Glamping has grown hugely in popularity over the past few years and offers an additional opportunity for landowners and farmers to diversify their income.
Previously, farm diversification into hospitality may have been to offer bed and breakfast, but the impact on everyday life with strangers wandering around the family home can be difficult.
Alternatively, developing self-contained holiday accommodation within an unused space was also an option, but for many the early building costs are too much. As a result the low cost and high income benefits of starting a glamping business are being explored.
One of the best kept secrets in this industry is that some glamping business models can achieve a return on investment and pay for their set up costs within the first two years, which is quite a bold claim for any new business.
A glamping holiday has to be a thoroughly relaxing and unique experience and business owners need to get this mix just right to be successful. So if you’re thinking of setting up a new service, where do you start?
See also: So you want to… open a campsite?
1. Be unique
Studies show it costs seven times less to keep existing customers rather than trying to attract new ones. One brilliant way to do that is to be unique and provide the “wow factor”.
People will remember you for it and if you offer a great service they will keep coming back and will bring their friends and family with them. This will give your business instant and free publicity that will keep you ahead of the competition.
One way of doing this is to inject your personality into everything you do. There’s only one of you so this is a good place to start when trying to keep things unique. Always remember what Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.
2. Meet a need
There’s always ways to offer customers a great service, but you have to ask yourself if it’s valuable enough to keep them coming back.
One way to make sure you’ve achieved this is by meeting their needs and desires. This could be the need for sanctuary and seclusion, complete peace and quiet, a place for children to interact and learn about nature or somewhere that’s completely off the grid and environmentally friendly.
3. Have a passion for it
It takes a lot of dedication and effort to set everything up and keep it running smoothly, so you really have to love what you do.
Also remember this is the service industry and you will need to interact with your customers regularly, so make sure this is something you are happy doing.
4. Study your business
Recognise that you can’t know everything and you might need to ask for help. If you can’t get your head around building a website, then commission someone else to show you how its done or pay them to do it for you.
If you just don’t understand social media, get someone to show you how it’s done. Finally, and most importantly, study your market and your competitors. Learn from them and learn quickly.
5. Change direction if necessary
Pay attention to how your business is performing, and if it isn’t working don’t be afraid to revaluate and change direction. If you don’t the only direction you’ll go is down hill.
6. Build relationships
Whether it’s relationships with your providers, other businesses, customers or people within social media, make sure you build them and keep making connections.
This is how your loyal customer base will grow over time and how you’ll be able to make deals to bring more profitability to your business.
7. Be clever about your image and branding
Try to use your image and branding to pull customers in and make them curious. This is your businesses visual first impression and has to make people feel comfortable enough to spend money with you.
This includes your business name, logo, website, the images you use and everything you do to communicate publicly.
8. Get out and shout about it
If you have a business you’re confident in make sure you get out and shout about it. Visit events, shows and festivals, share information and flyers, talk to customers and other businesses, build those relationships, build a buzz in your local area and be proud of what you’ve achieved.
9. Put customers and service first
Social media, advertising, branding, websites and systems are all very important, but what must come first every time are your customers and the quality of your service.
Everything else must come second, so you need to spend your time becoming outstanding… or better!
10. Persevere, persevere, persevere
Creating a successful business isn’t easy and it could take a few years before you really start to see some success. If something goes wrong, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and just keep going.
Don’t give up. Just give yourself plenty of time to learn and congratulate yourself for your successes, as you will deserve it. Most of all make sure you take time out to enjoy the ride. Life is a long road, so it’ll be a shame to hate the whole journey.
If you want to find out more about glamping, visit the inspiredcamping.com website. They also offer courses on the best way to set up a glamping service and how quickly you can expect a return on your investment at inspiredcoursesvip.com.
You can also get advice from the not-for-profit farmer owned consortium farmstay.co.uk.