A mother of two and French teacher at a secondary school has increased profits by 20 per cent at her family’s glamping business, which now includes a wedding venue with a yurt big enough to accommodate 90 people.
Natasha Davies-Puddy looks after all marketing and PR for Fron Farm Yurts, which also boasts a secluded spot with three regular-sized yurts for smaller groups.
The expansion marks a fast rise for the West Carmarthenshire-based business which launched two years ago. Occupancy at its luxury yurt model is at 60 per cent, with plans to add a fourth yurt in 2018.
The 90-person yurt is ideal for weddings held at the on-site medieval church, which was renovated by Natasha’s parents in the last 12 months.
The success doesn’t stop with the retreat: Natasha’s partner Guy Cutler designed and built the yurts from scratch, and now sells his structures to glamping companies across the UK.
Natasha, who had no prior experience of digital marketing, attended courses run by Superfast Business Wales, as well as received 1-2-1 business support. She said: “Brexit is increasing the number of people holidaying in the UK, and glamping is enjoying a surge in interest as it caters for all people. Indeed, by 2020 it’s expected there will be more than 21 million camping and glamping trips in the UK.
“We knew that our online presence was vital to our success, which is why we accessed support from Superfast Business Wales.
“I attended workshops to support our website, social media and SEO (search engine optimisation) activity. The masterclasses gave me a fantastic base level of knowledge. For example, after these workshops I built our new website in Wordpress and optimised it for search engines using the tips shared including writing correct page titles, re-writing content, and installing plug-ins to support on the technical side such as reducing picture sizes.
“We followed this up with 1-2-1 support with a business advisor who provided us with tailored feedback and guidance on what to do next.
“We were keen to move away from a business model that relied on third parties including Airbnb and Pitch Up for bookings as we paid between five and 15 per cent commission. In addition to online promotional activity, we have integrated freetobook, an online booking platform, into our website and the results have been incredible. Two thirds of our bookings now come directly through our website, which has helped increase profits by 20 per cent.”
The retreat, based on her parent’s 50-acre farm, was established to provide additional income for the family, and Natasha threw herself into the role of marketing and PR while juggling her teaching career and being a Mum to two boys aged 8 and 3.
Natasha added: “It’s hard work but there’s lots of help out there. My advice to other people in a similar situation is to go out and learn as much as possible to build your hobby into a profitable outlet.”