How to startup and grow a glamping business

DATE:
September 2, 2019
CATEGORY:
AUTHOR:

I've been doing some market research in the glamping sector for our own company, Glampsan. For example, while on holiday in the South West, I took advantage of visiting a few glamping businesses in that area.  I wanted to understand firsthand how people setup, then grow a glamping business. I've visited startups, sites that are maturing, as well as highly sophisticated glamping businesses.

Speaking to owners, it is clear that there is a lot of optimism in attracting a growing number of holidaymakers interested in a Glamping experience. For many complex reasons, many people are looking to holdiay in the UK rather than travelling abroad for their summer vacation.

This has created a demand for alternative holidays and hence glamping. There seems to be a growing appetite for more 'sustainable' experiences as well. And a common theme for startup glamping businesses seems to be making good investment of land they own too. For example, farmers with small-holdings may find it challenging to make ends meet with livestock. So by diversifying in glamping creates much-needed additional income. I have spoken too to families with land or a spare field doing the same.

Glamping setup examples

Many sites I visited were startups and were off-grid. That is no running water, no electricity, no en-suit toilet or shower facilities, and no WIFI either! For instance, one truly off-grid glamping business, run by a family,  had built a self-made wooden cabin and three Yurts in the field they owned. Interestingly, glampers on this site relied on a 'bucket and chuck it system' and a composting pit as their waste effluent solution. One other site used composting toilet cubical besides each glamping Yurt with no shower facilities.

Another startup was a totally off-grid National Trust site. They had a mixture of LandPods with solar power and Yurts in a field, complete with a couple of portaloos in one corner and again no showers.

One other working farm I visited had a fab shower and toilet block that glampers shared with caravanners.

Another, a working farm was a small-holding that had running water, electricity serving a mixture of different glamping units. Spread over two fields on this site were two shepherd's huts, one cabin and a large family-sized roundhouse tent. All these units each had an external cooking and toilet and shower station, log burners for heating and outside bathtub, come-Jacuzzi heated by a log burner. The waste solution was dealt with by buried septic tanks.

So, I learned from these visits alone that in practice, anyone with a field could startup a glamping enterprise with a nominal amount of capital, permissions and reasonable access. Also, I was heartened by the genuine openness and friendliness of many glamping business owners who are only too glad to help and support a growing business sector.

As a contrast to the above, a few other landowners had top of the range, and not wholly off-grid, sophisticated solutions. These had running hot and cold water, electricity via solar power and built-in or nearby toilets with septic effluent collection tanks underground. However, such businesses do require more substantial investments.

Setup Challenges

All the glamping business owners, I chatted to spoke frankly of the initial challenges setting up a new glamping business. These are wide-ranging. Typically, the main issues to come to terms with included, complying to Building Regulations, obtaining Planning Permission or Consent, and Licencing. These can seem daunting at first. However, they also cited these as most helpful too. Also, ignoring these would be a showstopper.

Other top challenges were supplying services for heat and potable water. But, top of the list was how to deal with effluent waste. Solutions adopted ranged from chemical-loos, composting toilets or pits, above ground effluent collection tanks, to underground septic tanks. None of the sites I visited had, as yet, invested in buried mini sewage treatment plants. All this might change in January 2020 however, when new rules come in force around disposing of effluent waste from septic tanks. It's undoubtedly a complex area.

However, that's where we at Glampsan come in. We supply a full range of waste sanitation solutions to meet all your effluent needs. What's more, we have a lot of expertise and experience to help you to get your head around these complexities.

Dealing with whiffy-waste

At Glampsan, in the first instance, we offer a straightforward solution to getting rid of whiffy-waste. We recommend to use plastic, durable, lightweight collection tanks. When they get full, a tanker supplier comes along and sucks out all the collected waste, disposing of it at the nearest convenient sewage treatment facility. We think this is a neat solution for many glamping startup businesses. It's cost-effective too. We make a range of Flat Tanks starting at 160-gallons to 500-750-1000-gallons. These can fit snuggly under many glamping units such as Shepherds Huts, Pods, Log Cabins etc. or nearby for other types such as Treehouses or, Yurts for example. They are not a solution for every business however.

Shapherd Hut Infographic showing our Flat Tanks that fit snuggly underneath the unit

Sometimes a more sophisticated solution may be required. And we offer these too. Like lifting pumps that take waste to a higher collection point. Alternatively, composting toilets offer a potentially simple answer too. But, from my research, compost loos are certainly not for everyone.  

Longer-term, as your site matures and grows, then Septic Tanks (along with a complaint soak-away drainage solution) may be a more permanent solution. For some sites, progressing to a mini-sewage treatment plant might be the ultimate environmentally-friendly solution. However, these solutions do require a return on investment too and hence may be more suitable for expanding or ambitious sites.

Conclusions

So, as you can no doubt see, there are many different combinations of glamping startups, some more basic, others more sophisticated. My observations are that the choices of glamping setup are as varied as your imagination. I do suggest that you do your research. For instance, look at lots of websites. Contact people like ourselves and other glamp-site owners too. Also, do what I did, visit a few that are local, or that catch your eye. Moreover, contact your local planning authority - you will find it beneficial.

Go to this year's glamping show

Trade shows are a great source of information too. For example, if you're thinking about starting up a glamping business, you should seriously consider coming along to the Farming Business Innovation show, at the Birmingham NEC, on 6 and 7th November 2019. We have a Glampsan stand there too, so come and say hello.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Here's the link - http://www.farmbusinessshow.co.uk

And one more thing, we’re big on Social Media too

One of our passions is that we love using social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in quirky and fun ways to appeal to you rather than trawl through endless emails. And we have lots of fun with video too, to get our messages across to you.

So please look out for our posts and join in with our world-wide-rave and like and follow us back. Also, we'd love you to tell us, in the comments, what you think too people.

Have we told you that we believe we make (probably) the most awesome plastic sewage waste Flat Tanks in the universe? But, perhaps we’re biased!  

END

[1,175 words]

If you've got a spare moment, why not check out these blogs we wrote about glamping business startups.

Own some land and want to get into glamping

10 Top tips for setting up a glamping venue

Sincerely,

JT,

The Flat Tank Guy

0800 999 6010‍

https://www.glampsan.com (Part of Plastic Solutions based in Aldridge)

Photograph references

Three of the photo's used in the header photo were from Westland Farm Glamping (a fab site and lovely family feel) and the LandPod photo was taken at Hunters Inn, Trentishoe, National Trust Glamping Site

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