Tree Tents International’s Anna Hedley runs through ways to maximise summer glamping opportunities
Summer’s just around the corner and it’s time to get your site ready if you want to attract the crowds. More and more people are turning to the great outdoors to take a break from their hectic lives, and the good news is, if you’re a site owner, there’s never been a better time to make the most of your land. The bad news? Well, you’re up against some pretty fierce competition. Here are a few tips to help you get your site ready for summer, stand out from the competition and keep the customers coming back.
- Prepare and care for your site
Harsh winter conditions can cause changes on your land. Take a few days to make a full inventory on what you have before making plans. Once you’ve assessed the health of your site, you can decide how to start preparing it for the summer. You might want to think about planting new trees to replace any that have been damaged. For older trees, the end of winter is the perfect time for pruning, but this can last several months. So, make a schedule with a specialist so you know how often you’ll have to visit your site and the level of cost involved.
According to Justin Mumford of Lockhart Garratt, an independent firm of tree and forestry consultants that work all over England, you need to have a clear understanding of the condition your tree resource is in and what risk the trees pose. From this you can take whatever remedial work is needed. Getting rid of old trees and dead wood is not necessarily a priority, especially if you wish to develop wildlife on your property and they are in areas not accessed by campers. Many species of bats, insects and birds can find shelter in your old trees. Finally, check the condition of any existing accommodation and plan your renovations wisely.
- Look for new opportunities on your land
Try looking at your land with a fresh pair of eyes to release its full potential. Are there any parts you’re not using that could be right for treehouses or suspended structures? What about rough terrain and hard-to-reach areas? Author of one of the very first books on treehouses, Anthony Aikman said: “You only have to go up a few feet and you have a different view of things”. So, take a leaf out of his book and get some fresh perspective – are you getting maximum potential from your site?
If treehouses are too big an investment for you right now, try taking a different approach. Tree Tents are semi-permanent, prefabricated structures that are causing a stir throughout the glamping community, providing an unforgettable experience in nature’s back garden. This is a simpler way to give your guests an incredible adventure while maximising your site’s potential at an unbeatable ROI.
- Apply for planning permissions if needed
No doubt as a site owner you’ve already experienced the headache of dealing with planning permissions. So, be sure to check all regulations in your area before starting any extensions or new construction work. You’ll need to have all your documents ready. A planning consultant who has experience in the glamping area could be helpful. You may incur some extra fees, but the investment will pay off in the long run.
If you want to get started on your site sooner, it’s worth knowing that some structures require less paperwork than others. Suspended or semi-permanent structures, such as tree tents, can provide the perfect solution if you don’t have the time or money to go back and forth with applications.
- Stand out from the competition
The natural beauty of your land is a good starting point. But you’ll need to provide something more than a nice view or a comfortable mattress if you want to stand out from the competition. Holidaymakers have changed a lot over recent years and they demand an experience that is both authentic and convenient. Glamping is on the rise, according to IBIS Worldwide, thanks to “modern facilities and services, such as Wi-Fi, that aim at higher income customers who may not normally camp”.
Investing in uniqueness and utility is a good strategy if you want to stand out from the crowd but make sure you provide hot showers and private toilet facilities as well as the ‘wow’ factor.
- Sweat the small stuff
They might not seem important, but it’s often the smallest things that make the biggest impression. Details can transform your site into the ultimate destination for glamping fans. So, make sure you furnish your accommodation with more than a sleeping bag and a rusty old chair. Look for suppliers who can customise your accommodation at affordable prices.
Jason Thawley, Innovation and Design Directo at Tree Tents International, confirms that simple things that “make the space your own” are important. These can include “original furniture made from local or recycled materials, fluffy pillows and comfortable sheets, or having fun with modern camping accessories like binoculars and a bird spotter’s guide – after all, what better place to spot them than up amongst the treetops?”
- Calculate your ROI from the start
The demand for outdoor holidays is steadily on the rise, with the word ‘glamping’ registering over 175,000 searches a month. But that doesn’t mean you should start spending your hard-earned cash without calculating your likely return first. Consider a few important questions: Is there a strong demand for the type of accommodation you have? Will it extend the length of your season and provide good returns compared to your investment?
Make sure you look thoroughly into the cost of adding new accommodation, renovations, maintenance and how many nights you can get out of the season. Helen Shaw, from Sheepskin Life, confirms, “One of the best ways to increase your ROI is to choose a solution that extends your letting season well beyond the summer months.”
- Take care of the environment
Remember to take care of the environment at all times when preparing your site for the summer. After all, the reason that glamping is becoming so popular is enjoyment of the great outdoors. Any landscape changes, tree cutting or planting should be done respecting the environment and flora and fauna. When buying new accommodation, make sure the manufacturers use sustainable materials, preferably from local sources. Try to find suppliers that respect nature and offset their carbon footprint by planting trees.
- Find yourself a great agent
If you’re breaking into the glamping industry, finding the right agent can make the difference between success and failure. There are many great ones out there offering booking services and promotion. Tom Dixon at Canopy & Stars says, “With the growth in glamping, it’s so important you make sure you stand out; not just in the experience you provide guests, but also in your marketing. So, don’t compromise on either. Find a partner that can provide the support you need in guest experience and marketing. Collaboration is the key thing here. Glamping is a business that’s about creating wonderful relationships. The whole thing can and should be fun.” Working on your own may seem like an easy way of keeping down costs, but in the glamping industry, having an agent to promote your business will certainly pay off.
- Ask for help!
Glamping is continually evolving and it can be hard to stay ahead of the trend. But remember, you don’t need to do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in delivering the perfect experience and look for companies that go the extra mile.