After a brief hiatus, the borders of New Zealand and Australia are open to everyone. The world’s travelers are looking at two of the most desirable nations to travel to once again. Things have changed though, the wants and needs of travelers are different now and the experiences and facilities they desire have shifted.
Table of Contents
- Glamping Industry Overview
- Building Your First Glamping Business Plan
- Executive Summary
- Market Research
- Competitor Analysis
- Positioning Your Offer
- Marketing and Awareness
- Financial Planning
- People & Operations Plan
- Funding Plans
- Free Business Plan Template
An evolving opportunity:
The drastic change in visitor data was confirmed in 2021 by Airbnb themselves who are craving unique listings and experiences to disconnect away from city centres. Pre-pandemic this was the complete opposite.
This is where glamping listings, retreats and resorts are winning globally as well as across Australia and New Zealand. Even traditional hotel and rental operators, where they can, are looking to add more glamping-like experiences on their own properties - be it full on overnight stays or rustic wood-fired hot tubs.
The glamping advantage:
For entrepreneurs looking to get into the vacation market, a traditional build is becoming next to impossible. Many builds are being delayed upwards of six months at a time for simple things we took for granted, like drywall being readily available. Delays like this can put a business underwater before it gets off the ground.
Glamping years ago may have been seen as a flashy trend but for multiple reasons now it’s become embedded into the high end short-term rental offerings:
- Consumer for ‘off-grid-like’ experiences with low/no contact with others
- Higher than baseline occupancy rates and cost per night compared to traditional offerings
- Extremely high Return on Investment (ROI) for owners
- Ability to quickly and easily expand and grow with demand, even with current supply chain issues.
The market across Australasia and throughout the South Pacific is still in its early stages. The time is now for anyone with the right piece of land and the drive to build a steady source of new income by building a luxury glamping site and delivering remarkable guest experiences for both local and international travelers.
But, you’ll need the right plan.
So, to make it easy, we’ve put together this detailed article along with the bare bones Business Plan headings and notes you can download for free. Whether you’re bootstrapping this yourself or are looking for others to invest into your glamping empire - you need a plan!
Let’s get after it…
When is the best time to enter the glamping industry?
The best time was yesterday, the second best time is today, and following along in third place will be tomorrow.
The reality is New Zealand and Australia are finite markets and as one of the leading suppliers of glamping and off-grid experiences we’re only seeing this trend increase. What is key is to be quick to lay down the foundation of your glamping property and become a leader in the region.
That being said though, the market is still in its infancy and there’s a lot of room for multiple glamping sites in every corner of the country, but the sooner you have yours live the better.
Glamping Industry Overview
The global glamping market size is already valued at USD $2.35 billion (NZD $3.6B / AUD $3.3B) and is expected to increase with a compound annual growth rate of 10.9% (CAGR).
Australasia and the South Pacific are poised to outpace this growth as the region is a couple of years behind that of Europe and North America.
There are many factors that are attributing to this projected growth:
- Increasing awareness of glamping and off-grid-like accommodation
- Desire for stays out of major city centres
- Increased ability to work while traveling (‘staycations’ & ‘workations’)
- Older high disposable income travelers choosing to travel domestically
- Family and pet friendly accommodations
Is glamping a profitable business?
Of major high end offerings, glamping businesses have some of the best ROI for anyone getting started in the short-term rental space.
The cost of setup obviously isn’t just the cost of a Geodesic Dome as there are other material costs associated with its construction and interior. Adding all of these up and comparing them to virtually any other type of listing the ROI will always outperform.
Many of our customers report returning 100% or more of their setup costs within their first season of operation (with some even doing so in a matter of a couple of months!).
The most important thing is identifying what price point you are planning to have your glamping listing and build a realistic budget for the build.
- Glamping resorts who charge $800 a night will have a wildly different budget to someone aiming to return $100 a night.
- Both of these businesses can be immensely profitable over time, but they cater to different audiences who will have different expectations on everything — inside and out — of your glamping property.
The good news is you can change your glamping offer over time, or if you have a large property, even test out more than one option simultaneously.
Many listings also start small by partnering with local businesses to offer luxury as an add-on. A great example of this would be offering a fully catered stay, but this is fulfilled by a local catering company rather than you stressing out in the kitchen every weekend!
As one of our founders Will always says: “Dream big, but start small and smart!”
Building your first glamping business plan
A glamping business plan is not a unique and mysterious document, it’s just a business plan focused on glamping. Once you realise this, and understand the core areas to flesh out, its creation becomes a much simpler task.
“Who is this for?”
This first question you want to ask yourself is who are you writing this for and what’s my goal with them reading this plan?
Some examples could be:
- Just for myself (or me and my partner or family)
- For a property owner whose land I want to use
- For the bank to secure a loan
- For an potential investor or investors
Keep this person or these people in mind with every section you craft and word you write.
Like any regular business plan, here are your key sections to include in this glamping business plan:
1. Executive Summary
A business plan is a series of sections in a fairly specific order and they can be fairly extensive. The idea of an Executive Summary is to let any person picking up your business plan get an idea of you and your business.
This is your company’s equivalent to a personal statement on someone’s resume. An Executive Summary is likely to decide how intently someone reads the rest of your plan (if at all).
The goal is to be concise, show them you and your business are poised for success and that you’re going to be a reliable partner or associate and that the business is poised for success.
There’s a formula to it’s creation and it goes along these lines:
- Who: introduce the business and its people: what have you done to show you’ll be successful with this business (& if you’re new to this industry, what do you bring into it).
- Why: outline your rationale on the business: emotively explain what motivated you to embark on this business and what you’re aiming to achieve.
- What: explain the problems you’re solving or the opportunity gap you’re filling and for whom (i.e. your target market).
- What else: summarise the extensive market research you’ve done and how it’s drawn you to the conclusion of starting a business. Look to include market size metrics at regional, national and international levels both within the glamping industry and just the wider tourism industry in general - wherever possible.
2. Market Research
Start by outlining the industry itself luxury glamping industry and the various levels. For example macroeconomic trends of global glamping is helpful but it doesn’t necessarily prove that it woks
Therefore you may want to look into the more micro-trends of glamping and tourism in your area as this will help build confidence with partners, particularly if you’re asking for their investment in money, land, or time.
It doesn’t have to be too hard, for example you could:
Put a list together of all glamping or off-grid properties available on Airbnb, Bookabach and VRBO in your area
- Review their amenities and offerings
- Outline their pricing (peak, shoulder, off-season)
- If possible, estimate their occupancy rate by reviewing their listings over a period of time
To make some of this data collection and analysis easier there are online marketing intelligence platforms like AirDNA and Transparent that you can pay for.
3. Competitor Analysis
Now, start looking at what’s going on around you both in the glamping space as well as just regular short-term rental options.
What that means is you want to take a look at the more micro-trends of glamping and tourism in your area as this will help build confidence with partners, particularly if you’re asking for their investment in money, land, or time.
Put a list together of all glamping or off-grid properties available on Glamping Hub, Canopy Escapes, Airbnb, Bookabach and VRBO in your area
- Review their amenities and offerings (they don’t have to be identical but at least similar)
- Outline their pricing (peak, shoulder, off-season)
- If possible, estimate their occupancy rate by reviewing their listings over a period of time
From this data you should be able to uncover lots of things. Here are a few examples:
- How many glamping type of rentals are within 100km of our location?
- What are some of their strengths and weaknesses (proximity to infrastructure, views, privacy, hot tubs, saunas, cold plunge?
- Estimated occupancy and charge rates
- Research their social media profiles and websites — who are they targeting and is that the same or different to you?
- What’s my business's competitive advantage?
This type of research shows you’re being pragmatic and practical in the business you’re building and the likelihood of its success.
4. Positioning Your Offer
Specifically outline the glamping business you're intending to execute on.
This means very concisely outlining what your glamping site(s) have to offer which the competitors don’t. Technically this is called identifying your unique sales proposition (USP) over your competitors and substitutes.
If you’re looking to win over investors, advisors or landowners then try to outline USP(s) you’ll be able to defend if the competition heats up.
“My Geodesic Dome Resort is the only one within [insert distance, proximity to tourist attractions, etc.]” ... is not a USP you can continue to defend easily
Whereas, “My Geodesic Dome Resorts all come paired with a wood-fired hot tub or sauna and we aim to continue to add additional amenities over time” … positions your USP at a desired level of luxury with the desire to build on it in the future.
5. Marketing and Awareness
Next it’s time to begin to determine where and how people are going to not only learn about you, but importantly, how they make bookings.
The two most common ways people book glamping accommodation is:
- Via popular rental platforms like: websites with large amounts of users such as AirBnb, Bookabach, VRBO and Glamping Hub is always a great way to begin your glamping business as it can bring people from all over the world directly to your offering
- Through your own website: as your business grows you may want to consider hosting bookings directly on your own site. This gives you a higher profit margin and allows you to flexibly communicate with your potential customers. (note: this takes time and resource to build and manage)
Having a social media presence with regular content is critical in this day and age. We recommend at minimum being present on one platform but to seriously consider more than one of Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Pinterest.
6. Financial Planning
This section is where you very simply and clearly explain:
- What it’s going to cost to setupHow much money your glamping business will require at the outset
- How much it’s going to cost to run and maintain
- When you believe you will make a full return on this investment
- How much do you believe this business will make beyond returning initial capital
In order to outline this you need to have an accurate idea of all of the setup and ongoing costs to your business.
Some setup costs include:
- Raw materials for foundation, deck and interior
- Costs to furnish interior and exterior
- Additional amenities, power, water, etc.
- Geodesic Dome purchase
- All labour costs
Next, outline all the fixed or variable costs you might have for the business to operate:
- Staff or salaries (if any)
- Any freelance or contract workers (e.g. cleaner)
- Taxes, fees, permits to operate
- General guest amenities and cleaning supplies
- Regular business needs such as computers, internet, subscriptions etc.
If this is your first time either building or running a business like this we strongly suggest seeking professional help where you haven’t had the experience. This will likely save you money in the long run and minimizes the risks of missing important elements of this new business.
7. Outline your people and operations plan
Ideas are free, it’s the people and the plan you execute on that is of most value.
In this section very pragmatically outline:
- Your Team
- Their roles and responsibilities
- Plans for growth
- Intended guest experiences
- General health and safety policies (particularly important in remote locations)
8. Funding Plans
If you’re self-funding your venture then this funding plan will look very similar to financial planning above. The main thing here is identifying that you personally have the cash flow to not only fund the construction of the project but also being able to handle those ongoing costs as the business ramps up.
If you are looking elsewhere for funding or resource, the most common ways people raise money externally are:
- Banks: via a loan, line of credit or pulling capital out of your current mortgage (if on the same property)
- Partnerships: this could be partnering with a landowner and splitting the costs to build and revenues once success through to a friend or family member with complementary skill sets.
- Investors: if you’re building a bigger business and have the network, sometimes getting a large amount of funding by having someone or people invest into your business with cash to own a portion of your business by issuing them shares.
Glamping business plan template
To help you cut corners here a little bit we’ve boiled down this information into a Document to use as a template to plug and play. We do recommending making changes to some of the sections or areas as you see fit for your business. Turn it into your very own glamping masterplan!
Download your template here!