Tips for Starting out as a Glampsite

By Hari Seddon Nov 16, 2020

So you’ve decided to start a glampsite; congratulations! Now what?! We’ve put together some helpful things to think about, with hints and tips added from a couple of glampsite owners who know what they’re talking about!

Pick your type of accommodation.

Sounds obvious but that’s a key factor. This will affect how much you spend on maintenance each year, how many people you can host at a time, how easy it is to clean the accommodation yourself or pay for professional cleaning.

 

Lotus Belle is clearly the best choice here *wink*. The key with this is to decide on what you can charge your guests for a nightly rental and work backwards from there. Have a look at what other sites are charging, but bear in mind differences in seasonal charges and where these sites might be located. From our experience we've found what site owners will charge for a night in a Lotus Belle can vary hugely. Some Lotus Belle's may be £70 a night, others £150 or more, and that's the beauty with working with canvas tents. You can go as simple or as glam as you like. Factors will include your location, the facilities you offer and of course how beautiful the glamping space is decked out. 

Obviously, creating a beautiful space is much easier when you're starting with a great blank canvas, excuse the pun and us totally bigging ourselves up!

Once you've worked out costs per night, then you need to find the best way of covering your investment quickly. This is especially important with new glamping sites. Do a season finding your feet before you shell out some huge investment that will take years to pay for itself. 

The world of camping and glamping in the UK is changing fast at the moment and next year looks to be a seriously busy one! We have had a lot of business from site owners this year looking to expand their stock of tents to fill all the bookings that are already coming their way for the next season. 

 

Tents are quick and easy to get set up with, and once turned into luxury canvas abodes will often pull their weight much more efficiently than pods or shepherd's huts. 

We tell our customers a Lotus Belle should definitely pay for itself within the first season, but that's a fairly safe assessment. A Lotus Belle will generally pay for itself within 2-3 months and one of our customers told us this year that his paid for themselves within 6 weeks! So, that's a good yardstick to make your comparisons to when working out your ROI.

 

Do not believe anyone who tells you a canvas tent is designed to last one season and that you should be replacing them every year! Of course, working with a natural product like canvas requires a certain amount or care and maintenance to ensure a long life. However if you're being told a tent will last a season only then it is not being made with good quality canvas. We tell our customers a Lotus Belle should see them well through 4-5 seasons. That said, we've got several customers with 7 and 8 year-old Lotus Belles who's tents are still going strong. The maths on that works out really well! 

 

We go and see the Canvas Cleaning Company when our tents need a refresh and they come back looking brand spanking new, so with the right care there's no reason your tent should last and last. 

Land and permission.

Do you own the land you’re planning to pitch on? If not, are you buying or renting? What are the local council requirements for planning permissions and health and safety? What are the transport links like? Do you have a friend who can help shed light on these questions? Or will you scour the internet for blogs like the one you’re reading, and this one from Savills, and this one from Glamping Business? Or do you need a professional to help you navigate through the paperwork.

Business planning and finances

There’s no such thing as too detailed a business plan. What are your start up costs? What are your running costs in terms of insurance, water, electricity, wifi, staffing, maintenance, linens? What part of the market will you aim for and what’s the going rate there? What’s the rate of  return on investment on your larger purchases? Are you aiming for a high end luxury market, something more family friendly or more eco conscious? 

If you’re on a budget, Gillyweed the Tent on the Central Coast in Australia suggests you buy second hand to save wherever possible, but make sure your linen is new.

Wow factor.

What’s the wow factor? Do you have a unique selling point? Is it a hot tub? Does the land have a stunning lake like @moat_island_glamping_norfolk, or a unique landscape view? Is your interior design amazing? What’s your angle on your interior design?

The Little Hippy Tent Company suggests that layering is the key to developing an iconic and eye -catching look... but also warns that it leads to more things to be cleaned between bookings!

Networking and relationships.

Everyone on your social media is a potential contact. Don’t be afraid to shout about your plans! Think about all the different people who would enjoy your glampsite. Who are they? Do you know similar people? How do you reach them? Can you build an alliance with a complimentary business to yours? Can you attend glamping networking events like The Glamping Show run by @thisisglamping?

Marketing

It’s more than just having a nice instagram account, although that certainly goes a long way. Keep your web and social pages active and up to date, and make sure you respond to queries quickly. Are you going to keep an email list? Will you have your glamping available directly on your website, or will you also allow third party sites to book? Do you have connections to local publications you can send press releases to? Social media takes up a lot more time than we give it credit for. Do you have the resources to have someone else handle it? Are you any good at taking pictures?

Offerings and Elbow grease

Gillyweed says that offering multiple packages and set up options similar to your competitors will help people in their side by side comparisons - and will also help you figure out what your USP is.

We’re cheering for you!

Starting any kind of business is a nail biter and an uphill battle, even outside of a global pandemic. KEEP GOING! 

With particular thanks to Gillyweed the Tent in Australia (second image), and The Little Hippy Tent Company in the UK (first image)

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