Glamping pods, wigwams or yurts are about providing what visitors view as a trendy, rustic experience in an unusual or unique structure, while ensuring they have a comfortable and safe environment. Previously, farm diversification into hospitality may have been to offer bed and breakfast, but the impact on everyday life of strangers wandering around the family home can be difficult. Glamping pods, wigwams and yurts may be a suitable diversification option for farmers, landowners and/or rural businesses. Glamping has become a popular attraction for Irish holidaymakers and overseas tourists seeking the luxuries of hotel accommodation, alongside the freedom and adventure of camping. Glamping can add value to your business, provide an additional income stream, and contribute to the local economy. Glamping is a tourism experience where individuals, couples, or groups seek to immerse themselves in the natural environment by going back to basics and reconnecting with nature from a luxurious base. A glamping pod, wigwam or yurt is a freestanding and self-contained structure located in an area of spectacular natural beauty, with all of the standard creature comforts found in a hotel or bed and breakfast. In recent years, glamping has proved to be a very popular short-stay holiday escape for couples and/or small groups, who want to escape the busy city lifestyle and enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the countryside.
Before setting up a glamping business it is important to assess the site in which you intend to locate pods, wigwams or yurts. The site should be easily accessible by vehicle, with suitable disabled access, well maintained, and free from environmental hazards such as flooding, tree damage and loose rocks.
Planning permission from the local authority is required before setting up a glamp site. Even though the structures can be classed as temporary, meaning they could, in theory, be dismantled at any point, it is still advised to obtain planning permission before starting work. Planning consent is also required for a change of use from agricultural land or forestry to a glamping business. A pre-planning meeting with your local authority is advisable to explain your plans and hear about any initial concerns from the local planners. A pre-planning meeting should focus on site boundaries, fire regulations, water supply, drainage and sanitation. Local authorities and planning policies are generally supportive of rural tourism development, which will have a positive impact on the local economy.
Setting up a glamp site
There are a number of factors you should consider before setting up a glamping site.
It costs a lot less to hold existing customers rather than trying to attract new ones. To do this a diversification needs to be able to provide the ‘wow factor’. People will remember you for it and if you offer a great service, they will keep coming back and will bring their friends and family with them. This will give your business instant and free publicity that will keep you ahead of the competition. One way of doing this is to inject your personality into everything you do.
2. Meet a customer demand
There are always ways to offer customers a great service, but you have to ask yourself if it’s valuable enough to keep them coming back. One way to make sure you’ve achieved this is by meeting their needs and desires. This could be the need for sanctuary and seclusion, complete peace and quiet, a place for children to interact and learn about nature, or somewhere that’s completely off the grid and environmentally friendly.
3. Passion for the business
It takes a lot of dedication and effort to set everything up and keep it running smoothly, so you really have to love what you do. Also remember this is the service industry and you will need to interact with your customers regularly, so make sure this is something you are happy doing.
4. Examine your business
Recognise that you can’t know everything and you might need to ask for help. If you can’t get your head around building a website, then commission someone else to show you how its done or pay them to do it for you. If you just don’t understand social media, get someone to show you how it’s done. Finally, and most importantly, study your market and your competitors. Learn from them and learn quickly.
5. Switch direction if necessary
Pay attention to how your business is performing, and if it isn’t working don’t be afraid to revaluate and change direction. If you don’t, the only direction you’ll go is downhill.
6. Develop relationships
Whether it’s relationships with your providers, other businesses, customers or people within social media, make sure you build them and keep making connections. This is how your loyal customer base will grow over time and how you’ll be able to make deals to bring more profitability to your business.
7. Be smart about your image and branding
Try to use your image and branding to pull customers in and make them curious. This is your business’s visual first impression and has to make people feel comfortable enough to spend money with you. This includes your business name, logo, website, the images you use and everything you do to communicate publicly.
8. Get out and shout about it
If you have a business you’re confident in, make sure you get out and shout about it. Visit events, shows and festivals, share information and flyers, talk to customers and other businesses, build those relationships, build a buzz in your local area and be proud of what you’ve achieved.
9. Customer service is priority
Social media, advertising, branding, websites and systems are all very important, but what must come first every time are your customers and the quality of your service. Everything else must come second, so you need to spend your time becoming outstanding… or better!
10. Persevere, persevere, persevere
Creating a successful business isn’t easy and it could take a few years before you really start to see some success. If something goes wrong, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and just keep going. Don’t give up. Just give yourself plenty of time to learn and congratulate yourself for your successes, as you will deserve it. Most of all make sure you take time out to enjoy the ride. Life is a long road, so it’ll be a shame to hate the whole journey.
As well as cover to protect buildings and contents from fire, storm, flood and theft, those setting up glamping need to consider the following types of insurance:
- public liability – protects against claims from guests and other members of the public
- employee liability – not only for paid employees, but also family members who help out – even if only occasionally
- product liability – protects against claims following the use of food, fuel or other goods supplied
- business interruption – makes up lost income following an insured incident, such as a fire or storm that puts the business out of action for a period
- cyber risk – glamping often relies on web-based services for promotion and administration – insurance can cover data restoration and forensic investigation.
For further Information please contact Barry Caslin, Teagasc, Rural Economy Development Programme at:
+353 (0)76-111 1213
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