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5 Vital Lessons Learnt From A Rollercoaster Year – #031

Key lessons learnt by glamping industry

Glamping and unique holiday rentals have taken the outdoor hospitality industry to new heights and are well placed to survive the health crisis. But what key lessons have been learnt?

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What have glamping businesses learnt this year?

In this episode, I look back on some of the challenges we have faced in the last 6 months and what lessons I have learnt during this difficult time; examining how they could potentially be of benefit as we transition back to semi “normality” and what is currently a somewhat uncertain and unknown future! One vital thing to always keep in mind is that throughout any period of struggle there will always be opportunities to embrace, which can minimise the stress experienced and in some cases bring about positive change. Trying to remain focused in the face of adversity can often seem a daunting task, but there are tactics that can be employed such as remaining curious and being proactive, which will often lead to a solution, potentially not previously anticipated or expected.

Vital lessons Learnt From A Rollercoaster Year:

1. Always stay curious
2. Take opportunities when you can
3. Recognise when things are changing and be proactive while focusing on solutions
4. At times of stress don’t forget to do the internal work
5. Don’t fear change, embrace it

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SARAH RILEY: Holidays have started. Again, things are starting to get back to normal. We’re back out of lockdown, but what lessons can we learn from this roller coaster year Welcome to episode 31 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. So how do you build a strong business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment? I am 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 renters.

SARAH RILEY: Thank you so much for joining me as always. It’s a total pleasure to have you here. Wow. What a busy time it’s been. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling exhausted by all. It’s been so busy with what’s been going on in the year so far. It’s just been a crazy year, 2020. Wow. None of us are going to forget this date. It’s just been nuts with what’s happened with the health crisis and now in the UK, certainly. And in most other parts of the world, we’re all out of lockdown. We’re enjoying our summer holidays and we’re doing what we hope is, you know, trying to get life back to normal. There are kids, there’s beach. Certainly, as a family, we’ve been doing a lot of outdoor activities. We’ve been dock jumping, which is something we love to do. It’s off the dock on an estuary that we have near here.

SARAH RILEY: And it’s just so much fun. All the kids get together, they all jump off. It’s super deep water and we love it. It’s fantastic fun. And especially when the sun is shining and the great thing is that you can socially distance. It’s absolutely no problem at all. Even with the health crisis going on at the moment and even more important is, you know, getting exercise, getting fresh air, getting the sun, getting that vitamin D, which everyone is saying is so important in the fight against the virus. And we’ve been doing a lot of SUP as well. Stand-up, paddleboarding across the estuary. So we have a fantastic spot here where we have two very small towns and they’re coastal towns in North, Devon in the UK. And you, when the tide is all the way in, you can actually paddle your SUP from one town to the other because they’re opposite each other.

SARAH RILEY: One is facing North. One is facing South and it’s just really good fun. You can paddle out amongst the boats. You can see jellyfish and all the fish and get caught up in the seaweed. It’s great. It’s a love to do it. And we did it this week. Had a fantastic time. Now, as we were paddling along, I started talking to Roy, my husband, who I was with at the time we were talking about the year and, and what we’ve all gone through and probably still have to go through this winter and everything that’s been going on. And sometimes it’s really good to get a bit of quiet time to take a step back and look back and remember where we’ve come from and, and what we’ve experienced. Sometimes we go through life so fast. We forget to pause and reflect sometimes. And, and that’s what we did.

SARAH RILEY: And it was actually really useful. It was a useful thing to do, to actually think about what we’d all gone through and how we’d actually come through a staggering time in our history. Now, of course, this hasn’t been easy for everyone. It’s been really very tricky for some while others it’s kind of almost been an extended holiday because people haven’t been at work they’ve been on furlough or their businesses have been paused, but they’ve still been given grants to keep going. But obviously, for others, it hasn’t been that at all. It’s been a very difficult and trying time. So we’ve all had our own experiences of this time. Now I really enjoy and take pride about working with small businesses, smaller business, because it’s where I was brought up is where I learnt all of my experience, had all my learnt, all my skills from the hospitality industry.

SARAH RILEY: And I just remember those times when I was working with my family and when they were really struggling and they couldn’t find the answers. And it was those times that really fueled me and motivated me to want to find out more, to get curious, to seek the solutions, to seek the answers to their questions. And that’s really, what’s driven me all the way along. And so when I suddenly found so many smaller business owners, having such huge struggles at this time, I felt absolutely compelled to try to help them out. And that’s why I did an awful lot of work for people to support them during that time sharing information, doing a recession-proof workshop, which it was helping people understand how they could re recession-proof their business. This was all held during the lockdown period when people had a bit more time on their hands to worry.

SARAH RILEY: Yes, but also to find out the answers that they needed to help support them. At that time, there was also an awful lot of training that we did, and there’s been so many things out and about recently to help people. But one of the things that I noticed was that not everybody took advantage of these things that were being made available to them. And so I started to come up with a list of lessons that certainly for me, were lessons that I had learned from the rollercoaster year. So I thought I would just share a few of those lessons, certainly, things I’ve observed and I’ve experienced just to see if you feel the same way. And I suppose the first lesson is about always staying, curious, and open to learning more. So when things are being thrown at us, things that we’ve never experienced before, that is not a time to think that actually you don’t need to prepare for it.

SARAH RILEY: You don’t need to observe and understand what’s going on. You don’t need to seek more information from people who might be able to help. It’s a time to be really curious and to try to seek solutions. And so this is something that I saw, certainly when there were events going on, such as the Eco-Hotel Summit and other training and events and workshops that were being held. I could definitely see that there were some people who were really keen to take part and to learn and to really try to grow with the experience, but others who were shutting down I suppose. And I think that it is really important to always stay open and always stay curious no matter what, no matter what’s being thrown at us and something else that I observed, something that I think I’ve made my number two on my list of lessons that I’ve learned from this crazy year, which is always take opportunities when you can, no matter what the situation is.

SARAH RILEY: So, okay. We have been in a very challenging year there’s without a doubt, but there have also been opportunities and there will continue to be opportunities. During this year. I have experienced quite a few recessions. Now I’ve experienced times of redundancy, all kinds of challenges, but during those times there’s always an opportunity that rears up at the same time. It’s a weird law. It seems in life that when there’s challenge equally there’s an opportunity, and this happened for us. So I was approached by a production company who were seeking people to take part in a TV show that they were casting for. Now, this was during lockdown was during a time when so many businesses and people were struggling with all kinds of things, but they still moved forward, giving people an opportunity to take part in a TV show now, okay. So this is definitely an opportunity which could come with a little bit of stress, but without a doubt, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

SARAH RILEY: And we’ve already heard from Helen of Albion nights in episode 29, about her experience of being in clued in a, in a TV show and how positive she found that. And she did find it very positive. Although there were obviously some stressful moments this TV opportunity came along. And as usual, I decided to share it in my business community. And it was really interesting to hear the response of some people. Now, some were saying, yes, I’d love to do it. Can’t wait. I’m going to contact them. Others were saying not right now, I’m not ready now, or I can’t do it now. And there were lots of excuses being made, even though they really wanted to do it. There were so many excuses being thrown out about why now wasn’t the right time. Even though actually this was an opportunity that wasn’t going to come around again in a hurry.

SARAH RILEY: So actually taking the opportunity while it’s there was really important, but you know, everyone has their own reasons for doing things and not doing things. So who am I to question that at the end of the day, somebody will have taken up that opportunity and others will be missing out. But for me, it was a lesson. It was a lesson that really, as business owners, we need to retaking those opportunities when they arise, because they probably won’t come back. So that brings me onto the third lesson. And it’s to recognize when things are changing and to be proactive about that and to focus on solutions, not just problems. This was something that an employer of mine in the past when I first entered into the corporate world, taught me. He always said (he was so direct) and almost strict beyond anything.

SARAH RILEY: And he would always look me in the eye and he would say, Sarah, don’t come to me with problems only come to me with solutions. And I’ll never forget that it always focused on the solutions. That’s, what’s going to get you out of trouble. So the glamping and unique holiday rental industry, in my opinion, has taken the outdoor hospitality industry to new Heights. It’s so well placed to survive the health crisis and everything that is happening in the industry, in recession, all of it more, he, people are flooding to holidays that offer more space and time in nature because these are, we have been lacking during the lockdown and during the crisis. So for me, this in itself is a huge catalyst for change within the industry as a whole. And it’s something that was also shown during the 2008, 2009 crisis when they had a look back and a research paper showed that actually the outdoor industry really survived very well.

SARAH RILEY: The downward trend of recession. And at the time it was highlighted as a place that was in need of further research. Unfortunately, that research has not been funded and it hasn’t happened, but I believe that actually what’s happening is exactly the same. This industry, the outdoor industry is bucking the trend, it’s able to survive because of what it offers. It offers more space, more time in nature. It allows people to get what they really need to overcome this situation that we’re in. So for those industries that haven’t recognized that change was on the horizon back in 2008 – 2009, and didn’t actually start to embrace the new trends. Then they will probably be in trouble right now during this time. So it’s about recognizing when things are changing and to be proactive about that and not to sit back and wait for when things are going to change, but to actually do something before that change happens.

SARAH RILEY: But this has been very stressful for some. And so that brings me to lesson four for me, which is at times of stress, don’t forget to do the internal work. It’s about making time for you making time to heal, making time to take time out. Even, you know, we’ve had children around us. We’ve had to work from home. We’ve had to have home offices where we wouldn’t necessarily be prepared for that. And of course, everything else that’s been going on with the health crisis, family members being ill, not being able to see people it’s just been super stressful for some, and we’ve all been at a higher level of stress. And you can almost sense it. People are shorter tempered. There’s definitely been a bit of extra road rage out on the roads that I’ve noticed. So, you know, maybe we need to be focusing on doing a bit of yoga or meditation, or just even taking time out to walk in nature with a dog, you know, just to be with our loved ones and just to be calm and relax and to unwind.

SARAH RILEY: So many people are rushing from one thing today to another, and they’re not taking time out for them. And that’s so important to do times of great change can be incredibly full-on. And this is something actually we touched on in my conversation, Kerry Roy in episode 12, and she runs Camp Katur. And also at that time, she’d moved abroad to start another site called the circle of desire in Italy. And this had come at a very stressful time for her in her life. When suddenly she found that she was doing that on her own in another country and struggling with language and all of those things and, you know, go and listen to that beside it is a brilliant episode, a chat with Carrie and she talks all through the steps she’s she took out that time. But now it’s really interesting that after that very stressful time, Carrie is now doing things like practising gratitude and practising other things that can help her recover from that very trying and challenging time.

SARAH RILEY: So this is just one exercise that can be done. It’s really super simple. Just thinking of someone who’s helped you and saying thank you to them. And to give them a gift or give them some kind words. It doesn’t have to be a physical thing. It can just be a simple note to say, thank you. And to say that they really helped you. It’s the smallest things that can help you in return. But the key with all of this is define the thing that works for you, whether that’s yoga, whether that’s meditation, whether that’s walking in a forest or whether that’s practising gratitude and sharing something with someone or, or a random act of kindness, whatever it is, do it. Don’t put it to one side and say, I’ll do that later. It will really help you feel better. It will help to bring your level of stress down.

SARAH RILEY: And that is good for you. And it’s good for everyone around you. Self-care is important. You are important. And if you have been suffering during this time there, make sure you do the internal work is so important for you. So my final lesson of the five is about don’t fear change in life. This is something that I’ve always drawn on because whenever, but there has been a period of change in my life, although at the time it may have seemed incredibly negative and difficult to deal with whatever that was. Ultimately, something happened at the end of that, which was good. So this is why I always embrace times of change. And I think myself that this is a major time of change, almost like a reset, who knows what’s going to happen. It’s actually quite unsettling for us all, but I believe that embracing change is the way to move forward.

SARAH RILEY: And certainly we shouldn’t fearing change because that’s just going to keep us stuck. Keep us stuck in a place that we don’t want to be. Now there’s a quote from a film that I used to watch a lot when I was younger and going through my darker teenage years and my early twenties, the film is an Epic, Epic film, but incredibly dark called Dune. And there’s a quote from that, which I always draw upon. I loved that quote and it’s almost my life quote, actually, something that I pull to me, every single time I’m faced with a challenge and the quote goes, “without change, a person sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” And it really meant so much to me at the time, a time, maybe when I was having all kinds of change during my life, because I was growing and, you know, we know what it’s like in our teens and our twenties.

SARAH RILEY: It’s just a whirlwind of craziness. And so that really meant a lot to me, that quote, and it keeps coming back. It keeps coming back at those challenging times. And I do, I think that ultimately it comes up so much that yes, without change a person can sleep. And we just go through life on, in automatic mode, as you know, as if we’re just literally in a driving an automatic car. And sometimes we do need to have a challenge to kick us into action and wake us up a bit because otherwise, we will just go through life without paying much attention to anything. So there you have it. That’s my little summary of the lessons that I’ve learnt from a roller coaster year. I’m sure there are lots more lessons too, and lots more challenges to come. And there will also be lots more opportunities to come. Let’s not forget that.

SARAH RILEY: So a little summary. Always stay curious and open to learning more. Certainly, that’s what I’m going to be doing. Take opportunities when you can, when they’re in front of you, don’t miss that opportunity and don’t make excuses recognize when things are changing and be proactive and focus on solutions. That’s certainly something that I’m going to continue to do and to keep my senses open to when other things might be on their way of the changing times. Also at times of stress, don’t forget the internal work I’m going to be walking my dog more and I’m going to be spending more time out in nature, certainly, out with my kids, dock jumping and doing some more SUP across the estuary. That’s something that really helps me unwind. And finally, always embrace change. Don’t fear change as without change a person sleeps. And none of us wants to be asleep right now because who knows what we might miss.

SARAH RILEY: I hope you found that useful in some way. And if you did, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a review and come and hang out with me in my Facebook group. The welcome mat is always that you will be very, very welcomed to come and join us. We are having lots of conversations every day about the challenges, problems, and solutions and how we can all build better businesses. So for all the links to find the group and all the other tools I’ve got for you, you can go to Until next time, take care see you soon.

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