If you are wondering how to start a glamping business and the income you might be able to achieve, then you must begin by understanding the industry and the lifestyle that it offers. If this has you hooked then the key to getting it right is to seek out all the information you can. In this article, we have given you everything you need, including access to a glamping business course that will help you develop your campground business plan and make your journey even easier.
It’s safe to say we’re a BIG fan of glamping and smoothing the edges of roughing it (that’s our tagline!)… and we’re not the only ones. This leisure activity is attracting a new market into the camping and tourism industry, full of people who like the idea of camping but hate the idea of roughing it. And all the evidence shows it’s set to increase in years to come.
It seems you’ve noticed this too and are keen to join the unique vacation rental and staycation party in the hospitality industry. So to help you with your information gathering about how to set up a glamping site (also known as a more exciting version of starting a camping business), we have covered everything you need to know about this growing trend and why it has become so popular.
We even interview an existing luxury camping operator and share this at the end. This is essential reading for those thinking of starting a glamping business.
In fact, we could even write a book about this stuff!
Actually… ahem… we’ve written a course, which takes you through all the steps you need to take when setting up a glamping business!
So if after delving into the below you want to find out more about how to set up and successfully promote a glamping business or unique vacation rental, check out the Inspired Courses Glamping Business Start-Up Guide or click the link in the main menu for start-up advice.
This independent guide has been curated by Sarah Riley, one of the longest-serving expert advisers in the unique holiday rental, glamping, and experiential vacation industry. She helps new owners develop their camping site business plans and launch their services in what has become one of the most exciting new ventures for nature lovers and those wanting to leave their 9 to 5 office jobs.
How To Start A Glamping Business
Here’s a summary of the glamping business start-up phases, which I deal with in detail afterwards:
- Know the glamping business models and options available to you
- Understand the advantages and costs of each
- Focus on land feasibility considerations before setting up a site
- Seek advice for obtaining permissions in your country
- Do your sums to understand the income you can expect to generate – especially cash flow projections (we’ve included more about glamping business income in this article.
- Complete a business plan template and use real examples and a checklist to help
- Know the maintenance considerations you need to make
- Focus on what makes what you offer so unique and promote, promote, promote!
1. Know The Glamping Business Models And Options Available
This is all about getting the business model and abode right in the research stage. This is as much about understanding your own lifestyle needs as a business owner and what will be loved by your customers. It is not always… go-big-or-go-home. Sometimes it’s… stay-small-and-stay-sane. The key is to choose something that suits your location, budget, and potential customers, but also that suits you. So when you begin wondering how to start a camping business and how much it might cost to set up, start by asking yourself what you want to result from your venture in terms of work/life balance and lifestyle.
2. Understand The Advantages And Costs Of Each
Believe it or not, each mode of glamping or business model comes with its own advantages, disadvantages, season length (and therefore turnover), set-up costs, and maintenance fees. For example, starting a glamping pod business will have a very different return on investment and associated maintenance costs, compared to a lotus belle tent business. Therefore getting this right within your cash flow forecasts and set-up budget is essential to understand your business profitability and return on investment ROI. Also, it is worth considering the resale value of what you buy whenever you want to start your exit plan (see the Glamping business for sale section below).
3. Focus On Land Feasibility Considerations Before Setting Up A Site
This is as much about views and vistas as it is about what tourism naturally exists in your area already. It is also about what will co-exist effortlessly with the natural topography of the land. But it can also be as simple as understanding how your guests will interact with the land, its flora and fauna, and the local area and what it has on offer for them.
4. Seek Advice For Obtaining Permissions In Your Country
Every country is different and that means that the permissions needed to set up a business on your land are also different. This includes health and safety regulations and potential concerns about gaining permission for your new holiday rentals.
One of the biggest issues reported by new business owners in the networking group is how long it takes to achieve planning permission. Although many planning departments suggest it will take a minimum of 6 months, it often takes 1-2 years. Knowing the potential pitfalls for your site will help you get through this faster.
A popular camping business idea is to find campgrounds for sale by the owner nearby and convert them into a glamping business. If it’s already designated as a camping business the zoning and permits are already in place making your campsite business plan and higher revenue glamping service easier. So if you are planning to buy land, a campsite, a campground or a glamping business, check out this article with The Glamping Academy hosted by Inspired Courses.
5. Do Your Sums To Understand The Income You Can Expect To Generate
This is about what happens after the setup phase of your business. Putting together robust cash-flow spreadsheets of at least 3 years, to include your costs such as staffing, office costs, land rental fees or costs, infrastructure costs, booking agent fees and so on will give you a much-needed reality check about the ongoing profitability of your business and the finance you will have available to grow and further develop your site.
6. Complete A Business Plan Template And Use Real Examples To Help
This is essential work for any owner at the beginning of their business development. The process of finding out everything you will need to spend and any income you can make with your individual site, which is unique, is extremely helpful when making decisions. It is also compulsory when seeking funding or investment in your business dreams. So if you are wondering how much it costs to start a glamping site, the potential income you can gain and how long it will take you to make it profitable, start with a robust business plan.
7. Know The Maintenance Considerations You Need To Make
Not all modes of glamping come with the same maintenance. The same can be said for your land and buildings. There is no one-size-fits-all here. You have to know the maintenance considerations for your business and factor them into your decision-making for future years.
8. Focus on what makes what you offer so unique and promote, promote, promote!
As this industry becomes more competitive it is essential you understand how you can get your business to stand out from the crowd. Also known as the ‘Wow’ factor this is when you can use your uniqueness and essential promotional techniques to ensure the success of your new project when it launches and grows.
Remember, there is only one of you so this is a great place to start when setting your offer apart from everyone else. Listen to the podcast episode where Sarah Riley discusses what to do in the face of extra competition and an economic slowdown.
As a final note to the need for a unique approach, remember to consider what your guests want and how you can encourage them to return year after year to stay with you. Often this is as much about the service you provide as the variety of options you give them, so they are able to try something different each time they come back.
Are glamping pods a good investment?
While we dive deep into the topic of tents in our glamping tent wiki and what you need to think about before you purchase one to avoid wasting thousands of dollars/euros/pounds, we haven’t touched on the topic of glamping pods.
While there are many to choose from the question remains, are glamping pods a good investment, or have these designs had their day?
The activity of glamping first started to get popular in 2010 and for many years glamping pods have been part of that trend. However, as glamping had evolved, so too has the expectation of the glamper. As millennials, Gen Y, and Gen Z start to overtake Gen X and boomers as the majority of the population that enjoys this activity, they bring with them a need to do things differently.
Millennials, for example, are poised to be the biggest spenders, as they move into their prime earning and spending years, so they are dominating conversations around product strategy and marketing.
When looking at this industry, research shows us that 70% of millennials will spend a little extra to eat at the hip restaurants in town, which shows that it’s the experience for them that matters. However, the same research also shows that they’re unable to afford regular vacations because they struggle to save.
As millennials consider social responsibility and environmental friendliness when deciding upon their purchases, with this added to the fact they like an experience but struggle to save for them, it is reasonable to assume that affordable unique experiences that are kind to the environment could be very attractive to millennials.
So putting this into the context of some typical styles of glamping pods, which are very popular and therefore not so unique may seem less attractive to them. So our advice would be not to follow the herd and instead seek out less typical styles of glamping pods. We believe that providing a unique experience is the best way to ensure that glamping pods are a good investment if you consider them for your project
How much does a glamping pod cost?
There are many different glamping pod designs and many come with completely different price tags. So the question asking ‘how much does a glamping pod cost?’ is not an easy one to answer. The best approach is to look at the land you have available, the pod options that exist, the permissions you have to build a pod, and the style of business you would like to run. These will all have a significant impact on the price you pay. You will also need to consider the infrastructure and utilities too. If you want to run a glamping pod business that is environmentally sensitive to the area and has off-grid capabilities then this will be significantly cheaper than footings and pipes connecting the structure to the utilities. As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider but starting with your pod design and business aspirations is a great start.
Bonus Unique Holiday Rental Start-Up Help, Advice, And Ideas
- Glamping Worldwide: How it has moved from a trend to a significant industry and business model – Read the article here
- Why this year is the perfect time to start a glamping business – Read the article here
- The 6 signs you’re heading towards glamping business success… or not! – read the article here
- How farmers and landowners are using glamping to successfully manage income fluctuations – read the article here
- How to get more bookings for your unique rental accommodation – read the article here
- New and very exciting pod homes and portable shelter designs that are starting to show up in the world of glamping – read the article here
- The ultimate secret to a unique holiday rental and glamping business success, and something few are actually talking about – read the article here
- How to get planning permission for your glamping site or even if you need planning permission at all? This is especially helpful to understand if you need planning for your yurts, wooden pods, safari tents, treehouses, bell tents, shepherds huts, cabins, and wagons, or whatever business model you intend to develop – read the article and listen to the podcast here – which also gives more information about the 28-day camping rule and campsite license in the UK.
Luxury Camping And Glamping Site Set-Up Advice:
For more in-depth glamping and luxury camping business set-up advice, step-by-step guides, business planning templates, financial projections, and specific industry information for 2021, take a look at the expert’s Ultimate Glamping Business Start-Up Guide with Inspired Courses. This is an affordable way to start a successful glamping business quickly while avoiding the expensive pitfalls.
To keep in touch with industry news, build new business relationships, and seek more advice, you can join the Facebook Glamping Business Community run by Sarah Riley, which is full of thousands of glamping business owners and dreamers working hard to make their ideas a reality in 2021. In fact, it is the largest community available for you to get your questions answered.
And finally, get your hands on some fabulous free resources that have been designed to support new business owners in this industry, including:
- 6 accelerators that lead to glamping business and holiday rental success, and
- 5 mistakes hospitality owners often make, which halt their future growth.
We are also meeting and interviewing some very knowledgeable individuals who are already deeply involved in the glamping business market, allowing us to learn from them and share their knowledge.
Find out more through inspirational episodes of the Podcast – The Business of Glamping And Unique Holiday Rentals.
Thinking Of Starting A New Hospitality Business Or Unique Holiday Rental? Worried About The Economy, Increasing Competition of Covid-19?
Then this is what you need to know.
We are often asked questions by readers and listeners of the podcast, and one such question was something that’s been on a lot of our minds recently.
How do we face the challenges of increasing competition or an economic downturn?
Firstly, if you’re concerned, take a look at this report, which highlights that “the global glamping market size was valued at USD 2.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 12.5% from 2019 to 2025.” Interesting huh?
Also, we discussed this question in episode #18 of the podcast – Glamping And Unique Holiday Rentals In An Economic Downturn Or With Increasing Competition which you can also listen to on Spotify and iTunes.
Click the links to multi-task your research stage and listen in the car or while you’re working (perfect!).
Finally, regarding the issue of Covid-19 and how it applies to this industry, we have put together a series of training sessions and workshops to highlight the issues and what you need to know, including W.H.O. guidance. You can access everything here: Tourism support and advice regarding Corvid-19
How Do You Find Glamping Business For Sale
Occasionally an opportunity arises that allows you to take advantage of what someone else has already set up and run for some time.
This helps remove the stress of achieving the relevant permissions for your site, but it also means that a good chunk of the capital profits achieved from a start-from-scratch site is enjoyed by the person you are buying the business from.
However, if you are looking to buy a ready-made package, and want to discover how you can buy a glamping business for sale, here’s a quick list of what you need to find out before you consider taking the plunge.
Checklist Of Information You Need
- Annual revenue and net profit after costs since the business was set up.
- If any branding assets and websites or booking systems are included.
- If previous customer booking details are included.
- If it will be freehold or leasehold.
- What capital assets are included?
- If there are any outstanding debtors.
- If it will deliver the lifestyle you want. This is important.
- Finally, consider if you have an exit strategy and a way of building value on your investment.
Ways to find glamping businesses for sale include
- Searching the Internet
- Contacting your local estate agent, land agent, or realtor
- Visiting online auction companies
- Contacting owners direct to explore if they are interested in selling
For more tips, read this article with Inspired Courses.
Case Study: Glamping Business Start-Up Interview
Finally, we spoke to Jakie Jewell from Classic Glamping about how someone could go about starting a glamping business if they had access to a plot of land and wanted to develop a unique campground business plan.
We talk about the permissions you need to set up a glamping site and the basic knowledge and systems required to run it. We also touch on how much it costs to start a glamping site and the likely return you will get for it.
For a more in-depth understanding of the set-up costs, you will need, likely annual maintenance costs, and potential income for a holiday abode, take a look at The Ultimate Glamping Start Up Guide here, which provides a cash flow example, business plan templates, and costs associated with setting up the main types of structures. This is essential for getting a firm grasp of your budgeting and return on investment of your site from the start.
Tell us a bit about Classic Glamping.
Classic Glamping is the younger sibling of Classic Cottages, the holiday cottage specialists in the West Country with almost 40 years of experience in the industry. Back in 1976, Tony and Clare Tregoning started the business with no idea where it would end up. Their founding ambition was to change the way holiday cottages were perceived by guests, as basic boxes with nasty furniture and a tin pot saucepan. In short, they wanted to make self-catering more of a pleasure. They worked with the owners of the cottages to turn them into homes. So you could arrive after a long drive, to flowers and homemade cake on the table, a fire all ready to light, and everything in a kitchen to enjoy a full roast dinner. This set a new standard for the industry and created a sea of change in holiday accommodation. We are going about glamping in a similar way with 3 very important guarantees to our guests that no other agent can boast:
- You get your own bathroom – a hot shower in every one of our glamping accommodations.
- You get your own private toilet – not the compost type, one that flushes.
- You get the service of a company that tries harder and you are covered by our standards across the board.
How much land do you believe should be allocated to providing a glamping area for one safari tent and its inhabitants?
Ideally at least half an acre, however, the more area available the better. Classic Glamping is all about providing outstanding glamping accommodation in great locations with space, freedom, and privacy to enjoy the countryside – a totally different experience from your average campsite. Ideally, the location should provide some form of unique attraction; it may be a working farm, centred in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, have easy access to the coast or simply be adjacent to a copse or woodland.
With this in mind what would you recommend is the largest and smallest overall area for a glamping site?
This really depends on the location. For example, if you had a plot of land with sea views and a short distance to a beach, you could comfortably market three safari tents on a one-acre plot due to the advantage of the coastal location. If you had a plot of land situated inland, four to five tents on a five-acre plot would maximise your potential income without over-accommodating the site and without sacrificing the overall experience we are selling.
What is the process for applying for and gaining planning permission to have a site on land?
Planning permission is required but it should be a much lighter touch than for a permanent structure. A number of planning departments/councils have a stated aim of assisting in the development of tourism and many are supportive of farm diversification which can help with the process.
Does it matter what type of planning consent already exists on the land, e.g. already equine or pasture consents exist?
In that circumstance, the land would require a change of use as part of the application.
What planning pitfalls or problems have you experienced so far with this process?
Encouragingly we have not experienced any problems with the planning side. Two of the sites we market are in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and both these applications went through without any hitches. However, the pre-planning work was covered extensively. One of the sites also sits on a Site of Scientific Special Interest which was a little nail-biting and costly but thankfully nothing was found during an archaeological dig so all was well!
Do you have any top tips to help a landowner gain permission for such a site and possibly to avoid the above problems?
My advice would be to employ a planning consultant that knows something about the subject of glamping and that has a proven record of permissions granted in your area. A planning consultant has the tools to be able to immediately identify if there may be an issue with the land and ensure that the application runs smoothly. The downside is that they can be costly but I do think it is money well spent in the long run.
What key skills do you think someone should have if they are thinking of starting a glamping business, and particularly how would someone know if they are cut out for the job?
I think the most important experience is some form of background in the hospitality industry and particularly in providing holiday accommodation. It can be quite a demanding job, particularly during the summer months, but very rewarding at the same time.
What level of investment is needed if they wanted to set up the kind of glamping area you recommend and what would this buy?
Having done extensive research in the market we have concluded that the accommodation that maximises the return on investment is the large safari tent, accommodating six persons (plus a baby in a cot). The safari tent is set on a raised wooden platform with an extended deck and flysheet at the front. At the rear, there is an extended covered area housing a shower and WC unit, a fridge, and a mains power socket. The interior consists of two partitioned bedrooms configured as a double and a twin, and further sleeping accommodation in the form of a double den bed. The main living space comprises of a kitchen area with a sink and wood-fired range, a dining area with a table and chairs, and a comfy seating area adjacent to the range. The unit is connected to mains water and electricity and is serviced by a septic tank.
What returns can an investor expect to receive for their investment?
Obviously, this varies depending on location and facilities but, marketed through Classic Glamping, you are looking at between £10,000 to £15,000 net profit (after deduction of our fees) per safari tent. However, we recommend doing detailed cash flow projections to make sure you are fully prepared.
For a more in-depth look at the financial returns an investor can expect, the costs of different glamping models, together with the advantages and disadvantages of investing in each one, take a look at the Glamping Business Start-up Guide which can be found here.
What else would you like to mention to anyone who wants to know how to start a glamping business, to get them excited about the idea?
The West Country is a renowned holiday destination but holiday accommodation in the most viable locations is becoming limited and indeed expensive to purchase. Luxury holiday accommodation is becoming ever increasingly popular and glamping captures this ‘luxury’ market but also provides a very different and very real West Country holiday experience. We predict that there is going to be rapid growth in this sector and we feel that providing the right glamping accommodation is a very viable proposition for any landowner.
Do you have any advice on the type of office systems someone setting up a glamping site might need, including; storage, maintenance, signage, email, stationery, bookkeeping and accounts, public liability coverage, reservations and administration?
If you use an agent, like ourselves, to market your glamping accommodation there is very little administration and no requirement for marketing or taking bookings and payments as we take care of all of that. You would need public liability insurance and indeed insurance for the accommodation itself and we work with a company in the West Country that specialises in this. You would need to think about storage of all your soft furnishings during the winter months as, depending on the location, we tend to advise closing the safari tents down between mid-November to the end of February. Therefore you would need to remove and dry store mattresses, linen, and anything that could deteriorate being left ‘outdoors’ during these months.
We hope this epic post has helped you understand how to start a glamping business or unique holiday rental and all the factors involved.
Big thanks to Sarah Riley who contributed to this post.
For more Glamping Business interviews and inside industry information, take a look at The Ultimate Glamping Business Guide with Inspired Courses.
An affordable way to start a successful business while avoiding all of the expensive pitfalls. Perfect!
Picture Credits: Classic Glamping, Barefoot Glamping and Paul Ryan-Goff