REVIEW: The Glamping Show

Open Air Business’ editor Tally Wade reports on the second Glamping Show, which took place at Stoneleigh Park on 22-24 September.

The second Glamping Show was a great success. It was larger and busier than last year and we enjoyed a hectic three days on our stand, which was a great place to get a gauge on the industry. We were attracting sign ups to the magazine and as such were in a position to talk to the 400 plus people we signed up about their aspirations, purchasing decisions and reasons for entering the glamping world.

At a rough guess I would say that about 75% of visitors to our stand were people who are new to the industry; landowners who are starting their foray into the world of glamping accommodation. Many had clear ideas about what they wanted and others were on a scouting mission. It was good to hear that attendees of the inaugural Glamping Show last year had come back with their research and were now in a position to make purchasing decisions. Talking to traders, it seemed that there were significant deals going on, which is great news for all of us!

When enquiring about what type of structures new sites were looking to acquire it was interesting to learn that there were no clear winners. There was an equal split of people wanting to invest in pods, safari tents and simpler structures such as bell tents and yurts. Among the pod shoppers, at the top of the list were structures that could withstand high winds, vermin and required little maintenance.

Among those looking to diversify into offering glamping accommodation, there were a number of caravan parks reporting that they needed to find an alternative to welcoming touring caravans as numbers were shrinking due to issues surrounding towing legislation and rising fuel prices. It seems offering pre-pitched luxury accommodation is an obvious move.

It was the same story among farmers. Many of those we spoke to were of an older generation and looking to find ways to secure the future of their land for their children. The suitability of glamping as a family business was reiterated on the Saturday of the show when many visitors brought their children with them.

It was fabulous to see a number of visitors from overseas. We had sign ups from Israel, Honduras, Greece, France and one couple who had flown from Australia especially to visit the show. Congratulations to the organisers for their global reach!


Highlights

Tiny House UKTiny House UK
The ‘Tiny House’ movement is really catching the imagination of the glamping community; one-off quirky units that are fully mobile and steeped in luxury. Perhaps the most striking structure at the show this year was the one-off, over-sized ‘caravan’ with everything you could want in a home from home. Inside is an elevated double bed with a spectacular viewing window, a designer kitchen and bathroom, and plenty of room to lounge about with a glass of bubbly. www.tinyhouseuk.co.uk

Energy SolutionsEnergy Solutions
The VariPower hybrid variable speed solar generator can be powered from a solar PV array, diesel or glycerine, making it a true hybrid. With a variable speed of 900-2,000rpm, it works at the correct level for efficient use, be it simply charging phones or running power, lights and appliances. A true off-grid system with an ‘intelligent’ interface, which allows full reporting of load, efficiency and how each power option is being used. www.energy-solutions.co.uk

PodThe Log Pod
The new relocatable Hybrid Pod from Log Pod is made from 100% recycled PVC, and is 100% recyclable itself. It features Sureheat underfloor heating, which uses up to 70% less energy than alternatives, along with other innovations including an antibacterial / microbial layer to its shell. The structure incorporates 25mm of Rockwool insulation, is fully vermin proof and has the additional benefit of being easily ‘skinned’ in a variety of ways – a simple coat of paint, a ‘wrap’ (same treatment as vehicle wrapping – perfect for branding) or using the Log Pod catalogue of cladding. www.thelogpod.co.uk

Alpaca AllianceAlpaca
While breeding alpacas and selling their fleece can be a profitable business in itself for landowners (producing black alpacas is the future according to these guys), these adorable creatures can be a great attraction for glamping sites. They can be used for guiding walks, as a hands-on attraction for children or simply as lovely ‘field ornaments’! www.alpacaalliance.com

Ensuite PodCampPlus
A double announcement was made at this year’s show for the Dutch manufacturer of plug and play en-suite pods. First was the introduction of the Duo, a clever unit containing two wash rooms / WCs, with a soundproof partition – perfect for servicing two pitches. It also made public its new UK distribution through the long established Caravan Park Electrical Services (CPES). www.campplus.co.uk

Kata TipisKata Tipis
A new kid on the block and a slightly different message to show attendees – if you have a glampsite, why not add a wedding venue too! This is something that we at Open Air Business love to hear; a solution for landowners wanting to maximising revenue from outdoor hospitality enterprise. Kata’s ‘turnkey’ offering includes a glorious tipi-style marquee fully serviced, furnished and marketed for a season with shared profits. For obvious reasons they couldn’t fit the Giant Hat Kata in the exhibition hall so used virtual reality with a 360 degree photo app built into a headset. It sure convinced me! Check the virtual tour out online. www.katatipis.co.uk

Centre for Alternative TechnologyCentre for Alternative Technology
As well as some great entertainment on their stand (I watched a pallet transform into a bed side table in under an hour), CAT was showcasing its wide variety of courses, many of which would be perfect for glampsite owners who want to ‘skill up’ or self build. Check out its website for learning opportunities in the following areas – composting toilets, earth ovens, solar PV, off-grid power, DIY furniture, rainwater harvesting and water purification, reed beds and waste water management, wood fires, and even mindfulness in the woods! www.cat.org.uk

Horne EngineeringHorne Engineering
This Scottish family business is over 107 years old. It showcased the Duŝo shower column, a sleek, low maintenance unit made from anodised aluminium and robust and colourful injection mouldings, which comes with a two year guarantee (parts and workmanship). With designer good looks, the Duŝo is corrosion resistant, even in salt water environments, and moving parts are cleverly kept out of the way, yet are easily accessible for maintenance. Horne also offers a patented hot water disinfectant unit, compatible with the Duŝo, for managing the risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila. Perfect for glampsite shower blocks, wash rooms or outdoor wash down areas for after muddy / sandy activities. Oh, and a quick fact – did you know that Horne invented the thermostatic mixing valve back in the 1920s? www.horne.co.uk

Clear Sky Safari TentsClear Sky Safari Tents
A British company with a superb range of Safari Tents from entry level (under £3,000) to spectacular luxury – you should have seen the bathroom in the show tent! Clear Sky now also has the UK rights to make structures from the innovative product ThermoTent, an insulated material used to create truly all year round tented structures with an R-value (a measure of resistance of heat flow through a material) of just 4, that’s 13 times more than a traditional tent. It also has excellent soundproofing and blackout qualities so guests get a perfect night’s sleep. www.safaritents.net

LandpodLandpod
Launched at the show, this flatpack pod is considered the first ever ‘all terrain’ camping pod. It is portable and, due to its adjustable legs, can be placed on any sort of ground. These pods can nestle between trees, without risk of root damage, be bolted together or stacked up to form a tripod or larger walk-in pod with a wood stove and comfy seating. Each pod is hand painted to customer requirements. The British inventors (father and son team Jake and Steve Watson) really have thought of everything, with the addition of a Petpod to the range! Available to hire or buy (from £1,250). www.landpod.co.uk

Campstead