setting up a glamping business

How to Start a Glamping Business (Free Business Plan Template)

The variety of vacation rentals on offer has majorly increased over the past few years. Nowadays, accommodations aim to offer a unique experience adapted to each traveler. Likewise, travelers can choose places to stay based on their personal interests and taste. Whether it’s a studio apartment, a luxury villa or a simple family house, there is something for everyone.


And lately, a new travel trend has emerged that offers a huge business opportunity for vacation rental owners: glamping.

What is glamping?

“Glamping” is, quite literally, the combination of the words “glamour” and “camping” merged together. As far as concept is concerned, it’s a mix of the usual camping and luxury travel. Imagine the thought of being surrounded by nature and tranquility, complete relaxation within the comfort of luxury accommodation – comfortable beds, flat-screen TV, built-in kitchen with an electric oven, AC, bathtub and sauna. Doesn’t sound bad, does it? And as a business owner, it’s even better.

glamping vacation rental

Glamping is not necessarily a new phenomenon but its popularity has skyrocketed. As travelers continue to seek out new and authentic experiences for their vacation, the rise of such unconventional vacation rentals carries on without showing any signs of slowing down.

What is a glamper?

Glampers are how you’ll describe your guests. These travelers are looking for the authenticity of going off the grid without having to sacrifice the comforts of a standard vacation rental. You’ll have to appeal to your target audience by highlighting both elements of outdoors and luxury.

Glamping is a particularly niche market, so to fully profit off your glamping site, you’ll need to understand who intends to stay at your property. Making your stay experiential, aesthetically pleasing, and including all the amenities your guests seek.

Is Glamping Profitable?

If you’re going to start any kind of vacation rental business, you want to ensure that it will be a good investment. The sound of putting money into anything trendy can sometimes make buyers concerned and rightfully so. Trends come and go and can feel like an uncertain investment.

Fortunately, glamping’s popularity isn’t so fleeting. Since its rise to fame in the late 2000s, glamping has increasingly become a travel trend that’s here to stay. It’s widely popular amongst younger generations, who make up a large portion of the general vacationing population.

Glamping tackles a number of groups, which helps to support the argument for investment. Beyond Millenials and Gen-Z, families have taken to glamping. Because glamping provides the quality time that many families seek without some of the hardships that would complicate a vacation spent with kids. People love it! It’s a great way to go explore the outdoors, put the phones down, and still enjoy the amenities of a regular stay.

Covering an array of travelers rather than a niche, glamping is worth the investment. It also is an enticing stay for guests to visit for future trips. Many travelers have horror stories about camping gone wrong, whether it was a rain-soaked tent or showerless dread, a lot of people choose not to go camping again because of the hassle. Glamping takes care of all of that! With such a high appeal, glamping is undoubtedly profitable.

Types of glamping

There is a wide range of glamping accommodations and, normally, these vary depending on geographical location, characteristics or tradition. In the US, the typical areas to “glamp” are the woods, beaches and deserts. Depending on space and demand, you’ll find there are many options for your glamping campsite. We’ve put together 8 different examples so you can see just how much they differ.

1. Yurts

Yurts are considered to be one of the most popular options when it comes to glamping. They are circular tents made from wooden beams and animal skin or fabric walls, originating from Mongolia. Yurts are typically used in the countryside and at some festivals.

luxury yurt

They’ve grown in popularity thanks to their accessibility and wellness travel vibe. Glamping in a yurt has all the appeal of nature with the ability to add amenities like air conditioning and electricity.

2. Treehouses

Unsurprisingly, treehouses are made from wood and are normally built within a tree – making use of its organic architecture – or placed in the woods. Perfect for guests who want a peaceful stay in nature.

The options are endless with treehouses. If you build expansions or multiple units, you can expect higher profits by marketing your property to families or larger groups.

3. Tiny houses

Tiny houses are one of the most eco-friendly options, as they are designed to take up the minimum amount of space and also minimize resources while polluting less. In addition, many are built with ecological materials.

Typically, vacation rental owners who manage tiny homes have more than one unit on a larger plot of land. Managing many properties comes with its own complexities, but you can turn a high profit with the right tiny house management software and planning.

4. Train carriages

Adapted train carriages can be a very original option for glamping. They’re simply old train carriages that have been remodeled for use as vacation rentals. You can even go super vintage by renovating a carriage from the 50s. Travelers will love the uniqueness while you can save money with this upcycled accommodation. 

5. Tipis and tents

Tipis are the traditional Native American tents, but the modern version is built from cotton fabric and wooden beams. These triangular-shaped tents are used around campsites, which are fastened with beams and ropes (also known as safari tents).

luxury camping

Tipis and tents are much like yurts but simplified. With that in mind, you may have to offer your amenities outside of the accommodation. Having a bathhouse, spa unit, or portable air conditioning will make this stay more comfortable for your glamping guests.

6. Caravans

For retro fans, the versatility of caravans makes them perfect for a vacation rental stay. They are a great way to disconnect in the countryside without leaving all the creature comforts behind. Additionally, guests can enjoy the exterior just as much as the interior by including some outdoor furniture.

glamping business model

7. Bubble Domes

A bubble dome is a transparent pod where guests can enjoy the open air, sunsets and sunrises, while at one with nature. These can be quite popular in places with open, starry night skies!

8. Caves

In certain geographic regions, you can find houses that have been built into underground caves or the side of a dry hill, making for a truly unique vacation experience. This takes off-the-grid to a new level.

Before making this investment make sure it’s possible that this stay can be turned into a glamping site versus a rugged camping experience. Sometimes it can be difficult and costly to wire electricity or install plumbing into these types of landscapes.

Why should you start a glamping business?

According to research by Arizton, the glamping market in the US is expected to reach a revenue of around $1 billion by 2024. Modern yurts and luxury treehouses are among the most likely to boost revenue. As the glamping trend continues to rise, there are vast areas in the US where glamping can easily be set up. Have a look at the reasons why you should start a business in glamping.

1. Glamping is for everyone

For many property owners, glamping has already been a profitable business, as it opens doors to a whole new group of travelers – those who have never been camping and those who want to enjoy nature. And, of course, those who want to experience a luxury holiday while still sticking to a tight budget.

Many people are put off by the idea of traditional camping: the cold, mosquitoes, no running water, no access to fresh food etc. However, glamping is a completely different ball game. Glamping is for travelers who want to experience pure nature without setting up a tent.

This type of accommodation offers privacy, a first-hand experience with nature and can be an affordable yet luxury option. Campsites aren’t for everyone, but glamping is. It can be appealing for families (fun outdoor activities), for groups of friends (such as music festivals), and for couples (many choose this option for their honeymoon!).

2. Eco-friendly and luxurious

As both luxury and eco-friendly tourism trends are surging, imagine the attraction of the two merged together. While glamping is associated with nature, environmental movements can be implemented within outdoor accommodation, such as installing solar panels or using wind power in your glamping housing.

starting a glamping business

But don’t think that just having a beautiful landscape is enough. After the glamping boom, guests have very high expectations. But, don’t be scared off. The profits of this type of business will give you a margin to invest part of the budget purely in the guest experience. As a result, you won’t have any problems when it comes to getting good reviews from the travelers who pass through your accommodation. 

As well as providing the most basic amenities, some vacation rental owners offer picnic baskets or discounts for activities in their welcome pack.

3. Perfect for selling the experience

When promoting a vacation rental, it’s vital you sell the whole experience. As a vacation rental owner in the glamping industry, it’s particularly easy. Glamping is an experience in itself – the only thing you have to do is to make sure your property stands out from your competitors. Think of ways your future guests can get the most out of nature in your area, such as a treehouse or a bubble pod to admire the starry sky.

glamping business

Many vacation rentals even offer more exclusive extras, for example, massages, yoga classes, a rustic breakfast that is sent up to the treehouse using a basket, lake excursions for swimming, visits to organic farms or animal sanctuaries, etc.

4. Lower investment and higher profits

The initial investment for glamping housing isn’t as high as buying a house and having to take a mortgage out. Rather, it is actually a lot cheaper to build, manage and run, therefore the profit should be higher and you should get your return on investment in a shorter amount of time.

The key is to get your glamping vacation rental out on the market. Know how to target your vacation rental to certain types of travelers, such as fitness and wellness travelers and millennials. Be aware of SEO hacks to ensure that when guests are looking to go glamping, they will be able to find your vacation rental straight away.

Today, glamping is considered a profitable business, and can be managed in the same way as any other type of holiday rental. It can be advertised on the same listing sites, and also have its own website.

With fall approaching, now is the best time to start developing a business idea for glamping, so it will be ready for winter peak-season.

5. Safe get away from the big cities

As the urban population continues to grow, the need for city escapes parallels this trend. With that said, city dwellers might not be ready to give up all their comforts just yet! Glamping offers a lovely middle ground between wilderness and luxury.

Because the draw to break out of the bustling city is so strong, the price tag of a glamping experience tends to be inflated, which is great news as a business owner. By properly marketing your glamping stay, you can attract urbanites with ease and at a higher nightly rate than a typical vacation rental.

How to open a glamping business

The great news is that it’s relatively easy to open a glamping business considering the lower start-up cost and the minimal build time, but a successful glamping business still needs some strategizing. Glampers have a good radar for what makes a glamping site different from a typical campsite, so you have to thoughtfully plan out your short-term rental business if you’re going to convince your potential guests.

Create a glamping business plan

Would you undergo any major investment without a structured idea of where you’re headed? Of course not! Glamping is no exception. Many vacation rental owners are wrongly misled to believe it’s too easy to own a glamping business. While it can be a lower commitment, planning is still imperative. 

glamping business plan

A good example of a glamping business plan would include a company & industry analysis, an operations plan, and revenue management, at a minimum. Still not sure how to write your glamping business plan? We’ve got you covered with our vacation rental business plan template.

Business loans for glamping

It’s not a plot of land and it’s certainly not a hotel, so what is it? In the eyes of lenders, glamping can be hard to categorize. It’s important to find the right loan for your glamping endeavor to avoid any excessively high interest rates or extended timelines for paying it back. Read up on all the tips for financing so you don’t end up paying more than you have to.

Your own bank

This might be your best option if you have a good relationship with your bank and have had other successful investment ventures carried out by a local bank in the past. Good rapport goes a long way with lending as most lenders are seeking reliable borrowers.

Local banks and credit unions have it in their best interest to lend to their local residents, so see what options they could offer you. Also, you give back to your community and stimulate the local economy -win!

Secured loans

If you already have other assets you could put on the line to prove as a “security” to get a loan then this might be a good option. This is especially beneficial for vacation rental owners who already have other properties. Your existing asset might help you secure a good loan.

Start-up loans

Due to its unconventional nature, some lenders don’t view a glamping business as a property investment so much as a start-up business. In some cases, you can secure a loan under the “start-up” category with better terms and conditions than a property loan may offer you.

Building a glamping site

Your construction is going to vary depending on a number of factors. No two glamping businesses are created equal and nor should they be! Glamping is acclaimed for its uniqueness, so each build is going to be entirely different. Still, there are some factors to consider regardless of how you decide to create your glamping business.

Business loans for glamping

Permits

Remember when we mentioned glamping in caves? It’s as cool as it sounds, but many sites like these can be heavily safeguarded by governing authorities. Protected land and building permits can make the construction of a “glampsite” difficult.

Be on the lookout for land with an easements clause. Essentially, this means that certain parameters over your property (like road access, a septic system, or hooking up to an electrical grid) would require additional access outside of your property, like a private road on your neighbor’s land. You could find yourself purchasing land that can’t be converted into a glamping site if you’re not careful. 

Zoning restrictions

Zoning laws are great for when you don’t want a busy highway at your doorstep, but it’s less than ideal when you’re trying to start a vacation rental business. There are many zoning regulations, especially for highly touristic areas, that would prevent you from building your glamping business on some plots of land.

If you’re using a realtor or real estate site, make sure you’re filtering out zoning options that wouldn’t allow a glamping site to be built.

Purpose

If you’re dead set on owning a tipi glamping business then you should only consider land that would be feasible for this type of accommodation. The same is true for any other type of glamping stay. If you want to offer bubble domes then a plot of land with heavy light pollution and limited visibility might not be your best option.

If you’re still undecided on what type of glamping accommodation you’ll offer, keep it general with the land you buy. If it’s difficult terrain to build on, limited access to the main road, or not suitable for installing a septic or well system then think again! The more difficult your land is to make it habitable, the longer construction time you’ll have.

Market your glamping vacation rentals

What makes glamping so attractive? The sense of escape, the lure of luxury, and the breathtaking views…now you just have to sell it! Glamping is easy to market thanks to its built-in beauty, widespread popularity, and newness. All that’s left for you, the glamping business owner, is to market it.

Marketing for Glamping

Glamping is all the rage amongst young people. Thirty percent of U.S. travelers have gone glamping within the last two years, and of that thirty percent a large chunk has been from Millenials. Good marketing captures the right audience. Know who you’re selling to and create an online marketing plan that caters to your crowd.

Use a glamping management software

If you’ve overcome the hurdles of building a glamping campsite, stuck to your business plan, and marketed to potential guests then now is your time to reap the rewards and rake in all those reservations!

It can become overwhelming to manage reservations, set up a booking calendar, list on multiple sites, and run your business. Lodgify’s glamping management software carries the burden for you by providing all the property management tools necessary for running your glamping business. Whether you’re working with one yurt or twenty tiny homes, you’ll need the right tools for your day-to-day business operations.

What are the glamping regulations in the United States?

Beyond the zoning and building regulations we covered in the previous section, some parts of the country have been explicit about glamping builds. In most cases, if you’re buying raw land, you’ll have to get approval for the “change of use” as it will go from woodland to a business or rental property, depending on local law.

glamping pod building regulations

It’s important to consult with your state and local authorities to understand the specifics. Some land is off-limits for glamping whether it’s protected, zoned differently, or federally recognized aboriginal land.

Outside of the U.S.

Zoning and building laws can drastically vary from country to country. For example, in the Netherlands, you don’t need a building permit for glamping as it’s not considered a “permanent build,” but in the UK you would need a permit for glamping. Always check your local laws to avoid any future fines, penalties, or legal troubles.

Download our free glamping business plan

Now that you are aware of the rising fame of the glamping industry, you can start getting creative and launch your own glamping vacation rental! Owning a glamping business can be both exciting and challenging, but overall worth it. Whether you’re still considering it or in the process of building your own glamping tents, you won’t regret the decision to take the leap and start a glamping campsite!

Don’t forget to download our free glamping business plan to get started right away. Let your imagination and “glampsite” run wild!


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