Knowledge Base

When starting (or expanding) your glamping business, there are some key questions
you will need to ask yourself.

Glamping Definitions

GLAMPING

“a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping”.

"glamping is likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature without foregoing any of life's luxuries".

New Starters

Marketing and Research

YOU WILL NEED TO HAVE:
the right product available, at the right price, and
Use the right promotion to attract the right people…
REMEMBER

You’ll need to offer a solution that your customers want to use and for which they are willing to pay good money. The path is harder if you put in a solution, which you “think” sounds great but which does not tick the customers’ boxes… To use a sales analogy, you should offer what you can sell NOT try to sell what you can offer.

Planning

You will certainly need to apply for (or revisit) planning permission for “Change of Use” of the land. In the UK it is a legal obligation to obtain land use consent. This is carried out via the planning department of your local council, also drawing on regulations set by The Environment Agency and your regional water authority.

Planning can be a complex affair where it might be wise to enlist the help of your own solicitor. Their advice will be to make sure you have planning permission in place before you go ahead: don’t commit precious funds to a venture for which you cannot subsequently gain planning permission.

Depending on your choice of glamping product, on the premise that where people are staying in accommodation they will generate grey and black waste, you will need to handle and control that waste in some manner.

As a general guideline, if you are going to create any hole in the ground for a new building or to accept a waste tank (for example) you will always need planning permission. But don’t just take our word for it: always consult with your local planning office as interpretations and permissions may vary regionally.

Some glamping products may be interpreted by planning officers as fixed buildings; some may be seen as temporary structures:

e.g. A £15,000 glamping hut installed over a septic tank will be treated differently - from a planning perspective - from a £5,000 movable shepherd’s hut using a movable waste tank.

Budget

There is a vast range of glamping products you might offer your future customers: from teepee to shepherd’s hut, from wooden log cabin to tree house etc. Whichever of these products you choose, they all come at varying prices to buy and install, with a resultant effect on revenue, running costs, cash flow and return on investment.

Some products will require a relatively modest investment; some may be eye-wateringly expensive.  Even modestly-priced products will not yield a decent return if you can’t attract (enough) customers or - for example - your nearest neighbour offers the same product. It’s vital to make sure you have a product offering that customers will use. Offer what you can sell and carry out good marketing all the way through.

Logistics

Keep in the back of your mind that the location you would like to use may not ultimately be the location for which you are granted planning permission. You may need to change your plans if, for example, your fishing holiday-themed glamping idea does not get planning permission to be located on your river bank…will it ultimately attract the customers you want?

The location you have outlined may not be suitable for every glamping product in terms of delivery, installation, connection of water and waste supplies and accessibility for ongoing maintenance.

e.g. a large septic tank is a bulky item to deliver, may require specialist equipment to offload, requires a large hole to be dug for installation, requires sufficient drainage capacity within the ground for grey water to run away (subject to the necessary planning permission, of course) and will require yearly access (typically) for the septic tank emptying vehicle when the solid matter needs to be removed.

So, on this matter alone (and other challenges may arise):

Can the delivery vehicle get to and from the intended site?
Is the ground solid enough to accept a large waste tanker and can it get to within 50 feet to allow its hose to reach the waste tank?
If it’s wet, can the waste tanker get to and from the site without being stranded or bogged down?

Planning

Via your planning office, you may need to consult The Environment Agency to determine how waste is handled and what measures / solutions / controls you must
put in place.

Logistics and Groundwork

If you’re not an expert, it may be advisable and necessary to consult builders and/or structural engineers on groundworks and drainage.

Know your Customers, Select your Product

On the basis of the well-known quote (US poet, John Lydgate)

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

You should recognise that there will be differing motivations from customers wanting to go glamping and you will not be able to satisfy every need.

On the one hand...

…some customers may want a totally “off grid” experience in a shepherd’s hut or teepee with no Wi-Fi, no disturbance, simple composting toilets…

and, at the other end of the spectrum…
  
…some customers may be prepared to spend £1,000 a week for your amazing view, the luxury log cabin with wood burner, Wi-Fi, hot and cold running water with toilets “just like home”, farm activities for the kids etc.

So, as you won’t be able to offer a solution for every potential customer, and as there will be other external factors to consider, such as planning permission, it will be a question of deciding your offering based on your research. You can only make money by having the products people want to use, at the right price…a glamping hut isn’t going to work in a city centre, and a 5-star hotel isn’t going to work in the middle of your wood.

To recap, in no particular order, whether new to the business or experienced, your preparation should include:

For new glamping businesses
Marketing Research
Identify your customer
Research your competition: copy or be different?
Set your Budget
Select your products - based on your customer
Make sure products can be readily installed and serviced
Work out potential revenue
Work out funding and cash flow
Planning
Contact local planning - apply for permission
Only proceed when you have planning permission!
Marketing Communications
Website, leaflets, 3rd party letting agent, existing connections
For existing glampingbusinesses
Marketing Research
Research new customers
Research your competition: copy or be different?
Set your Budget
Select your products - expand existing or differentiate?
Make sure products can be readily installed and serviced
Work out potential revenue
Work out funding and cash flow
Planning
Contact local planning - amend permission if necessary
Only proceed when you have planning permission!
Marketing Communications
Website, leaflets, 3rd party letting agent, existing connections

Key Trivia / Facts

GLAMPING
In a domestic environment, it is calculated that we each use 200 litres of water per day
Recent legislation for new build and/or sustainable homes has the aim to reduce water usage to 150 litres per person per day. A long-term aim is to make a further step to 80 litres per person per day. This will be achieved by using shallower baths, restricting shower flow rates, reducing cistern flush volumes, percussion taps etc.
CONSIDER:
Taking a standard bath will typically “use” 110 litres
A power shower may use up to 12 litres per minute over an average of 5 minutes. Each shower “event” will therefore use up to 60 litres
An electric shower generally has a lower flow rate, especially at higher temperatures, and may use up to 8½ litres per minute. Each shower “event” will use up to 42½ litres
A typical toilet flush with the twin button system uses between 4-6 litres per “visit”. Calculate between 6-8 visits per day (i.e. up to 48 litres of water per day).
For well-hydrated people, up to 10 visits per day is not unusual (i.e. up to 60 litres of water per day)
For people on medication using diuretics, toilet frequency will increase
Intake of caffeine and/or alcohol, mild diuretics, will lead to an increase in urine output. Although caffeine is a mild diuretic only leading to a short-term increase, alcohol reduces the production of the hormone vasopressin, which normally tells your kidneys to reabsorb water rather than flush it out through the bladder. With the body's natural signal switched off, the bladder is free to fill with fluid
Allow for hot weather conditions, which lead to increased fluid intake levels with corresponding increased “visits” to the toilet
Consider that the glamping environment is NOT quite the same as the domestic household, yet a surprising amount of water may be used and waste created

Guide to Sewage Treatment

Building regulations require foul drainage to be connected to a public sewer or where this is not practicable to one of the following;

1.  Cesspool
2.  Septic Tank
3.  Package Sewage Treatment Plant

The above options all have advantages and disadvantages. In order to decide which option is most appropriate to meet your requirements please study the following information.

Cesspools

WHAT IS A CESSPOOL?
A cesspool is a sewage holding tank with no outlet
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Sewage flows in and is stored. When the tank is full the waste is tankered away
SITE SUITABILITY
Sites where the ground is unsuitable for the waste to soakaway to ground
Sensitive sites e.g. SSSI’s and sites close to drinking water supplies
ADVANTAGES
Low installation and maintenance cost
DISADVANTAGES
No treatment of sewage
Require regular emptying

Septic Tanks

WHAT IS A SEPTIC TANK?
A multi-chambered tank with an outlet
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Primary tanks facilitate primary treatment to take place (the separation of liquids and solids by gravity). Sewage flows into the tank and the heavy solids ‘sludge’ sink to the bottom, lighter solids, grease and oils or ‘scum’ float to the surface. Some of the sludge is degraded by naturally occurring anaerobic (without oxygen) bacteria. The liquid effluent flows via gravity out of the tank and discharges to land by soakaway

Please note that some older septic tanks still discharge directly to watercourses. However this practice is becoming less common due to more stringent consent standards. See below regarding Consent to Discharge.

SITE SUITABILITY
Single domestic house or small developments
Where there is sufficient porosity in the ground to allow for soakaway (ground porosity determined via percolation tests)
ADVANTAGES
Relatively low installation cost
Some treatment
DISADVANTAGES
Require emptying on an annual basis
Can only discharge where ground has sufficient porosity

Package Sewage Treatment Plant

WHAT IS A TREATMENT PLANT?
A treatment plant is a more sophisticated unit than a septic tank. There are different types of package sewage treatment plant but they all generally follow the same principles
HOW DOES A TREATMENT PLANT WORK?
Package sewage treatment plants create an environment which facilitates the growth of bacteria, which break down sewage into non-polluting end products. Treatment plants differ from septic tanks as not only does primary treatment take place but also secondary treatment. This requires an electricity supply which is used to artificially introduce air to the treatment plant; it is this oxygen transfer through the sewage which enables the growth of aerobic bacteria which are more effective in the breakdown of sewage than the bacteria present in a septic tank. This results in a higher quality effluent being produced, which can (subject to Environment Agency Consent to Discharge) be discharged directly to a watercourse
SITE SUITABILITY
Package sewage treatment plants are suitable for most sites from single domestic house up to 1000pe
Subject to Environment Agency or SEPA, i.e. whether they will grant you consent to discharge to land or to watercourse
ADVANTAGES
Sewage treated to higher standard
Suitable for larger developments
DISADVANTAGES
Require electricity supply
Require regular maintenance to ensure efficient operation

Consent to Discharge

WHAT IS A 'CONSENT TO DISCHAGRE'?
It is in effect a licence which allows you to discharge treated sewage subject to consent limits to either ground or surface water
Do I need to apply for a ‘Consent to Discharge’?
If you intend to discharge anything other than clean, uncontaminated surface water to surface waters or groundwater you need to obtain a discharge consent from your Environmental Regulator. Failure to do so may result in enforcement action by your Environmental Regulator
How do I apply?
To apply for a consent to discharge it is advisable to contact your local Environment Agency or SEPA office, who will give you an indication as to what level of treatment is required. This will help you form the decision as to what treatment system is suitable for your site. You will then have to complete a ‘Consent to Discharge Application Form’ and pay an application fee, the amount of fee is dependent upon the amount of sewage you propose to discharge

Please note that completion of an application form and payment of fee does constitute permission to discharge.

What is a consent limit?
The Environment Agency and SEPA specify that a discharge has to meet certain discharge standards or consent limits. These are either ‘descriptive’ or ‘numeric’. A descriptive consent limit means that as long as the effluent looks clear and doesn’t appear to have a detrimental effect on the environment then it is clear enough to discharge

A numeric consent limit is where the EA or SEPA will specify figures in milligrams per litres for the following parameters:

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
Suspended Solids (SS)
Ammonia (NH3) permitted in the discharge effluent

Installation

Who do we have to talk to?

All installation procedures should be carried out observing the requirements of the relevant legislation. The two bodies who must be contacted are:

the local authority building control and
the Environment Agency (as previously mentioned)

These regulatory institutions will give guidance as to where a treatment plant and discharge point or soakaway can be situated.

Do we need planning Permission?
At the discretion of the local authority, in some areas of the country a treatment plant may need planning permission. If the plant is being installed as part of a new build project then permission should be part of the main approval. However, it should be noted that on many planning approval documents a phrase which is quite common in the conditions is ‘subsequent to EA/SEPA approval’. This means that a response is required from the EA before your project has full planning permission
Who should install the system?
The installation should be carried out by suitably trained and qualified personnel. Normal safety precautions must be taken and appropriate procedures observed to avoid accidents. Specialist advice is required when installing in an area with adverse ground conditions e.g. rock, running sand, high water table. Installation close to trees and shrubs is not recommended

Case Studies

CAMPING & CARAVAN CLUB 3-DAY EVENT
AUGUST 2016
1500 caravan: 6000 people

Created 42,000 litres per day of Elsan® / chemical toilet waste with no mains water flushing involved. At 7 litres per person this was highly concentrated waste, heavily perfumed with Elsan® Blue toilet chemical. Peak emptying of chemical toilets was after breakfast. Shower, washing and kitchen “grey” water was handled separately.

Glampsan Blog

Share, Inspire, Innovate

We hope to keep you informed of any interesting news and new developments within Glampsan.

Top-tips to set up an off-grid glamping site
Glamping
May 17, 2019
Top-tips to set up an off-grid glamping site

In 2020, it seems that back to basics - type off-grid glamping is very popular. So what options are there to deal with effluent waste?

How the new Septic Tanks rules apply to you
Glamping
May 17, 2019
How the new Septic Tanks rules apply to you

New regulations are now in force regarding Septic Tanks. This blog describes what these changes are and how significant they may be for you.