In February of 2018, we were invited to present at the Energy & Rural Business Expo, held at The International Exhibition Centre in Telford Shropshire. The presentation, on how to set up a successful glamping business attracted a full house, and several interesting questions:
Q. Is it important to have Wi-Fi on a glamping site?
A. My personal take on this is not to offer Wi-Fi, but it is a very personal opinion. I feel that the ethos of glamping has always been about connecting people with nature and giving them a genuine break from devices and digital dependence. However, I have to say that more guests are asking for wifi these days, if not expecting it, and it can put some guests off if you don't offer it, but then, most places have reasonably good mobile reception these days. Really, it boils down to the glamping experience you want to create and the type of guest that you want to attract.
Q. Do you think it’s worthwhile keeping couples and families separate on glamping sites?
A. In this industry there are always exceptions but overall couples and families are like oil and water, they don't mix very well. Couples often want peace and privacy which is not easy to deliver with young families nearby. The two have different needs and will have chosen to go on a glamping holiday for different reasons so it’s important to take this into consideration when designing a site.
It doesn’t mean to say you can’t open your site to both, as I say, I've seen it work well on some sites, but usually you'd need enough space to give each what they need from their holiday.
Q. We live near to a flight path for a regional airport - would background noise be an issue?
A. Background noise is a common problem in England especially, but it’s how we market the experience and manage our guest expectations here that matters. When I’m working on a location with potential noise issues like a road or airport, I often recommend installing some sort of feature that creates its own noise, like running water. Although this doesn’t remove the problem, it can be a great way to minimise background noise to a point where it is not so intrusive.
Q. For existing businesses, it is worthwhile considering glamping as a ‘bolt-on’ offering?
A. Absolutely! Glamping can be a lucrative diversification or addition for an existing business with the right space. Building an extension or converting old buildings would require a much higher investment than installing glamping units which usually provide a quicker return on investment. It’s an under utilised diversification option for golf clubs and hotels, yet has so much potential.
Q. For a small glamping site, what are the minimum requirements when it comes to facilities?
A. A small site could be a luxury treehouse with a roll-top bath, walk in shower and additional hot tub / shower out on the deck - or an off grid yurt with a compost toilet and a stream to bathe in! So it's less about the size of the development and more about the type of experience we want to create, and who for. Couples looking for a special occasion getaway will have higher expectations of the facilities, than those looking for a place to rest their head on a walking holiday. It's worth noting that guest expectations from glamping are in general higher than they used to be and en suite bathroom facilities with WC's are becoming an accepted 'norm'. As this sector continues to develop, decisions around facilities will impact on where a business meets current market demands and how it will perform going forward.
Q. Is it important to include disabled facilities?
A. If at all possible yes, even if it's just for one accommodation. There are basic requirements for making a glamping site fully accessible which are easier to install while designing a new site. I feel very passionately that glamping should be an experience everyone can enjoy, regardless of how they physically and mentally interact with the world. So the more we can do as an industry to support this, the better. There are manufacturers who are creating accessible glamping units and I would strongly encourage considering adding some if the site terrain permits.
Q. If you are marketing your glamping site as an activity holiday, do all the activities have to be on-site?
Not necessarily. Some of the clients I work with have a skill, hobby or profession which they are able to share with their guests on site and charge for the activity, however it's also possible to collaborate with a local, third party activity provider to offer activities. It’s worth noting that to offer tourism packages requires a special operators license, however there is nothing to stop you collaborating with other local companies.