The world of travel is currently going through a period of evolution, and we still don’t know what it’s going to look like after restrictions are lifted. But one thing’s for sure: domestic travel to outdoor-oriented destinations is here to stay.
Following multiple strict lockdowns in many countries around the world, people are craving open spaces. They are looking for outdoor experiences in remote destinations that allow them to reconnect with nature. As Traveller Made has suggested, having “space to breathe is the new luxury”.
More and more people are trading overseas trips for nearby stays, close to nature, and an increasing number of businesses are taking notice of this trend. Consequently, the outdoor accommodation market is becoming more and more competitive.
So, what can property managers do to ride this trend and prepare for the wave of “revenge travel” expected to hit this summer? And how can they outrun the competition?
Whether you already manage outdoor properties or are planning to add camping/glamping accommodations to your portfolio, we’ve gathered everything you need to know in this article.
You’ll find out why outdoor travel is a major trend this year, how to build the ultimate tech stack to help you manage and distribute your outdoor properties, and which channels to get listed on for maximum exposure.
Let’s get right into it!
Research by Destination Analysts shows that more than a third of Americans planning a leisure trip in the next three months are looking to visit outdoor destinations. A little over 20% say that they’re planning to visit state, country or regional parks, and close to 19% are planning a trip to a US national park.
Furthermore, there is data to suggest that people aren’t just daydreaming about spending time in nature. Booking sites specialising in outdoor accommodations are seeing a surge of interest in property types that fall into the camping and glamping category.
“This year we are already seeing an unprecedented number of bookings, taking 4,000 bookings in 24 hours on the 22nd of February,” said Brodie Farrow, Marketing Specialist at Pitchup, Europe’s leading booking site for campsites and holiday parks. “Our peak day last summer saw 6,500 bookings and 1.5 million page views in a single day, and we’re keeping a close eye on reservations to see whether this year’s surge will rival that.”
There has been a shift in the accommodation types that guests are booking in favour of those that don’t require the use of shared facilities.
According to Brodie, the popularity of RVs and other “self-contained” accommodations such as cabins is skyrocketing. Camping sites, which are inherently socially distanced in the open air, are also trending, with some owners even providing private bathrooms facilities to put guests’ minds at ease.
Glamping is also having a moment, with more Google searches than ever before last summer, as Brodie pointed out.
“Our most popular glamping accommodation is camping pods, with nearly 50% of all glamping bookings last year,” said Brodie. “Bell tents are also springing up on temporary campgrounds around the world so we expect to see more bookings for this type of glamping accommodation.”
To be sure, audiences are looking for a wide range of outdoor properties. “Our top trending accommodation types right now are treehouses, tiny houses, and cabins which offer a unique architectural feature or amenities,” said Marisa Rivera, Global Acquisition Manager at Glamping Hub, the world’s largest curated collection of unique accommodations.
In addition, the desire to escape seems to have led seasoned campers to explore uncharted territory throughout the past year.
“In 2020, one out of every three campers tried a new type of camping,” said Mark Friess, COO at The Dyrt, the number one camping app in the US. “The top three new experiences campers tried were purchasing a travel trailer, renting an RV, or heading into the backcountry.”
There’s no question about it: camping and glamping will dominate the vacation rental landscape in 2021. So how can property managers take advantage of this trend?
Even if you’re not currently managing camping or glamping units yourself, seeing all the different property types listed above may have given you a hint of just how diverse and complex the outdoor rental industry is.
Campsites and holidays parks, treehouses and teepees, RVs and trailers are fundamentally different from traditional vacation rentals. They attract a different audience, have different operational needs, and require a different marketing and distribution approach.
Successfully integrating these types of properties into your property management portfolio requires specialised tools and industry know-how. As a result, it’s important to work with software partners – property management systems and channel managers – who know the outdoor market and can cater to your needs.
Let’s take a look at some of these providers:
Anytime Booking is an online booking management system for the outdoor holiday market. The company has a multi-accommodation focus and supports a diverse range of operators, from holiday parks and glamping sites to motorhome hire and holiday let agencies.
As Vanessa Glossop, Communications Director at Anytime Booking told us, property managers shouldn’t underestimate the level of booking management and support they may require to navigate the nuances of the outdoor market.
“There are usually multiple amendments to camping and touring bookings, for example, as they move dates, extend their breaks, decide later to bring extra family members or the dog, hire an awning or a fire pit. These changes need to be reflected at OTA level too, so ‘amend booking’ becomes a big part of the mechanics of the system,” Vanessa said.
Anytime Booking can deal with this by providing exceptional support – they boast some of the fastest response times and highest resolution rates in the industry.
Next to offering top-of-the-line support, software solutions for the outdoor market also need to accommodate disparate business models.
“Owners may want to charge per party member or by pitch, or a combination of both. If they cater to tourers, they may want to take bookings based on what size vehicle the guest is bringing,” Vanessa told us.
What’s more, owners with a mix of camping and glamping properties may need to apply different sets of rules – for example, rules around minimum stays and last-minute bookings – to different properties.
Anytime Booking has built highly flexible software with configurable features that cater to their customers’ individual needs to account for all of these variables.
Vanessa’s advice to property managers is to choose a software partner that supports their plans for growth, has the right level of expertise and a healthy ecosystem of integrations – from OTAs to guest services – to power their business.
Elite Dynamics offers a range of park management solutions for single and multi-park operators alike.
Their platform is specifically designed for the holiday park industry. They offer everything that park operators need to improve their processes efficiently and drive growth across all business departments.
“From sales and leads, reservations, housekeeping, maintenance, park and financial management to enhancing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) with owners and holidaymakers, everything we provide is aimed at encouraging long-lasting, successful customer relationships,” said Harriet Pagan, Senior Marketing Executive at Elite Dynamics.
As an advanced park management system, Elite Dynamics has a wide range of integrations with industry partners, from OTAs to insurance platforms, and is the only holiday park management solution with a fully integrated accounts system, which is built on and powered by Microsoft Dynamics.
Their integrations, coupled with Elite Dynamics’s unique solutions for holiday park operators, help property managers respond to the rising consumer demand for alternative self-catering holiday experiences.
“There is no better time to reap the benefits and rewards that will come with this surge in demand and investment in your accommodation portfolio,” Harriet said.
“And of course, as your number of properties grow, you need a flexible, fully integrated park management system in place to ensure efficient departmental collaboration between your bookings, sales, accounts, housekeeping, maintenance, and park management operations teams.”
As we’ve mentioned before, the uptick in domestic travel to outdoor destinations hasn’t gone unnoticed. Property managers looking to have success in this space need to find ways to stay ahead of the growing competition. And one way to do that is by diversifying your distribution.
The Rentals United channel manager has all the tools you need to successfully distribute your camping and glamping properties across a variety of channels.
Thanks to our integrations with 50+ PMS providers, including specialist software like Anytime Booking and Elite Dynamics, you can upload your properties quickly and easily. Alternatively, you can connect to us through our vacation rental API or upload your properties manually.
Most importantly, we have the best channel connections on the market. This means that you can distribute your listing across multiple channels without worrying about getting double bookings.
Our connections’ speed and reliability ensure that your rates and availability are synced in real-time, and you’re always selling your units at the best possible price.
Don’t take our word for it. Read the story of Tiny Away, a glamping property manager with 50 tiny houses in Australia, who’s been able to increase their occupancy, bookings and revenue by 10% with the help of the Rentals United channel manager.
As trusted industry leaders in vacation rental distribution, here are our top tips for diversifying the distribution of your outdoor properties:
Besides our high-quality connections, our channel manager also offers a range of tools that allow campsite and holiday park managers to get the most out of our software.
For example, you have a wide range of camping and glamping amenities to choose from and sync with channels.
For certain channels like Booking.com, you also have the ability to group similar listings together and manage them as clusters or multi-units. This way, if you have multiple glamping pods, tents, or other units with similar characteristics, you don’t need to create separate listings for each.
Now, let’s get into the niche channels that drive bookings for outdoor properties:
Glamping Hub is the world’s largest collection of unique curated accommodations designed to connect guests with the people and places that most inspire them.
By joining the Glamping Hub community, hosts will have direct access to our adventurous guests seeking thoughtful and authentic connections through memorable stays and experiences in nature.
Their top-booked destinations change throughout the year. Some of the historically top-booked US destinations include Idyllwild and Joshua Tree, California; Wimberly and New Braunfels, Texas; and Woodstock and Catskills in New York.
Just like other OTAs, Glamping uses a complex search algorithm to rank listings. “As Glamping Hub is a curated platform, our in-house team uses SEO optimisation and data-driven decisions to give listings the best chance possible at success on our website,” said Marisa Rivera from Glamping Hub.
“Property managers should be sure to have their account and listing completely set up and update it throughout the year. Our seven day a week support staff is always available to help hosts update their account, and hosts can always check out this blog post for tips on how to get the most out of their listings,” she added.
As for her advice to property managers who are new to the outdoor market, Marisa pointed to the importance of forging ties with the glamping community.
“I would recommend connecting with the glamping community either through social media groups or associations, such as The American Glamping Association. Hosts of glamping type properties tend to really care for their accommodations and put in a lot of effort, which results in a very strong and supportive hosting community,” she said.
The Dyrt is the #1 camping app and website in the US, with over 20 million campers expected to use the platform in 2021.
Serving both rural and tourist locales, the most sought-after destinations on The Dyrt are found near natural areas like National Parks, mountain or forest regions, and along the coasts. In 2020, their top destination was the Grand Canyon.
According to The Dyrt COO Mark Friess, the best way to improve your ranking on the app is to get 5-star reviews. “Once your listing is set up with correct information, all you need to do is provide the A-grade hospitality experience you do, and tell your travellers to review their stay on The Dyrt,” he said.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re thinking about adding outdoor properties to your portfolio for the first time. But joining platforms like The Dyrt can make the journey much easier.
“Talk to others. We have a community of thousands of campground owners and the one constant we’ve noticed over the years is that everyone is at a different stage of figuring things out,” Mark said.
“There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to outdoor properties. Your local regulations are different, your local community is different, your thru-traffic is different, even your land and water table is different. But once you join a community like The Dyrt you can start to talk to others enough to figure out the right set of solutions for your corner of the world,” he added.
Stay tuned – soon, you’ll be able to list and manage your properties on The Dyrt using the Rentals United channel manager.
Pitchup.com allows property managers to list outdoor accommodation for free and get it seen around the world.
With 22 million website visitors per year and 3 million nights away booked on their platform last year, they understand what vacationers look for and where they look. And they make sure that guests see your listings at just the right moment.
These are the most-booked destinations in Pitchup’s most popular countries:
If you want to get the most out of your listings on Pitchup, you should consider adding coronavirus terms and features. These can help to increase customers’ confidence to book.
“Listings that included at least one of our 50 COVID-19 terms and features, from hand sanitising stations to deep cleaning of shared spaces, earned 77% more on Pitchup last year,” said Brodie Farrow from Pitchup. “We also link from our homepage to listings with free balance transfers to a later date so adding this feature can also help to boost your visibility on the website,” she added.
Need help getting started with outdoor properties? Pitchup has an extensive guide to starting a new campground, glamping park or RV park business on their website. It covers everything from permits and licences to toilet and shower requirements and how much you can expect to earn, and is available in 6 languages for 9 countries.
Stay tuned – Pitchup is coming to Rentals United. Soon, you’ll be able to easily list and manage your properties on Pitchup with the help of our channel manager.
Hipcamp is a US-based channel that travellers know as a comprehensive resource for unique outdoor stays, and they are on a mission to revolutionise camping in the U.S. They want to make it easier for people to find and book campsites and promote the concept of “land sharing.”
Similar to how Airbnb lists vacation rentals, private landowners can list their ranches, farms, vineyards, nature preserves for rent on Hipcamp, and campers can browse by location, pricing, and availability.
For property managers/owners and landowners, starting a listing with Hipcamp is entirely free, and it only takes minutes from start to publish. You set your own rules, pricing, and offerings with the ability to block important dates and build your ideal hosting schedule, so you only host Hipcampers when you want.
What they offer property managers:
Cool Camping is one of the most popular curated camping and glamping websites across Europe, with a massive following in the UK.
Cool Camping originally started as a guide book series for contemporary campers to deliver what they wanted, a hand-picked selection of outstanding tent oriented campsites. Since then, it has grown into a go-to booking platform, where well over four million users go for camping and glamping sites recommendations each year.
A market leader in the outdoor travel industry, Cool Camping showcases a collection of independently run businesses from strawberry farms, festivals, tiny campsites and bespoke luxury treehouses and everything in between.
Thanks to their powerful search tools and easy user interface, potential guests can easily filter the accommodations to find the place that is right for them.
Currently, Cool Camping offers accommodation in the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and The Netherlands. But they are always looking to expand their reach.
Why list your business with Cool Camping?
Ready to build an advanced distribution strategy for your camping and glamping units? Find out how the Rentals United channel manager can cater to your specific needs and get you more bookings.