There has been a surge in demand for glamping in recent years with many UK farmers turning to holiday letting in a bid to boost their income, new research has revealed.
Diversification in the farming sector is becoming increasingly popular, according to Sykes Holiday Cottages, with the number people looking to rent out glamping accommodation, including huts, pods, yurts and log cabins, rising by 56 per cent since 2019.
The pandemic has no doubt contributed to this rise in interest with more people still looking to holiday in the UK after many plans were scuppered last year.
As a result, Sykes reports a 45 per cent uplift in glamping bookings in 2021 compared to 2019 – a silver lining for UK farm owners who have chosen to diversify in holiday letting.
Demand: Farmers are renting out their land for glamping trips in a bid to boost their income
It added that, prior to the pandemic, the average Sykes glamping owner earned £13,000 in revenue annually from a hut, pod, yurt or log cabin.
But now the number has risen by 30 per cent this year to £17,000 thanks to an increase in demand.
For those weighing up where to invest, Cumbria and the Lake District are popular locations for glamping properties with Cornwall and East Anglia also proving desirable amongst guests.
In terms of what features people want from glamping accommodation, owners can expect to make 56 per cent more if they have a hot tub on site, while an open fire could help to boost revenue by 7 per cent.
Other amenities like a BBQ or pizza oven are also recommended additions to complete the glamping experience for guests, while having Wi-Fi actually tends to hinder revenue for glamping properties with many preferring a digital detox.
Bev Dumbleton, chief operating officer at Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: ‘Even for some time prior to the pandemic, at Sykes we’ve been noticing strong demand for glamping or farm-based holidays amongst British holiday-goers.
‘Customers are always looking for a different type of holiday experience and glamping offers exactly that.
‘The growing popularity of this type of holiday – and clear investment potential it offers to farmers or landowners – means that many are coming to us with questions on how to unlock the potential of their land.
‘With a stronger UK staycation market likely to remain a fixture for years to come, the long-term revenue opportunities for those considering entering the market now could be substantial.’
Glamping has become more popular since the pandemic when people couldn’t travel abroad
Other companies add they have also experienced a growth in glamping.
Cool Camping said it has three times the number of glamping bookings in 2021 compared to 2019, partly due to an increase in the number of people searching for glamping holidays and partly down to a growth in inventory too.
A spokesperson said: ‘It’s an area where we’re continuing to see growth, with particular interest this year in winter glamping and glamping accommodation with hot tubs.
‘Our hot tub glamping landing page is currently the most visited page on our website this month, with more hits than our homepage, and holidays in November were up by 230 per cent on last year and 200 per cent on 2019.
‘Since cosy interiors and fireside glasses of wine make for instagrammable retreats, too, we expect that holidaymakers sharing their trips on social media will only continue to fuel the growth of winter glamping and the growth of glamping more widely.’
Meanwhile, Glampingly said this year bookings have increased by 300 per cent compared to 2019, with other small changes too, including the length of the average stay increasing by almost 15 per cent.
The lead-time on the average holiday has almost doubled, it said, moving from an average of 48 days in advance in 2019 to an average of 80 days in advance this year.
A spokesperson said: ‘This reflects both the overall level of demand but also the fact that consumers are now seeing glamping as a substantial holiday offering rather than a last-minute weekend break.
‘The highest number of searches we see is for people looking for hot tubs and browsing the high end of the market – especially treehouses – but when it comes to bookings, its mid-range accommodation such as pods that sees the highest volumes and “weather-proof” structures like pods and shepherd’s huts that are in most demand over and above canvas offerings.’
The couple spent £11,000 on doing up the shepherd’s hut in Scarborough during lockdown
Scarborough farmers tap into new holiday letting trend
While the pandemic may have put a pause on new business ventures for many, Ashley Tyson, 46, a farmer based in Scarborough, used his time in lockdown last year preparing to enter the world of holiday letting.
After reading up on the predicted staycation boom, and doing his research into popular staycation trends, Ashley and his wife Nicola decided to build a shepherd’s hut on their farm.
The pair used some of their savings to kick start the project, spending around £11,000 in total.
Keen to support those in the local area at a challenging time, they enlisted the help of two local workmen to help build the shepherd’s hut, while also using some of their own DIY and interior expertise.
Located within the grounds of Stepney Hill Farm on the outskirts of Scarborough, Ashley and Nicola have created a shepherd’s hut with countryside views as well as a hot tub.
The holiday let was able to open up last summer when travel resumed in July, taking 16 bookings over several months.
Ashley Tyler & his wife, Nicole, built a shepherd’s hut on their farm to let out during lockdown
This year is set to be even more fruitful for the couple, with the diary booked up for 2021.
According to Sykes Holiday Cottages data, bookings for holidays in Scarborough are up almost 80 per cent versus 2019, prior to the pandemic, while demand for glamping and luxury accommodation is also at an all-time high.
With this in mind, Ashley and Nicola are planning to add a second holiday home to their roster, using their experience to build an extension to their farmhouse and converting this for guests.
The new property will feature a luxury kitchen and lounge, complete with a log burner and hot tub for those looking to enjoy a winter trip. It will also be fully accessible for disabled guests.
Tyson said: ‘Starting a new business venture during the pandemic was challenging at times, but also very rewarding.
‘We loved seeing our guests’ reactions when we were able to first open up last summer, and look forward to meeting even more new faces now that self-contained accommodation has officially reopened.
‘A shepherd’s hut allows us to offer a unique staycation experience to holidaymakers, and one that it is appealing all year-round with the addition of features like a wood-burning fire and hot tub.
‘It has also been a great way to get into holiday letting as building the hut itself required little up-front investment and is fairly easy to maintain.
‘I would wholeheartedly recommend holiday letting for anyone who is considering it as a project and using an agent makes the whole process hassle-free.’
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