Glamping Business Models – An overview

Like any other business Glamping can in essence be divided into franchise, corporate, and private ownership, all of which can include one or more other models but boundaries can overlap> the following covers at least the most commonly employed, and viable, glamping business model formats.

Franchise

As you might already be aware, this business arrangement involves an existing established brand selling a license to a third-party person or company. This third party then trades and operates under their brand name and logo, employing their prescribed model of operation. It’s a very common model and our high streets, shopping centres and motorway service stations are full of them. As far as glamping franchises are concerned, the landowner is usually responsible for infrastructure on site and operations with varying degrees of investment and support from the franchisor who are responsible for marketing,bookings and  payments, for which they take a commission. The franchise glamping business model is a good option for those who want to set up glamping but don’t have the time or resources to go through the whole process, or don’t want to invest in structures and glamping outright. High commissions, terms and a minimum lease period will apply.

Resort Developments

These are usually owned by large companies or corporations, and involve a high numbers of units with little differentiation, having the same (or very similar) design scheme throughout. Features such as club houses, restaurants, pools, activities, gyms and spa facilities, are essential to this model. Given the multi-million £ /$ level of investment in these developments, a high unit count + strong ancillary revenues ensure viability and deliver a sufficient return. Example: Love2Stay in Shropshire.

Private Small/Medium Enterprise 

The majority of dedicated glampsites in the UK are privately owned by individuals, couples or families who had land and decided to diversify, or have purposely bought land to start a glampsite. This is the original small-scale, grass-roots lifestyle format. Both resort and private glampsites can incorporate one or more of the following glamping business models of operation, (for franchises however this might depend on the lease agreement):

  1. Lifestyle. Most small, privately-owned sites offer this, where guests are immersed in an experience that is unique to that site, and the owners themselves play a big part of this. The sites are usually thoughtfully created by owners who are passionate about their location and vocation – be it a craft, farming or other skill. Can also include other models in this list.
  2. Festivals and weddings. Ever popular, some sites also obtain licenses to conduct the wedding ceremony itself. Events require planning applications and licensing according to party size, entertainment etc.
  3. Health and wellbeing is a fast-growing leisure sector. From yoga to raw food workshops, it’s the perfect partner to glamping.
  4. Sports & Activities. Again, another growing leisure sector providing ample opportunity to add a U.S.P. or additional revenue streams to the business.
  5. Learning & Education. The rural location of glampsites lend themselves perfectly to hosting and running courses and workshops on a variety of related subjects.
  6. Corporate Hospitality. More suited to larger developments perhaps, but some smaller operators also cater to the corporate market, offering team building and stress management courses. Standards need to be high, and each delegate will usually want private accommodation and facilities.
  7. Boutique. This glamping model can include some of the above, but it’s primary focus is to provide a highly individual and specialised offer to its guests.
  8. Adults Only. Something of a niche, but more glamping sites are aimed a creating secluded, private breaks for couples.
  9. Sustainable. With the increased awareness around pollution, plastics and waste, putting more pressure on our planet’s resources and elements, sustainable breaks are and will become even more of a focus.
  10. Accessible. We could do more to make accommodations accessible to those who interact with the world in a unique way – be it through limited physical mobility, spectrum, limited sight / hearing, or dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Supplementary Accommodation

This is where an existing hospitality business diversifies their accommodation mix by adding glamping. i.e. campsites, holiday parks, public houses, B&Bs, hotels, resorts. I’ve advised owners of hotels and public houses on adding glamping to their existing accommodation and it always works well. They can accommodate more guests for events and weddings, and attract guests who wouldn’t otherwise have stayed. If you own such a business with suitable adjoining land, but haven’t added glamping yet – why not?

Attractions

I was tempted to include ‘attractions’ in ‘supplementary accommodation’ but I think they should stand alone because their core business isn’t accommodation. In my head, historic properties and theme parks have a category of their own too, but then the principle of adding glamping to an existing attraction is the same whether it’s 500, or 15 years old. Glamping is a natural addition to these attractions, creating an enriched experience for visitors, encouraging longer stays and boosting revenue. The glamping should ideally have a design connection with the nature of the attraction – rather than a clumsy, thoughtless add-on.

Leasehold

Leasehold isn’t a new concept in holiday accommodation, many parks and caravan sites have been selling chalets and statics on long-term leases for a long time. It is however, new to glamping, where until now accommodation has been let for short-breaks only. I’m not sure if this will catch on in the UK, but it’s already happening in Europe. What will it be next, time-share?

 Pop-Up Sites

Under this header you’ll find:

  • Pre-ordered glamping, usually bell tents, erected at regular campsites by a third-party operator for guests, taken down at the end of their stay, and sometimes re-erected at another site for them. I’ve seen a few such operators come and go.
  • Event glamping, where a village of glamping is erected for hire at events such as festivals and sports. Example – ‘Pop Up Hotel’ at Glastonbury festival.
  • Temporary event tipi and /or accommodations for weddings and guests, usually on private land.
  • 28 day Pop Up Glamping – where landowners are permitted to hold camping on their land for up to 28 days perm annum.

If you’re new to glamping as a business, I hope this has given a clear overview of at least some of the glamping business models currently in operation.

Published in Open Air Business