At the recent Glamping Show Americas 2023 pre-show workshops in Colorado, industry expert Zach Stoltenberg emphasized the essence of the glamping industry, noting, “We are not in the business of accommodations. Glamping is not about selling an accommodation or a unit.”
He further elaborated that the core of glamping lies in “crafting immersive experiences, building relationships, connecting people with one another, connecting people with the outdoors, and creating memories.
Stoltenberg, the glamping design leader at Clockwork, discussed the significance of forward-thinking design in the glamping sector.
Stoltenberg shared, “When I was in architecture school, my professors used to say, ‘if you think like a good designer, then every project that you get, if you know how to think about it, then the design is going to work out.'”
“It’s hard to know where you want to go when you don’t know where you’ve been.”
Highlighting the growth of the glamping industry, Stoltenberg noted, “We are on track to be a 5-billion [dollar] industry by the end of 2025.” He identified experience-based hospitality as a primary driver, stating, “People are looking for unique experiences… something that this is the only place they can go and do this.”
He emphasized the importance of delivering a premium guest experience, cautioning that those who view glamping as a “quick money grab” will struggle in an increasingly saturated market.
In his insightful session, Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of understanding one’s clientele. He stressed the need to build guest profiles to pinpoint who the target customer is and discern where they are coming from. This foundational knowledge is pivotal in tailoring the offerings to the right audience.
Furthermore, Stoltenberg highlighted the significance of being acutely aware of the attractions and draws that entice people to your site and the surrounding area. By understanding these key attractions, glamping operators can better position their businesses in the market.
But merely knowing the attractions isn’t enough. Zach underscored the importance of creating unique experiences. In an industry that thrives on novelty and distinctiveness, offering something different can set a business apart from its competitors.
In addition to crafting unique experiences, there’s a need to create added value. Stoltenberg advised glamping operators to maximize opportunities on their property, ensuring that every aspect of the site contributes to the overall guest experience.
Collaboration is another cornerstone of success in the glamping industry. Zach spoke about the need to develop partnerships with vendors, proprietors, and nearby services. These collaborations can enhance the offerings and provide guests with a holistic experience.
Lastly, Stoltenberg touched upon the importance of future-proofing one’s business. He emphasized the need to plan for future growth through phased plans and gradual investment. This forward-thinking approach ensures that the business remains adaptable and ready for expansion when the time is right.
Stoltenberg emphasized that while there’s no singular formula for success, understanding one’s strengths and limitations is crucial. “No one can do everything,” he remarked, suggesting that operators should focus on their unique strengths and offerings to stand out in the competitive market.
“No one can do everything, right? There, there is no secret sauce to success. It’s important to know what you want to do as an operator. Know what you do, do it well, and create something unique that sets you apart from, from everything else.”
Stoltenberg also highlighted that success in the glamping industry doesn’t hinge on one major factor but is often the culmination of several smaller, well-executed elements. He pointed out the rising trend of food tourism, noting the significance of Food & Beverage (F&B) in any development. With F&B accounting for approximately 20% of potential revenue, it’s an area that operators shouldn’t overlook, especially given the increasing allure of food tourism.
Design, according to Stoltenberg, plays a pivotal role in shaping guest experiences. When guests arrive at a site and sense the intentionality behind every design choice, it enhances their overall experience. The true mark of successful design is when guests focus not on the infrastructure but on the activities and experiences offered. This underscores the importance of understanding the target audience and crafting experiences tailored to their preferences.
To achieve this, Stoltenberg recommends starting with a comprehensive master plan. This foundational document should outline the business’s current position and its aspirations for the next three, five, and ten years. Such foresight ensures that every decision aligns with the long-term vision, setting the business on a path to sustained success.
For glamping business operators: Stoltenberg’s insights underscore the importance of self-awareness, adaptability, and meticulous planning. By focusing on unique offerings, tapping into emerging trends like food tourism, and investing in intentional design, operators can carve a niche for themselves in the ever-evolving glamping industry.
Featured image by Modern Campground.