If you missed out on the Energy and Rural Business Show this year, you missed out on some great workshops which provided some highly valuable insight for those looking to diversify their farm business or start-up on their own.
However, all is not lost. We caught up with glamping consultant, Kate Morel, who spoke at the event on her top tips for running a successful glamping site, and got her answers to some of those burning questions.
See also: 10 quirky accommodation ideas
Read on to find out more.
Q. What is your opinion on offering Wi-Fi to glampers?
A. My personal take on this is not to offer Wi-Fi, because the ethos of glamping has always been about connecting people back with nature, and giving them a break from the digital age we have come to rely on. However more guests are asking for it these days and it can be a turn-off if sites don’t offer it.
It also depends on the glamping experience you want to create and the type of audience you are targeting. There is no right or wrong answer to this, it is very much a personal decision and one where your marketing could portray either way as a positive. You have to personally weigh-up the potential loss from not having Wi-Fi available versus the extra bookings you might generate from an often not too costly investment.
Q. Do you think it’s worthwhile keeping couples and families separate on glamping sites?
A.The short answer is yes. Couples and families are like oil and water.
Couples often want privacy which is not easy to deliver with young families also occupying glamping units close by. The two audiences will in general have very different ‘needs,’ and will have chosen to go on a glamping holiday for different reasons and so it’s important to take this into consideration when designing a site.
It doesn’t mean to say you can’t open your site to both audiences, but if you have the space use it to allow distance between your units, creating an experience for all to enjoy. As a bonus, the privacy you create is also something you can potentially charge more for.
Q. We live near to a flight path for a regional airport - would background noise be an issue?
A. Background noise is a common problem in England especially, and can be a problem, but it’s how you market the experience and manage guest expectations here that really matter. When I’m working on a location with potential noise issues like a road or airport, I often recommend installing some sort of feature that creates its own noise, like running water.
Although this doesn’t remove the problem, it can be a great way to minimise background noise to a point where it is not so intrusive.
Q. For existing businesses, it is worthwhile considering glamping as a ‘bolt-on’ offering?
A. Absolutely. For an existing business that has the space to install glamping units, or where offering glamping accommodation would complement an existing business, then this can be a great bolt-on.
Installing glamping units can be a very cost-effective option. For a pub or hotel for example, building a new wing, or converting old buildings would require a much higher investment than installing glamping units, which often provide a quick return on investment.
It’s a diversification that not many pubs or hotels have considered, but it has great potential.
Q. For a small glamping site, what are the minimum requirements when it comes to facilities?
A. This all depends on the type of experience you want to create and therefore the guest profile. If you are appealing to couples looking for a special occasion getaway, their expectations of the facilities provided are usually going to be higher than those looking for a place to rest their head on their walking holiday.
In any instance, running water is a ‘must-have’ as a minimum requirement so you can provide washing facilities. The first thing I do on a potential site is look at how we’ll get water to the site, and waste away from it.
Nowadays there are some great shower huts and low-key facilities available that will do the trick for small sites. But think about your demographic and what you want to charge per night as these business decisions will impact how your business will fit into the current market and perform going forward.
Q. Is it important to include disabled facilities?
A. If you possibly can, then yes, I think it is. There are some basic requirements for making a glamping site accessible to those with disabilities, which don’t take a huge amount of doing when you are designing a new site, and this can open up your accommodations to a wider customer base.
I am a great believer that glamping should be an experience that everyone can enjoy and so the more we can do as an industry to support this the better.
There are manufacturers who have and are creating accessible glamping units and so it is worth taking a look at these options if you are looking at installing access-all facilities.
Q. If you are marketing your glamping site as an activity holiday, do all the activities have to be on-site?
Not necessarily. Many of the clients I work with have a skill, hobby or profession which they are able to share with their guests on site, however it can also be beneficial to collaborate with a third party activity provider to offer visitors even more.
It’s worth noting that to offer tourism packages you would have to have a special operator’s license, however there is nothing stopping you working with local companies to pass business their way. If you’re able to establish a commission-based relationship with them, then even better.