Promotion and Bookings Advice

Suppliers share their thoughts on how best to attract and convert potential customers into bookings.

Keri RemesKeri Remes, director
Glamping Fields
0121 6162355
www.glampingfields.co.uk

What advice could you offer a glampsite owner on promotion and managing bookings?
It is no longer as easy to sell glamping holidays as it used to be. Many people in the industry talk of non-stop growth and buoyancy with a never-ending supply of glamping customers, however, this is no longer the case. From our research, the size of the market seems to have plateaued (at least in the UK) and for the moment is no longer growing. Comparatively, there has been a stark rise in the number of new glamping sites opening up. Naturally, this leads to fewer customers and bookings per site. Those that do the best job with marketing and provide exceptional customer service are the ones that will succeed.

How can your service benefit glampsite owners?
Our agency and franchise benefits site owners that want to run the practical side of a site, leaving us, Glamping Fields, to take care of all the necessary marketing and promotion. We handle all the customer enquiries and bookings, leaving the landowner free to run the site and concentrate on their other commitments. This model suits busy landowners who want to pursue a glamping business, but may not have the time required to run the site, take care of the office work and carry out other commitments they may already have.

WelliesWhat is the USP of your service?
Glamping Fields offers a complete and unique solution to setting up and running your very own glamping business. From the very start we help plan, design and implement your site. We source all your glamping equipment, organise the site assembly and offer ongoing support in running it. Most importantly, we specialise in the hardest and most essential part of the business, which is the marketing and promotion of your site. We have a wealth of experience in effective marketing, which is necessary to ensure high occupancy levels are achieved and a healthy profit is generated. It is critical that the marketing is done correctly as it is vital to your success, which is why Glamping Fields is an excellent choice for launching a glamping business.

What options do you offer for small, medium and large budgets?
Our business model is scalable depending on a landowner’s budget. The available budget determines the number of bell tent units a landowner can start with, each unit costing £2,200 fully furnished. We usually suggest starting with a modest amount of bell tent units, building on your success to expand your site. For the right landowners in the right locations, we are able to provide the equipment for you to run your glamping site with us. A typical landowner can make a profit of £25,000 to £30,000 each summer working with Glamping Fields, operating for a 22-week summer season.

Tell us about a glampsite that has used your service and how it has helped
We are not landowners ourselves, but for the past six years we have run eight sites in the Worcestershire and West Midlands area of the country where we are based.

We have devoted and dedicated ourselves to thoroughly learning and fully understanding the industry. From launching and building sites, operating, maintaining and running sites, optimising marketing, taking bookings, selling holidays and pleasing customers, we have learned every aspect and facet of the industry. This has made us, in our opinion, one of the most experienced and knowledgeable glamping specialists within the industry. We are looking to work with the right landowners in the right areas of the country for the 2018 season and beyond.

Ross HugoRoss Hugo, CEO
Bookalet
01234 834716
www.bookalet.co.uk

What advice could you offer a glampsite owner on promotion and managing bookings?
My first port of call would be to a professional photographer. Regardless of what channels you choose to promote your business, it will be the photographs that sell it. Make sure you don’t skimp here. Furthermore, when starting a glampsite, you’re probably going to need the services of some of the bigger or specialised holiday rental portals to generate some initial bookings. At the same time, invest in your own brand with your own website. You don’t want to be too reliant on other sources for all your bookings. The more established you become, the more repeat and direct bookings you’ll take. Commission-free bookings equate to more profit, so start sooner rather than later as it takes time to establish an online presence.

How can your product/service benefit glampsite owners?
A good booking system should perform several functions. Firstly, it should encourage guests to ‘book now’ by providing a clear and attractive booking interface. It should also be easy to use and help simplify the process of taking and managing all the bookings in the system. Think of it as both a productivity tool and sanity saving service. It needs to work alongside the various channels you use to generate your leads or bookings and, as such, Bookalet is the perfect place to record and manage everything. An example of this would be the built-in channel management tool, which allows calendar synchronisation to minimise the possibility of double bookings. Flexibility in pricing models, online payments and the ability to charge for extras or apply discounts are also important considerations.

BookaletWhat is the USP of your product/service?
It’s difficult to point to one single feature that makes Bookalet stand out from the crowd. It’s the sum of the parts that make it the perfect choice for glampsite owners. From simplicity of use, to range of features, from industry knowledge, to customer service, Bookalet is an established product with a proven record and used by glampsites across the length and breadth of the UK.

What options do you offer for small, medium and large budgets?
Bookalet Lite is the entry level product and has an £89+VAT annual subscription. This covers you for two units and has a full suite of availability calendars, booking forms and enquiry forms and allows full management of all your bookings. The Gold version, starting at £130+VAT, allows for multiple units and has several enhanced features such as calendar syncing, text alerts, management reports and email marketing. We also offer a full bespoke website development service, should you be interested in a one-stop-shop for all your online activities.

Tell us about a glampsite that has used your product and how it has helped
Tor View Shepherds Huts, in Maesbury, Somerset (George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces semi-finalist), has been using the Bookalet service for the last three years. Bookalet enables owners Phil and Mandy Russell to manage the bookings for their two huts, ‘Len’ and ‘Ted’, from anywhere in the world on a 24/7 basis.

Phil says: “Bookalet was a breeze to set up and just what we needed to provide a professional booking solution on our new mobile friendly website. It’s undoubtedly made our lives a whole lot easier and has paid for itself many times over.”

James KindredJames Kindred, co-founder
Inn Style
0800 133 7500
www.innstyle.co.uk

What advice could you offer a glampsite owner on promotion and managing bookings?
Provide your guests with a great first impression of your business by making sure your website and booking engine provide a great booking experience.

You can create a website in a matter of minutes. Without a drop of programming knowledge, you can be the proud owner of a reliable, responsive, easy to manage website for only a few pounds a month – even the hosting, domain name, and security certificates are taken care of. SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly have commoditised the market and re-shaped it into something accessible for any small business owner. The cost and complexity of website development is no longer an excuse. You must have a URL to share. Alternatively, Inn Style includes a website with every paid plan that integrates the booking experience right out of the box.

Finally, make sure that you offer instant booking. Habits have changed over the years. We now see that 20 per cent of all bookings are made between the hours of 10pm and 8am. Those are times when guests are unlikely to call to make a booking and you are unlikely to welcome enquiries at such an unsocial hour. If a guest can’t find a way to make a booking online, they may very well go elsewhere.

How can your product benefit glampsite owners?
We began Inn Style so independent accommodation owners could spend less time fussing with technology and more time building a healthy tourism business.

We wanted to provide a beautifully designed, delightfully easy-to-learn system packed with useful features that business owners could configure to suit their accommodation. This translates into a fast and frictionless booking experience for guests creating a great first impression for your business.

Inn StyleWhat is the USP of your product?
We’re a small and flexible team packed with experience in hotel management, travel sales and tourism marketing – as well as design and technology. Consequently, we completely understand the needs of property owners and guests, and the booking process that brings them together.

We offer great customer service and listen to our clients to understand the features that would make running their business easier. By way of example, one of our recent releases is a feature that safeguards glampsite owners from exceeding their legal occupancy limit. It enables the owner to set their total limit whether for legal reasons, such as fire safety, or other operational reasons.

We also think Inn Style is the best-looking booking system on the market.

What options do you offer for small, medium and large budgets?
We keep our pricing simple. Plans start from just £10 per month for businesses with just one accommodation to book – perhaps one yurt or shepherds hut. Otherwise, the monthly cost is £50 – or equivalent to £40 per month if paid on an annual basis. All prices are inclusive of VAT and provide all the features, functionality and support that an owner needs, including a free, mobile-friendly website and hosting.

We offer an instant trial of our system and a money back guarantee if it doesn’t pay for itself.

Tell us about a glampsite that has used your product
Happy Days Retro Vacations adopted Inn Style for their business. As soon as they switched to an online booking system, life became so much easier. Jenni Armstrong explains why: “It relieved us of so much admin – we now have more time to devote to running the business. I love the simplicity of it, and the fact that it just keeps running automatically in the background. Online booking creates access to potential customers who like to plan their holidays late at night. I wake up in the morning and it’s exciting to see if we’ve taken a booking overnight. We’d never get those customers if we didn’t offer online booking. And all the details of the booking are captured for me – I can see it all instantly.”

CampManagerCampManager
02081 331 005
www.campmanager.com

What advice could you offer a glampsite owner on promotion and managing bookings?
Something every glampsite should do to promote itself is provide customers with the ability to take bookings directly from their own website. In fact, it is vital. Statistics show that that in the last year over 32 per cent of bookings were made in the evening, at times when most receptions are closed. Glampsites who do not offer online booking are seriously missing out. Especially as the Millennial generation is much more likely to book directly online within minutes than send emails back and forth, or wait for the reception to open. If a customer can’t book online, they will simply find a similar or nearby site where they can.

As with any business in a growing industry, promotion is key. There are many third-party websites offering to promote and sell nights at your glampsite, for a cut of the takings of course. And while handing over commission may be a difficult pill to swallow, it can work. However, you need to be smart and manage your allocation wisely.

If you are accepting bookings from more than one source, you will need to be careful that you don’t become overbooked. You should also choose carefully when you need to allocate availability, and not to allocate all year. There will be quieter weeks in the year when you should supply allocation, but there will also be busier times such as bank holidays, Easter and school holidays when you can fill bookings yourself, and paying commission would be senseless.

CampManager can prevent these problems by linking in directly with many third-party websites such as Booking.com, AirBnb, CampStead.com, Pitchup, etc. This means that your allocation is automatically synchronised between all these third parties, so if you receive a booking through one it will instantly update the others and prevent overbooking. You can also manage your allocation within CampManager, which will help cut down the amount of commission you are handing out for stays at times you know you can fill yourself.

How can your product/service benefit glampsite owners?
CampManager is a web-based management and booking system that operates off one platform, allowing you to check availability in real time and take bookings and card payments from many locations without worry of overbooking or duplications. The system integrates seamlessly into a website and online booking pages can be designed in the same style.

www.CampStead.com is an online marketplace and comparison website allowing holiday makers to find their perfect glamping escape. The website is essentially the Booking.com for camping and glamping. CampStead.com acts as an additional shop window, helping you get more bookings, increase your exposure and maximise potential booking opportunities. CampStead.com linked with CampManager provides the complete end-to-end solution, both helping to promote your business and manage your bookings and allocations efficiently.

What is the USP of your product?
What sets us apart is our unique ability to personalise each CampManager system to work for your business, as we understand that no campsite or glampsite is the same. We take the time to design your online booking pages in the same style as your existing website as it’s vital that visitors feel comfortable and secure when making a booking online.

What options do you offer for small, medium and large budgets?
CampManager is priced depending on the number of units you have as well as the features required, making us very competitively priced regardless of the size of business. Each system is tailored to suit your requirements, so you’re not paying for parts of the system that you don’t use.

CampStead.com works on a commission basis, so you only pay a percentage fee when you get a booking.

Tell us about a glampsite that has used your product
The Hideaway @ Baxby Manor is a small owner-operated camping and glamping site. Since the introduction of CampManager in 2012, the system has proved vital in cutting down the workload as many processes are now automated, providing the owners more time to focus on other aspects of the business, such as customer satisfaction and marketing. Since using CampManager, the number of online bookings has vastly increased as it integrates seamlessly into the website. The system helps plan ahead, identify and quickly respond to quiet periods by creating special offers to increase occupancy.

Campstead