Glamping Growth

What is it about the portmanteau ‘glamping’ that’s making us lose interest in our usual holidays abroad and seek out staycations in highly original and sometimes peculiar structures instead? Sarah Riley offers some answers.

Glamping Growth

It seems glamping goes really well with our current need to have unique experiences that fit our reduced budgets and increased environmental principles: to buy locally and economically while reducing our carbon footprint. This has been helped by an increase in overall UK staycations, a result of expensive overseas holidays, fluctuating fuel prices, European political unrest and major external factors such as the refugee crisis.

Recently, IBIS Worldwide reported growth in the outdoor hospitality industry of 1% and revenue of 3bn. It noted that this surprisingly solid growth followed the economic slump and bucked the trend of many other sectors. Analysis showed the recession provided a perfect mix of conditions that “…encouraged many to travel domestically, to make trips to campsites or holiday parks near the coast or in the British countryside, rather than forgoing a holiday altogether.” The report said that growth had “…been supported by the expansion of glamping sites, luxury campsites that offer modern facilities and services, such as Wi-Fi, and aimed at higher income customers who may not normally camp.”

Trends in the location of campsites can also provide us with more insight into the industry. IBIS Worldwide further reported: “The South West accounts for the largest number of establishments, at 18.1%. Cornwall, Devon and Dorset are popular for holidaymakers seeking warmer weather and beaches. Ideal surfing conditions also make the region a hotspot. Wales accounts for 16.8% of establishments, the second-largest share of establishments, with most sites being located on the coastline. Sites in the vicinity of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Snowdonia are particularly popular.”

To support this, the Journal Of Outdoor Recreation And Tourism found that the outdoor hospitality industry had shown “…stellar performance during the recent global financial slowdown”. Analysis of The Camping and Caravanning Club’s own members also noted an increase in families holidaying in yurts, pods and other forms of glamping. In addition, figures from the National Caravan Council showed an increase in bookings of caravan and camping holidays, attributing this to the rise in the popularity of glamping.

As this niche is such a new and emerging segment of outdoor hospitality, it is unfortunate that no official studies have currently been conducted within the industry. Indeed the Journal Of Outdoor Recreation And Tourism made a direct plea for further investment in this area by stating that glamping was “an area in need of academic research.”

There is one place we can go to get a very good idea of what people are looking for as their next vacation, as well as discovering other new and emerging trends. This place is the most popular online search engine in the world…Google. When we study data Google provides about its users, it shows that the term ‘camping’ has strong seasonal fluctuations and is on a very gradual decline. This demonstrates that users of Google are starting to use different search terms, which in turn can indicate a change of behaviour.

GRAPH-1However, when we study the term ‘glamping’ we discover that it is performing extremely well by growing rapidly on a strong incremental line, while still demonstrating seasonal fluctuations.

GRAPH-2Google can also give us more clues about how our habits as tourists are changing, as new ways to book our holidays are becoming more common. For example, the hospitality booking system Airbnb is rapidly increasing in popularity and showing no signs of slowing down. This online system gives owners of unique glamping stays the opportunity to easily and cheaply list their structures and generate healthy annual bookings and financial returns.

GRAPH-3An interesting aspect of glamping is how it is attracting an entirely new group of customers into the outdoor hospitality market. People who have never before considered traditional camping – and never will – are exploring the possibilities of glamping. This is helping the market grow while opening up opportunities and prospects for the future.

Unsurprisingly, as the glamping trend increases, the popularity of starting a glamping business increases too as it offers an exciting, new opportunity for lifestyle entrepreneurs and landowners. One of the best kept secrets in this industry is that some glamping business models can achieve a return on investment and pay for set up costs within the first two years, and sometimes even before. This is quite an achievement for a new business.

Glamping is also a diversification option for farmers and landowners wanting to broaden income achieved from a plot of land and spread their earning portfolio to cushion fluctuations throughout the year. Previously this may have been bed and breakfast, but the impact on everyday life with strangers wandering around the family home can prove to be difficult. It may also have been possible to develop self-contained holiday accommodation within an unused space, but for many the early development costs can prove to be too much. As a result, the low cost and high income benefits of starting a glamping business are being explored.

In addition, glamping provision is rapidly becoming a ‘lifestyle business’ choice for entrepreneurs who have become increasingly disillusioned with the day job and turn to it as a way of improving their quality of life. New owners are able to use their time being creative and in charge of their future, while spending much more time outside. It’s an empowering shift from the conventional 9 to 5 existence and is another reason a glamping business is proving to be so popular.

From my experience as an independent industry expert, helping new businesses launch into this market, I have identified many key areas that lead to success. However, it’s particularly important to focus on a degree of uniqueness, but then glamping is so flexible. It comes in many different forms, from tree houses to retired Boeing 767 aircraft ( This is what’s thrilling the glamping customer and enticing them to come back for more. So, if a business wants to get an immediate boost at the beginning, the key is to stay different.

This is all great news for holiday-makers as their choice of luxurious yet affordable family breaks is set to improve with the increasing number of exciting options being offered. However, people are now more astute than they’ve ever been about what makes a glamping service great. Their expectations are growing and keeping pace with increases in the market itself, making this a very exciting time for both customers and the outdoor hospitality industry.

Sarah RileyAbout the Author
Sarah Riley is a coach, trainer and advisor supporting the outdoor hospitality industry through tailored programmes designed to nurture new businesses launching into the glamping market. This includes ‘The Ultimate Glamping Business Guide’, a comprehensive step-by-step guide to success in the market today.

Sarah is offering readers of Open Air Business a special 10% discount to gain access today with code: BM10. Claim your discount by visiting or gather more inspirations from

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