The agriculture industry has changed so much in recent years and, for a myriad of reasons, these changes have made it harder for traditional farms to turn a profit. Globalization, taxes, laws, weather, demand, prices; all of these have forced farmers to rethink their strategies. Some have opted to join forces with the other farmers in their areas and make a syndicate whereby overheads are slashed and profits are shared. Others have chosen to lease equipment instead of tying up their capital in purchases. Some have ventured out into specialty crops like gourmet mushrooms, lavender or Japanese maples. However, more and more farmers are stepping away from farming and jumping onto the bandwagon of popular business trends instead, such as glamping.
For those that have been brave enough to take the leap of faith, going down the luxury camping route has proven a hugely success way for farmers to generate a second-income from their land. This is because it is an established industry and, by incorporating it into their farm, these farmers have found a successful way to diversify their income. Of course, this is nothing new.
Even before the boom of Airbnb, farmers were dipping into the hospitality game by offering up their numerous spare rooms to be part of a little Bed & Breakfast side business. However, there are a few downsides to this route, especially in comparison to a glamping business. Strangers wandering through your home, having to offer them a service and not turning much profit despite the workload. There was even a time when self-contained accommodation was becoming a thing, however, this never really caught traction due to the construction costs at the beginning and the risk that followed afterward. That is why glamping businesses are starting to really take off.
Get it right, and you could have a business model that pays off your start-up costs within two years, after which the returns can be staggering. Of course, getting it right is the hard part. In order for a glamping spot to be successful, it needs to offer relaxation, comfort and a unique experience that is worth the cost. Don’t despair, though, because we’ve spoken to those one-time farmers that have made the leap and asked them for their top tips on how to start a successful glamping business the help make your farm more profitable. Here is what they had to say:
- The Only Thing That Sells Is Uniqueness
The Millennial desire to spend money on experiences rather than things has taken off and caught on, which is great for business. However, it also means competition is stiffer with more and more people understanding this. That is why you need to offer something unique. A campsite in a glade in the middle of a magical wood. A series of bell tents that line the banks of a relaxing lake, with boats to rent. A glamping site made of handmade hazel-bender tents complete with log burners, hammocks, sheepskin rugs and rocking chairs. Double-decker buses that have been converted into their own camping haven with everything a person could possibly need. Anything that has that “wow factor” is important.
This will not only work as free publicity and help your space stand out from the crowd, but it will encourage word of mouth and, best of all, it will encourage customers to return. This is the key because it costs seven times less to keep existing customers than it does to try and attract new customers. So be unique, be standout, and try and change things up so that no one ever gets bored of your space.
- Make Sure You Are Meeting A Need
You can’t possibly hope to succeed as a business if you are not meeting the need of customers. Offering a fantastic service is great, but only if it is so valuable that it will keep them coming back. As such, look at your proposed space and consider what it offers people. From there you can really focus your efforts and make it as valuable and desirable to the market you are hoping to enter. If you have a glade in a wood then you should be able to meet the needs people have for seclusion and sanctuary or peace and quiet. If you have a lake, you could well offer your glamping site as a luxury fishing experience for all the family. If you have a couple of converted buses, you could offer your space as a backpackers with a difference, and create a firepit in the middle where all your guests interact. We’re talking about a farm here, which could mean you have the perfect space for children to interact with animals and learn about nature and enjoy life completely off the grid. Whatever it is, meet that need.
- Know Exactly What You Will Need
This is a business and, possibly, an entirely new business. As such, it could be that you need help knowing just how to get it off the ground, how to market it effectively, who to market it too and just what you will need in order to make it a successful business. These days nothing thrives or survives without a snazzy website that does your brand justice, so make sure you start there. You will also want to keep on top of social media, especially Facebook and Instagram. These not only allow you to show off the gorgeous aesthetics of your unique glamping spot but allow guests to drop in testimonials, whether written or photographic. Hashtags can be a massive part of your success. Get a social media marketing agency to do the acquiring followers on social media for your business.
Of course, it isn’t just about marketing and being online. You will also need to make things easier for you and your customers. Having a hidden storage facility on site for your industrial cleaning equipment will make life way simpler between guests. Making sure your bathroom and toilet facilities are as luxurious as possible is another thing you will want to focus on because, in the hospitality game, the bathroom is big for business. You will also want to make sure that people can find you. Yes, that means having a clear map online, but it also means having wonderfully branded signs that could entice passersby to try their luck.
The best way to know exactly what you may need is to study your market, and see what competitors are doing. Go and stay at a couple and ask them how business is going, what they would have done differently, what permits they needed. Anything and everything.
- Relationships Are Everything In This Game
There are relationships to be built all over the shop, so make sure you are constantly doing all you can to maintain these bridges and improve your connections. Suppliers, providers, cleaning services, other local businesses, customers, online influencers and people on social media. All of these relationships can come in handy. For example, you could speak to a popular local restaurant, explain what you are doing and that you would love to recommend their restaurant to your guests in exchange for having leaflets in their restaurant or a partnership piece on their website. It doesn’t have to be a restaurant either. It could be there are seal trips in your area, or safaris, or hiking experiences, or any number of tourist attractions that you could partner with.
The more you do on this front though the more you are going to make your customer’s experiences better and boost your profitability at the same time. The more popular you become with loyal customers the better positioned you are to make deals too, and deals are so important in business.
- Your Branding Needs To Be Carefully Considered
You are in the glamping industry now. You are in a business that thrives on the experience and service you offer and that is something your branding needs to shout and sing about at every possible turn. As such, you will want to make sure you are using branding and images that are designed to intrigue potential customers and draw them in, while also trying to pull existing customers back. We’re talking about the visual impression you give off, whether on your website, your social media, your newsletters, you campsite signage, your converted bus paint color, and everything else you can think of.
You are trying to make people feel both curious and comfortable enough for them to choose you over everyone else, and choose you to spend their money with. So make sure your name does your brand justice, and your logo, and the color palette you choose, your website design, the images you choose to show off, the style of content you put on everything and even the typography you dot about the place. All of these influence your branding and so they all influence your customer’s impressions of you as well.
Creating a successful business isn’t an easy ride or a fast way to turn your profitability around. It could even take years for you to start seeing some real success. That is why it is so important you persevere. If something goes awry, pick yourself up and dust yourself down and then learn from this experience. That is the thing to remember, this is a huge learning curve, but with every new day you will get closer to perfection and that is when your business will really start to succeed.
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