Canvas Tents: How to Make Money Glamping
Canvas Tents: How to Make Money Glamping
Glamping is all the rage: Here's how you can cash in!
Travel and Tourism Trends: Glamping
Experiential tourism is in demand. People create meaning through direct experience, and that meaning is becoming more important than amenities. Yes, a standard hotel room with cable TV and hair dryer is convenient, but is that really what you’re looking for when you travel? Are you going to snap a picture of it? Are you going to reflect on your trip and think “that miniature coffee maker in the room was really special”? Odds are, probably not. Providing an authentic experience creates an intimate relationship between travelers and locations, customs, and culture. A bell tent changes the narrative and turns any trip into an adventure. Whether you’re visiting the Grand Canyon or a backyard garden in Sacramento, to say “…and I stayed in this beautiful canvas tent” is a horse of a different color. Here's how to make money Glamping:
Define Your Product:
Glamping, a playful combination of “glamour” and “camping”, is a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping according to OxfordDictionaries.com. “Glamour” is defined as an “attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing or special”. “Camping” is “The activity of spending a vacation living in a camp, tent, or camper.” Although we take a more traditional interpretation and think of tents, glamping is a buzzword that can be applied to range accommodation styles, from Airstreams to tree houses. The word is catching on and becoming more recognizable in everyday use among a rapidly growing portion of the population. Glamping describes a unique experience, affording you the ability to inform your target market that what you are offering is a step above camping but isn’t a traditional hotel or bed and breakfast.
Don’t get hung up on the concept of fancy if that’s not your wheelhouse. Glamps are diverse with varying levels of elegance and modernity. However, “Glamping” doesn’t speak to everyone. Our tents are rugged, technical, and can be marketed toward a broad range of people that are looking for a more primitive experience. Hunters, anglers, hikers, and mountain bikers, may be less responsive to the promise of an organic soy chai latte and 800 thread count sheets.
Play to your strengths. Take stock of your location and what would draw a person to visit your area. Embrace your niche. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. If you’re decorating with rustic woodwork, antler, and deer skin rugs, don’t describe it as a whimsical garden retreat. Be consistent, genuine, and transparent. All parties involved will be happier for it.
I spent a night at safari camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda with very cool grass huts, no electricity or running water, and hippos wandering through camp at night. The next morning we sat down for a “Ugandan breakfast”, which I understood to be weak tea, dry stale white bread, and amazing bananas. The only other couple in the camp had a completely different experience. They had hired a guide that had billed the place as a luxury 5 star experience. In my opinion, it was a dusty old camp with no budget in the middle of the savanna. However, it was an authentic, exciting experience all the same. Had the right expectation had been set, our fellow guests wouldn’t have been set up for a never ending series of disappointments.
Know Your Market:
Spend a few minutes researching what the going rate is for overnight glamping in your area. Airbnb, Glamping.com, and GlampingHub are great places to start. Choose a price point that fits the level of finish, service, and location for the season. Start low and work your way up as you get the hang of catering to guests and improving your experience. The bottom line should be worth the investment of your resources over time. The value of the experience for the individual guest should be reflective of the nights they occupy. If it’s a holiday weekend in a tourist hot-spot you can raise the pricepoint. If it’s a random Wednesday in rainy season, be the bargain. Too many businesses miss the mark between profitability and customer satisfaction simply because they lack dynamic pricing.
All other factors held equal, furnishing and amenities can make the difference between commanding $60 per night and $600. It is also the most variable expense. Of course you can decorate to the nines but the best bet for the first time glamp operator is to get creative and figure out what you already have and what you can get for free. Freecycle.com is a great place to find stuff people would rather give away than transport to the landfill. Right now there is a man in Boulder, Colorado with a pile of rocks left over from a landscaping project. A 1 foot wide ribbon of rocks around a tent is the perfect way to dress up a tent like a pro, no platform needed!
A real mattress with a frame or a platform and sheets is essential in my opinion. A crafty shopper can get a nice set up for under $250. There are also a number of double camp cots available on the internet for the budget conscious. Remember, your CanvasCamp tent with the heavy duty rip-stop PVC floor is not going to leak or let moisture in, however, mold happens everywhere over time, especially in humid conditions. If you live someplace that is humid, get a mattress cover or put it out in direct sunlight now and then. Tables, chairs, lighting, and rugs, finish off a good glamp. Kitschy, mismatched, vintage furniture and rugs could be your niche! Interior design is an art not science. Get creative!
Complement Local Businesses:
Empower your guests to make the most out of their visit by recommending local activities, restaurants, or points of interest. Local knowledge and personal recommendations go the extra mile to make your guests stay special. Collect brochures from local businesses that visitors may be interested in. Leave a map to your favorite neighborhood bakery for breakfast in the morning. Suggest a hike that hasn’t made it to the guidebooks yet. Word of mouth recommendations are the most valuable kind of marketing. Make sure you introduce yourself to the business operators and leave a card to promote your business.
Reach Your Market:
Collaborative consumption, the economic model of providing access to a good or service without sole ownership through renting or sharing, is changing the game for individuals and entrepreneurs alike. Need to borrow a car for only a few hours? Check out ZipCar. Need a designated driver? Try Uber or Lyft. Don’t have the time or patience to allen wrench your Ikea furniture together? Get on Taskrabbit. There is a platform for renting just about anything you can think of; luxury canvas tents included! Airbnb, Glamping.com, and Glampinghub.com are excellent ways to market and rent your tents. A luxury camping experience without the hassle and commitment of purchasing, transporting, setting up, taking down, and storing your own gear is opening up the outdoors to people who would not otherwise consider themselves campers.
Make it Measurable:
Budgeting and forecasting is not just for business folk, it’s simple math and good conservative estimates. Costs less revenue tells you how much you can expect to make over time. Let’s look at the glampanomics of just one tent:
500 Pro: $1,000
Price per night: $100
Assuming just 5 occupied nights a month (that’s 2 weekends and an extra day) you will have covered your cost in 3 months; anything you make beyond this point is profit. If you rent out your site for only 5 nights a month, you have made an extra $500 and you still have the other two weekends of the month to take your tent on an adventure for yourself! Your tent is now paying for itself and your weekend trip. What could be better?
If you do this 9 months out of the year (45 days), you will have made $3,000 in your 1st year (subtracting your start-up cost of $1,500). In year 2 that adds up to $4,500, and in 3 years in you have $7,500. That’s Burning Man money! You can travel for 3 months through Indonesia with that kind of cash! Alternately, you could also invest in a glamp expansion and get 5 more tents! 5 tents over 5 years can leverage $200,000+ net profit. Wow!
Share the LOVE:
Making a profit on your CanvasCamp makes those adventures you’ve been putting off more accessible. If you’re a CanvasCamp owner, or considering becoming one, you already know the investment and gains involved aren’t just about the dollars. It’s the quality of life, the connection with others, and the enjoyment of the outdoors that holds the real value in the equation. So get inspired! Be the catalyst! Share your passion!