The Glamping Show Americas 2023, held at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds in Aurora, Colorado last October 2-4, has concluded, marking a pivotal moment in the outdoor hospitality industry with record-breaking registrations and a diverse range of global exhibitors.
Anticipation had been building for this event, which promised and delivered a wealth of knowledge and insights for those venturing into or already navigating through the outdoor hospitality industry.
“This year’s event was much larger than last year’s and was our largest to date. We had over 1600 verified trade visitors and 145 exhibitors from 11 different countries. We sold out of exhibit space for the indoor area and the outdoor area was nearly twice as large as in 2022,” said David Korse, the director of Glamping Business Americas, in an interview with Modern Campground.
His satisfaction with the event was palpable, citing positive feedback from visitors, speakers, and exhibitors, and acknowledging the daytime weather’s cooperation despite some overnight challenges.
He also told Modern Campground that numerous clients deemed this year’s visitors as the most commendable yet, demonstrating active interest in procuring suitable products and services for their businesses. Numerous exhibitors of outdoor structures successfully sold their demonstration models to site proprietors.
“We were told that several substantial orders were placed. The enthusiasm for the market seemed even higher than usual. The conference participants asked a lot of questions from our conference faculty and seemed eager to learn more,” said Korse.
“We also had the largest number of structures on display (than ever before) with a great diversity of options for potential buyers. As best we could tell, folks were very happy with the experience.”
Conference Pre-show Workshops Kickoffs
Kicking off with a day of enriching pre-show workshops on October 2, the event, in partnership with The American Glamping Association (AGA), provided a platform for both new and established glamping operators to delve into the nitty-gritty of transforming glamping aspirations into viable businesses.
The workshops, presented in two half-day programs, covered a spectrum of topics crucial for glamping business operators, from funding options such as traditional debt sources, equity, and seed funding to legal aspects for startups and raising capital.
The morning session of the workshops, titled “Funding Your Glamping Business,” was moderated by Ruben Martinez, president of the AGA, and featured a panel of industry experts, including Paul Bosley, Peter Mack, and Irene Wood.
The panel dissected various funding options available for glamping projects, providing attendees with practical tips to navigate the complex world of glamping financing.
Meanwhile, the afternoon session, “Glamping Business Basics,” covered key elements vital for starting, maintaining, and growing a glamping operation, focusing on sustainability, functionality, and guest experience.
“[D]ay one on Monday is sort of for the new kids, [with sessions like] how to fund your business, the glamping business basics,” Korse said, noting that the succeeding days are “more tactical”, focusing on practical strategies such as task execution and essential knowledge for future endeavors.
“Days two and three on Tuesday and Wednesday are more tactical, [providing attendees knowledge on] how to do this, how to do that—things you need to know for tomorrow,” the event organizer said.
Day 1: Understanding The Industry
Day 1 of the conference on October 3 commenced with a profound “Glamping Americas 2023 State of the Industry Report,” presented by Scott Bahr, president of Cairn Consulting Group.
The report meticulously encapsulated the developmental trajectory, emergent trends, and future projections within the glamping industry, providing attendees with a robust framework to navigate through their glamping business planning and execution.
Sarah Riley, CEO of The Glamping Academy, illuminated the path through “Worldwide Travel Trends in Glamping Hospitality,” sharing a global perspective on unique structures, innovative AI tools, and prioritized value-driven services in the glamping sector.
Navigating through the intricate web of legalities, Christine Taylor, a partner at The Towne Law Firm, presented “It’s a ‘No Rainer.’ Keep Yourself Protected from a Legal Storm.”
The session meticulously traversed through the common legal challenges and potential long-term issues faced by outdoor hospitality owners and operators, providing a roadmap for handling fundamental aspects like waivers, releases, employee management, and guest handling.
Furthermore, Josh Bell, vice president of operations and finance at Kampgrounds Enterprises, Inc., shared invaluable insights on transitioning “From Campsites to Glamping,” focusing on creating a seamless and elevated guest experience by integrating mixed-usage and glamping amenities.
Day 2: Guiding The Leaders of the Industry
On October 4, Day 2 promised a behind-the-scenes look into “Building a Brand” with Jenny McCullough, senior director of marketing and operations of Terramor Outdoor Resort, elucidating the journey from an idea to creating a brand identity and its significance to customers.
Kathleen Walsh, president of Advanced Outdoor Solutions, delved into the mathematics of amenities, rates, and occupancy in her session “Math That Works. Amenities = Rate + Occupancy,” exploring how resort amenities enhance guest experience and enjoyment while impacting construction budgets and financial planning.
“Ignore ADA Compliance at Your Peril” was a pivotal session by Irene Jones, program manager at ARM, Marshall & Sterling, guiding through the complexities of The Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring that glamping resorts are not only welcoming but also compliant with regulatory norms.
Nathan Mayfield, vice president at ResNexus, unraveled strategies in “Strategic Pricing: How to Maximize Occupancy and Profit,” focusing on setting the right price for properties using variable and dynamic pricing principles, considering factors like occupancy, seasonality, and competition.
“So it’s very much a value add commercial business information conference, which is why we had almost 800 people that actually spent time and money to listen to what our speakers had to say, trying to go away with hopefully some information from the event they didn’t have the day before.”
The Glamping Show USA 2023 unfolded as a repository of insights, strategies, and expert advice, guiding attendees through various facets of the glamping industry, from global trends and legalities to strategic integrations of traditional and glamping experiences.
With a successful conference behind them, participants from the outdoor hospitality industry have been provided with actionable insights and success-driven action items, all without a directive towards specific actions or community engagements, ensuring neutral and objective dissemination of information.