If you want to open your own glamping business, this guide will help you get started. It covers how to find the perfect location for your site, all of the required considerations, and how to make sure your guests have an unforgettable experience. After all, that’s what it’s all about – adventurous camping in style with comfort.
This is just the beginning of what it takes to succeed in the industry. We hope this article helps you build the next fantastic glamping destination.
While we’re covering various costs, it’s worth noting that prices throughout vary from region to region, so this is a starting point.
Create a business plan.
While many glamping businesses are small operations requiring only one or two employees, having a business plan is still essential.
The business plan is where your vision goes on paper. These will be the instructions you follow as you embark on your journey to being a hot glamping destination.
Many items go into the business plan, but overall this should include how the business will run, how much it will cost, how you’ll turn a profit, and other important information.
Your business plan will evolve; this is entirely normal. As you begin to execute the plan, your vision or other dynamics may change, resulting in your plan changing. That’s fine. The plan is only as good as the information going into it. So if the bank doesn’t give you a loan for the total amount you’re asking for, don’t sweat it; modify your plan a bit.
Once the plan is created, you must review it periodically to know if you’re on track. It’s also a good practice to have others check it to see if it makes sense to them. After all, you’re probably going to put it in front of a lender or investors at some point if you’re looking to secure funding – but more on that in a bit.
Now that your plan is on paper, it’s time to start executing. Let’s find a location for your glampground!
Find the perfect land to start your business.
Finding the land might be the most challenging part as there are many considerations. You might find that opening a glampsite on your current property is the easiest and most economical thing to do, so maybe this step is unnecessary.
When searching for the perfect plot, you have to narrow down what you’re looking for.
Do you need water and electricity? How far away from civilization will your camp be located? Do you need to relocate from your current home to operate it?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask when you start searching.
Setting the budget for the land.
I know we haven’t talked about financing yet, but we will shortly. However, at this point, you have to have a rough idea of where your budget is.
Remember that business plan we talked about? The budget should’ve been hashed out during that. Set a maximum budget for your land based on your estimated revenue and overhead. If the land is too expensive, you might not be able to even break even and get into the black. If it’s too low, you’ll miss out on some fantastic land for your glampground.
Land costs are going to vary from location to location. So if your budget is set low, you might have to look in areas where the price of land isn’t as high, and that beachfront glampground might be out of reach.
Local zoning and deed restrictions.
As you’re going through Zillow and other sites to find the perfect plot of land, be sure to do your due diligence and check the zoning and deed restrictions.
Many entrepreneurs get excited about finding a gem tucked away in the woods only to discover that the current deed restrictions prevent businesses like yours from being established. This doesn’t mean you can’t contest the restrictions, but it’s a mighty hurdle on your path to success.
Zoning restrictions can also slow you down. Every municipality is different, but if the land isn’t zoned for your type of business, you’ll have to fight the city to get it re-zoned. It’s possible, but it’s one of the many challenges.
Be sure to reach out to a local real estate agent to find out if there are any issues with building your business on the land. They’re the experts in that field and can help you out immensely.
Financing your glamping business.
Unless you have a fat bank account (congratulations if you do), you’ll need some help financing this endeavor. There are several ways to finance your glamping business-
- Find investors.
- Get a loan.
The first way is to seek out investors. Find people that believe in your dream and offer them a percentage of the business for financing. This is how many businesses get started, but you’re obligated to give up some control. A good starting point is friends and family. I know that seems counterintuitive, but they’re most likely to believe in your vision. Keep in mind that it’s a business transaction, so keep it strictly business.
Another option is to seek a business loan. This is a loan you take out from a bank or other lending institution, and you’re obligated to pay it back with interest. This option puts more risk on the bank, but if you have a solid business plan and can prove you’re capable of making a profit, the bank might give you the loan.
Your final option is to bootstrap the business. This means you don’t take out any loans and only use your own money to finance the endeavor. As the business owner, you assume all risks with this option. Also, by bootstrapping, you can slowly build your business. It doesn’t have to be completed overnight. Start by using some land, throw up some tents, and grow it over time.
Getting your glamping business off the ground is going to cost some money. Where you get that cash is up to you, but now you know you have options.
Preparing the land and installing utilities.
Now that you have your land and your loan, it’s time to break ground. The first thing you’ll need to do is set up the utilities.
If you purchased raw land, you have quite a bit of work. You’ll have to have water, sewage, and power installed before you can move forward with anything else. These typically require some underground earthwork, so getting this done as soon as possible enables you to move forward with everything else.
Unless you’re planning to have an off-the-grid glamping experience, you’re going to need power. And honestly, glamping without power is just camping, so make sure you get some voltage to your glampground.
You might be fortunate enough to have power running through the land already, but if not, you’ll have to contact a local utility company to bring the power to your land. That bill is on you, and it gets expensive quickly. You can expect anywhere from $4000-$6000 per power pole they have to install to bring power to your spot.
This is essential. However, whether it is a well or city water is up to you.
If you have city water running through your plot, you’re good to go. You’ll have to contact the utility company and install a water meter. Be sure to let them know what you’re doing as that will affect the size of the meter, or they may have to install several meters.
For a meter install, you can expect to pay around $3000. They’ll come out, dig up the dirt by the main and drop a meter in. From there, you own the line. You’ll have to run the water main to your respective glampsites or anywhere else you need water.
You have a couple of options for sewage. You can use city sewage lines if they’re located near your property. However, several septic tanks can easily handle this dirty work.
These will run you around $5000 each, and you’ll need a few of them depending on how big your glampground is. A good rule of thumb is one tank for every 20 guest capacity. So if your max capacity at your glampground is 100 guests, then you can expect to have five 1,000 gallon tanks.
These are just some rough estimates for getting the utilities installed for your business.
Set up the lodging.
This is the part of opening a glamping business that everyone loves. Since the lodging generally separates a glampground from other accommodations, this is where you can get creative.
There are generally four types of accommodations when it comes to glamping:
- Bell Tents
Anything else is called by another name (i.e., RV parks, hotels, etc.). Sure there are some hybrids and modifications of these, but for now, we’ll keep it simple. If you want to get creative, go for it, spice it up with some glamping pods, that’s what glamping is all about.
Classic, fun, and generally inexpensive, these Mongolian-style tents are an excellent option for your glampground. They come in all shapes and sizes and can easily be set up by even the greenest newbies. These will set you back between $10,000 and $20,000 for each.
These have been gaining in popularity over the last few years. A cross between a classic camping tent and a more luxurious option, bell tents are perfect for those who want a rustic feel with more comfort. These are more economical as they run between $500 and $1,000—elegance without the costs.
Log cabins have been around for centuries, and there’s a reason why they’re still popular. They provide an excellent, solid structure that can be outfitted in many ways. They’re a little costlier and offer a few more amenities, but they can be a lovely addition to your glampground. When building cabins on your tract of land you can expect to pay around $150 per square foot.
If you have large trees, a treehouse is an excellent addition to your glampground. They’re a lot of fun and give your guests something to brag about when they get home.
Of course, suitable trees are the biggest hurdle, but treehouses are also surprisingly expensive. The treehouses glampers stay in aren’t exactly what dad made you in 2nd grade. Having a fully finished treehouse in your glampground can go for around $50,000!
Decorate and prepare the amenities.
This is where things can start to get fun. Once you have your lodging sorted out, it’s time to start thinking about the amenities.
Do you want a communal fire pit? Hammocks? A hot tub?
Perhaps a tiny general store or dining on-site? The sky’s the limit, and it all depends on how much you want to invest and how much work you’re willing to do.
Start with the basics.
Before getting carried away with that horseshoe pit, you’ve always wanted, start by getting the inside of the accommodations set up. This includes the basics such as beds, bedding, furniture, and work your way into decorating.
The key here is making it as comfortable as possible. This is glamping, remember?
Additionally, you’re going to want to get essential amenities such as restrooms, bathhouses, or any other critical needs are taken care of.
Once the foundation is completed, move on to more elaborate projects throughout the glampground. Also note, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Adding in outdoor fun.
If your guests just wanted to sit inside all day, they’d go to a hotel. But no, they’re at your glampground. So make it fun and adventurous for them!
More manageable and less expensive options are horseshoes, a fire pit, a small creek or pond, and hiking trails. As your glamping business grows, you can expand by installing a pool, hot tub, or spa.
Again, it’s all about what you want to invest and how much work you’re willing to do. With each glamper you book, you’ll learn more and more about your ideal customer and what they want in a glamping destination.
Get your systems set up.
The fun part is done. You have your beautiful and elegant bell tents set up. They’re all beautifully furnished with chic designs and decor. You even added in some amenities for your guests’ pleasure. But in order to open a glamping business, you have to get the business processes set up before you start taking bookings.
Credit card systems.
In this day and age, you’re going to have to take credit cards. So start considering which credit card processor you’re going to use. There are so many to choose from with different rates and programs to make your life easier.
While Stripe, Square, and PayPal are extremely common due to their low rates and user-friendliness, look at each one and verify if they integrate with your other systems.
If you have a stand-alone booking application on your website, can you take payments directly from the site? You’ll want a point of sale (POS) system. Does your credit card process offer a POS system as a convenience for using their processor?
In the end, it’s a business, and you need to get their money somehow. Those bills aren’t going to pay for themselves.
Booking management system.
How do you keep track of that when someone calls and wants to book a site for a night or two? You wouldn’t want to double-book a glampsite. So, having a booking management system is critical to the success of your glamping business.
Just like credit card processors, there are countless booking systems. You’ll have to find one that works best for you, and the rates are reasonable.
Some of the most popular systems are Bonfire and Nomad Reservations. Both are great platforms explicitly designed for campgrounds. They have every feature you need to operate your facility, and their prices aren’t too bad. They range typically from $100-$150 per month.
Marketing your new glamping business.
Now that you have your glampground setup, how will people know about it? There are many resources for marketing and advertising, and how often and how well they work varies.
However, the best marketing is still word-of-mouth. Make sure your guests have a great experience, and they’ll be sure to tell their friends all about it.
Build an engaging website.
Every business needs one, and so does your glamping business. If you’re going to be a destination, people need a way to find you and not by simply driving by.
Having a website is straightforward and relatively inexpensive. You can DIY a website for as little as a few bucks a month or have one made for around $500+. It’s up to you and how much time you have on your hands.
You’ll want to make sure you have at least the following information listed on your website-
- Address and driving directions.
- Contact information (i.e. phone, form, etc).
- Description of your lodging.
- List out your amenities.
- Lots of high-quality photos! Photos sell!
Anything beyond that is great, but those are the basics. That’s enough information for glampers to learn what you have to offer and contact you to book a stay.
If you want to go above and beyond, you can integrate a booking application into your website, but it’s not necessary. Many booking management systems (see above) have a way to take bookings online so your website can link to your booking page.
Now that you have your site up and running, you need people to find it.
Get listed everywhere online.
These days everyone goes online to find what they’re after. Glamping is no different.
Submit your newly opened glamping business to as many directories and review sites as you can. This includes Yelp, Yahoo, Google Business Profile, and anywhere else that will publish your place on a map, list your website, and show your phone number.
The more listings you have, the higher your site will rank and the easier it’ll be for people to find you. Once your business directory submissions are submitted and completed, proofread them for accuracy and request removal if they’re not accurate.
Publish a press release with various news networks.
Submit a press release announcing your grand opening to as many online and print publications as you can. Again, the more, the better.
Include high-quality photos in your press release (see above) and make it exciting and fun to read. You only get one shot at this, so make it count!
The glamping trend is fast-growing, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to start your own glamping business. It’s essential to do your research and make sure you have the suitable systems to make the process as smooth as possible. This guide will help you get started on the right foot.
From finding the perfect location to getting your website up and running, we covered everything you need to know about how to open a successful glamping business. Good luck with your endeavors!