Business How To – Extra Revenues
If you’re getting to know me by now (and I hope you are) you might appreciate that this blog about earning extra revenues from any hospitality business won’t focus on a predictable ‘make a separate charge for everything’, even though to a point, this approach is sometimes used at budget level. On the up-side, charging for some extras provides guests with choices on how they spend their hard-earned holiday money, as well as adding revenue streams for the business owner. On the down-side however, taken to an extreme, this is a tactic that lures guests in with enticingly low rental fees but then makes them fork-out for every little thing once there, unreasonably increasing their final holiday cost and frankly, I’m not a fan of that.
With mid to high end rental fees it becomes less acceptable to ask guests to pay extra for facilities that should be included, although charging for additional luxuries and treats can be acceptable. As always, it’s about striking the right balance and making our offer as appropriate as possible to the level of accommodation and fees we are charging.
Back to Basics
A common way to add extra revenue to a glamping business in particular is to sell consumables such as firewood (for log-burners, campfires and wood-fired hot-tubs) although most sites will provide an initial supply inclusive and once that’s used up, charge for logs and kindling thereafter. The type of wood provided should depend on what it’s being used for, stoves and hot-tubs need dry, seasoned wood to get a good heat, whereas a campfire hardly warrants premium oak logs. If firewood has to be bought in, find a reliable local supplier, if the site has its own supply that’s great, but I’d still suggest still charging something for additional supplies. Unless we are charging an ‘all in’ premium rental fee, it’s not unreasonable to charge for firewood, glamping may have developed beyond its grass roots but there’s still opportunity to educate and some glamping sites still encourage respect for our natural resources. Wood may indeed grow on trees – but it doesn’t self-manage, fell, cord, chop, transport or stack itself. It’s not a bad idea for us and guests alike to remember and appreciate that.
Depending on the size of the site and level of accommodation, other consumables could include: foodstuffs (homegrown or locally sourced), hampers, BBQ and breakfast packs, toiletries and sunscreen etc. Selling consumables on-site provides a convenient facility for guests as well as making a little extra profit, although obviously if there are just a couple of accommodation units, a fully stocked shop isn’t going to be viable so keep it simple. On-site shops can also be time consuming to upkeep and unprofitable when we misjudge products and volumes. Some sites also charge for things like towels, duvets / covers, wifi, showers and camping gas for stoves etc, but we’re veering toward a regular campsite here. Again, I don’t feel this is really ‘glamping’ although it ultimately depends where the accommodation sits on the scale of things – if rental fees are very low and the offer is basic, then some of these could be considered upgrades and give guests an opportunity to choose where they are spending their money. At the mid to high end however, they should all definitely be inclusive.
Stamp of Approval – Branded Products
Personalised, branded merchandise and accessories in some form or another suit some glampsites, and it’s possible to get just about anything produced with a logo on it these days, even cupcakes. I’d be looking for something imaginative – products that cleverly marry into the glamping lifestyle and the site’s U.S.P.. Is there something special and original about your place that can be developed to branded merchandise status?
Other ancillary incomes can be generated directly from the experience that you’re offering, giving guests a chance to take home products that they used whilst there. For example if you offer spa therapies – sell the spa products (fragrances are so evocative), if you provide courses – sell the materials / equipment / how-to books (maybe write your own?). If you give art or drawing classes, sell your art and drawings, or prints and cards. There are many more – what experience souvenir might your guests buy and take home as a reminder of their stay?
Wherever possible, give guests the opportunity to upgrade and enhance their holiday. On their arrival, if a better-appointed accommodation is still unoccupied give them the option of paying a little extra to take it. Maybe not quite the full price, rather like a flight upgrade, or include a bottle of wine or other incentive. Are they celebrating? At the point of check out on your website, would they appreciate a more luxurious welcome hamper, including Champagne and flowers?
Get Moving – Sports Equipment Hire
Sites that possess, or are within reach of outdoor activities have potential to hire out sports equipment such as bicycles, canoes, surf boards and wet-suits. Choose good quality, reliable equipment so guests are safe and the equipment is always available – especially if guests can reserve the hire in advance. Customers are, naturally, unhappy when advertised facilities aren’t available and usually want compensating. ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ doesn’t do these situations justice, there are far wider H&S and insurance implications.
Go on, Spoil Me – Health & Therapies
Another extra revenue stream for glamping businesses is the growing and profitable tourism genre, ‘wellness’, personal health and pampering. So here we’re offering things like yoga classes, alternative therapies, spas and treatments. Large yurts are a great space for some of these, it might be something you could run yourself, or invite in local therapists to work with you. If your site is suitable, maybe consider marketing it as a retreat venue for therapists and teachers looking for unique places to run their courses. If you run a wellness business – could glamping itself be an extra revenue stream?
Soak it Up – Hot Tubs
Hot tubs really do have to be the easiest way to boost an occupancy rate and not just for glamping, for any holiday accommodation. If guests are looking at two similar glamping offers and yours has the hot tub, you’ll get the booking. If you charge for logs for wood-fired models this can also provide an ancillary revenue stream, although note that few sites charge separately for the use of hot tubs – this is more often included in rental fees. They’re powered by electric or a log-burning firebox, and as most glampsites are off-grid the latter are usually easier to install. The wood-fired models are also made of wood and look great in a glampsite setting, complementing an expected natural ambience. As with other equipment, guests will expect to be compensated if advertised facilities aren’t available, and if a hot tub is out of action, they are likely to cancel altogether. We also have to be mindful of legislation around the use of standing water.
Learning Zone – Courses & Workshops
People love to learn and try new things, so adding classes to your offer is an effective ancillary and creates engaging experiences for guests. Sport activities could include surfing lessons, mountain biking, rock climbing and 4×4 driving; I know one place that teamed-up with a local airfield and offers flying lessons. But not everyone has a head for heights, and down to earth activities such as foraging, bush-crafts and cookery classes are super popular. There are, however, literally dozens of fun and interesting courses, workshops or short masterclasses we could create! They don’t have to be on-site either, we can collaborate with other companies. It could be something as simple as you sharing your passion for bread-making – artisan baking is totally on trend right now, or for those with the nose – maybe a wine tasting session with a respected wine merchant.
Paws for though – Our Furry Friends
For a lot of guests the whole point of a staycation is that they can take their pets with them, and they are happy to pay a little extra to do so. Some places charge a flat fee, others per dog, or it’s worked into the rental price. Occasionally you might find a shower blocked with dog hair or muddy paw prints all over the bedding, despite requesting that pets stick to their own beds. However, it’s no secret among holiday accommodation providers that accepting pets increases occupancy. Also, don’t forget to add dog treats and toys etc to the shop, and do check out the ‘The Dog Treat Company’ – their online shop doesn’t have a check-out trolley, it has a bowl!
Full piece published in Open Air Business Magazine