Updated: Feb 21
My brand manager sent me a link yesterday to an ad about a crowdfunding program for the next big demand in vacationing. This little-known thing called “glamping.” I glanced at it and chuckled and then turned back to the third group of people I’ve talked to this month about how to open a glamping business like Sky Ridge. It seems the little business I started ten years ago is suddenly the “new” thing.
I answered all their questions (if you have the glamping itch, you can buy my time here and I’ll answer yours, too) – all the ones about how much does this cost, how much does that cost, how much can we charge – you know, the important questions. Seems everyone thinks throwing up a yurt, bell tent, tiny home, or renovated Airstream means minimal input and maximum output. No one ever asks much about the input. And that got me to thinking. There are so many questions that the people who come to me don’t ask. So. Many. Questions. So, I thought I’d use this blog post to offer just one tiny example of what kind of input really awaits a successful glamping business. And we’ll start in a most unusual place – Disney.
When my kids were little, I used to take them to the Magic Kingdom. If you’ve never been, you should go. There’s much to be learned from ol’ Walt. His biggest lesson…..magic. The magic of the moment is important. It’s important for little green fairies, bears that sing and dance, and princesses who build ice castles. It’s just as important when glamping in the woods thousands of miles away from sunny Florida. Confused? Let me explain.
The reason I was able to meet with so many would-be glamping moguls was because one of my yurts had a serious – and unexpected – problem. My cleaning staff came in on a Friday to get ready for the weekend’s guests to discover the super-thick finished hardwood floor was covered in deep scratches and gouges (check the photos, you’ll see how serious they were). That meant that I had to come running up on a Sunday – new flooring in hand – and replace an entire 24-foot yurt floor all before my next guest. On Thursday.
It takes some serious magic to replace a flooring system in three days-time, but it takes even more magic to overlook and forget about the reason the floor was damaged. The floor needed replacing because some little kids were so excited to be at Sky Ridge that they jumped gleefully on the bed, dragged their own suitcase happily across the floor, or pushed their favorite train around the room. In this business, you can’t punish guests for having an amazing time. All you can do is provide the magic and make sure, as best and as quickly as you can, that everything is as perfect as you can make it for everyone.
And that’s an input cost that no one ever asks about. That cost wasn’t transferred to the guests. The stress of the mad rush to fix it was only felt by me and a staff that always jumps to help when things go wrong.
But it makes all the magical difference when running a glamping empire.