Do you own a lot of land that's perfect for a camping weekend? A Hipcamp location is much like starting an Airbnb service. The difference is, instead of renting out your home to those who wish to use it for a short time, you provide a private campsite that people can book through the Hipcamp website.
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Learn how to start your own Hipcamp Location and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a Hipcamp Location by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Hipcamp Location
- Form your Hipcamp Location into a Legal Entity
- Register your Hipcamp Location for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Hipcamp Location
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Hipcamp Location
- Get Hipcamp Location Insurance
- Define your Hipcamp Location Brand
- Create your Hipcamp Location Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your Hipcamp Location. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a Hipcamp Location?
If you long to open a Hipcamp business but do not own the land to do so, you will need to make that purchase (buying land in the ideal location for a Hipcamp location may include rural areas, forested areas, and other spaces that allow for RVs or other campsite setups. Aside from this, you do not have to spend a lot of money to get started. There is no hosting experience necessary, and you can set your own rules. You do not have to offer anything aside from the land itself.
What are the ongoing expenses for a Hipcamp Location?
There could be a few key expenses to keep in mind. First, there's the 10% fee that Hipcamp itself charges you that you'll pay out of every booking. Additionally there are some maintenance costs associated with the business if you are not going to do the work of cleaning up and maintaining the property yourself. It is also important to check with your local Chamber of Commerce to find out if you need any type of licensing to set up your business in the city. Local restrictions may apply. You may need permits to allow camping on your site.
Who is the target market?
Anyone that wants to spend some time outdoors could be a viable customer for you. That includes day-to-day campers, backpackers from a local trail looking for a place to spend some downtime, and glampers who want a bit more pampering. If you have the space, RV owners and trailer campers may also try to rent your property.
How does a Hipcamp Location make money?
Hipcamp businesses make money when someone books the space you own to use for a set number of days or nights. Landowners earn extra money by hosting those using the Hipcamp site to book overnight stays. It is also important to know that Hipcamp keeps 10% of the money charged to campers.
How much can you charge customers?
One of the nice things about Hipcamp is that there is a lot of flexibility here. Hipcamp business owners set the fees they want to charge to their customers. You'll need to consider the competition, features, amenities, and the location you are in to set the price for your space. Generally, tent sites charge $10 to $30 per night. If you have an RV site, you may be able to charge $20 to $40 per night. The average price for properties that have a structure on them, such as a yurt, treehouse, or cabin, is $75 per night.
How much profit can a Hipcamp Location make?
There are many, many factors that determine this, including your location, the amount of local tourism, and how well you market your business. There are some hosts making over $100,000 per year hosting campers. However, Hipcamp states that their average active hosts earn around $8,000 a year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Increasing profitability entails offering key features and a more unique service. Adding a cabin, showers, and fire rings, can increase profitability. Additionally, having RV hookups can also increase your business's value.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your Hipcamp Location is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: 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.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: 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.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: 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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a Hipcamp Location
You'll have your listing set up on the Hipcamp site – be sure to follow Hipcamp’s guidelines to ensure a smooth process. Good photos and keywords, such as words related to your location, can matter. Don't stop there. To grow your business and book more visitors, be sure to promote your business with friends and family, on social media, and even on local tourism websites. That'll help to keep you busy booming and help you get reviews.
How to keep customers coming back
Attracting and retaining customers is a bit tricky. Consider offering those who visit you a discount or a simple thank you note that may encourage them to come back in the future.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Hipcamp Location in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
If you live in an area where there are beautiful sunsets each night, a lake nearby, or a big open space, then this may be the ideal opportunity for you. Of course, you also have to love sharing your property with others!
Keep in mind that even Hipcamp says no experience necessary in order to start a business like this!
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a Hipcamp Location?
Those running a Hipcamp business spend most of their time finding people who want to use their location. While it takes some time to set up and get started, once your location is ready for guests, you can post your listing on the site and wait for someone to book it. There is generally not a lot to do every day, but you will have to check on your visitors if they need help and then arrange for or provide clean up services after they leave so the location is ready for the next person. Marketing and social media may also be tasks you need to complete.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Hipcamp Location?
If you love the outdoors and your dream vacation is spending time building a successful campsite, then a Hipcamp business could be a good option for you. You may want to have general knowledge about camping and be able to provide the necessary amenities needed to keep campers happy – such as having access to safe drinking water. Aside from this, if you own the land, you have the necessary skills to build a successful Hipcamp business (and the company provides a good level of guidance for setting up the business.)
What is the growth potential for a Hipcamp Location?
Being creative and offering a better product could increase what you earn as a Hipcamp business owner. Keep in mind that you may be limited by the amount of space you have or the restrictions in your area. Still, those who have access to nearby outdoor attractions and activities can find ways to add value to their products.
Take the Next Step
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.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a Hipcamp Location?
One of the best tips for those hoping to set up a Hipcamp location is to build a beautiful listing. This is what helps to sell the business – your listing. Use beautiful photos, demonstrate how the campsite can work for people, and provide a list of amenities located nearby to help your listing grow.
How and when to build a team
While you may want to have someone help you clean up after visitors stay, you don't need a team for a Hipcamp business.