Pop Up Accommodation Advice

Advice on maximising revenue by offering customers on-site accommodation as part of their function package

Glamping Tents

Helen Oaten and Alex BellHelen Oaten and Alex Bell
Bellows Glamping and Events
01283 343 714

What is the business case for offering pop up accommodation at venues without on-site accommodation?
The option of something being temporary (pop up) means that you don’t necessarily need planning permission depending on how long the structures will be standing. The notion of having something short term means the structure can be taken down and the land can return back to normal. Having a removable accommodation option on-site means that guests don’t need to worry about finding an alternative place to stay (that might be miles away), the added expense of a taxi, or even the annoyance of driving and not being able to fully enjoy their evening. When planning a wedding or event, people will want things to be as stress-free as possible, and this will definitely help. Another plus is that friends and family get to spend more time together.

What advice could you offer a function venue owner on choosing/marketing pop up accommodation?
Find out what is popular; ask current customers what they would prefer and speak to people in the market who already use pop up accommodation for their opinion. You can test the market and buy or hire one or two temporary structures and see what works for you financially. Set up or attend events where you can use the accommodation, such as wedding fairs, and get people to have a look around and get their opinions. We devised a market research survey and asked questions about glamping; the results were very positive, which made us think it would work. Market research is a very powerful tool, after all it is people’s opinions that count.

What about the logistics?Wedding Glamping
Now logistics is probably one of the main challenges you will face if you choose to manage your pop up accommodation yourself. When you take a booking, you need to have your accommodation 100 per cent ready for when the guests get there, so find out their estimated arrival time. Taking the structures down is always the easier bit. You may not necessarily have a specific time if it’s your own land, so again just find out what time they would be leaving the next day – it’s preferable not to wake them if you can avoid it. The best thing you can do is time yourself; how long does each one take to set up and take down? Then add on some extra time just in case. Never agree to more than you can do, but also do not sell yourself short. Of course, you can remove all this work by using a hire service such as ourselves where a ‘glamping village’ is erected ready for guests then removed when the event is over.

What is the USP of your product/service?
We run our business seven days a week up until 8pm, and if someone needs something out of that time we respond. We believe in excellent customer service and offering the very best service we can. We are personable and will always work around customers the best we can, but most of all we are ourselves – we started the business because we enjoy doing it. We also handmake many of the products in our tents as we believe in upcycling and being environmentally friendly. If people want to purchase any of the items then they can. We have very few add-ons to our packages, meaning the price you see online is the price you pay, inclusive of all the items listed.

What options do you offer for small, medium and large budgets?
Different packages give people options. We offer three different types of camping packages; a wedding package, hen package and a bespoke package (customers pick what they would like and we create a quote). Our options range from providing the tent, beds and lighting to bedding, hot water bottles, dressing gowns and so on. This opens up the market. We also don’t limit our business to two plus nights; if only one night is required then that’s fine.

Tara WeightmanTara Weightman, founder and director
Hearthworks Tipis & Yurts
01749 899521

What is the business case for offering pop up accommodation at venues without on-site accommodation?
You may have a perfect venue for weddings and functions, but be unable to offer space for people to stay. Being able to provide accommodation alongside the main venue will give your event site an added attraction, leading to more demand and a clear advantage over competitors.

The alternative to permanent accommodation units that will require planning permission and all the extra costs such as groundwork, drainage and building regulations, is to provide temporary pop up accommodation. This can also enable your venue to be flexible to the needs of clients in terms of the number of accommodation units that are provided, and allow your venue to test the water without making a commitment to the overheads of having permanent on-site accommodation.

Inside Glamping TentWhat advice could you offer a function venue owner on choosing pop up accommodation?
When choosing a supplier for the provision of pop up accommodation, it makes sense to choose an established company with a reliable track record that can offer a range of products to suit your budget.

What about the logistics?
There are an enormous number of considerations, such as the interior decor, furniture, beds and bedding, provision of power, water, toilets and showers. If the accommodation units are required for a whole season, it might make more financial sense to purchase the units and store them away for the off-season.

What is the USP of your product/service?
Canvas structures, and yurts in particular, are well suited to fulfil many of the essential requirements for pop up accommodation. They can be quickly and easily erected, dismantled and stored away. They are robust, weather proof and can be equipped with lockable doors and wood-burning stoves. Critically, they are classed as tents, and can be installed on any agricultural land for 28 days a year, and longer if the venue has a Campsite license.

What options do you offer for small, medium and large budgets?
We have been manufacturing traditional tipis and yurts since 1999, long before glamping became fashionable. As well as manufacturing yurts and tipis to order, Hearthworks supplies accommodation to a number of major festivals, glampsites and venues. It offers units that accommodate from two to 25 people, and a range of add-ons including furnishings packages, heating, lighting, beds and bedding.

With over 300 yurts and tipis in stock, we can cater for large events and small intimate functions. Hearthworks can offer your venue a tailor-made service and give you the added value needed for it to fulfil it’s potential.

Gemma Thorogood & Claudia SampsonGemma Thorogood & Claudia Sampson, co-founders
Firefly Camping

What is the business case for offering pop up accommodation at venues without on-site accommodation?
Our business developed out of a need to accommodate people at my sister’s wedding. She was determined to bring 100 people to a field in the middle of nowhere, far enough from any nearby civilisation to be able to keep the DJs going until after midnight, and she wanted people to sit around a fire afterwards and natter until daylight. There were a couple of B&Bs in the next village, perfect for the oldies, but she didn’t want her guests forking out massive taxi fares to take others to the nearest town and beyond, and she certainly didn’t want them driving or going home early because they couldn’t drink. So, to have some bell tents set up on site that people could literally roll into felt like the obvious answer.

Not only do they keep the party going, but they also act as the most beautiful backdrop for any festival wedding. Firefly bell tents are a whiter canvas in colour, with wooden pegs and rope guy lines making them feel quintessentially British. It’s the little details that count.

What advice could you offer a function venue owner on choosing pop up accommodation?
Look for a supplier who will make it easy for you. You want to work with a team that will take the bookings off your hands and deal with the guests direct. We suggest the bride and bridegroom insert our info into their invitation. Then we talk to their guests about how best to sleep them, what beds and linen they’ll need, if they want the tent as far away from the noise as possible as they have children to put to bed earlier, etc. – all the little details that you don’t need to worry about. And you want them to be a personable company who can roll in, set up the tents, receive the guests and roll out again, without any bother.

What about the logistics?
Depending on the units required, we arrive one or two days before the big day, setting the tents up with all the beds and furniture by the morning of the event. Each tent contains the requested amount of beds (we use Aerobeds – the best quality air mattresses, which they claim to drive tanks over to test them), a couple of side tables, some fairy lights and a colourful rug. We also put welly slats down for people to stand on and take off their shoes and some Firefly lanterns outside each tent to guide people through the ‘village’ at night. Each tent is numbered so the guests know which is theirs, and each bed is dressed with fresh linen so it’s ready for them like a hotel. There is also a hanger for people to hang their dresses and suits – camping doesn’t have to be rough. Following the event, we discuss the best day to pick up the tents and take them back to our unit in Bristol. We do request weather days however. If it’s predicted to be a very wet pack-down day, we request a better day with the venue manager to prevent us from having to put them up to dry elsewhere.

What is the USP of your product/service?
British-made for British weather, our tents are made by BCT Outdoors who have been making tents for the scouts for over 100 years. Not only are they beautiful with a whiter canvas than other bell tents, rope guy lines and wooden pegs, but they know the British weather too.

That mixed with our mantra to keep things simple for the event organiser, while going the extra mile for the guests, is what makes people remember us and our tents.

What options do you offer for small, medium and large budgets?
Our packages are really aimed at smaller to medium sized events, catering well for weddings as the bigger companies often won’t come out for less than 20 tents. We have a minimum 10 tent hire policy which we ask the event organiser to guarantee with a deposit at the time of booking. Then we make the tent bookings direct with the guests, asking the bride and bridegroom to give them a gentle nudge if they are coming in slow.

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