BELLS AND WHISTLES
Sue Hollingshead digs deep into the latest glamping trends…
As we come towards the end of the glamping summer season there can’t be any doubt that it has been a manic year for the sector.
We have seen new product introductions, new campsites, and a generally flurry of activity trying to keep up with the huge demand.
According to the GVR* market analysis report, the global glamping market is expected to grow at a rate of 14.1% (annually) from 2021 to 2028 with a net worth in the region of 3.92billion (GBP) by 2028.
Already valued at 1.7 billion (GBP) by the end of 2021, Europe’s share of the spoils was put at around a third -- 34.8% in 2019.
Sacha Macey, Owner of Yurts For Life, was very clear about the trend: “Glamping has exploded this year! “Gone are the days of the ‘bubble will burst, this is a fad…’ which was the mantra within the industry a few years ago,” Sacha believes.
“External factors, way beyond industry control, such as Brexit and the COVID pandemic have certainly had a positive impact on the industry as holidays abroad have been very diffcult to plan and deal with over the last 18 months. The demand for holidaying ‘outside’ in the UK is unprecedented.”
The boom has generated the opportunity, and inspiration, for landowners and farmers to enter the market. With existing campsites, holiday parks, and glamping sites looking at ways of embellishing their developments to ensure they stay ahead. Simply adding one more glamping unit to an existing campsite has proved valuable and positive ROI.
There has been a surge of new pop-up campsites, which have been seen as both good and bad for the industry. As we know, the key aspect about glamping is that it focuses on ‘the experience’, something about the holiday must inspire the customer, either with a ‘WOW’ when they arrive and see their accommodation, or with the associated service, or to be fair a mix of both. A new quick pop-up campsite in many cases hasn’t had time to develop the full experience.
Mark Scott, CEO, Clear Sky Safari Tents, shared his thoughts: “I think the number of pop-up sites did rather detract from the quality of the glamping experience as people were advertising, say bell tents, with no services as a glamping experience.”
Mark continued: “It is expected that many of these will not ‘pop’ up again next season as bookings, reviews, and repeat rates will discourage the poor-quality sites and encourage the high-quality sites.”
Sacha also felt there was good and bad in the new pop-up sites and commented: “Some sites have managed to get it right straight away by keeping holidaymakers happy in the UK when they would have gone abroad.
We can’t do much about the weather, but if the details of the glamper’s experience are thought through and the appropriate facilities are available, then these pop-up sites have probably saved a lot of families after a tough time with the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, some sites have tarnished the industry as their main intention has been to make a fast buck.”
With the experience being paramount, there is always scope for innovation, whether this is within the design of the glamping accommodation, or within the overall holiday experience.
Tom Burnell, Managing Director of Kata Tipis, saw an opportunity in the market, as a slight side-track from their standard offering of Wedding Tipis. Tom explained more: “The technology is moving on at a pace with new innovations and different structures being released into the UK Glamping Market to meet the ever- increasing demand for more exciting and interesting experiences for the increasing volume of guests,” said Tom.
“At Kata Tipis we wanted to transfer the scale and awe of our events tents and designed a glamping tipi that took people’s breath away. We believe that glamping should be an experience, not just in the view, or where a structure is sited, but the structure itself!
“We launched our new glamping tipi, which is unlike any structure on the market and in our opinion takes the traditional tipi design to the next level.”
Clear Sky has also identifed an innovative design they are working on, Mark was willing to share his plans: “There are several new directions that the industry is taking, all based around the enhancing of the glamping experience.
“In particular, we are seeing some great structures based around Stargazing in the black sky areas. We are currently working on a ‘Star Gazer Safari Tent’ with our designers, hopefully, ready for launch next season.”
The experience it offers is paramount, whether staying in one of the quirky options available, such as converted planes, or one of the popular tree houses, traditional pods, stunning safari tents, yurts, tipis, shepherd huts, the list of unit types is continuingly growing.
The Glamper is naturally akin to outdoor living, with a secluded location, hot tub, or outdoor cooking, still ticking boxes. The one key aspect that has changed following the pandemic is the washing facilities. Mark explained, “Accommodations that were able to provide separate washing facilities were at an advantage when the market reopened. Many smaller sites with shared washing facilities fell victim to the ‘one wash area per household bubble’.
Those with the separate facility were well placed. We have seen an increase in enquiries from customers about putting bathrooms in their existing safari tents.”
The Staycation is here to stay. Bookings have been high for 2021, with most places reported as fully booked, and into next season. Clear Sky mentioned a Tik Tok video shared by one of their client’s guests, and shortly afterwards their bookings filled through to the end of next season!
On the flip side, Tom did have a few words of caution: “The concern is that UK Glamping site operators may overcharge for their accommodation this year and be seen to be ‘profiteering’ from the demand in the market.
“This, in turn, may frighten guests of for future bookings in the following years – not offering good value for money,” he added.
The best tips from Tom, Mark, and Sacha are, firstly ensure that you have all the required planning, processes, and licenses as per your own Local Authority before you start, which may take longer than you expect. Plan, Plan, Plan, and never underestimate the time it takes to organise everything, down to the water, sewage, electric, etc etc.
Understand what you are going to offer, go through the customer experience in detail and make sure it works. Stick with both your budget and your niche market, don’t be tempted to be everything to all people.
Then get your marketing in place, know who you are targeting, and create the destinations and accommodation to suit their needs. Good use of social media alongside collaborations with relevant local businesses work well.
Mark commented: “The best sites are the ones who have committed to the overall experience by offering contactless check-in, high-quality bedding and partnering with the main sales channels such as Hoseasons, Canopy and Stars, or Unique Hideaway. All aspects from booking calendars to easy check-in are important.”
If the stats from GVR* come to fruition then we are in for some busy years ahead, and with that, we will continue to see innovation, including eco holidays, which are clearly on the cards. Young families and couples wishing to connect with the great outdoors, the natural side of our planet, is a great starting point.
In the beginning, glamping accommodation was simply a glamping pod, it can now be almost anything. Innovation such as Clear Sky’s Star Gazer Safari Tent for next season, Kata Tipis beautiful new Tipi and the superb Yurts by Yurts For Life, are great examples. It certainly makes you wonder what we can expect over the coming years.
Grand View Research
Tel: 01780 239 188
Yurts For Life
Tel: 01803 762 370
Clear Sky Safari Tents
Tel: 0333 241 2660