Industry Insights: Kate Morel

Kate asks: ‘How realistic are your timescales?’

Bell tent in a field

As we all gear up for the season ahead it’s a busy time of year for everyone in the outdoor hospitality industry, let alone the glamping sector. However, if you’re looking at a green field and thinking you’ll get some glamping on there by June, you might want to think again.

I’ve had a few conversations lately with landowners who set an installation deadline of just a few months away yet haven’t decided on a business model or structures, so a little clarification on timescales might help. A short-term timescale can be achievable if the site is applying for an exemption certificate or operating under the 28 day rule, but if a development requires planning permission, and most do, we’re looking at a much longer timescale.

Planning usually involves more than filling out an application form and paying a fee – there might be habitat surveys to complete, some of which, due to seasonal growth/activity patterns, can only be conducted at certain times of the year. Miss the allocated legal time slot and you could find yourself waiting months before the survey can be conducted – Project On Hold. Also, if we add a bespoke design into the mix, it will take longer again as this can be a time-consuming process, especially if the design is particularly involved or unusual.

Twelve months seems to be the average timescale if all goes to plan, but it can take longer. There are always exceptions to the rule, but if we are starting a glamping accommodation business from scratch we could expect a much longer timescale; I sometimes see development strategies of two to three years being suggested by planning consultants.

From the Diary

Site visits and surveys, they seem to follow a pattern, but this month that pattern has focussed on two opposing business models. The first is the independent ‘lifestyle’ business, and the second is larger ‘bolt-on’ developments. Lifestyle glamping businesses are the grass roots of glamping – small, personal and experience focussed, however, our sector is now rapidly developing beyond all recognition as larger developments become more common. In particular, hotel owners are realising they can add glamping at a fraction of the cost of restoring old buildings or constructing new wings. As a European hotel owner recently realised: “I’ve spent a fortune restoring old hotels where the rooms fetch 100 euros a night, yet I could set glamping up at a fraction of the cost and rent them out for 400”.

Not everyone is happy about the way the industry is changing and most smaller operators won’t even acknowledge that the larger developments are actually glamping. The definition and classification of ‘glamping’ remains a bone of contention, as one quality assessor put it, how do you rate a view, or the experience a place offers? Indeed, how do we?

Conferences – DONE!

This spring brought five new industry events to the diary, and the last one certainly can’t go without a mention – the rather fabulous Open Air Business Gathering held on 24-25 March. If you didn’t attend you really did miss out as it was genuinely a conference with a difference. Everyone took advantage of several social opportunities to chat with other attendees and industry experts between the sessions. MD of Hothorpe Hall Nicola Firth shared interesting stories of the Hall’s development, followed by a fun and friendly evening of drinks and supper, where the help-yourself gin bar went down well and quite possibly contributed to the use of the go-karts that we whizzed around the site on – hilarious fun.

I had the privilege of hosting the glamping stream of talks and panels which were packed out and rightly so. The quality of honest, transparent and hands-on information being shared was second to none. A big ‘thank you’ to fellow speakers, Kate Symonds of Round The Woods, Richard Coulter and John Maddy of Long Valley Yurts and Sarah Orchard of Orchard Marketing. Last but not least, thanks to the Morel & Co team for sharing their experience and knowledge in the treehouse session which was based on Sarah’s treehouse which we start building this month.

The venue was perfect with both indoor and outside spaces being utilised for talks, demonstrations and exhibitors and I’ve received an unprecedented number of emails from clients and attendees in praise of the event. We are all looking forward to next year, so to Tally and the OAB team – a massive well done!

Whisk me Away

Airbnb at the Louvre, Paris

Airbnb has created several marketing masterpiece getaways including a Halloween sleepover in the Catacombs and an underwater bedroom in a shark aquarium. This time it’s back to Paris where they have partnered with the Musée du Louvre to celebrate 30 years of its iconic Pyramid.

“Through this partnership, we are giving a winner and their guest the opportunity to sleep beneath the Pyramid, for one night only. But the magic doesn’t stop there. In addition to this unforgettable night, a series of exclusive visits and intimate gigs will be bookable on Airbnb”.

The visits and gigs are: an after-hours VIP tour of the museum, aperitifs with the Mona Lisa, supper with the Venus de Milo, a concert in Napoleon III’s apartment (hope he picked his undies up) and finally, the sleep-over in a specially built pyramid bedroom underneath the real glass pyramid. Experiential glamping at its finest.

Kate specialises in creating diversification projects involving glamping and boutique accommodation developments. If you’d like to discuss your site’s potential and ideas, contact Kate on 07849 514588 / or visit Join Kate’s Facebook group by searching ‘Glamping Business Link’.

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