Your step by step guide to starting and financing a glamping business

By Rose Brown
Content writer
Last update: 23 January 20231 minute read
Your step by step guide to starting and financing a glamping business

Call 020 4525 5312 to speak to a glamping expert

Finance a glamping business from the initial land purchase right through to welcoming your first guests takes

* time

* expert support

* the right finance.

Rangewell are glamping experts and can help with

* Finance to buy the land for the glamping site.

* Referrals to planning and legal experts with specialist glamping experience.

* Signposting to Business Plans, Rural Development Grants and Feasibility Studies

* If you already own the site we can provide funding for planning permission, ground works and other general improvements

* Once planning is granted we can support the purchase of all types of glamping structures - everything from yurts to log cabins

* If you already have a glamping site up and running we can help with support and finance to grow or expand the business

If you're looking for support for your glamping business please call us on 020 4525 5312

Table of Contents

The UK’s staycation market is big business. Glamping, in particular, is a hugely popular part of the ‘holiday at home’ revolution our country has experienced since COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. 

For entrepreneurs who want to launch something unique and attract clients from across the country or even further afield, a glamping business can be a profitable venture due to relatively low ongoing costs. 

However, the initial set-up of your glamping business requires capital, and that may be where the challenges lie. As one of our clients found out, many mainstream banks will not offer standard commercial mortgages or business loans to a potential glamping business. 

With that in mind, you need to assess the full glamping business industry and decide if you have a proposition worth pursuing. Starting a glamping business involves a number of considerations far beyond that of an ordinary hotel or campsite – but if done correctly can blend the benefits of both to drive profit. 

So if you’re considering a glamping business, here’s our guide on how to start a glamping business. We’ll cover the full process with a focus on financing the venture, as glamping is a unique business model that poses real challenges in the eyes of lenders. Read on to discover more, or click a section in the table of contents to jump to the relevant information. 

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What is glamping?

Glamping is luxury camping, blending the freedom and access to nature offered by a traditional campsite with the luxuries of a hotel. The actual facilities on offer will vary, but to qualify as a ‘glamping’ site, you’ll need to have some form of robust weatherproofed structures to accommodate guests in style. These often take the form of shepherd’s huts, yurts, luxury tents and treehouses. 

Glamping doesn’t have any kind of official criteria to meet – if your experience feels more luxurious than standard camping, you can market it as a glamping break. In general, however, guests expect:

  1. Toilets and hygiene facilities - either en-suite or very close to the accommodation. 
  2. Cooking facilities - whilst regular campers have to pack their cooking equipment, a glamping facility provides some form of cooking appliance such as stoves, ovens, wood-burners etc. Alternatively, offer a meal service for guests. 
  3. Heating - guests expect to stay warm during a glamping trip. Heaters and log burners are common. 
  4. Utilities - while not every single guest will expect power and running water, it’s a good idea to include both whenever possible. If it can’t be offered in the accommodation, make sure there’s a source very close. 
  5. Bedding - instead of lying in a sleeping bag, glamping guests expect to sleep on a real mattress. 

Remember, you’ll be marketing your glamping business on listing sites so guests will get to see what your actual offering looks like. You don’t have to conform to the above, they’re just guidelines to keep in mind as you plan. 

Are glamping businesses profitable?

There’s a good reason you should consider glamping as a business. People are flocking to luxury escapes in the UK and are willing to pay more for them.

According to the Holiday Letting Outlook Report 2022, by Sykes Holiday Cottages, glamping bookings were up by 92% in 2022 compared to 2019, and the average property earned £17,000 per year. If you have a site housing 4-6 glamping ‘pods’, you could expect to earn anything from £60,000 - £100,000 p.a., provided bookings come in regularly. 

Creating a glamping business plan

Before you do anything, create a business plan first to help you frame the business in a positive, future-focused context. Without a good business plan, you’ll only ever have a bunch of ideas to try and present to investors – and you won’t have any reference for your own actions either. 

A strong business plan outlines your business idea, detailing how you’ll fund various parts of the set-up phase as well as how you’ll generate profit and what those profits may be. It contains estimates of costs, earnings, employee structure and even the way you’ll market your business. In short, it’s essential.

To create your business plan, we’d recommend working with a business advisor or at least bringing your plan to us after you’ve drafted it. As finance experts, we deal with presenting our clients’ business plans to lenders so we know what to look for when you submit yours. 

What your business plan contains will vary depending on what format you use, but it should contain a minimum of:

  • An executive summary: this comes at the start but is written last. It gives a brief summary of the rest of the plan and is used to attract early attention. 
  • A market analysis: research the glamping industry and discuss how your own opportunity may be a lucrative one. If, for example, the tourism sector in your potential location is growing, a glamping business is a favourable possibility. 
  • Competitor analysis: look into any local competitors, or even further afield for similar business models. Use this to justify your own business idea or to show why you may be able to improve on the competition. 
  • SWOT analysis: detail the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business so any reader can see you’ve taken the right elements into account. 
  • Financial projections: work with a financial professional for this section. Outline your profit margins and projections over the next few years. Include any potential costs and growth opportunities in the future. 

Financing your glamping business

Funding your venture is always a concern – whatever the business type or sector. With glamping, unfortunately, you may have additional worries because of lender hesitation. The nature of glamping means business owners tend to fall into two categories, neither of which appeal to lenders: 

  • You own land and want to monetise it by starting a glamping business. Lenders will hesitate due to your lack of holiday letting experience and the cost of setting up infrastructure and outfitting the site. 
  • You don’t own land but want to buy some and establish a glamping site. Lenders will hesitate even more as you aren’t yet a landowner and have very little leverage. 

In both cases, here are some considerations that will improve your potential offer: 

  • If you have secured planning permission for a glamping site, lenders will look more favourably at your business idea. 
  • If you’ve got experience in holiday lettings you can prove to the lender it will help them de-risk the application. 
  • If you’ve already completed work on renovating land for glamping by installing plumbing, electricity etc, you’ll now have a more tangible business proposition and can even use the land value as leverage. 

Ultimately though, gaining finance at an early stage will be a challenge because the only real security you can offer is through personal assets or other properties. If you’re a landowner, for example, that may mean taking out a business loan against your farmhouse. Initially, you may need to accept a higher interest product to help you secure the initial purchase such as a bridging loan. 

However, as you begin to move through the process of building your glamping business, you’ll be able to access different financial products that can be hugely beneficial. Asset finance, for example, sees a lender issue funds which are secured against the value of the asset itself - taking the burden of security away from you. 

The real challenge is creating an application that will suitably impress lenders and get them on board with your idea. Even if you’re in very early stages, you may be able to access better products and rates if you can convince a lender of the long-term value of your business. 

Rangewell can fight that battle for you. Not only will we talk you through the considerations of loans to buy land, development finance for the site itself or asset finance for pods/huts/tents etc, we’ll also identify the right lenders for your business and negotiate the agreement on your behalf – all without any cost to you. 

Choosing a site

When starting your glamping business, you’ll need to have a site secured that permits short-stay accommodation. Some regions in the UK prohibit how long you can lease the property as short-lets, so make sure you’re aware of the rules and ask your local council for advice if you’re unsure. You don’t need to look in popular tourist areas – some glamping sites are successful mainly because they’re in further-flung places or overlooked regions. 

Most glamping owners get into the business almost by accident – normally, you’ll own a parcel of land and decide on glamping as a route to monetising it. If you already own land, consider the planning permission you’ll need and the utilities/infrastructure you’ll have to build. 

If you don’t already own land, you’ll need to find an area suitable for glamping. Again, you’ll need to consider planning permission as well as the cost of developing the land to be suitable for holiday lettings.

Sites that allow for multiple developments will be more profitable in the long-run, as you’ll be able to welcome more guests at once. However, some landowners enjoy success with just a single property such as a barn conversion or lodge, provided it is popular enough with guests and priced accordingly. 

Finance to buy your site

If you’re looking to purchase land, you’ll likely need a loan to help you afford it. Rangewell can help you secure the right loan to suit your initial purchase, but we won’t stop there. We’ll work with you throughout the development of your glamping business to help you identify, apply and negotiate the most suitable loans. In many cases, this means refinancing where possible to consolidate payments, reduce overall interest and extend repayment terms.

Planning permission for glamping

Whether you already own land or not, you’ll need to secure planning permission if you intend to build a glamping business. The only instance in which you don’t need permission is if your site won’t have glamping for more than 28 days in a year (which wouldn’t be very profitable.) Which type of permission you’ll need is not straightforward - tents may allow for different permissions compared to permanent structures such as huts. 

To secure permission, you’ll need to apply with your local planning authority and show the rationale behind your application. Generally, it’s a good idea to include details on how you’ll enrich the land and add value to the local area – things like transport links, infrastructure and utilities are all viewed in a good light. Some sites will be harder to get permission for than others, particularly in areas of outstanding national beauty, national parks, heritage sites etc. 

Some land types are more forgiving. Farms and agricultural land, for example, has an allowance within the National Planning Policy Framework for allowing diversification. We’d recommend working with a planning expert who can help you submit your application or advise on changes you could make to increase your chances of success. 

When you’ve secured the permission and developed the land, it may be time to refinance. Lenders will be more interested in a site that has all of the infrastructure needed, and permission agreed, so you’ll be able to access further finance or reduce existing rates potentially. 

Outfitting your glamping business

The infrastructure (plumbing, power etc.) costs alone for a glamping business can cost as much as £50,000 - £100,000 for a four-structure site. This can obviously rise even more if you plan to have more pods/tents or added facilities. 

After paying these costs, you may seek to minimise expenses by choosing tents rather than permanent glamping pods/huts. However, consider that the initial lower cost of tents can become insignificant if weather damage occurs or you have to erect/disassemble the tents when weather conditions turn. 

Do your research into each popular structure type and assess that in the context of maintenance, service life, popularity with tourists and planning considerations (you may not be able to get consent if you want to erect certain permanent structures, but tents or pods may be permitted). 

Ultimately, you’ll need to pick your chosen accommodation as a compromise between cost and practicality. The units that can drive the highest nightly rate whilst still securing regular bookings will be more profitable than a unit which needs lots of maintenance between stays or has too high a nightly price. 

Think of ways you can add value to your site for minimal cost. Log-burning fires and stoves are popular with tourists and can be set up relatively inexpensively – though you’ll need to take care of fire safety arrangements. Hot tubs, on the other hand, are certainly popular but may be more impractical in the context of Britain’s ongoing energy crisis. 

Asset finance for your glamping pods

We touched on asset finance earlier, but it’s worth reminding you of the possibilities it offers. Asset finance sees a lender loaning you cash based on the value of the asset. In the context of glamping, that may mean they pay for the pods/huts you want and the security will be the structures themselves. You’ll still need to repay the loan as usual, but the risk to your own personal assets or business is lessened. 

The right asset finance deals need to be negotiated by an expert working on your side. Choose Rangewell and we’ll help do just that – finding the finance you need for your glamping pods, huts, bell tents or whatever other structure you want to create. 

Buying a glamping business vs building one

Is buying a glamping business easier than building one from scratch? Most likely. However, you’ll need to find the right business for sale, raise the cash needed to buy it and then deal with the ramifications of taking over an existing business. 

Buying a glamping business is something you’ll probably need lender support to help with. You may be an existing glamping business looking to buy out a local competitor or a newcomer who wants to get into the industry. Either way, you’ll still need to apply for finance with a lender. 

You’ll need a significant deposit and have to take time to create a proposition that shows why you’re a worthwhile investment – think of ways you can appear less risky such as detailing your history as a holiday-let owner, or outlining improvements you can make to the site that will add to its profitability.  

How to advertise your glamping site

One of the earliest challenges for camping sites was the limited audience they attracted, mainly comprised of regular campers, word-of-mouth recommendations and travellers following physical maps. The age of the internet transformed this, giving even the smallest sites in the UK the ability to have a digital footprint that attracts guests from all over the country or even further afield. 

For a modern glamping business, the internet will be how you’ll secure most of your bookings. You may choose to build a website and manage bookings through that, but this requires upfront investment in the site and ongoing maintenance – as well as no guarantee of attracting guests without heavy marketing costs. 

Instead, most glamping site owners will use a popular tourism platform such as Booking.com, Airbnb or campsites.co.uk. These all vary in their approach and user base, so you’ll need to find which suits you best (many owners choose to list on multiple channels, just be careful you don’t double book.)

Growing your glamping site

Once your glamping site is up and running and you’re generating revenue, lenders will become more interested in favourable agreements. You should consider refinancing whenever you’ve got an existing facility that was taken out before your business started to generate profit, as most loans given at that stage will have been more restrictive than what you can access now.

You may also want to take out further finance to fund upgrades or additions to the site. Thankfully, this will also be easier thanks to all the hard work you’ve already put in. With permission secured, facilities installed and pods up and running, you can generally find lenders who will offer a more favourable business loan with far less security required. 

Getting started with a glamping business is all about planning it correctly and making the right decisions with your finances. Rangewell can help you secure the right finance agreements at the right times, transitioning between earlier loan agreements into more favourable ones when the time is right. With our help, you can build a glamping business of your dreams even if you’ve yet to buy the land. 

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