Starting a Campsite vs. a Wigwam® Glamping Business

Starting a Campsite vs. a Wigwam® Glamping Business - Main Image

Farm diversification is a huge trend right now, and with the financial pressures brought on by Brexit and the boom in “staycations” rising from the pandemic, we’re sure you too have toyed with the idea of branching out into the hospitality industry.

If you haven’t, here are a few figures that might spark some inspiration:

  • Search queries for 'staycation' rose by 83% between June 2020 and June 2021.
  • 4 in 5 Brits (84%) were planning a staycation in 2021.
  • The global glamping market was valued at £1.36 billion in 2020, with an expected annual growth rate of 14% between 2021 and 2028.

And with a wide range of farm diversification grants available to those willing to take the plunge, a farm campsite or “glampsite” is an even more attractive option.

But once you’ve decided you do want to dip your toes into the camping industry, the big question remains: should you choose to set up a traditional campsite or a cosy glamping site on your farm? Today’s article should help you figure out just that, so let’s jump right in.

We thought we’d start out with the most obvious consideration: money. How much you can spend to get things running and what you’d like your additional income stream to look like will both have an impact on your farm campsite business plan.

Running a barebones camping site is usually cheaper on the whole: you don’t necessarily have to erect or care for any structures like you would with a glamping site. You can also likely have more pitches on a campsite than you would glamping pods, enabling you to take more bookings on the whole but likely also requiring more space on your farm.

That being said, you can of course charge your visitors more for a glamping pod with comfy beds, heating and running water than you would for what’s essentially a patch of grass with no access to things like toilets and showers. And with fewer people wanting to sleep in a tent during the winter months, glamping pods could enable you to take more bookings year round.

The setup costs are understandably higher with pod-style glamping since you have to buy your pods and pay for their installation. This money will take time to gain back, especially if you choose to go it alone rather than join an established glamping franchise that will give you greater visibility with your potential guests from day one.

Camping vs Glamping - Your Target Audience

Camping and glamping have plenty in common, and many people could happily choose either as their holiday option. That being said, who you’re hoping will make up your target audience and the facilities and extras each type of holiday goer enjoys can help you choose which type of accommodation to choose for your farm diversification project.


Avid campers have typically realised the beauty of outdoor living and will therefore likely choose sites with plenty of access to outdoor activities like hiking trails, mountain biking and beachside walks. As we all know, location is everything, even on rural getaways, so consider how easy it would be for your guests to access things like this from your farm.

We should also mention that because tents are not always the most accessible accommodation option, a traditional campsite might not attract people with mobility issues, including older people and those with disabilities.

Adding things like a toilet block or electricity running to your grass pitches will help you attract a wider pool of campers, including those who may not be as experienced in outdoor living, but this will naturally come with extra costs and logistics.


Glampers, in contrast, would likely enjoy a chance to discover local towns and attractions as well as the gorgeous countryside around them. This could mean that if you’re within easy reach of a town or city with lots to see and do, you could attract staycationers of all kinds to your glamping site.

It’s no secret that glamping is the comfier option, with Wigwam® glamping pods offering heating and even kitchenettes and bathrooms. This could help attract people who wouldn’t choose traditional camping for their holiday.

Glamping has a lower barrier to entry in general since your guests don’t have to own or have access to a tent or a caravan. In addition, offering things like hot tubs or experience days on your site could make your site a great destination for special occasions like engagements, birthdays or hen and stag dos.

At the end of the day, nothing’s stopping you from doing a bit of both: having some grass pitches as well as a couple of glamping pods. This way, you’re able to attract the widest possible audience.

Planning Permissions & Other Logistics

You might think that setting up a campsite where people stay in their own tents and caravans wouldn’t require planning permission, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

If you want to have more than five pitches on your property and operate your camping site for more than 28 days out of the year, you’ll need to get planning permission as well as a separate caravan license.

Additionally, if you do want to attract a wider audience of campers by offering facilities like toilets and showers, and maybe something like a farm shop, you’ll need planning permission for the structures that house them.

So if your hesitation around making a choice between camping and glamping is around wanting to avoid paperwork, we need to break you some difficult news: chances are you’ll have to complete your fair share of it whichever accommodation option you choose. The good news is that if you choose to go the glamping franchise route, you’ll have some expert help with this process.

Becoming a Wigwam® Franchisee

Becoming a glamping franchisee with Wigwam® can make your farm diversification a lot simpler than if you were to go it alone.

As a franchisee under our popular glamping brand, you benefit from our decades of experience in the glamping industry, helping you through every step of the way to open your very own glamping site. We can help you with things like:

  • Your campsite business plan
  • Planning permissions
  • Farm diversification grants
  • Setting up your own website and bookings engine
  • Marketing your new Wigwam® glamping site

You also benefit from our loyal fanbase of UK glampers who can easily find you through our website as well as your own marketing efforts (which we can also help you with!).

Have we piqued your interest? You can check out some franchisee FAQs here. You can read about even more farm diversification ideas in our in-depth guide to farm diversification here.

If you’d like to know more about starting a glamping site with Wigwam® Holidays, you can fill in the form below and one of our friendly team members will be in touch with you in no time.