Budgeting – the price of running a glamping site and how to save on costs

Sarah from Swallowtail Hill has spent 10 years running a successful glamping site. Over that time she has gained lots of quick tips and tricks to save money when it comes to operations. At The Glamping Show, Sarah very kindly shared her wisdom on the true price of glamping.

“Speaking at The Glamping Show was a great opportunity to be able to give those just starting out a bit of an insight into the real cost of starting and running a glamping business. But costs are an ongoing issue for glampsites, margins are slim, and as established business owners, we’re always looking for ways to make sure we provide a high-quality experience without eating into our bottom line.  Here’s my quick check list for those costs that really can sneak up on you if you’re not careful:

Changeovers
They need to be quick but efficient. You’re only as good as your last review so you need to keep standards high, but even if you’re doing the cleaning yourself and not employing staff – time is your biggest cost. Consider how you can make your changeovers run like clockwork – lots of spares perhaps, so you can do quick switches and bring the grubby stuff back to base to clean overnight.

Extras
It’s great to stand out from the crowd and offer all the finishing touches that guests love, but if you can’t service them don’t offer them. If all of your soft furnishings are dry clean only, then how serviceable are they really? Your welcome pack might be gourmet, but if it’s too expensive it can’t be justified.

Linens and Laundry are never one-off costs
Guests like to challenge us with stains that are difficult to remove (fake tan anyone?!). Make sure you’ve enough sets of linen so you never have an emergency that you aren’t ready for!

Maintenance
Keep on top of the small stuff and get in professional help for the rest. If your wood burners or your gas boilers aren’t properly maintained then guest safety is at stake, and that isn’t a risk any of us want to take.

Insurance
How well are you covered?  It’s always worth a reassessment if you’ve expanded your business and are offering new facilities. Make sure your policy covers all aspects of your operation – public and employee liability, equipment, vehicles etc.

Marketing
This takes time and effort. Not all of it requires a big budget, but even on a low budget it will involve your time and personal resource. It’s easy to get side-tracked into thinking it’s only the expensive stuff that counts. Make sure you use social media to your best advantage and be open to offering facility visits in return for editorial coverage. This is a really brilliant way to get exposure to a wide group – articles and influencer trips can have reach for a while and can continue to deliver bookings long afterwards.

Employees
Either as self-employed help, or under contract. It’s a balancing act to get the right number of people to help you do the job efficiently without costing you your entire profit margin.  Make sure you invest in your people with proper training – the better they are, the more efficient (and cost effective) your business will be. And watch out for employment law – it’s an ever changing landscape with increasing burdens being placed on small businesses.”

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