Do you have spare land? The rise of glamping could monetise your sleeping asset

Although relatively new, glamping is now recognised as a standalone sector in the world hospitality market: a fast growing, sustainable, and increasingly popular way for hotels, holiday parks and campsites to diversify guests and extend seasons. If you are a landowner and have any unused land it could be perfect for a unique glamping business and income. Increasingly farmers, golf clubs, environmental sites and land agents are also interested in the concept.

Glamping is a maturing and developing market. It is becoming more sophisticated and competitive. Many are buying off the shelf concepts and doing all the research and footwork themselves because on the face of it appears to be a simple thing to do.

Simon Thomason, Managing Director of Glisten Camping and now an International Glamping Consultant explains; “I thought it would be easy when I first considered a glamping business. A few years on I am staggered at the amount of mistakes I made and lessons I learned. I was experienced in the hospitality sector, but it turns out that is not much help when looking at land surveys, architects or buying quality accommodation pods and services to a section of land. Glamping is a simple concept once you know who to work with and how to spot the right place, the unique selling point of the idea and then keep guests happy. Having been there and done it with our glamping business in France I was then asked by several others just starting out what their next steps should be, one year one and I a now helping others enter the sector swiftly by making the right decisions. This ultimately saves time, money and resources.”

In recent years, the outdoor hospitality industry has shown remarkable resilience in the face of the global economic slump (IBIS Worldwide described its performance as ‘stellar’, reporting 1% growth and revenues of $3 billion). Some fast-growing areas of glamping in particular offer huge potential for consistently faster returns on investment. A safari tent or dome, for example, is a more expensive purchase (approx £25-30K) than a simpler structure but, because they sleep more people at one time (up to six), they offer the potential to generate a gross income of £20,000 a year per unit.

Simon Thomason continues; “An even higher return is possible from cabins and treehouses in the right setting. Although the purchase price for a treehouse begins at £35,000, they can cost almost twice that, once consultation, design and marketing are factored in. But at that price, annual returns of around £40,000 are achievable. Treehouses in particular are extremely popular and operate at around 90% occupancy.”

With any new sector you would expect a mixture of attractive rewards and possible risks. Glamping’s no different, hiring a consultant can mitigate those risks and allow you to focus on the rewards.
Simon Thomasson’s ethos is simple and he suggests the following initial steps:

1. Do the groundwork

Your first step should be a feasibility study – get an expert to look at the land you are considering, what it could offer, what planning and supply issues you need to consider and develop a scheme that would work as an attractive proposition to guests.
Don’t risk quick fixes when it comes to planning. Keep your funds unspent until permissions are granted. (It might sound obvious but needs restating.).

2. Do the maths

Make sure there’s an ironclad business case for your plans. Know your market, know your area, test your calculations and understand the risks.

3. You’re only as strong as your weakest link

Make sure your team’s weakest link is amazing. Customers remember and judge you by every point of human contact. Work only with those you trust completely.

4. Don’t buy off the shelf concepts, they may not work in your setting:

It’s fine to be inspired by what you’ve seen, but adapt, don’t duplicate. The best glamping fits in with, and arises from, its own unique setting. If you want a franchise option, then find a package allows for a certain uniqueness depending on the surroundings.

Land can often be a sleeping asset and its often under utilised because of lack of direction or thought into what it could bring as an income. Take a fresh look at the large area of rough on your golf course, consider that field on your farm and all the animals or walks a guest could enjoy. If you are a bigger landowner take a look at your commercial estate portfolio – does it really sing to the needs of 2018’s market and are you missing out on an opportunity to diversify or replace an outdated use?

To set up a feasibility study or your land and ideas then call 0844344 0196 or email