There’s been a staycation boom in recent years, with our research showing that two-thirds of Brits (66%) holidayed at home in 2018. And glamping is a travel trend that’s proving to be popular due to its combination of affordability, glamour and connection to nature. In fact, our Staycation Index 2019 showed that 14% of Brits say it’s their top holiday choice.
If you’re considering setting up a glamping business, we’ve put together a helpful guide explaining the key things to consider, from locations and budget to finding your niche.
1. Do Your Research
As with any business, research is a key factor in success. So, before you set up a site, think about:
- Where your business will be based -If you already own some land, think about what makes it special and where your accommodation will be based on it. Does your land have a spectacular view or a unique feature? And, if you don’t already own a plot of land, consider where tourists are most likely to want to visit and why. Consider proximity to popular attractions as well as to where you are based if you won’t live on site.
- Look at the competition – Local sites that are doing well will offer up inspiration and ideas on rates. Perhaps stay on a few sites to see what you most like about them personally. But don’t simply copy competitors as having a unique offering will make you stand out from the crowd.
- Look at trends – Read the latest industry and consumer news to find out what’s currently causing a stir and decide whether you’d like to embrace it.
- Think about what makes you tick – Are you passionate about something that could make your glamping site unique? This could be as simple as offering yoga or art classes, or making your site particularly dog or family-friendly.
- Is something missing from your local area? For example, is there a shortage of accommodation near a popular attraction or an up-and-coming gastro-pub? If so, make the most of the opportunity.
- Ask questions – Talk to friends, family, tourists, the tourist board and other business owners to gain extra insight and ideas.
2. How to Find a Potential Glamping Site
If you’re looking to buy or rent land and have decided the area you’d like to base your site in, it’s time to look for the exact location. When choosing this, think about:
- Noise – people tend to escape on glamping getaways to completely switch off, so a quiet site away from traffic noise is ideal.
- Transport links – however, the site should be relatively easy to reach, with good access routes and enough space for parking.
- Location – think about why the site you opt for will appeal to customers. Does it have amazing views? Is it a short drive from a big town or headline attraction? Or is it near popular cycling or walking routes?
- Think practically – the piece of land you base your site on should be flat, well-drained and reasonably protected from the elements. And there should be enough room for guests to have some privacy away from neighbouring structures.
If you or your family already own a farm, think about whether using spare land could complement the existing farm business and offer a quirky place to stay for visitors. Take a look at our article on The benefits of farm diversification through holiday letting for inspiration and to find out more.
3. What Types of Glamping Structure are There?
There’s a huge range of glamping structures to choose from, so decide what most complements your location, style of site and budget. Popular structures include:
- Yurts – yurts are circular tents, traditionally used as a home by nomads in central Asia.
- Tepees – these are cone-shaped tents, traditionally made with animal skins (but now usually canvas).
- Bell tents – cone or bell-shaped tents with a central pole for support.
- Safari Tents – safari tents are larger structures, based on those used in Africa.
- Glamping Pods – these consist of a small, curved, usually wooden, structure.
- Treehouses – wooden structures in the trees that children (and big kids) will love.
- Bubble domes – spherical, often transparent, structures.
- Shepherd Hut – once used by shepherds during lambing season, the shepherd hut is usually a wooden structure on wheels with kitchen, dining and bedroom areas all in one.
4. Consider Your Glamping Market
Another factor to consider before setting up a glamping business is who you’re going to aim your site at, as this will dictate everything from the accommodation you choose and the facilities you offer, to your exact location. Some keys markets are:
- Families – groups with children in tow are likely to look for larger accommodation options, entertainment for kids and a safe space to run around. Sites on farms, with animals to visit, are often popular.
- Couples – those travelling with their other half won’t need as much space as families, but may be looking for romantic extras such as hot tubs or statement baths, added treats such as a bottle of fizz on arrival, and privacy from neighbours.
- Luxury – those who want to combine getting closer to nature with luxury will be looking for touches that make your site stand-out, such as hot tubs, quirky accommodation, high-quality furnishings and extras such as the option of meals being prepared for them.
- Budget – at the other end of the scale, those looking to keep costs down will be looking for simple accommodation with all of the basics included and the option to self-cater.
- Dog-friendly – if you allow guests to bring four-legged friends, think about adding a couple of inexpensive extras to help them feel special, such as dog bowls, a list of local dog-friendly pubs and a treat.
- Eco-friendly – many campers will be keen to limit their environmental footprint, so help them by offering facilities to recycle, offering items to borrow instead of buy (such as bucket and spades), building structures out of sustainable materials, and stocking and recommending local food and drink options. Read our article on how to make your holiday let eco-friendly for more information.
5. Work Out Your Costs
Now that you’ve got an idea of where your site will be based, who it is aimed at and the types of structures you’ll use, it’s time to work out your set-up and running costs. Key expenses to think about are:
- How much your glamping structures will cost and how many you’ll buy – you can always add more later to limit risks.
- How much the land you’ll be based on will cost to buy or rent and maintain.
- The price of installing electricity, waste disposal facilities and sanitary facilities.
- Furnishing, linen, heating and lighting expenses.
- How much any extras will cost to set up and maintain – for example, hot tubs, games rooms or leisure facilities.
6. Work Out Your Glamping Site’s Structure
While you’re working out your costs, think about how you’ll set your site up. How many structures will you have, and where will toilet and shower blocks be? Think about space for communal areas too such as kitchens, a games room, a swimming pool, a reception area and a café. Even if you don’t offer all of the facilities straight away, thinking ahead and allowing space to expand will give you the flexibility to add to your business if it takes off.
7. Think of Practicalities
Setting up a site is only the start, so while you’re costing everything out, think about what you’ll need to maintain to keep your glamping business flourishing. Think about any safety measures and regulations you’ll need to put in place, how you’ll clean the site and keep everything looking fresh, and whether you’ll need to employ staff to help with the running of the site.
8. Writing a Glamping Site Business Plan
Once you’ve thought everything through, from financial forecasts and what will make your site unique, to your marketing strategies, writing it all down in a business plan is important to help you secure funding for your project and to gain any planning permission you’ll need.
You can read advice on how to write a business plan on the Gov.uk website.
Writing everything down will also help you think through any potential problems and opportunities.
9. Getting Planning Permission for Your Glamping Site
If you’re going to run your site for more than 28 days a year, you’ll need planning permission. However, if you’d like to test the waters with temporary structures that will be moved or taken down within this period, glamping planning permission may not be needed.
Find out more about this in our article The Complete Guide to Holiday Let Planning Permission and talk to your local authority for advice and to find out the rules in your area.
It’s wise to talk to an expert about planning permission and to apply for it before you purchase land.
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