With COVID-19, Brexit and climate change all adding their own complexities and challenges to the UK farming industry, it’s no surprise that more and more farmers are now diversifying their businesses.
The options for farm diversification are near endless, but for today, we thought we’d focus on just two: selling experience days on your farm and setting up a glamping business.
Offering Experience Days
In many ways, offering farm experience days is a very easy and natural way to diversify your farm business. A large number of city dwellers love a chance to get out of the city and try something new, whether that be with loved ones or as part of something like a company outing.
Things like farm animal experience days, foraging courses, apple picking, tractor driving experiences or wine tastings complete with charcuterie boards with your farm’s produce could all be relatively easy to set up to drive some extra income from your farm. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of this farm diversification idea.
As we already mentioned, many experience day ideas could be easy to set up with things you already have as well as your expertise, with minimal setup costs. Think about what you’re good at and enjoy doing, and what other people might be interested in learning about.
Chances are, you’re a farmer because you see the unique value in rural living, and want to help preserve it. Experience days can offer you the chance to introduce more people to the traditional, rural way of life while making some extra money. Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the kinds of experiences you could offer.
Additionally, in a world where most of us already have enough “stuff” and everyone is increasingly aware of the effects on the environment our gifting habits have, the chance to gift loved ones with meaningful experiences instead is a welcome prospect.
In order to do well in this arena, your farm should also be easy to reach from nearby urban areas - chances are you’ll struggle to attract guests to your farm for a 2-3 hour experience if it takes as long to get to you.
There are two ways to go about setting up your farm experience day business: selling through a gift experience retailer like Virgin Experience Days or going it alone.
The former means getting exposure on a hugely popular site from day one. But it also means that a third party will be taking a big chunk out of your earnings. Many gift voucher websites have also come under fire recently for misleading experience gift vouchers that are very hard to cash in.
Setting up your own gift experience business means having to do a big push for marketing on your own and setting up a website for your gift experiences. This makes offering experience days a lot trickier than they might appear at first glance.
Finally, you should consider how much money you could make per experience day versus how much of your time and resources it’ll take you to offer them, as well as the amount of guests you can reasonably expect.
Things like apple or berry picking don’t need much of your time or effort, but won’t bring in that much money, either. Meanwhile, classes can pay more but take a good amount of time to prepare and deliver.
Starting a Glamping Business
A glamping site is another popular farm diversification option, with similar clientele to that of experience days: people living in urban areas wanting a taste of rural life.
Whether you just want to have a couple of glamping tents up for weekends during the summer or want to go all in with six or more wooden glamping pods you can operate all year round, glamping offers good returns and a lot of potential clients when done right.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll already know glamping is hugely popular. Especially after the lift of lockdowns and the ability to travel nationally, more and more people are choosing rural staycations for their holidays.
Additionally, glamping has many of the same advantages as experience days, such as sharing the country way of life with people who’ve not previously been exposed to it. You can also attract people from a wider geographical area if they can turn their visit into something like a long weekend filled with country walks and cosying up by the fire.
If you choose to join a well-loved franchise, you’ll also benefit from the expert support they can offer you as well as the baked-in audience of people who already love glamping and your franchise’s brand.
The main disadvantage of opting for glamping for farm diversification is that you need a pretty large initial investment to get started.
This includes your glamping accommodation itself as well as things like installing things like bathrooms and electricity. If you choose to join a glamping franchise, you’ll also have a franchise fee to pay. Setting up your own website, managing bookings and figuring out things like marketing takes a good amount of time as well - unless you have expert support by your side for this.
How About Both?
If you like the idea of experience days but are also interested in glamping, there’s no reason for you not to do both. In fact, one can help boost the other: experience days can turn into overnight stays and hen or stag weekends, while your glamping guests might be very interested in picking up their own breakfast eggs or trying their hand in something like basket weaving or feeding the animals.
Adding something like a farm shop selling firewood and local goods can help you drive a nice bit of extra income from your glamping and experience day business.
Becoming a Wigwam® Glamping Franchisee
If you’re interested in finding out more about glamping, you can check out our recent article on setting up a glamping site independently compared to joining Wigwam® Holidays - this should help you figure out what option is better suited for you and your farm.
Ready to get talking? Fantastic! Simply fill in the form below and a member of our friendly sales team will be in touch in no time for a chat about what you’re looking to get out of glamping for your farm diversification project.