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Start A Mobile Glamping Business in 2022

January 12, 2022 8 min read

Glamping event companies and backyard glamping businesses started popping up around 2015 in the Western U.S. to help provide onsite lodging at music festivals and for “off-grid” weddings. Demand started to accelerate due to images posted on social media and through national media – encouraging more mobile glamping services to start around the country. Today the demand for these services is outpacing supply – making this a great small business opportunity in your community. Maybe it is time for you to start an pop-up glamping business?
bell tent with lights on it

What Is a Mobile Glamping Business?

A mobile glamping event business travels to an outdoor location to temporarily set-up glamourous rental canvas tents (typically bell tents) and then furnishes them with beds and décor so that guests can camp comfortably for a couple of nights. These services are typically needed where sufficient lodging doesn’t already exist, but there is enough land to erect these large camping tents. Historically such accommodations are sought after for festivals, outdoor weddings and retreats taking place in remote locations that are surrounded by nature. In recent years, people have started to enjoy a pop-up glamping experience in their own backyard, for birthday parties, anniversaries or for added space for house guests.

Considerations For Starting a Pop-up Glamping Business

This business could a great personal fit if you love people, the outdoors, road trips, hospitality and getting in shape. Aside from those traits, you will also want to consider the following:

  • Outdoor Hospitality:
    Success in this niche revolves around providing guests with great sleeping accommodations and customer service – just like one would expect during a hotel stay (with of course the understanding that there is camping in glamping). Shelters need to be weatherproof, beds need to be made, sheets need to be clean, floors need to be swept, lanterns need to work, and guests need to know which tent is theirs. You’ll want to be dedicated to these details before jumping into this endeavor.
  • Scale & Offering:
    The larger you dream, the greater the investment (of course) and your target demographic will influence your design decisions.
    • Do you want to service 1-3 tents at a time or 10-30 glamping tent events?The size of events will not only influence your inventory needs and potential revenue, but also the needed storage space, transportation needs, and your marketing approach.
    • Do you want to focus on backyard birthday parties for children or service larger events mostly attended by adults? This will influence your decisions on the tent sizes & styles, needed furnishing and décor. We’ve found that streamlining your design approach saves money and storage space.
    • How far away are you comfortable traveling? Depending on your geographic location and size of your inventory, you may need to consider traveling up to 6 hours away (or more). You probably won’t travel 7 hours to set up 3 tents, but the point is that you’ll need to think about how far you are willing to travel based on the size of the opportunity.
  • Partnership:
    Though one can find joy in going at this alone, you’ll want (and need) another dedicated partner on your side in order to scale past a few tents and to help through any growing pains.
  • Seasonality & Time:
    People prefer to camp in warm weather & on the weekends. This creates peak demand for this service in the summer months (or the shoulder seasons if you live in the South) and Friday-Sunday. Therefore, you’ll need to anticipate your physical availability and monetary revenue stream based on your geographic location.
  • Demand:
    Will there be sufficient demand for your glamping business in your region?If you are starting out small, do the homes within a 30-minute drive have large backyards to set-up a tent? Are there enough of them? If you are aiming to serve larger events, are there existing local venues that service outdoor weddings and festivals or other large properties that may require supplemental sleeping accommodations on their land?
  • Personal Space:
    No not for people to glamp at. Rather a yard and garage. You’ll want a regular location to periodically perform tent cleaning and care. A garage or shed is also helpful for keeping some of your gear on hand. Oh, and easy access to a washer and dryer is a must (remember, this a hospitality business :)!

Glamping Rental Equipment Needed

Guests will expect a gorgeous rental tent and comfortable furnishings, but you will also need to consider storage, transportation, and housekeeping items.

  • The Glamping Tents:
    You’ll want to invest in canvas tents that are waterproof, mold resistant, flame resistant retardant (CPAI-84), and have tall sidewalls. As for size, we’d recommend 16-foot (5-meter) bell tents to most comfortably sleep up to 4 guests in queen beds or cots. Smaller 4-meter tents could be considered if you anticipate only using a single queen bed or 3 cots (but 1 side of queen bed will bed will need to be against the wall). Also evaluate the height of the sidewalls of the tents – as taller walls equate to more usable space for beds and chairs. These shelters are the foundation of this service that will keep your guests comfortable, so go with quality to help yourself sleep at night. Our Life inTents bell tents fit the bill nicely.
  • Glamping Furniture & Accessories:
    Not only will you want the furniture to be comfortable and cute, but also easily stored and transported. Functionally, you’ll want to select items to be nested together or foldable. This includes the bed frame, mattress, end tables and chairs. Aside from these items, you’ll want to source area rugs, lanterns, mirrors, waste baskets, door mats, and outdoor lighting. Ideally you have a keen eye for design to help visually pull together a stunning color and layout for your offering.  To make selecting your these items we've curated our top suggested furnishingsto consider from Amazon (we've personally used most of these). 
  • Cleaning Gear:
    You’ll want to ensure that you have several important housekeeping tools on-hand for event set-up and strike to tidy up your rental glamping tents. To clean the floors you’ll want a broom and cordless vacuum. The floors and end tables may also need to be wiped down with multi-purpose cleaner and cleaning rags. We’ve also found that having a small battery-powered leaf blower handy is helpful for cleaning debris off of the tents during strike (a dry broom also works for this).
  • Warehouse Gear:
    You’ll want to keep your gear organized in your storage space and be able to grab and go for each event. Strong plastic tubs are your friend (think Home Depot). You can store linens and accessories in these to help keep items separated and clean. Instead of stacking the tubs on the ground, you may also want to invest in strong shelving too. As for your heavy tents, the ideal solution is to store these on pallet racks if you have the space. Otherwise you can stack about 8 on a pallet (with your best bell tents on the top).
  • Gear Transportation
    You’ll need to transport your gear to the venue in a covered vehicle. A van, box truck, or trailer (or combination thereof) will be needed for this business. Onsite you’ll find having a Gorilla cart and/or a wide tire hand truck can help expedite shuffling heavy tents & gear around.

People Power

Management of the day-to-day administrative tasks can likely be handled by a single individual (customer service, social media, contracts, finances, gear maintenance, etc.). Sharing this work with a partner is certainly a bonus. Events themselves could also be serviced by the same 1-2 individuals that are running the business. You should anticipate sourcing temporary help near the venue when you service events needing 4+ furnished glamping tents.

Maintenance & Storage Space

Your tents will get dirty and damaged (yep – this is a reality). Having easy access to a 25 ft. x 25 ft. yard area is best for a setting up and maintaining a standard 16’ (5M) bell - along with access to a garden hose. Your glamping rental inventory can be stored in a dry/cool garage, shed, storage unit, or warehouse space. For every 5 complete glamping tent sets (with furnishings) you should anticipate needing 125 square feet of compact storage space, but would want to double the needed space to have room to move around. 

Marketing Needs

Even though glamping services are becoming more popular, many people around the U.S. still are unaware of their magic and availability. Your job will be to educate your service area of both your existence and your offerings. The best way to do this is through photos, videos & descriptions shared via social media, your website, and a google business listing. Next you will want to network with your target audience. If your focus is on backyard birthday parties for kids, then you’ll want to reach market amongst various family and school groups. If your focusing on weddings, then network with wedding planners and venues. Your website should be created with great localized SEO in mind and supplemented with a $100 monthly, highly targeted Google Adwords and/or social media campaign. These are all areas to evaluate when writing your glamping event business plan.

You may also want to consider offering “themed” glamping packages. Decorative themes could range anything like “pink, to Potter, to pirates or ponies. You could also consider add-on offerings like a movie projector, lawn games, balloons or s’mores. Such offerings could entice your cliental – but note that each also increases your inventory. Instead of providing these, you could always let the client know they could customize the tents on their own.

Financial Opportunity

The financial rewards of this seasonal business can be surprisingly strong during 4 months of the year. To generate a quick and sustainable profit you’ll need to responsibly purchase assets and be diligent with overhead expenses.

Revenue

How much money can you make with an event glamping business? Average glamping package service rates for each tent range around $550. Renting just one glamping tent package each weekend could bring in $10,000 a season. You can extrapolate the potential revenue by adding more tents. Not a bad side hustle, huh!? You can pay yourself a healthy monthly salary or reinvest in more inventory.

Start-Up Costs

Compared to most businesses, the start-up costs for an glamping tent hire company are fairly modest (especially if you start small). One complete glamping tent set-up will cost about $2,500 (a tent, bed, linens, lighting, rugs, etc.). These long-term assets can be fully paid for after securing only 5 clients! You will however want to consider a down payment on a vehicle, insurance, storage space, miscellaneous tools, warehouse gear, event gear, a website, and professional photography.

We would recommend starting out with 3 glamping sets if you anticipate scaling slowly during year 1. This will allow you to learn the ropes, optimize your furnishings, and service gatherings of between with 6-12 adults. 

Protecting Yourself & Your Investment

You’ll want to protect your family and your assets once you get underway. 

The best business structure to shield your family from business dealings to form an LLC.Additionally, you’ll want to secure liability insurance coverage to cover yourself and the business. Both of these will help protect your personal assets from any accidents that may arise during operation. 

A well written contract will also help to fiscally protect your business. Make sure that the contract exonerates you from guest injuries, extreme weather, power lines, fires etc. Also include key points related to force majeure, equipment damages, client expectations, and payment terms.

Insuring your assets is highly recommended. Aside from insuring your vehicle, you’ll also want to insure your gear while in storage (property coverage) and in transport (“inland marine coverage”). 

We’d also recommend registering your business name with United States Patent & Trademark Office to protect the intellectual property rights.

bell tent with tabel

Glamping Tents by Life inTents

We’ve been in the trenches for many years and can help you to get started with a backyard glamping business or scale to a larger glamping company. Please reach out if we can help in selecting the right gear, guidance on marketing, hospitality or client challenges. We’d love to help you achieve your Life InTents by getting people to experience greater joy, comfort and connection in the great outdoors. Heck, even ask if we have any industry discounts – it can’t hurt ;-).

Check out our article on starting a permanent glamping business.

Brandy Lamb
Brandy Lamb

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