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Glamorous camping, or glamping, can be traced back to ancient Turkish ottomans that served as mobile palaces. In more recent history, it has taken England by storm and is quickly becoming popular within the United States. Although there aren’t any official statistics for glamping in the U.S., industry insiders have seen a big increase in demand recently.
For entrepreneurs act, this demand represents an exciting opportunity. Glamping.com lists only 183 glamping sites within the U.S., which leaves plenty of space for new glamping businesses.
Who is this business right for?
People who enjoy connecting with others and being outdoors may enjoy running a glamping business. Interpersonal skills are necessary because much of the business involves making guests feel welcome. A passion for the outdoors is helpful, for glamping is largely about connecting with nature.
A glamping business may be started as a part-time endeavor alongside another business, especially if the other business has unused land. Farmers and current campground owners, for example, might have land that can be converted into a glamping space.
What happens during a typical day at a glamping business?
Most activity at a glamping business focuses on making guests happy. This involves:
- responding to inquiries from prospective guests
- welcoming new guests
- checking in and recommending activities for current guests
- cleaning tents after guests leave
- helping guests in any other feasible way
These activities are only done during the glamping season. During the off-season, a glamping business may close for a vacation or due to weather. Where winter weather would damage tents, a business’ tents must be taken down at the end of the season and then put up once spring comes.
What is the target market?
The target market for glamping business is affluent individuals, families and couples who want to take a vacation. Many of these people are turning to staycations instead of or in addition to traditional vacations, and a glamping business is the perfect place to go on a staycation.
How does a glamping business make money?
A glamping business makes money by charging guests for use of a tent. Most glamping businesses have nightly and weekly rates, and they charge different rates for differently sized tents.
What is the growth potential for a glamping business?
While a glamping business theoretically could franchise and open new locations, almost all businesses operate just one location. The location may have just a couple of tents, or it might have lots of spaces for guests. Firelight Camps is an example of a typical glamping business that has one location.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful glamping business?
Jake Jewell recommends that glamping business owners have a background in hospitality generally and in holiday accomodations more particularly. Wigwam Holidays echoes this overall sentiment and explains why. Glamping business owners work lots of holidays and weekends, when other people are able to vacation. It’s the job of business owners to make their vacationing guests feel as welcome as possible, and people with backgrounds in hospitality know how to do that.
What are the costs involved in opening a glamping business?
The startup costs for a glamping business are significant, but they can be managed. The main expenses are purchasing land and tents.
To save on land costs, many business owners get into this work after they already own land. Hunting grounds, farming fields and coastal properties that are already owned are excellent and free locations. Business owners that don’t already have land should look at remote locations where property costs are normally lower.
Tents can cost tens of thousands of dollars each. FDomes’ smallest glamping tents start at €7,575 (~$9,350). Inspired Camping recommends larger tents that cost between £25,000 and £35,000 (~$34,600 to $48,600).
Business owners that don’t have this capital can start with simpler tents that feature fewer amenities. Wigwam even mentions that some business owners haven’t installed toilet facilities for guests at first, and instead let guests use the facilities in their own house. This obviously isn’t as luxurious as high-end glamping that comes with a private restroom and shower, but it is an affordable way to get started in the industry.
In cold climates, business owners also need storage facilities for their tents during winter. Storage is usually inexpensive, though.
What are the steps to start a glamping business?
Once you're ready to start your glamping business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your glamping business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your glamping business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a glamping business?
A glamping business’ layout must give guests plenty of space to enjoy an intimate and private experience close to nature. To do this, glamping sites must be larger than traditional camping sites. Making sites small in order to fit more sites on a property will hinder long-term success, because it will negatively affect each guest’s experience.
As a general rule, plan on setting aside at least a half-acre for each site. In high-demand areas, such as waterfront locations, a third of an acre may suffice. In places where there isn’t a major natural attraction, like in fields, a full acre is better.
How to promote & market a glamping business
Most of a glamping business’ marketing should be focused on building an online presence. The more a glamping business is featured on sites like Yelp, Airbnb, Booking.com, Glamping Hub, Cool Camping and others, the more people will see the business and consider scheduling a stay. Of course, a business should also have its own website.
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How to keep customers coming back
When developing an online presence, the importance of high-quality pictures can’t be understated. Businesses should have professional photos done, for these are what will capture potential guests’ attention.
How and when to build a team
Most glamping businesses start out with a partner or employee. Having two people who can see to guests’ needs helps ensure that guests will always be as happy as possible.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a glamping business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Certificate of Occupancy
A glamping business is generally run out of a large piece of land with designated spaces for each camp site. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a glamping business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your glamping business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
How much can you charge customers?
On Glamping.com, rates in the U.S. range from $50 to $3,000 per night. At the low end, sites are basic and include few amenities. At the high end, rates are for large lodges or extravagant tents. They also often include activities.
What are the ongoing expenses for a glamping business?
The ongoing expenses for a glamping business are minimal. They include property taxes, maintenance costs, employees’ wages and utilities, along with some other expenses.
How much profit can a glamping business make?
Because a glamping business can charge significant nightly rates and have low ongoing expenses, this type of business can earn a significant profit. Under Canvas, for instance, has an annual revenue of $8 million.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Glamping businesses often diversify their revenue by adding activities to bookings. These may be on-site activities or activities offered through other companies. On-site activities typically command an additional fee, while other companies' activities may result in a commission. Tours, outdoor activities and romantic events are all activities that people who go glamping may be interested in.