We learn what’s involved as acquisition manager at glamping agency Quality Unearthed.
No two days are ever alike in my role as property acquisition manager at Quality Unearthed. Working in one of the leading glamping-focused agencies in the UK, my role is to bring exciting and unique structures into our growing portfolio. In this process, I help and advise both established and budding glamping site owners on how best to bring their amazing structures to the marketplace.
I’m a family man and my day begins at home (mostly), unless I am travelling long distances to meet with prospective clients as Quality Unearthed covers the length and breadth of the UK. Family plays an important role in how I approach work, because Quality Unearthed was founded as a family firm. My team and the supporting cast of sales, operations and support teams are all interlinked like cogs in a wheel. We’re a close team at Quality Unearthed – affectionately known as QU – and this aspect is part of what makes us a special agency.
Being the manager of property acquisition puts me in a privileged position at the start of each owner’s journey, and typically myself and colleague Polly Lovegrove get to see the amazing structures that we bring on board before anyone else.
One of the things I most enjoy about working at Quality Unearthed is that we are not a company who are paralysed by rigid processes. Yes, we have certain necessary procedures to ensure we treat every meeting and each new take-on equally, but they are all geared around being customer-centric.
I’m given the authority to do what’s best for the business and our prospective owners. But just as each day or meeting is different, our driving goal is to bring out the best characteristics of each unique space. We do this by allowing room for each new owner to showcase their maximum potential when bringing their labour of love to the market and we find that, in most cases, each new quirky place tends to flourish. The structures, locations and owners we meet are all different, each with their own amazing ideas and dreams, and we want to make sure we capture that individuality.
The glamping market is continuously evolving, with real imagination driving the design of glamping structures and unusual spaces, and we are very lucky to help guide that evolution. Consumers are demanding more and more from their stay, and as such, the growth we have seen in recent years and the structures we have brought on because of this increase in expectations have been exceptional and inspiring.
There’s no secret that there’s been a lot of change within the travel industry during recent years and while that does bring challenges, it also brings new opportunities and excitement about what might be around the corner. Getting the industry back on its feet and playing our part in that for our owners has been a very big challenge, but one we have gladly accepted, and we are seeing the benefits of a strong bounce back and unprecedented demand for holidays within the unique spaces sector.
Making things simple
As a premium glamping provider, it’s our job to offer quality holidays for our guests and world-class marketing and management for our owners. Our team are experts at what they do and strive to ensure that we create the perfect marriage of guest and owner satisfaction.
Any glamping site owner’s dream is to build or install structures and have guests come and enjoy them. It’s a simple concept and one that we feel owners should be able to fulfil. The reality is more ‘swan-like’; lots of unseen effort below the surface to ensure a graceful and elegant experience.
In a growing and highly competitive marketplace it is hard to become recognised when you are starting out, even with the recent massive increase in demand, so effective marketing is critical. Marketing is often mistakenly understood to be simple and non-skilled, but the reality today is quite different. There are many marketing sources and digital skills that need to be expertly understood to ensure that you effectively channel demand to your website or telephone. We are very good at both acquiring new customers and building repeat business.
Guest liaison also plays a large and time-consuming role – answering questions, queries, booking enquiries for dates and answering individual and non-standard requests, taking payments, sending arrival details and directions, discounting for last-minute bookings, sending refunds or security deposit returns – and is often not properly considered.
We want guests to feel the full experience and passion of the structure on arrival, and the more we can do to unburden each owner of the more arduous processes, the more energy and zest they can put into optimising this. An example of the little things we do to make it easier for guests is a text message which provides directions and check-in details for where they are staying on the day of arrival, which helps them and the owner. This converts to positive experiences and excellent customer review scores which help our owners even more.
A time for wellbeing
Connecting guests to hosts and places set within nature and the outdoors lends itself well to each traveller’s mental health and wellbeing, often allowing for a full or partial digital detox. Being immersed in a brand that makes the most of outdoor spaces and their relationship with mental health and wellbeing means we encourage and understand the importance of ‘switching off’ too. The wellbeing of staff is key to our business.
No matter how busy I am I make sure I have a daily lunch break and time away from my screen and encourage my team to do the same. It’s counterproductive otherwise and I often have my best ideas while tucking into my sandwiches. Life is busy and we are currently in a particularly manic bubble of productivity for our industry, such is the nature of the return to travel post-lockdown.
Ultimately I’m very much a person who likes to be out and about meeting people so this is a great job for me. I particularly enjoy getting involved at the start of glamping projects, where the fields or spaces are empty and the dreams and ideas are flowing out. Getting to go back after the work has been done to see what was achieved, what wondrous structures have been made and what the final offering has become, gives me a real sense of achievement.
I feel really proud, especially when I’m able to help our customers achieve their objectives. I’m lucky enough to meet hundreds of people every year who have similar goals but unique objectives in mind. The fact that my team and I are able to assist them in making their ideas become a reality is something that keeps me energised and feeds my soul! Furthermore, the fact that we then get to participate in these journeys and share them with the wider world truly is a gift.
And so, on to the next magical, unusual, quirky space…
Michael Owen is the property acquisitions manager at Quality Unearthed. Overseeing the entire acquisition process, he advises new and existing owners who want to bring unique structures to the glamping marketplace under the Quality Unearthed brand.
Michael has over 15 years’ experience in the sales industry, and specialised in business, leisure and tourism. A keen family man and runner, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter around his hometown in Pembrokeshire and taking in all that is good about the outdoors.
Quality Unearthed was founded in 2011 as a sister brand to the long-standing Quality Cottages and set about bringing glamping to the mainstream market, showcasing the outdoors and natural environments, whilst also providing the comfort and luxury aspects of traditional hospitality stays. Becoming one of the largest glamping-specific agencies in the UK, Quality Unearthed became part of the Awaze Vacation Rentals family in 2021 and continues to bring exceptional, quirky and quality glamping experiences to thousands of guests. www.qualityunearthed.co.uk