Starting A Glamping Business - 5 Myths You Must Know!

Starting a glamping business or unique holiday rental comes with its own start-up formula and there are a key number of phases that every business owner will go through when planning and implementing their ideas and I include them here for those at the beginning of their startup journey.

I have supported thousands of owners in the decade-plus years I have been working in this industry but what I have started to notice is how a few of those outside the industry are trying to confuse new owners with myths and fake information to muddy the water. This is leading to mistakes being made and valuable time and resources being lost, so I thought I would highlight the 5 most damaging myths currently being circulated.

Myth #1 - You Need Your Own Land (No, You Don't!)

Acquiring the land needed to set up a glamping business can feel like an obstacle for many people. It may be difficult to find or afford suitable land or find the right style of property when looking for a house with some land. This applies to people all across the world and as land prices and budgets vary significantly, it can be a struggle where land is more restricted or expensive. 

However, it’s important to remember that you don’t need your own land to start up a glamping business - partnering with a landowner can work really well instead. 

Many landowners are interested in finding ways to diversify the use of their land and are keen on the idea of glamping and temporary sites as a way of generating an additional income stream for land management purposes.

Recent changes in the circumstances of landowners have created lots of opportunities for partnerships. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, many owners around the world of stately homes or multiple businesses who have seen a reduction in their income now want to increase by utilising their land in a different way. Similarly, in the UK, many farmers will be affected by changes in EU laws following Brexit, meaning they will no longer receive grants for their land and will therefore be looking to replace this income by managing their land differently. 

If you have long term plans to grow your business, an arrangement with a landowner with large amounts of unused space can also allow you to increase your offerings without the issues of planning permission or the cost of buying additional land. 

Myth #2 - You Need Lots of Money to Start (Not Necessarily!)

Although money is certainly required to start a glamping business, this expense is considerably lower in comparison to other accommodation businesses such as holiday cottages and hotels. A glamping business can be started on a shoestring if you think carefully about who you are working with, your initial partnerships and which glamping business model you choose (yes, there are more than just one business model). 

When you do need funds, there are several ways of raising this money. These can include traditional methods such as banks or investments from family, friends and business partners. Investors can also come from the wider investment community and big businesses in the USA, Europe and other parts of the world are now paying attention to glamping businesses as interesting places to invest in. For example, Under Canvas has attracted substantial investment from some of the largest businesses in the hospitality industry. 

However, there are alternative ways of raising money that are not as common but can be just as successful. 

One of these is crowdfunding. With a good campaign, crowdfunding can generate significant amounts of money. A great example of this is the Bubble Tent Hotel which raised £250,000 for their glamping hotel within 15 minutes of launching their crowdfunding campaign. 

Grants are another option. These are often available through local authorities or local business quangos that are linked to the government and the best way to find out what funds are available to you is by speaking to your local authority directly. They may have a designated person with knowledge of these grants who can give you information. If you have a business centre in your area, they will also be able to advise you or signpost you to the appropriate place. 

The key thing to remember is to ask for help if you need it and if you want to work with me then please get in touch

Myth #3 - Go Big or Go Home! (Not If You Want To Launch A Lifestyle Business)

There is a misconception that you need to have a big business in order to generate enough money to make it worthwhile. While this may be important for some people, going ‘big’ is not the dream for everybody. Keeping a business small and focusing on lifestyle means that it retains a more homely feel and allows for personal connections with guests. 

When starting a glamping business, as the size increases, the number of staff, legalities, rules and regulations also increase. When they go ‘big’, many business owners find themselves moving away from interacting with their guests on a personal level and instead spend time managing their teams and keeping the business operational. This can create a chaotic and tiring working environment that doesn’t fit with the tranquil, relaxed atmosphere that a business owner may have originally intended. This is also a consideration for business owners who live on-site and find that as the business grows, it begins to feel more like a workspace than their home.

Your business should reflect the lifestyle you want. It is perfectly possible to keep your business small and still be successful with the life you’ve always dreamt of. Finding clarity about what that is will be your step 1!

Myth #4 - It’s Hard to Know Where to Start (It's Simple... Start Here!)

The first step to setting up a business properly from the beginning is creating a good business plan. 

There are two elements to a business plan. One is the narrative, which includes who you are, what you want to achieve and research about the area and the industry. This can be helpful as it provides you with reassurance, information on your competitors and an understanding of any potential obstacles and opportunities. It also explains a lot about the heart and soul of your ideas to any potential investors.

The second is the financial element and this is the best place to start when creating your business plan. It’s important to look at your budget and assess whether the business model you are using will generate enough income to cover your salary and pay the bills. By going into the situation blind and not calculating this, you won’t know which parts you may need to change to ensure that you have the amount of income required. Changes may include tweaking your business model or phasing your plan over time. This part of a business plan is therefore a fantastic decision-making tool that can be used to make big, difficult decisions that we often get stuck on. 

The fact this will help you make difficult decisions you keep getting stuck on is the number 1 reason why having a glamping business plan will help you on the road to a successful launch. 

Other financial aspects of your business plan should include your initial set-up costs and also a monthly cash flow that shows your income and outgoings for each booking month, as this will change during the shoulder seasons and high season. This will give you a good picture of your finances throughout the year and allow you to have a contingency in place for quieter months, such as organising unique lifestyle retreats and events.

As well as enabling you to forecast the income you will generate at different times of the year and help you understand any gaps that exist, a business plan may also be required by permission authorities when seeking planning permission, zoning for glamping and permits, or by banks and investors when obtaining funds. 

Business planning can be viewed as daunting and time-consuming, so people often avoid doing it. However, not only is it vital it can also be really exciting to do. All you need are the right glamping business plan templates and the industry facts and figures to get you started on the road to launching your successful lifestyle business.

 As the owner and CEO of your own business, you are responsible for knowing your numbers and if you are uncomfortable with this then you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to grow. Business planning can also help you to calculate your Return on Investment (ROI), or Internal Rate of Return (IRR), which is essential to know how long it will take you to get your investment back. 

There is a wealth of information available in The Ultimate Glamping Business Start Up Guide and a business plan template PDF to make it as easy as possible for you.  

Myth #5 - If You Build It, They Will Come (Ummmm... Not Unless You're Kevin Costner!)

Unfortunately, if you build it, they may not necessarily come and so you need to know how to attract guests to your business. 

As the launch date of your business approaches, you should be building a launch plan using a checklist similar to the one included in The Ultimate Glamping Business Start Up Guide.

Your launch only happens once so you need to ensure it goes off with a bang and attracts lots of lovely guests to fill the beds of your accommodation, especially if you have investors involved in your project and they expect a certain level of occupation from the start.

If you need further help, please get in touch no matter what stage you are in for starting a glamping business. You can also check out other articles in the blog and listen to the podcast about The Business of Glamping And Unique Holiday Rentals.

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