction the wind is blowing. Blossom Bell Tent Hire is proof that the same can be said for business. According to Craig their business has changed immensely since their first days, pivoting whenever necessary to find that groove that worked best for their customers.
“My wife Kelly and I began the business,” he says, “Our initial concept was to work on it in a part time basis with a handful of tents, offering children’s parties and sleepovers. It would be residual income while we concentrated on our event management business.”
However, as he explains, things took a different route.
“It became apparent, almost immediately, that this would not be the case. Almost as soon as we started marketing the tents, we had a phenomenal response with a flood of bookings for weddings, festivals and corporate events, as well as large garden parties.”
It was a chance for the couple to take inventory and an honest look at the situation. Event management required long hours of work and had begun having a negative effect on their home and family life. Finding this quite unacceptable they decided to concentrate their energy and marketing budget on Blossom Bell Tent Hire. This included building stock levels to cover larger bookings and developing strategies to offer ever better products and services to their fast-growing clientele.
KNOWING WHAT IS IMPORTANT
At the start, the couple were offered the chance to purchase a small bell tent hire business that was already offering children’s parties and sleepovers, but after doing some research they found that they could buy new stock for a similar price. Combining this with his marketing background they decided to build their own business from scratch.
“We wanted a certain lifestyle,” he says, “One that allowed us time to spend with our family, that wasn’t too stressful and gave us the chance to get outdoors and travel more. As a family we love the outdoors, and this gave us the perfect chance to go glamping or camping whenever we got a break.”
Building it up from scratch also meant that they were able to set their business parameters and determine their approach to dealing with customers and their special days.
WHAT CAN A CLIENT EXPECT?
In a short period of time Blossom Bell Tent Hire has established itself, through the hard work of Craig and Kelly, as the exclusive tent supplier for a Wedderburn Castle and Barns, a highly prestigious and very popular wedding venue in the Scottish Borders.
“We also have strong links with a number of campsites in the area, allowing us to offer glamping breaks in places where appropriate facilities aren’t on offer,” he says.
This allows them to offer a service to their guests that would like to have the glamping experience but are very specific with the area where they want to offer it.
He adds, “We also work hard to establish and maintain good relationships with festival organisers as not only is this an important revenue stream for us, but we and our staff all love live music.”
As with any business, especially one that is growing so fast off the backs of its co-founders, there is a long list of important things to address to keep their business safe for the future. But three things stand out. Trends. Product and Safety.
As clients, new and present, have evolving tastes, Craig and Kelly ensure that they keep their fingers on the pulse of the latest trends with camping and weddings. This is time invested, with research through newsletters, magazines, blogs and social media. Avid users of social media they can be easily found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“Social media is something that we are constantly experimenting with,” Craig says, “Using social media in the right way is an excellent approach. Planning timings of posts to optimise exposure and making use of the various groups and pages on social media where we are likely to find our target audience works well. We have also done all of our own SEO, which now places us consistently on the first page of Google when you search for our services in the areas we cover. Knowing how to use digital tools to futureproof your business is very effective.”
And offline futureproofing is equally well looked after, he explains, “We continually update and upgrade our stock. Any tents that are starting to look worn, dated or damaged are replaced as soon as possible and we are always on the lookout for something new to add to our line-up.”
For example, they have previously only offered 5 metre tents but due to demand they now cater to all sizes from a tiny 1.5 metre “Baby Bell”, which makes a great play tent at wedding bookings, all the way up to their “Behemoth Bell”. At 8 metres in diameter, this is the largest bell tent available in the UK, offering sleeping accommodation for 10 guests, and also makes an alternative to a small marquee for more intimate gatherings.
One of the biggest challenges was insurance, Craig reveals. But this was also an opportunity. There are a lot of insurance brokers who offer PLI cover for marquees and other types of temporary structures, but for their own peace of mind, they wanted something that specified bell tents. This required research which has made them experts in this field.
“Specific insurance also means you naturally amplify any safety precautions and efforts you have already administered,” Craig says, “It makes us even better with what we do because guest safety is always at the forefront of our minds.”
How does the Hooper family balance life and work?
“In a word, camping,” Craig testifies, “Whenever we have a large booking away from home, we almost always pack an extra tent, take our 3 boys with us and pitch up close by. This means we can have a break and give our clients peace of mind, knowing we are only a matter of minutes away should they need us.”
Beyond camping, they are also film buffs and love eating out, as well as squeezing in as many barbecues as possible in the summer. Being based in a very rural area also gives them the chance to do a lot of walking as well as encouraging them to be increasingly adventurous.
“We have started to explore off the beaten track much more,” Craig explains, “Living in Scotland is great as we have the option of wild camping. As long as you’re considerate about it there are very few places you can’t pitch a tent and there are some absolutely stunning spots.”
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 01890249032
PRICE/TENT: (generally) £200 – £300 per weekend booking.