The Time is Now

Evidence shows that right now could be the best time to start a glamping business, says Sarah Riley

Tourists wanting to vacation closer to home rather than booking a holiday overseas have delivered a boost to this year’s luxury camping businesses, which are feeling the benefits of a bumper summer. However, scratch the surface of the data and things start to get really exciting.

Pic: Getty Images
Pic: Getty Images

Reasons for the trend
Tourists have had quite a difficult time over the past few years. First there was the meltdown of the world’s financial markets, quickly followed by a large volcanic ash cloud that put holiday booking companies out of business and upset tourists out of pocket. Now there are terrorist threats, the refugee crisis, political turmoil and Brexit, all leading to the perception of a hostile world and a very nervous holidaymaker.

However, celebrities and Royalty have also given glamping a boost with their endorsement of it in popular culture. This has resulted in a further boom in bookings, with one campsite reporting an 11% increase in August compared to the same period the previous year.

What holidaymakers say 
The ‘Family Break Finder’ website undertook further research by questioning 1,400 members and reported, “We’ve noticed a surge of interest in domestic holidays and short breaks.” It revealed that 50% of respondents wanted to stay at a UK campsite or holiday park next season, while nearly one-third said they wanted to try glamping.

Families are also expecting to see their holiday budgets shrink next year, but as glamping is already considered to be a low cost holiday option among those questioned, this should further strengthen the trend.

The future looks bright
In 2013, academics revealed just how strong the glamping market was in the face of worldwide challenge. The Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism noted that glamping was indeed an area in need of academic research and called for a study regarding “… outdoor hospitality, its successes and challenges, particularly in its stellar performance during the recent global financial slowdown.”

More recently, IBIS Worldwide reported growth in the outdoor hospitality industry of 1% and revenue of £3 billion. It also noted that this surprisingly solid growth in the industry followed the economic slump, which bucked the trend seen in many other sectors.

Interest in the industry was also demonstrated at the recent business to business Glamping Show, which attracted attendees not just from the UK but from countries around the globe, including Australia, Canada, the US, Israel, Slovenia, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Greece, Nepal and Costa Rica.

So what should new glamping businesses be doing to take advantage of the strengthening trade in future years?

Benefits of the business
There are various benefits associated with starting this type of business, but specifically it helps to diversify income generated from a piece of land.

With the right space, it can also be started using a variety of successful business models. In fact, one of the best kept secrets in this industry is that some of those models can achieve a return on investment and pay for their set up costs within the first two years of launching, which is quite a bold claim for any new business.

For entrepreneurs looking to launch a profitable business, this offers an exciting lifestyle opportunity, with the chance to spend more time outdoors and arguably giving them more control over the future.

New businesses have the right tools and knowledge available to them now, allowing them to learn quickly, build confidence, avoid pitfalls and jump ahead of the competition. Specifically, with winter here, now is the best time to start a project to be ready in time to launch for the new glamping season.

From my experience of helping new luxury camping businesses launch into this market, I have identified key areas that lead to success. However, the one thing thrilling glamping customers and keeping them coming back for more is how unique this market is. That’s the beauty of glamping; it comes in many different forms, from tree houses to retired Boeing 767 aircraft.

This is all great news for vacationers, as their choice of luxurious, yet affordable, family holidays will continue to improve with the exhilarating options being offered. However, families are now shrewder than they’ve ever been about what makes a service great. Their expectations have grown, and keeping pace with the market is making this a very exciting time for both the hospitality industry and customers alike.

About the Author
Sarah Riley is the founder of Inspired Camping, a business coach, trainer and advisor supporting the glamping and camping industry with tailored courses designed to nurture new businesses. Find out more about her internationally acclaimed ‘Ultimate Glamping Business Guide’, by reading the course summary and reviews from students at

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