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Things to know before entering the Glamping Business

  • 9 min read

2022 was the start of a major recovery across the global travel industry. After two years of the pandemic, shutdowns, layoffs, and quarantines, many business owners were finally able to reopen their doors again. That said, many who did so were greeted by a very new and very different world.

From the U.S. to New Zealand, the prevailing trend in the travel world is now short-term rentals. Research points out that one only needs to look at the most popular booking platforms to see exactly how much things have changed over the past three years. Now, hotels and short-term rentals are often offered at the same time, sometimes from the same site. What used to be two very distinct business models are now increasingly entwined.

And Glamping business retains a very unique position, by being a part of several different sectors at the same time. But there are a few things to know about this fast-growing hospitality trend before entering the market, to remain profitable.

The market is BIG, so are your competitors

It’s no surprise that big hotel chains are now making Glamping a part of their current offering or creating entirely new sites to capitalize on the trend. When short-term rentals became the new vacation of choice, brands like Marriott knew exactly where to put their money. Many now offer what they call “luxury tents,” some of which have en-suite bathrooms, AC, and other premium perks. This allows customers to try a more unique stay while enjoying all the typical hotel facilities.

For example, during the 2017 Coachella music festival, Marriott provided luxury yurts to guests who wanted real beds, AC, and other such features. After experiencing tons of success with this initiative, the global hotelier has started implementing luxury Glamping sites at locations from Indonesia to Europe.

Some companies are even offering Glamping “pop-ups” built around unique sites or events. A great proof-of-concept example is Camp Hox from Hoxton Hotels. Their 2020 pop-up consisted of twelve lotus tents at Eynsham Hall, an 18th-century Oxfordshire estate. Each tent was a self-contained luxury hotel room, complete with electricity, armchairs, private bathrooms, and showers.

Another great example can be found at Atlantis Paradise Island. The Bahamas-based resort recently introduced a Marine Life Camping Adventure option, which comes with an overnight stay outdoors in a climate controlled-luxury tent. It also includes various activities, such as dolphin kayaking, snorkeling, and more, which help increase the feelings of exclusivity associated with the excursion.

Pick a business model

From hotel and resort add-ons to independent Glamping companies to temporary pop-ups, there’s no doubt that there is big opportunity in providing luxury facilities to men, women, and families who want something unique out of their stay.

But if you’re just starting, choosing a business model that suits your company or site’s strengths is essential. For example, if you’re a hotelier, you could simply find a way to add outdoor facilities to your existing property. However, if you’re a landowner, your first decision should focus on how you plan to create a unique experience for your guests.

For instance, in the absence of natural beauty, can you implement any interesting accommodations like treehouses or domes? Should you focus on wellness and create a more spa-like environment? Are you in a position to provide an adventure of some kind to your Glampers?

All of these are equally profitable ideas. However, as the prospective business owner, you need to make some decisions regarding how you will stand out from the competition. After all, if there’s one trend that seems to be dominating the Glamping industry it is an almost ravenous appetite for experiences that are, in some way, outside the norm. Be it the location, the accommodations, or the event at the heart of the stay, Glampers will prefer something that they can’t get anywhere else.

Identify your "perfect guest"

To save countless amounts of time and money, you first need to identify your “perfect guest” and then plan everything accordingly to make sure your perfect guest gets a superior Glamping experience.

Hoteliers and campers looking to capitalize on the growing Glamping trend can’t expect to cater to the same clientele as before. People who seek out luxury hotels have little in common with those who seek out luxury domes. Unsurprisingly, people who like to rough it at a bare-bones campsite are not likely to panic if they don’t have a consistent Wi-Fi signal.

If you haven’t heard, Kampgrounds of America (KOA) recently released the first-ever official study on the Glamping industry. In case you missed it, we actually discussed it in great detail in this blog post.  According to KOA’s report, biggest spenders in Glamping industry are young millennials and Gen Zers. Some have kids, and some do not, but nearly all of them will demand internet and other “big city” perks. Little touches that you might normally ignore because they increase your bottom line, will capture the audience that’s currently out there Glamping.

Stand out from the crowd

KOA’s report offered a lot of insights, but perhaps the most important thing it did was outline precisely what drew Glampers to specific sites.

In a word, it was “uniqueness.”

But it’s also important to recognize that Glampers aren’t drawn to any one type of unique experience. Instead, the report pointed out that the “ideal Glamper” simply sought out stays that were different in some way from what they see as a traditional holiday or vacation.

It could be a unique site, for instance. Obviously, having a site that overlooks the Grand Canyon or that is located at the top of a Utah plateau will provide views to impress any vacationer. But that’s not the only way to stand out. A site that lacks aesthetics can make up for it with unique accommodations, such as geodesic domes or treehouses. Likewise, sites that lack compelling views and accommodations but are built around a unique experience, like yoga camps, culinary lessons, mountain climbing, a forest spa, or white-water rafting, can also attract customers in droves.

It’s important to realize that Glamping is still a relatively new and rapidly-growing sector. Though we can pin down most of what the clientele wants, those things are highly variable and may change weeks, months, or years from now. That’s why designing a Glamping business around something unique, be it a place, a type of accommodation, or an experience is essential. That way, even if the trends change down the line, you’ll always be in a position to separate yourself from the competition.

Team up with locals

The income potential associated with Glamping makes it very easy to incorporate partners and other local businesses. So, while you might not own land on top of a plateau or mountain, you might know someone who does. You might not know the first thing about white water rafting but know of a local company that already has multiple boats and guides. You might not have the money to hire staff for your forest spa but know of a place in town that already has trained attendants and masseuses.

No matter your situation, there are endless opportunities to form partnerships, reduce expenses, and build a profitable business for multiple groups. After all, if you’re successful, it means jobs and more money being spent in the local community. Don’t be afraid to use this selling point when negotiating terms with third parties or presenting proposals to investors and partners.

Think ahead to prevent potential problems

Glamping may have started out as a slightly-more comfortable alternative to camping, but it’s evolved into a luxury experience. And one thing any successful luxury brand will tell you is that you need to reduce friction at all steps in the customer’s stay. The better you streamline their experience, the less chance you’ll have of encountering complaints or suffering business-killing 1-star reviews.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. Indeed, guest behaviors, expectations, and preferences change literally all the time. But paying close attention to detail is the only way to ensure consistent guest satisfaction.

We’re talking about things like mobile check-in, digital reservation confirmation, personal concierge services, and working areas. Make sure your staff knows what’s expected of them and pay them appropriately to ensure they provide high-quality service at all times. Last but not least, make sure you’re paying close attention to both positive and negative feedback. This is not just your clientele but your marketing team. They write reviews and post on Instagram frequently, which makes them the gatekeepers to your brand!

The popularity of Glamping is here to stay

Investing in a new business or industry always comes with a certain amount of risk. Insiders and salespeople can talk about a “sure thing” as much as they want, but the truth is that anything can fail if the conditions aren’t right. That said, the conditions are certainly very tempting when it comes to Glamping.

No matter how competitive it can get, especially in specific destinations, the success of small, independent Glamping companies proves that people will always flock to the right sight with the right amenities. Whether the goal is simply to “get back to nature,” enjoy a unique spa experience or try out eco-friendly accommodations, Glamping will continue to attract new Glampers each and every day. And there’s a Glamper’s dreamland just waiting to be set up by you. 

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