Forward thinking discussions, new events and some words of warning.
What a year for the glamping industry – record breaking summer weather, varying reports on year-end figures, current economic uncertainties, increasing staycation breaks and more businesses entering the sector from both sides of the fence – accommodation sites and suppliers to them. Nothing sits still in this sector for long.
As we approach a new year, reflecting on the industry as a whole and how it’s developing, it’s clear that while independent, boutique and lifestyle models remain popular, there is a strong shift toward bigger developments. More big companies and corporations are now seeing the opportunity and acting on it, yet some in the industry don’t approve, they see it as a dilution of the experience that glamping should offer. A fair criticism sometimes, yet I was talking with the director of a huge hospitality company recently and was so taken aback by his ‘guest experience’ philosophy that I stopped in my tracks and he literally finished my sentence for me. It’s not often I’m lost for words, I can tell you.
From the Diary
The last few weeks have been something of a blur, but a good one. More than ever I’ve been engaged in genuinely exciting discussions with forward thinking landowners and hospitality businesses. In particular, the Farm Business Innovation Show was fantastic; a tangible buzz filled the hall within minutes of the doors opening and seminars were packed out.
As usual, I’ve also been on the road a lot, but one trip sticks in my mind which was my return to Scotland, where for a week I visited outstandingly beautiful locations. Most of the projects involved bespoke cabins and treehouses, and I was so excited about the projects I started drawing my own designs. While they won’t be winning any awards, this is one of the reasons I never tire of what I do – there’s always new inspiration to be found.
I try to keep my writing up-beat, but a recent meeting brought up a couple of subjects that have been causing hushed conversations for some time. While I hesitate to write about them, I’m going to anyway because there is misleading advice being given about setting up a glamping business, and it’s costing some landowners dearly.
One of these subjects is planning permissions. Despite what some people are being told, and while there are exceptions and exemptions, commercial glamping sites require planning permission. Crucially, anyone looking to add glamping needs to get the facts, so find a professional consultant who understands glamping or at least conduct your own research before committing. There are several potential consequences of heeding misleading advice on planning permissions and suffice it to say, they all cost money. In particular, buying structures before establishing planning permission requirements is simply reckless.
The other subject is the choice of business model or structure. Some sites struggle because they’re based on advice from an existing business model or recommended structure, but sadly that business model or structure wasn’t right for the location or demographic. Some glamping models are transferable but many aren’t; it isn’t always possible to take a successful set-up and reproduce it in another part of the country. There can be several subtleties and variables to consider so obtain as much information as possible before committing to any particular brand or transaction.
Up & Coming
There are a few exciting new events coming up next spring. One is the Rural Business Expo on 6-7 February 2019 at the Telford International Centre, Shropshire. This event will provide diversification ideas and guidance on maximising resources available to agricultural and rural communities through seminars on planning, marketing, finance and a series of ‘how to’ workshops, including one by me on glamping (www.energyandruralbusiness.co.uk).
The other is the Short Stay Show on 14 March at ExCel London, a premium access conference for industry stakeholders and influencers, with keynote speakers, UK government representatives and notable panel session specialists. It promises an innovative marketplace packed with products and services, seminars on the latest trends, plus a central networking area. I’ll be hosting a glamping panel with a difference because we’ll be exploring the challenges and opportunities of urban glamping – should be interesting!
Another event that I’ve been asked to support is a Creative Rural Conference being held at Tate Britain in London on March 26. And, of course, the day before (25 March) it’s the inaugural Open Air Business Pre-Season Gathering in Leicestershire! I’ll see you there.
Whisk Me Away
After spending a week in Scotland, driving alongside glass-surfaced lochs and through miles and miles of wild mountains, I hardly feel like I need whisking away. Having said that, I found this place which could definitely entice me towards an airport to get me in the mood for Christmas (which right now, just isn’t happening). Some of the sculptures make me think I’d wake up feeling I was in the middle of a surreal dream, but overall, what a unique experience. Move over Frosty the Snowman – check out Ice Hotel, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden.
Wishing you a joyful Yule and an abundant New Year in 2019.
Till next time, Kate
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Morel works closely with her clients to support new glamping developments and businesses. Through her new venture Morel & Co, Kate and the team also offer planning support, design and installation of accommodations.
Kate supports industry events, providing tailored presentations and workshops for tourism conferences and exhibitions and recently published a Glamping Business Guide in association with the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. As a leading expert in this niche sector she is a respected ‘go-to’ specialist, providing contract consultancy to other industry specialists and companies. 07849 514588 / email@example.com / www.morelcompany.co.uk / www.katemorel.com (Facebook Group: Glamping Business Link).