In the past three years ‘glamping’, a portmanteau of ‘glamorous camping’, has really taken off in the UK and despite the poor May Bank Holiday weather, the phenomenon does not look like it is going to stop anytime soon.
With traditional companies such as Haven Holidays having just launched a mass market glamping inspired proposition which apes the more innovative and authentic independent operators, the future of glamping looks secure, which is great news for the blossoming British Staycation industry.
It is not too late to jump on the glamping bandwagon but businesses need to be savvy to ensure long term returns. At Maya Asset Management we have had extensive experience working in the glamping sector and helping campsites to make the most of the glamping phenomenon. Here are our top five tips for understanding and participating in the glamping trend:
Go beyond accommodation
Glamping is evolving and is now not just about the accommodation type or facilities. It has come to mean a type of experience and attitude which is what differentiates it from traditional campsites. The dictionary definition is ‘a form of camping in which participants enjoy physical comforts, associated with more luxurious types of holiday’ (World English Dictionary).
Pictures of evocative tree houses or picturesque yurts have been gracing the pages of the quality newspapers and redtops alike for more than a couple of years now. They are a favourite of glossy and travel magazines, so it is important that you keep on top of the trend and evolve with it.
The glamping game has evolved and you can no longer achieve maximum returns by sticking up a few bell tents
As Canopy & Stars, a glamping operator puts it: "For us, glamping, luxury camping, whatever you call it, is about more than just staying in a yurt, or a log cabin or anything in between.
"Glamping is now about a completely different way of going on holiday. It’s about everything from hiking to hammocking; from seclusion and romantic escapes, to family outings and merry chaos."
When entering the glamping game you need to be aware that it has moved on. It has evolved and you can no longer achieve maximum returns by sticking up a few bell tents. As glamping has become less about the accommodation type and more about the experience, the service and excitement needs to be reflected in the experience proposition.
Plan for an enduring proposition
At Maya, we are sometimes asked by clients who are anxious of investing in infrastructure, whether glamping is a fad which will pass. Considering the spike in interest after glamping was seen on TOWIE and enjoyed by Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, it is easy to understand the concern, especially in a year where the Olympics are somewhat artificially raising demand.
However, glamping is a growing trend all over the world in which the historical view of roughing it without modern amenities is being reconceptualised thanks to the new ‘glamping’ phenomenon.
Businesses need to accept that glamping is here to stay. It is the perfect answer for those ‘too posh to pitch’. Pods, domes, bell tents, tipis, yurts and wigwams might sound a far cry from tents and caravans, but they represent the new style of 21st century camping.
For many, gone are the days of leaky tents and cooking on a tiny stove outside in the rain – today’s glamorous camping, is on a much more sophisticated level. You can sleep in a four-poster bed in Yorkshire, a restored gypsy caravan in Dorset, or a retro VW campervan in the Lake District. This has had a significant impact on the appeal of camping for families and adult groups as well as couples.
Camping in the UK has always been a popular holiday options but the new trend of ‘glamping’ has widened appeal and savvy businesses will capitalise on this.
Offerings now combine natural surroundings in the great outdoors with creature comforts such as bed linen, en suite bathroom facilities, food deliveries, wood burning stove, or some quirky extras such as stone pizza ovens or personal chefs’ on-site.
This combination presents an enduring appeal to those wishing to escape without the focus on survival skills. At Maya we see such developments as a game changer, which will lead not only to the increase in a standard of facilities as has been seen in the continent, but also to the opening up of the countryside in a way many would never have experienced before.
Glamping will continue to tap into eco-tourism as consumer conscience continues to grow. Eco-tourism involves visitors making every effort to limit the impact of their trip on their environment as well as seeking out environmental, cultural and scientific highlights.
Glamping involves visitors staying in environmentally friendly accommodation such as yurts, tipis and safari tents. Choices range from luxurious Mongolian yurts set up in the Swiss Alps to lavish tree houses floating in the jungle Canopy & Stars of Cambodia.
There are now countless sustainable travel options that can accommodate glamping desires. Eco-retreats around the globe boast such amenities as solar-heated showers, wood-burning stoves, compost toilets, organic gardens and much more. Glamping is being positioned as ‘comfortable eco-tourism’.
Improvement is imperative
There is still a place in the market for wild camping, and it would be a tragedy if the ability to leave behind the daily routine, escape into nature and learn survival skills was to dwindle. Therefore good sites with a traditional camping customer base should think carefully before making the move to glamping as this could destroy the chances of an authentic camping experience.
However, this should be a choice rather than an excuse for a substandard campsite with no investment or consideration of changing market trends.
Know your customers
As discussed in point one, the Glamping experience needs to be more than just a bed for the night.
To help encapsulate that and develop the experience further, campsites need to work out how to make the best out of the glamping phenomenon, which includes ensuring that each glampsite decides the suitable level of comfort to provide to its guests based on the setting, the designer’s vision, and the appropriate target consumer.
This insight is invaluable; franchises such as Featherdown Farms have built a strong and consistent identity of their farm based experience by targeting it to the consumer. Its sister company Country House Hideout have gone for a historic buildings theme and are often booked out a year in advance for peak periods, showing the rewards that can be gained from a solid glamping proposition.
Online booking sites such as Glamping hub, Go glamping, and Canopy and Stars show the ‘wow’ factor that can be created from a well executed development.
However, as their listed sites increase, enduring standout will only be achieved through the successful matching of promise and experience.
Consumers’ expectations of the term ‘glamping’ are high, and so must be met in order to ensure repeat business and referrals. Ultimately this will determine whether the ‘glam’ is more than a ‘sham’.