Hope you had amazing summer. My highlight was a long weekend in glamping in the Netherlands. It was a birthday gift from my wife.
Why you’re getting this: I'm Peter Fabor and this is my newsletter where I share ideas and my experiments of building products that combine hospitality, real estate, and tech. You can unsubscríbe and I won’t be offended.
The place where we stayed is a new project by TinyParks, a local glamping startup. One of their founders was around when we arrived and I had a chance to ask him dozens of questions.
The first thing I found super interesting is how they “hacked” the land 🌳
They made a 5-year rental contract with old-school camping. Part of that camping is a little forest that was not “monetized” before.
The campsite has all the permits and infrastructure (water, electricity, sewage). The land preparation in the forest and all utility hookups took about 7 weeks.
The second main insight is about economics.
They are fully booked since opening (2nd of July) and it looks like the whole concept is an absolute money machine: 16 tiny houses x 185€/night.
The back-of-the-envelope calculation... 💸
All these tiny houses are prefabs made by a manufacturer in Romania.
They are built on trailers, so it was possible to transport them to the Netherlands on the road. As you can assume, the manufacturing of prefabs in Romania is cheaper than in the Netherlands.
And if you choose the right manufacturers, the quality can be the same.
My research so far
Creating a database of prefab houses and rental data (this example above included) gave me really interesting insights.
As the database is paid, it somehow filters people who are more serious about this business.
I try to reach out to everyone who bought the database, trying to understand at what stage they are and what are their main blockers.
Most of those who bought the database are focused on financing and/or land acquisition.
What makes sense in the initial stage. But in long term, after you figure out how to start, what matters is customer acquisition, revenue management and operations.
What can glamping learn from hotels?
There are 3 main business units of the hotel: owner, brand and management:
You can find independent hotels where one company owns, manages, and takes care of the brand/distribution.
More common is that each part is managed by a separate company.
It makes sense because the hotel business is extremely complex and to stay competitive is wise to focus on one thing.
As glamping is a new type of hospitality business, this hotel approach is somehow not established yet. Everyone wants to do everything.
You don't need to own land, build a brand and also operate it. Focus on one thing, do it extremely well. Then you can scale it.
So what are the opportunities?
Obvious idea is to start and operate own glamping business. Most people will go in this direction.
I have a couple of raw ideas I've been thinking about and brainstorming with a couple of people:
Glamping turnkey solution
Solution for owners who have amazing land and want to monetize it with glamping. They will receive a “packaged” well-tested/researched solution.
Then they can operate it or outsource it for a property management company.
Restructuring old-school campsites
Buying cheap land or old-school undervalued campsites and do all the hard work with the permits, financing and installing prefab houses.
Then operate it for 1 year and sell it as a profitable glamping business. Take cash and repeat.
Glamping investing as a service
Quite many people are starting a glamping business now and it's appealing to investors too. Institutional investors are still quite conservative but retail investors are fully on board with this new trend.
There is no platform for doing the due diligence of glamping projects and connecting them with investors. With investing, we are also touching on the topic of timesharing.