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How To Get Your Glamping Business Featured On TV – Episode #029

Albion Nights Glamping Business

How do you get your glamping business or unique holiday rental featured on television for free? What’s the process and how does it work?

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In this episode, I speak to Helen from Albion Nights in South Norfolk, who was recently featured by HGTV and BBC’s Sarah Moore in Cash In The Spare Room.

Helen and her husband Pete have lovingly hand-built their cabin in rural Norwich using reclaimed, recycled and reused materials.

Their off-grid glamping cabin is secluded in an idyllic part of the UK. Off-the-beaten-track it allows guests to relax, reconnect and escape in complete privacy.

Glamping Business Podcast

After Helen’s recent success being featured by the TV show, I asked her:

  • How she managed to get snapped up by the Production Company
  • What it takes to be featured on a TV show
  • Exactly what’s involved during filming and if there are any pitfalls
  • If she had any advice about shortcutting the process and
  • If she had any tips she could share with others hoping to do the same.

Additional Resources And Links Mentioned

Listen to the podcast here:

If you have something inspiring to offer the world of Glamping and Unique Holiday Rentals then get in touch with Sarah Riley and share it on the Podcast. For more information contact Sarah through her website here.


Sarah Riley: How do you get your business featured on TV for free What’s the process How does it work and what do you need to think about before they call lights Camera action. I speak to Helen from our Albion Nights, a wonderful, sustainably built cabin in Norfolk about how she managed to do it even before they started their built. And she also tells us exactly what’s involved. Welcome to episode 29, glamping and unique holiday rentals are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays that deliver an experience. They are also the new business of choice for those wanting to improve their work-life balance. How do you build a store business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment? I’m Sarah Riley. And I want to share what I’ve discovered after being immersed in this industry for over 20 years, to inspire you to find out more about what’s going on. Welcome. This is the business of glamping and unique holiday rentals.

Sarah Riley: Hello I believe friends. It’s so fantastic that you’re here. I’m so incredibly grateful. It’s been such a mad, mad, crazy bonkers time. I just cannot describe what’s been going on, but you know, there’s been positive and negative and quite frankly, I’m only going to be focusing on the positives today. I’ve been super, super, super busy sharing, all kinds of information and guides around COVID-19 and how people can tackle and deal with the issues that they’re being faced with at the moment, with everything that’s going on in the industry in the world, none of us has escaped this it’s just been constant relentless, and it keeps coming around. So, you know, I’ve been helping a lot of people with all kinds of things, including new restrictions and cleaning and all the official guidance that has now been released and the grants available to businesses because of what they’re going through at the moment and training on what they need to think about.

Sarah Riley: I’ve held a big focus group with lots of glamping business owners to talk about the issues, the real issues on the ground for them, exactly what they need to be doing and what their recommendations were. So we could gather the thinking of the hive mind to share each other’s best practices and things that would really help us out with this sticky situation. So I’ve also been sharing training on what to think about and how to secure bookings and deal with cancellations, and also those systems for keeping businesses solvent at times that are so challenging, like right now, and also to think about the recession and how we can keep our businesses strong in the face of the challenges of tomorrow and next year. But this I’m going to keep all positive. I’ve also been talking about new owners and what they need to be thinking about, about how they can get excited about this industry and what’s happening and what’s changing and how, in some cases, those changes are challenging.

Sarah Riley: Yes, but in other cases, those changes are just bringing incredible opportunities for people wanting to come into this industry. And I’m seeing people deal with it in very different ways. Some people wanting to pause their plans for the moment, because they’re thinking of observing what’s going on in the market and taking action, depending on what happens in the future while others are actually seeing these opportunities that are coming around and taking action. Now getting themselves into position for when things start to really ignite. Now, I think both ways are fine. It really depends on who you are as an individual and how you actually approach your business. But there are some very exciting things coming in. I want to share a lot more about that in a future episode, about what you, as a new business owner or someone who’s excited about thinking of what’s going on in this industry and maybe taking the plunge, I’m going to be talking about all of those things and how this, this current situation is changing everything and what you need to think about next, but that’s going to be on another episode.

Sarah Riley: So I’ve been dealing with all of these things are more in my business support groups and, you know, it’s, it’s been quite exhausting. So I’ve had to take a little bit of time away from the podcast, but I’m back now. I’m very happy to say I’m really excited about what I’ve got planned for the podcast and you know what, don’t go away. You’re going to be really, really excited about what’s to come, but I’m going to start today with a little interview, which I did with Helen R Helen has got the most amazing cabin that she and her husband built. The cabin has literally been lovingly crafted by Helen and Pete. And they’ve used all kinds of reclaimed recycled and reuse materials wherever they can, which I think is really great. And it also means that things like the corrugated tin Berry, for example, has got the most amazing colours from the ageing process, the wear and tear of life.

Sarah Riley: And so the cabin has this personality, all of its own. It just has this beauty that you can only get from using up-cycled recycled cereals. So it turned out that when I was sharing some information from a production company, they were looking for some people to get involved in a TV program with BBC Sarah Moore. Now you may know her from money for nothing or cash in the spare room. And in this, she and her co-presenter, Max McMurdo, who is also a friend of this show and I’ll link to the podcast episode that he was involved in. They go around to various people’s property to investigate and showcase how people are making money from literally their spare room or spare piece of land or anything else that they’re prepared to share. It’s a really interesting program. And you can get a whole heap of ideas for your own projects just by watching it.

Sarah Riley: But how do you get involved in this kind of thing How do you get yourself your own project on TV for free, and what is the process for that How does it work and what do you need to think about while they’re there So I spoke to Helen about all of this asking about what she and Pete did, and she shares some amazing things about her projects and their experiences, but also how she managed in the end to be baking cakes for the film crew. And in fact, they’re even looking to bring her and Pete into a future program because they got on so well in this episode. So I highly recommend you listen to this. If you want to get your project featured in some kind of TV experience, and you can find out what she did and the steps she took to make sure it was a success. So hope you enjoy it. So straight over to the interview now,

Helen: Thank you so much, Helen, for joining me today. I wanted to get you on the show just to talk to you about the fact that you were recently featured on TV. Can you tell me a little bit about that

Helen: Absolutely. Yes. So, we approached a production company, just a, just under a year ago, who was looking for people who were creating accommodation to generate some extra income. And that could have been anything from a spare room. They were doing up to a much bigger project, like the one we were going to embark on. So actually I think you shared a link on one of your sites, which is how I found out about it. And I immediately jumped on it and ended up having lots of phone calls with someone from the production company and a Skype meeting and sending lots of photos. And they were totally on board from, from the first moment they saw a photograph of what we were trying to do. I think there are two things that you say there, which are brilliant, which is, you said you took action straight away and you did it immediately, but also the fact that you were part of a community, which is how you found out about it. So yeah, that was, I shared that information in the community. Yes. And so those two things you made it happen. And so that’s, so

Sarah Riley: It’s very hard for people to understand how they might get involved in a production company or a TV show. And it’s really just about being visible, isn’t it? And taking those opportunities when they come in front,

Helen: It’s absolutely about being visible. And I think being part of networking groups and communities like the Facebook group that you facilitate, where you are presenting us with some of those opportunities. I mean, I think we all, sometimes those things will pop up in our inbox or on our timelines of social media channels, you know, D D do you want to do this Or do you want to buy that Or this TB program is looking for people to do X, Y, Z. And as you say, I saw that post on your page and I jumped on it. I did take an EGR action. And I think I had my marketing hat on at that point, you know, even before we’d started building the cabin, I just saw it as an opportunity for some free advertising and lets us it.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, absolutely. So how does it make you feel the fact that you may be on television I mean, that’s quite nerve-wracking? Yeah?

Helen: It was nerve-wracking. Although I have to say the production company were absolutely brilliant at putting us at ease and there were lots of Skype conversations, beforehand. I think that was partly because they wanted to get a feel for how Pete, my husband and I would come across on a screen. And, you know, the kind of the chat, the dialogue, I think they also want to see how we worked together as a couple. I didn’t think about the fact it was going to be frightening. And as I said, they, the whole crew, the whole production team was so brilliant at putting us at our ease. It didn’t feel uncomfortable at all.

Sarah Riley: What was it like, tell me about the first day. So the first day they rolled up with their cameras and all their gear. How did that feel

Helen: The first day they rolled up was the most overwhelming day because we were the first episode that they decided to film. So we were the beginning of the show. They hadn’t been to visit any of any other people. They started with us. So consequently, the whole team came like the two directors, the people who own the company, you know, runners, the presenter camera crew. And so we suddenly had kind of 12 people in our kitchen, all wanting a bit of us or wanting to know about us. you know, luckily I’d baked a cake for everybody, you know, but, but really very quickly because I also had charming people. They very much felt like people, we could be friends with very quickly. And I guess that’s the skill that they have because they, they, they must have people they come across who become very nervous and very anxious. So part of their skill is making you feel at ease and comfortable about the process that you’re going to go through.

Sarah Riley: So I’ve heard from many that actually being in a show can be a bit like pulling teeth because they want to do things from this angle, that angle talk about things in that way and then a different way. And then they change their minds and want to do it all over again. Was it like that Or was it very much off the cuff

Helen: It was absolutely like that. Yeah. From, from the go get it with like that. and part of that was because we were their starting point. This was a brand new series. We were the first people that they came to film for the brand new series. And so they made design decisions that they then decided to change. So the former aftershave changed. So for example, they spent two days with us filming the first part of the show. And then several months down the line had decided that the format of the show was going to change. So they needed to come back and pretend it was them coming again from the beginning to fill it all again in a different way. So there was quite a lot of, of that type of thing. And then as you say, the same conversation being filmed, perhaps 10 different times from different angle camera angles and from different viewpoints, et cetera. So yeah, time-consuming, but, but enjoyable as well as, as, a process of, we all really enjoyed it.

Sarah Riley: And so you were doing it with your husband. What were his thoughts about it because this was your idea to get involved and how did he feel about it Was he dragged into it kicking and screaming or was he, it was the absolute game for it.

Helen: I think I’m really blessed with a husband who is, you know, gained for most things. I throw his way, you know, hence us ending up in Norfolk, renovating a barn because I wanted a property with a piece of land to start a dumping business. So I, you know, I think I’m the gung-ho one, but he really hopefully comes along with my plans and I decided to apply to be on the TV program without discussing it with him. I think I hadn’t actually considered that. It would be both of us that they wanted to film. I thought it would be just me, but it very quickly became apparent. It was both of us and he was just completely up for it. So yeah, I’m very lucky in that respect.

Sarah Riley: So often they focus on their needs as a production company and what they want out of the TV show and what they want to have, you know, from the view, his point of view. But did you find that it was hard to get your needs included as well as a, as a new business developing business who needed some kind of promotional help and, you know, ultimately that was part of the reason that you were on there? how did that go

Helen: I agree. I think it’s very much led by the needs of the television company rather than your own needs. I mean, having said that, you know, I, the only reason I embarked on being on the program totally was for publicity. There’s no other reason I wanted to do that. You know, we were approached when we, we live in a bowl and that we renovated ourselves and we were approached for being on grand designs. And I completely said, shut that down. I did not want grand designs here. You know, when we were living in a caravan, which was all really, really stressful, I didn’t want to be on that TV journey because I thought that would be incredibly intrusive on our personal life. Whereas this is a project that felt very separate. This is about my business. And I could say as a publicity marketing tool if you like.

Helen: So it worked from that. The only thing I would say is that you know, looking at the program now, it’s, there’s, there’s no evidence of my, my business name. You know, it’s, it’s very much come across as we’re going to be letting out on, you know, as a sort of B and B type of thing, which clearly we are, but, but I’m doing it under the umbrella of it. It’s a glamping business and I’ve got a business name and, you know, everything around that. And that hasn’t necessarily come across on the program, which is perhaps a bit disappointing, but I’m hopeful that people will still find us. And I understand that the production company are putting links to my website and social media channels on, on their sites against the program. So yeah.

Sarah Riley: So your name for your businesses is Albion Nights. So tell me, what is the foundation for that where’s that come from?

Helen: I have roots in Eastern glare. So, I grew up in not far away from where we live now. although I spent a lot of my life, in fact, most of my life I spent in London, but as a child in East Anglia, my parents were very involved with something called the LBN fairs, which were some very kind of wonderful musical hippie gatherings with, I’d say, as the sort of forerunner of the type of festivals that you, you know, many, many people go to now, but these were going on in the seventies and my sister and I were very much sort of feral kids running around at these events, having a fantastic time. and I have a very sort of romanticized memory of all of that in my head. And when we moved back to what I say, we moved back, it was very much making me back to this area. My husband is Irish. w so when we’ve come to live in Norfolk, and I’ve come very much with this idea of wanting to get a glamping business going, it just felt the right thing to do to somehow tie that and that the word Albion into my business. yeah, so sort of those old English magical nights. Yeah. That’s, that’s where it’s come from.

Sarah Riley: And you, do you do any kind of music yourself Are you involved in anything like that yourself now

Helen: Yeah, I am a musician. yeah, I, for a time was a professional musician before having a family. It’s, it’s now a paying hobby, but, and that’s how my husband and I met. We were both in a band together and we both play Irish music. He sings and I played the fiddle and we plan a few bands and yeah. Still, still get out and about and do that. Yeah.

Sarah Riley: Sounds amazing. So I can see my head already. I can see your guests and you sitting around a campfire playing Irish folk music. Is that likely to happen

Helen: Well, that’s really interesting. You should say that because one initiative that I am going to be starting is something called Albin nights, kitchen gigs, and we’ve got a really fantastic sort of vaulted ceiling, big open plan kitchen in our bar, in the barn that we live in. I’m going to start hosting gigs in the kitchen once a month, and they’re going to be sort of intimate events for 30 people where touring artists are going to include us on the tour dates. And so if you happen to be staying in the cabin that monkey you’ll be able to wander down through the orchard and come and join us and have a vegetarian meal and hear some wonderful music in our kitchen.

Sarah Riley: Sounds just amazing. I love folk music. It’s so rooted in traditions and it almost whisks me back to a time that I was never a part of, unfortunately, but Oh, wow. Just sounds really good. And please, can I join in

Helen: Okay.

Sarah Riley: It’s a bit of a drive for me. I’m all the way down in the South and you’re all the way across the other side of the country, but, I’d definitely be up for that. So that sounds really amazing.

Helen: Well, we have a lovely cabin. You could come and stay. And so

Sarah Riley: Absolutely I’m there as it’s definitely one of the things that when I was watching the show and it just looked so lovely. I love corrugated iron, especially aged corrugated iron. I’m a real fan of it because it just shows the story and it’s something that’s being repurposed it’s been used again. And that’s one of the things I noticed it in the show when I was watching it, that you talked very much about looking around you and seeing what materials you had at your disposal, and then using that to continue with the bill. Is that something that you were focused on all the way through, or was that at the end when the budget was getting a bit tighter

Helen: I focused on that from the outset, because we’d renovated our bond. We had heaps of materials lying around, so lovely bits of wood that come out of the bond, all that corrugated 10 had been on pick sheds outside the bond. It was just loads of stuff here. And I, you know, my husband’s a hoarder of things and we just could not bear for any of that to not be used again. So the whole ethos around the build was to try and build it without buying brand new products. And the only, not quite the only thing, but the main thing I brought new was the large cutting, which is locally grown. Almost everything else is reclaimed or repurposed or has been bought second hand from somebody else. So I kind of wanted to show that that was possible that you know, you, and it did make the build much harder and much slower. Yeah. Quite tricky at times, it’s not like going and buying an off the shelf cabin that you just put together. You’re following the instructions. And here we go. And it’s the same cabin that maybe 40 or 50 other businesses have got as well. You know, we’ve created something completely unique and I love it for that. I, you know, I love it.

Sarah Riley: Yeah. I think the whole look of the cabin is just lovely. It looks like it’s always been there. And I’m sure when the clouding on the edge has aged a bit with the weather, that it will just look like it blends into the local floor and foreigner and the trees and in the background. But overall, when you walk into it and you step into it, that’s, it’s lovely luxury space that people can have a really lovely getaway in. So in terms of the show, is there anything that you would do differently if you had the opportunity to do it again Or are you happy with how it went

Helen: I’m completely happy with how it went. Actually, the only thing that’s disappointing is that there’s no direct reference to Albion nights in the program, but I think actually the contents that were shown for the television program is I’m really pleased with it. I think, you know, I must admit on the day it was and I’d seen some rushes beforehand that had been shared with me. I know I was cringing and having to watch myself, but I actually thought Pete and I came across really well. And I’ve had really positive feedback about that. so I thought the cabin absolutely fantastic. So really in the, in that respect, I couldn’t have wished them all, I think yeah. And it didn’t promote the name of the business, but other than that, I think it showed us, us and the cabin in a really good light.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, I think so too. I think it was a great success. And so if you had to do it again, is there anything that you wish you’d known before then

Helen: It’s a time-consuming process. I think that’s possibly because, as I said, we were the starting point of the program. So, therefore, there was a bit of trial and error from the production company’s point of view. but I think, you know, anyone embarking on this should be mindful of the amount of time it’s going to take up. There’s a lot of, there’s a lot of touring and performing on a weekly, sometimes daily basis with the production company by email and phone. and then a lot of, I mean, probably at a monthly visit from a film crew as well. So it’s, you know, you’ve got to be prepared for that. and also towards the end of the build, quite a lot of pressure on us to be finished within the timing schedule as well. And so suddenly we were on a very, very tight deadline to have to meet, you know, being ready for them to, to finish your mean, to get the program ready for airing. And, you know, they, they, they did give us some leeway and then we were the most complicated build on the whole show. So they gave us as long as they possibly could, but there was a lot of pressure on at the end as well to have it all dressed and shiny and done.

Sarah Riley: And did you have any help with your styling and how you presented it at the end or were you just left to do that yourself

Helen: We did. We did that ourselves. I mean, I think that’s very much my forte. I didn’t have any concerns about that bit. the bit that, that the TV company helped with was as you’ll see on the show, and it was this idea of installing an outdoor bath, which they took on and did that and paid for that bit, which was fantastic.

Sarah Riley: Yeah. The outdoor bath. I can just imagine myself with a, you know, a glass of something nice and cold sitting in there, looking at nature and listening to the birds outside. And, you know, even if it’s raining, you’re undercover and the bar is hot, it’s just lovely. It’s a lovely idea.

Helen: Yeah, no, it’s something very special

Sarah Riley: And it’s a very clever idea as well because hot tubs, which are known to attract guests and to help secure more bookings there, they are very complicated because of the fact that you’ve got chemicals, you’ve got a lot of water wastage, you’ve got issues with, you know, regulations because they can generate bacteria and things like that. So having a smaller bar, it just means that it’s less water being used and you flush it like you would a normal bath. And I think that’s, yeah, ultimately it’s sometimes the simplest are the best ideas.

Helen: I agree. And I think it totally ties in with our ethos, with the cabin, you know, it’s, it’s off-grid and, you know, whilst having a hot tub up there would be wonderful. Actually, I don’t think it fits with the remit of what we’re trying to do. And, you know, the drainage for the greywater up there, it was all going into a Reed bed system. And that would just be so complex with, you know, a hot tub and the chemicals up there. It just wouldn’t work. and the other thing is, cause there are two ways of generating hot water up there. We’ve got, solar, solar tubes up there for hot water during the summer, but there’s a back boiler on the Woodward and I’ve, so you’ve almost got to generate enough heat yourself to fill the bath. And so that, you know, there’s a whole process involved with it for, for guests, it’s, yeah. To get a real taste of what it’s like to properly be. Off-grid.

Sarah Riley: So while you were on the show, what did you do specifically to help promote your business before and during, and then after what have you done to kind of embrace the run of what was happening

Helen: The main thing I’ve done is to tell a story on my Instagram page. So I’ve really tried to get people to be engaged in the journey of, of what we’ve been through from start to finish, you know, very much linking in the fact that it was being filmed for, for a television series. interestingly there’s quite a, I mean, they film so much and then it’s edited down into such a short amount. You know, some of the stuff that wasn’t included at all was, you know, in fact, I ran a crowdfunding campaign, and did all sorts of other things to help raise money. And that was a massive part of my Instagram story whilst the filming was going on. So yeah, I think I used Instagram as my tool really, which, which seemed to work fairly well.

Sarah Riley: And will you continue using that Are there other things you’re going to be doing, including your website

Helen: Yeah, definitely. I mean, Instagram and Facebook are, seem to be the key things that people are jumping on. But, I had a very basic website until the program ad and there’s something a bit shinier out there now. and I am going to do sparely regular blog articles on there. I’m certainly going to try and do one this week to get people, to find me following on from the show.

Sarah Riley: I’ll leave all the links to that in the show notes. So if you were speaking to someone now who was interested in getting on television, what would you say to them would be a good way to shortcut the,

Helen: I think probably going direct to some production companies who are already making this type of show so that there’s so many of them out there that, you know, there’s this one that we’ve been on as George Clark’s amazing small spaces, three in a bed there, you know, there are various things out there that you could go straight to the production company and find out when they’re going to be commissioning the next series of whether they’re looking for, you know, potential people to be on that series and have something unique, something different that hasn’t been filmed yet, that they don’t want to film things that have already been seen. They want to do new and innovative ideas.

Sarah Riley: Anything about you as an individual Was there any part of what you did or how you behaved or anything like that on the show that you think really helped you with the production company that you would recommend to other people

Helen: I think be yourself, I think be as relaxed about it, as you can, I’m open to the ideas and suggestions that are presented to you, bring some humour into it. I’m very lucky. I’ve got, you know, humorous husband. And I think that really came across in the show. There was, you know, a lot of hairs, dry jokes throughout, and, but yes, be yourself be as relaxed and welcoming and friendly as you can because ultimately you are going to be the people welcoming guests to your, you know, dumping, accommodation, whatever that may be. So the person that you are portraying out there on television is the one that you want guests to be attracted to.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, absolutely. And as we were talking about before we came, we started recording it’s about that connection and creating a connection. Isn’t it with the viewer who will potentially become your guest in the future, creating that connection is so important. Absolutely. No, it’s just been so lovely speaking to you, Helen. I watched a show, I loved it. I think it’s a fantastic space that you’ve got. I think you’re going to be very successful and very happy there. And you know, I can’t wait to watch as things become.

Helen: Thank you. It’s really kind of been great talking to you as well. Thank you very much.

Sarah Riley: There are some fantastic insights from Helen. All the links mentioned and everything we’ve talked about is in the show notes. So go and check those out or over on and make sure that you press subscribe so you don’t miss a future episode. And if you liked this, please leave a review. I love them. They make me feel amazing and they inspire me to deliver more amazing content for you. So it’s a win, win, take care. Everyone, speak to you soon.

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