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How To Start a Glamping Business - Creating a Perfect Glampsite
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October 08, 2021 16 min read

CANVAS COTTAGE + AIRBNB = Extra income

CANVAS COTTAGE + AIRBNB = Extra income

The tourism industry is quickly evolving as friends and family seek to experience socially distanced and unique vacations that are away from crowded pools, long lines, and basic traditional hotel rooms. Travelers are seeking a greater connection with nature and are gravitating towards glamping (glamorous camping) as a way to fulfill this desire. More and more glamping accommodations are popping up to rent, but these rentals are not keeping pace with the ever-growing demand.

With a little upfront work and low investment (check out our Life inTents Bell Tents), you can join the growing glamping trend by sharing your property with adventurous travelers from around the country. Top-performing Airbnb tent hosts in North America earned on average $15,000 per tent listing in 2019 after becoming an Airbnb tent host.

Are you interested in becoming a tent host on Airbnb? Learn more, list your space, or get help with any questions here.*

*Life inTents is an Airbnb partner, so when you create a listing and host on Airbnb through our partner link, we receive a percentage in earnings. Then, Life inTents donates 100% of Airbnb partner earnings to theNational Coalition for the Homeless, because everyone should have a roof over their heads.

Is Your Location Desirable for a Glamp Site?

Would anyone actually want to stay in your backyard? Do you live in a desirable place that’s near a popular destination, or alternatively, a remote location that’s nestled in nature and far from cities and hotels? Do you have unique activities for guests to be entertained or to exercise?

You don’t have to be in a particularly busy area to make a backyard tent rental worth it. Access to trails, vistas, lakes, vineyards, beaches, or restaurants that are just a short drive away create built-in demand for a glamping business. Also keep in mind any local festivals or events that require additional local lodging for an influx of visitors (festivals, holidays, conferences, school vacations, etc.).

You’ve already won half the battle if you can say “Yes” to any of the above!

How Much Money Can I Earn With A Glamping Business?

Becoming a glamping host will fill your emotional bank with joy and pride as you share your property with happy glampers. But your bank account also needs to be looked after as well. You’ll need to do the math based on your unique situation to confirm that your forecasted income exceeds your ongoing expenses—anticipating a financial investment for your initial site build and asset purchases.

We’d recommend starting small for the first season, say one to three units, then growing from there. Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope math on what your ROI could be based on average furnishing costs ($1,500) and amenities ($500) when using one of our tents ($1,600).

  • Average nightly rental rate $125 x 55 Total nights booked = $6,875 Gross Revenue

  • Investment: (~$3,600)

  • Year 1 Gross Income: $3,275

That is for year one. Year two earnings could be much higher per tent since you don’t need to buy a new tent and furnishings, and your positive host reviews on Airbnb will hopefully help to secure even more bookings.

Not only can our bell tent bring relatively easy, passive income to your property, but there's also the added benefit of travelers arriving at your doorstep enjoying your property. If you want to keep to yourself and don’t dig conversation with strangers, OK, that’s cool. But for many of us, the possibility of sharing coffee and stories with a few kind adventurers every once in a while—in your own backyard—seems like a real nice perk.

Are you interested in becoming a tent host on Airbnb? Learn more here.


Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Tent Ready to Share With Others

So you have the land and are digging on the potential glamping income of becoming an Airbnb tent host, now it is time to get your glamping site ready for your first guest.

Select a Spot For Your Bell Tent Rental

Step one is to identify your glampsite locations. Select flat, private and “Instagram-able” locations for your bell tent placement. Yes, we’re serious about that last part.

The most important criterion is to identify a fairly flat piece of ground to set up the bell tent(s) - you don’t want your guests rolling off their bed when they sleep. Trees logically provide good shade from the hot sun, but they are actually an enemy when it comes to long-term set-up of canvas bell tents. Sap, debris, and bird droppings can fall onto the roof and are difficult to clean, while encouraging the growth of mold and mildew. So, we suggest keeping a distance from trees if possible.

bell tent platform deck

Water drainage is also important to consider when selecting your tent site. Will water drain away from the tent with the placement you are selecting? You will want to avoid setting up in locations where water gathers or runs through, so that your tent and guests are able to avoid mud and puddles.


If the grade of the land is up to snuff, then hopefully you can visualize an appealing background composition that enhances photos of your tent. Your visitors will love to share their adventure with their own network, so providing fun and attractive backyard glamping photos will do wonders in helping to book more guests.

If you are considering multiple tents, then take into consideration the privacy of each site. The beautiful thing about sleeping in a tent at night is that it lets in many sounds from nature – both near and far. To account for this, set up multiple tents as far away from one another as possible. It is also a best practice to avoid having tent doors facing each other so that your guests aren’t forced into inadvertent peeping during their stay.

Prepare Your Glamping Tent Site

Start by trimming back any grass, branches, or plants that could interfere with your set-up or guests. Once the space is clear you will want to think about the bell tent foundation that it will be placed upon.

Next, grab a metal rake and shovel to level the ground where the tent will be set-up, taking care to remove any sharp ground debris.

To help with water drainage we would suggest laying down some finely ground rock, such as decomposed granite.

If you want to go the extra mile you can build a wood bell tent platform deck to set your tent up on. This not only looks great, but it virtually guarantees a flat surface and comfortable barrier from groundwater.

Finally, we suggest taking extra precautions when performing a long-term tent set-up and use a bell tent footprint tarp to help create a protective barrier between the dirt, rock, or wood foundation and the tent.

bell tent site preparation

Setting Up Your Bell Tent

set up canvas tentTake a little extra time and pay special attention to the finer details while setting up the bell tent.
Make sure that the floor is pulled tight as you insert the ground stakes to eliminate wrinkles on the groundsheet. Double check that the groundsheet zippers are securely covered by the canvas to prevent unwanted rainwater from seeping and getting your guest’s belongings wet.
Finally, tighten the guy lines to smooth out the canvas of the tent walls and roof -this helps to encourage rain to drain off and provides proper wind resistance. We suggest regularly double checking these elements on a weekly basis!


For a detailed guide, check out our article on Bell Tent Setup, or watch this video below:

How To Decorate and Furnish Your Glamping Tent Rental

canvas tent interior designNow it’s time to give your bell tent rental some character, comfort, and charm by choosing the furnishings and decorations that you think will attract guests. Pick a design style that you’d like your furnishings to match (i.e. boho chic, country western, rustic, elegant and modern, shabby chic, etc.) and go shopping!

The most important decision that you want to make is the beds. Decide on how many guests you will want to open up for reservations, and whether or not you anticipate that families will be welcome.

For example, our 5-meter (16-foot) bell tents can hold up to 2 queen beds or 4 single beds. So decide on the bed configuration that you want to go with that matches your anticipated guest needs. Of course, the more beds you include, the less room you will have for complementary furnishings. Certainly, make sure that you select a comfortable mattress, since a good night’s sleep is the most important aspect of overnight hospitality.

Outside of the bed and linens, here’s a short checklist of other important furnishings to consider including in the bell tent:

For more ideas, Airbnb also provides a checklist for how to keep guests happy through essential amenities, safety features, and more.

Power Up the Bell Tent

Fortunately, in today’s world there are many options for providing your guests with electrical power. At minimum you will want to offer a solution to recharge phones so that they can take pictures of your amazing tent and share them with the world. Here are some power solutions to consider:

  • Rechargeable powerbank charger (20,000-30,000 mAh USB charger or an all-in one solution)

  • Rechargeable portable power station (like this one that has an optional solar panel)

  • Run an extension cord and power strip directly from an outlet

bell tent solar power

If you decide to go with rechargeable power stations or a powerbank, consider offering these as an add-on. That way you can check these items in and out and make a few extra bucks.

Prepare your Backyard Tent for cold and wet weather

It is good to anticipate temperature swings that nature brings so you can help keep your guests as comfortable as possible.

For chilly evenings, a simple solution to help guard against colder temperatures is to include a few extra blankets that they can use in the bell tent when temperatures drop. But you may also want to consider a heat source.

Some bell tents have a stove jack


Small propane heaters can work well in bell tents, and most come standard with safety features that will shut them off if they tip over or oxygen levels get depleted. You could also go all out and install a wood burning stove in your bell tent so that guests can stay extra cozy.

bell tent summer beach.jpg

The daytime during the summer months will bring with it sweltering summer sun that is difficult to combat inside of any tent. Even with the screened windows and open doors, a breeze is sometimes hard to come by. Fortunately our double wall tents allow you to roll up the lower walls to allow more air in. But you may consider adding a rechargeable fan to your tent to help encourage the airflow.

We also offer a bell tent fly that can be set-up over the top of the tent to help regulate the internal temperatures within the tent. Once installed, the fly creates a layer of air between the tent that helps to keep the tent cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. As a bonus, the fly will also keep your tent roof clean from falling debris!

As for mud, we’d recommend helping to keep your tent floor and rugs clean by including a boot tray that will encourage your guests to take off their dirty shoes in the tent, and an entry mat so that they wipe their feet before entering.

Provide Entertainment Options For Your Guests

Your guests will likely be happy to pass the time with conversation and reflection about their adventures, but anything you can do to help facilitate some extra fun will certainly enhance their stay.

We suggest adding a few books and magazines that they can leaf through during down time as well as a handful of games such as playing cards, a cribbage board, Exploding Kittens or Cards Against Humanity, which is especially nice for rainy days.

You will also want to curate a list of local destinations that your guests can experience outside of their campsite. Print out a booklet that includes local hikes, sights, shops and experiences that your guests could consider while they are on their vacation. You can also create a personal digital guidebook for your area and send it to your guests after booking so they can plan for their trip.

glamping-games.jpg


With the overwhelming nature of the internet and its million rabbit holes to get lost in, visitors who are seeking out backyard glamping are most likely into the analog, simple, and personal experiences that come naturally with a backyard tent rental. So, pump up the analog, simple and personal experiences!


Prepare the Bathroom

The restroom isn’t a sexy amenity, but it is critical to attracting and keeping a fully booked reservation calendar.

Toilets

Depending on the infrastructure that is already in place or that you will to invest in, bathrooms can range from rustic to luxurious. Given that your guests are camping, you won’t need to go overboard here, but you do need to be mindful of comfort and privacy. Here are several options that could be implemented:

  • Stand-alone plumbed bathroom with running water

  • Composting toilet

  • Outhouse with 4 foot hole dug into the ground

  • Rent a “Port-a-Potty”

  • RV Toilet

  • Share your home or office toilet

No matter the route you go, make sure that you have enough toilets and that they are placed close enough for a midnight run. If you don’t have the luxury of having an onsite sink with running water then we’d suggest including wet wipes and hand sanitizer for your guests.

The Loveable Loo

The Loveable Loo

Showers

A hot shower is one of the best parts about camping, because you come to appreciate it so much more when it’s a luxury. Having a shower available will encourage your guests to stay for multiple evenings. If a fully-functioning bathroom isn’t an option straight away then you could consider a few alternatives:

  • Propane tankless water heater shower with privacy structure

  • Solar shower bag with privacy tent or structure

  • Partner with a local gym to obtain day passes.

Building a backyard shower solution can take a bit of work, especially if you want it to function in all seasons. Consider the right solution for you before getting started hosting.

Cuya

Develop a plan for coffee

glamping coffee

Helping your guests to fuel up first thing in the morning will provide them with positive, lasting memories of their stay. Or at the very least, they’ll remember you as a decent human being who enjoys a good cup of coffee.

You could go all out and come up with a breakfast offering, but at a minimum we’d recommend giving your guests some caffeinated beverage choices in the morning.

Providing a hot cup of coffee or tea could be a bit tricky if a wired kitchen and plumbed sink isn’t onsite. Here are some options to get around this:

  • Propane stove + French press + gallon of water

  • Personal sized wood burning stove + coffee percolator + gallon of water

  • 12V Electric Kettle + Pour over coffee bags + gallon of water

  • Provide iced coffee in a cooler


Whatever path you choose, remember that a beverage is only as good as the vessel it comes in. So make sure to provide a mug or cup that represents your backyard tent experience well. For example, a fancy porcelain tea cup may not be entirely appropriate for a glamping experience (or maybe it is?). We’ve got some Life inTents camping mugs available if you’d like to build your backyard guest house experience around our brand.

Create a guest oasis

Sleeping in a bell tent certainly is magical, but your guests will want to spend some time relaxing in some shade, or viewing night time stars. Creating a communal area where your guests can sit, relax, and socialize will enhance their stay. Here are some items that you could include within this oasis:

  • Sitting area

  • Shade

  • Tables

  • Fire pit

  • Lawn games

  • Lighting

Try to make this oasis “Instagramable” by including a unique feature, design, or amenity that is worthy of your guests talking about and sharing with their network of friends and family.

glamping fire pit

If you are accustomed to reading reviews about lodgings, guests love to mention the one unique thing that is unmistakably tied to the place, and memorable. Otherwise, most reviews will look nearly identical to every other lodging review.

What special feature could you create in your backyard oasis? That’s entirely up to you, but it doesn’t have to be spectacular to create a memorable experience for your guests. A very comfortable fire pit area for nighttime socializing would be a unique draw to your backyard tent rental. A game of Bocce or horseshoes would certainly make it into guest reviews. Or even a backyard swing, vegetable garden, or a shaded sitting area where guests could socialize and reflect.

List Your Tent on Airbnb

You will get the most eyeballs on your glamping tent by listing your tent on Airbnb. This can translate into the most bookings, and therefore more $$$. Learn how to set up your listing on Airbnb and read tips on how to photograph your space to make your listing stand out. Airbnb also provides many other great guides and resources to help you to get your space ready for guests.

As you create your listing, you’ll need to determine what your nightly prices will be. Adding up your expenses is a good way to figure out what your bare minimum must be, to break even on your tent guest house. But you also want to make sure you’re in line with your local market by researching comparable stays within 10-20 minutes of your property. Check out this article from Airbnb on how to set a price strategy.

If the idea of taking in loads of guests day in, day out sounds like another job, you may want to set a minimum night stay. You may lose out on a few visitors who only need one night in your canvas glamping tent, but it could mean the difference between making a profit versus maintaining a side hustle that takes more work than you ever expected. Airbnb gives you full control so you can host only when you want to host. Learn how to master your calendar and booking settings.

Identify Guest Check-In & Check-Out Procedures

One of the mainstays of a seasoned lodging destination is the smooth check-in, check-out, and cleaning procedure. The first few times you get a renter, it’s perfectly natural for there to be hiccups. But after a few months into your operation, you shouldn’t have visitors struggle to figure out where you’re located, how to get into your backyard, what to do once they’re settled in, how to deal with the unexpected, and how to check out quickly and smoothly. Check out this article on how to choose the right check-in method for you, and how to make the check-in as simple as possible.

airbnb+bell+tent+rental

At the same time, there’s nothing worse than arriving at an overnight rental after a long day of travel, only to find a 10-page document that spells out exhaustive instructions for what should be a simple and peaceful night in a cozy tent. Make sure your house manual is short and easy to understand.


When you’re first starting out, it’s helpful to go and checkout what others are doing. In addition to looking at the policies and procedures of other online rental listings, spend a few nights at other backyard guest house rentals and take notes on what you like or what you’d want to improve in your own operation just as these two Airbnb hosts did.

Guest Communication

Outside of the actual stay, there can actually be quite a bit of back and forth communication with guests leading up to their visit. Some guests are planning an elaborate trip that requires some very specific windows of stay, while others want to leave room for flexibility and last minute change. How open you are to either of those types of travelers will determine your style of communication with them up front. Guest communication is key in making guests happy and your life easier - here are some tips to get you started.

We highly recommend prioritizing responses to any guests messages as quickly as possible - within minutes vs. days. Your guests have graciously selected your property for their rare trip and you don’t want to be responsible for souring their vacation by providing details that would clarify the small or big questions quickly. Your quick responses will set you apart and create some great reviews and referrals.

glamping phone.jpg

Then, after your guests have arrived, you’ll want them to have an easy way to contact you - or someone you’ve asked to manage your rental if need be - should there be an emergency or a need to contact you. Of course that’s easy if you’re in the main house - the guests can simply knock on your door. But if you’re out, it’s good to provide guests multiple ways to reach you.

And if you’d like, a guestbook can encourage visitors to share some of their most poetic and intimate thoughts during their stay. It’s a way to connect visitors with others who pass through this exact same place, possibly months or years later. And it’s a nice way for you to enjoy some of the reflection that occurs in your backyard. A guestbook is a precious, positive little treasure book and we think it’s one of the best parts about having your own backyard guest house rental.

Housekeeping Plan

If you’re offering your guests bed sheets and towels, prepare for laundry, and loads of it. You may also need to store a lot more backup sheets, in case you get a buildup of laundry before you can tackle it. And then you’ll want to figure out when and how to clean up after your guests, and prepare for incoming guests if they’re arriving the same day.

Housekeeping may not be a big issue if you only plan on renting your backyard a few times a month at the most, but that could change if you have an unexpected busy season. It’s a good idea to line up someone to help you with housekeeping, like when you’re at your day job, or out of town, so that your tent rental operation can continue to run smoothly even without your absolute attention.

bell tent 4 beds.jpg

Protect yourself

Of course with any business, there are always unexpected challenges that come up. When you’re dealing with weather, travel logistics, people, and your private property, you want to make sure you’re properly insured in case something goes bad.

It’s a good idea to review your home insurance policy closely and determine what you need to do to make sure your property is insured against damage caused by - or to - paying guests. There’s always a little line between personal and business liability, so you want to make sure there are no surprises with your home insurance company.

Every good party has a backup plan

Every good party has a backup plan

Second, you may want to set-up an LLC and purchase business liability insurance, to keep everything separate from yourself in case something happens. The alternative is to continue being a sole proprietor and have all the finances and insurance and claims go through you as an individual, which works fine until the day it doesn’t. You don’t necessarily have to have everything figured out right away, but as your rental starts to grow, it’s a good idea to envision a worst-case scenario and get protected properly.

Conclusion

Wow, that’s a lot that goes into hosting a simple bell tent visitors, isn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s completely up to you to decide how you want to run this little backyard business. It’s your property, and your bell tent, and each market is completely unique. The most important thing is to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal guest and design a space and customer service experience that align.

Interested in becoming a canvas bell tent Airbnb host? List your space here.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the guestbook. You’ll treasure it for years to come.

Questions? Comments? Please get in touch!

As an Airbnb partner, we earn when you create a listing and Host on Airbnb.As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We then donate 100% of our earnings to theNational Coalition for the Homeless! We all win.

SHOP OUR BELL TENTS

Brandy Lamb
Brandy Lamb

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