How To Start A Camping Or Glamping Business

How To Start A Camping Or Glamping Business - Main Image

We don’t need to tell you that glamping is all the rage, a trend that’s set to continue! It sounds easy, doesn’t, to put up a bell tent on a small piece of land and wait for the guests to go for the glamp.


What could be simpler?

If you are considering setting up a glamping site, whether it be a bell tent or a timber Wigwam®, then you need to read this first … it might be the most important thing you read for a long time!

The upsides

the good times

If you’ve got the land adjacent to your home, then your commute to work is officially a thing of the past!

An unused field, or a very large garden will suffice if you want to start small and keep it small.

If you’re keeping it bijou, then some glamping businesses offer the use of their house loo and shower for their glamping guests. This means minimal outlay in terms of infrastructure on your site.

Your local authority will probably have an open ear for tourism-oriented businesses. While planning might still be required, contacting your local planning department from the start will save you time, stress and sometimes lots of money in the long run.

You can put your own stamp on it. If you’ve got a quirky interior designer inside you, this could be a great opportunity to let it shine! However, don’t be too quirky – it might not be to everyone’s taste.

It can fit around family and even an additional job. The trick is to make it work for you. You must manage guests’ expectations from the start (so if you don’t want them to arrive at 8pm, say so!).

It’s enjoyable, not to mention essential, to check out the opposition in your area. Study their websites, tariffs and social media presence. Can you offer something a bit different?

Providing you give great service and operate a spotlessly clean product, then these count towards a successful glamping business.

If you choose the right product, and subject to local authority restrictions, you can open all year round if you wish, or if you wanted to keep in seasonal, you could also open March to October, for example, giving you some ‘down time’ over the winter.

hanging round the fire

The downsides

Glamping can be a bit of slow burn – it might take a while for folks to get to know you!

You can’t have a bad day – guests expect you to be on your best behaviour at all times.

If you don’t like cleaning, then you’ll need to perhaps employ someone to do it for you (thereby eating into potential profits).

It can be a long process starting up your business, too! Patience is a prerequisite.

Tourism and holiday accommodation can mean you’re working bank holidays, weekends, and other peak times, when previously these might have been times you took for granted as ‘down time’.

You’re only as good as your last review! Be prepared for niggle-some comments that will probably annoy you. Always be open for feedback and be professional at all times.

If you’re not a people person, it might be an idea to reconsider your glamping plans!

The devil is in the detail. Planning is key, down to the last dotted I and crossed T. It’s not a business for you if you are a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type of person!

Don’t rest on your laurels! If you’ve got feet of clay, then this business might not be for you. Return customers will expect something a bit different each time they visit.

Keep your website up to date. Update social media regularly. Everyone has to be a bit ‘techie’ these days.


Step 2  - Planning

If you haven’t already, approach your local authority or council about their Planning Regulations. Making early contact can save you time, money and hassle in the long run.

Put the feelers out for possible funding options that may be available. Despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit, there is funding out there.

Assuming you’ve done the research as to what type of glamping accommodation ‘fits the bill’, consider how many units will be appropriate to your business. Also think ahead: while you might start off with a small number of units, are you aiming to expand in the future?

If you’re in a National Park, an AONB, or an SSSI, then you’ll need to know their requirements and restrictions.

Research the possibility of other glamping sites opening in your area. How close are they? What type of accommodation will they provide? Are they open all year? What tariffs are they charging?

Scope out costs for a website, logo and professional photographs.

How are you going to take bookings? Online? Over the phone? Both? Now’s the time to research booking software options and costs. This can be a tricky process and request a clear outline of bookings fees, contractual obligations, assistance if there are problems and any hidden costs.

Think about whether you’ll have time to do your accounts and how it will affect your tax situation. There are specialist accountants who can help you with this, particularly if you are working for another employer or if you are self-employed.

The tasks listed above when setting up your glamping business are what’s called ‘the nitty-gritty’, and is usually crucial these jobs out the foundations on which you can build your glamping business.

Now if all of the above sounds like it’s overwhelming, worry not! Here at Wigwam® Holidays Franchise, we can help with most of the above steps: we can assist with Planning Permissions, funding options, provide our superb timber cabins, create your website, design a branded logo and even assist with photography and videos. And yes, we can even sort out your booking system! 


Step 3 - Glamping Marketing & Sales

So … the infrastructure is sorted; glamping cabins are being built or are already in place; website set up; social media humming away nicely!

Now … how do people know you even exist?

Long before your opening date, you can be your own dynamic PR machine. Or, if you haven’t got time, engage a professional to help you. PR is one of those woolly terms that’s difficult to pin down, but basically it is about spreading the word.

There are a number of ways to do this effectively, and while there are many ways to shout about your business, you need to stand head and shoulders above a very noisy marketplace.

Ignore the traditional press release at your peril. Ensure you write a concise, accurate press release and send it to the local and regional press.

Contact local publications and see if a member of staff can stay with you as your guest and write a review.

Set up Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Use good photographs and simple posts to explain where you are, when you’re open and always include a clear CTA (Call To Action), ie, book here (then include a shortened link to your booking page).

If you have a leaflet about your site, then see where you can distribute these. The local pub? The nearest Tourist Information Point? At a nearby attraction? Always ask permission – don’t just leave the leaflets and run out! Not only is this a waste of resources, it can also cause ill feeling with the venues.

Consider becoming a member of the local tourism association. There are various ones in existence, from large ones such as Welcome to Yorkshire to smaller ones. Weigh up the options – what do you get for your subscription? And be prepared to nag for publicity - in a nice way!

Local publications are usually happy to run a competition with local businesses. It usually involves offering a two-night stay for a family of four as the prize. While it costs you a two-night stay, it’s usually a very effective way of ‘advertising’.

Start thinking about your Terms and Conditions. Start as you mean to go on. Will you accept group bookings – or not? If you do, have a clear Code of Conduct (ie unacceptable noise levels won’t be tolerated). Other important things to consider are your cancellation procedures; accepting dogs; whether to allow campfires etc. Research this thoroughly and ensure your T&Cs are easy to read yet watertight at the same time.

By now you should have worked out your tariffs but there’s always room for some opening offers!

Start putting together a welcome pack for your guests – places to visit; local restaurants; local events. Remember this will need updating periodically and you can also use the information on your website and social media platforms too.

Also start putting together your glamping site do’s and don’ts - things you don’t want your guests to do such as have a campfire inside your glamping accommodation; no dogs on the beds etc. Phrase the above in a polite, professional but firm manner.

Have you considered having a site map, showing where your glamping accommodation is, where the loos are etc. This can prove invaluable if you’re not around to do the ‘meet and greet’ bit.

Consider if you can offer value-added extras to your site. Bed linen hire; breakfast packs; campfire hire. Research the costs of supplying the above (laundry; cleaning; replacements; damages) so your extras tariff covers the above comfortably without making the price eye-watering for the guest. Be prepared for mishaps, breakages etc – have sufficient replacement items to hand so you’re not ‘caught out’.

Work out your meet and greet procedure. Can your guests self check in, or will you or a member of staff hand out keys etc. This is one of the most important parts of your guests’ experience, so be sure it’s clear and easy to follow. The meet and greet can set the tone so be sure to get off to a good start!

If anything goes wrong during a guests’ stay, then you need to be able to step in and help. Most guests are reasonable about any problems, but you always get ones who aren’t …

DO – keep calm 
DO – listen (and maybe take notes)
DO – apologise for any inconvenience caused
DO – come up with an immediate, polite response such as: “Thank you for telling us about this. We/I will have a chat with our staff and see if we can sort it as soon as possible.”

DON’T – get angry or defensive
DON’T – challenge what’s been said (yet!)
DON’T – swear or become unhelpful – most difficulties can be sorted relatively easily
DON’T – show your frustration in any way shape or form

While there are always going to be complainers, the key to sorting out a difficult situation is to remedy it as soon as possible if you can. If you can’t, then consider other options (a partial refund; a free breakfast pack; a free return stay). Of course, it depends on the situation as to what you want to offer the guest – but bear in the power of social media and travel review sites and any guest leaving with a poor impression will certainly let everyone know!

Wigwam Holidays Brand

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Wigwam® Holidays, as one of the UK’s leading glamping accommodation providers, is a ‘one-stop-shop’ when considering your future with glamping - we can help you every step of the way.

If you are still interested, then you can’t go wrong with thinking of a Wigwam® Site...