What’s driving demand for glamping facilities?

Glamping has evolved from a quirky sideline into a tourism and leisure sector mainstay. Richard Wooldridge, director at Harrison Pitt Architects, talks about the trends and issues facing the glamping sector.

While traditional caravanning or camping remain the backbone of the outdoor accommodation sector, glamping is proving more and more popular among UK holidaymakers.

Figures from Google Trends suggest that there are now only seven times more searches for “camping” than “glamping”, compared to 22 times more in 2012.

Meanwhile, a study of 1,400 members of the website Family Break Finder revealed nearly one in three specifically saying they wanted to try glamping.

So, what’s driving demand and how should new glamping enterprises make the most of the growing popularity of the sector?

Closer to nature, but with luxuries

Glamping offers a perfect halfway house for those who want to experience the great outdoors but want the comforts of home. Last year I went glamping with my family, and the fact the tent had a log burner and an adjoining kitchen and shower room, meant we had space and comfort – but were still camping. Also, some glamping pods come with better insulation than houses, which helps overcome any fears about being cold and wet. Technology also means today’s glampers can expect a fairly high level of tech – especially, a good wi-fi signal for their devices.

Uncertainty is driving the staycation market

Terror threats and political instability in some overseas countries have resulted in a degree of apprehension among holidaymakers, who are concerned about their personal safety and losing money on cancelled holidays. Combined with the uncertainty around Brexit and poor exchange rates, this has prompted many tourists to look at domestic holiday options, with glamping well positioned to prosper as a result.

Online booking portals can put everyone on the map

The popularity of booking platforms including glamping.com and Airbnb, mean tourists can explore a broad range of options when selecting the destination of their choice. This means even small glamping facilities in little-known locations can succeed, where even a few years ago they would have struggled to attract customers.

Celebrity support and social media helps raise profile

Greater exposure in popular culture, coupled with celebrity and royal connections have given glamping an extra boost. One campsite offering new luxury lodges reported an 11 per cent hike last August compared to the same period in the previous year.

The long-term cultural shift towards having great experiences, rather than accumulating material goods, is thought to be another factor behind glamping’s success. Meanwhile, the ubiquity of social media, particularly Instagram, has undoubtedly boosted the glamping sector as people clamour for those treehouse sunset photos.

The opportunities of sustainable and wellness tourism

The environment is increasingly central to most of our lives and this carries through into the tourism industry. Some 66 per cent of holidaymakers say they would be prepared to stump up more money to make their trips as sustainable as possible.

Moreover, the glamping concepts dovetails with the provision of luxury add-ons including wellness activities and spa-style treatments.

A bright future is on the horizon

These trends towards staycation, wellness, and sustainability are driving profitability in the glamping sector, which is showing no signs of slowing. So, for those considering diversifying into this growing industry, there has never been a better time to invest in existing facilities or explore planning permission for new glamping facilities.

Harrison Pitt Architects has a dedicated hotels and leisure team, specialising in all aspects of planning and design for the tourism sector, including lodges, camping pods and other glamping facilities.

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