Sarah Riley is a professionally qualified business coach and visibility specialist who started her consultancy after jointly running a boutique hospitality business and being involved in the glamping industry for many years. She now shares techniques in her internationally acclaimed Glamping Business Start-Up Guide and Marketing Masterclass to help unique vacation rental owners set up their business, attract more guests and increase their profits in this increasingly competitive industry. She’ll be speaking on day 1 about that holy grail of marketing: influencer outreach and how to make it work for you.
Q. What drives your passion and enthusiasm for the glamping industry?
I have been involved in the hospitality industry for literally decades and specifically the glamping industry for 8 years. In that time my passion for it has not diminished at all but instead, it has got deeper and stronger.
This is a relatively new industry that allows the business owner the flexibility to really get adventurous and develop unique models that haven’t even been explored yet. It has also shown itself to have some really interesting strengths “particularly in its stellar performance during the recent global financial slowdown…” (*source: The Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism).
Some of its growth could be attributed to the fact that glamping naturally leans towards offering additional extras and experiences for its guests that other services are not as able to provide, such as wellness activities. This is particularly interesting as wellness travel is expected to generate $563 billion in earnings this year, which is very motivational (*source: Global Wellness Institute).
It is clear that there are no rules or restrictions on what can happen in the world of glamping. Some of my own clients have established businesses that are staggeringly unique and hugely successful. In fact, once a business owner really gets inspired by this market they start to realise that the only limit is their imagination and that, my friends, is an exciting place to be.
Q. You attended our inaugural event in Denver – what was your biggest takeaway from the event?
Visiting Denver for the first Glamping Summit in April was an extraordinary experience. Firstly the event location was surrounded by the Colorado mountains, which are simply stunning. I even got a chance to trek a few trails, explore some of the towns and hang out with the local wildlife. This might sound indulgent given that I was supposed to be there for business, but I believe you can learn so much from your surroundings and Denver did not disappoint.
I was able to visit local hospitality businesses and talk with owners who are all working hard to achieve the same thing… to build successful and unique vacation rentals, which continue to grow and gain strength into the future. The conversations taking place at the event were diverse, inspirational and innovative. They ranged from daily pressures business owners were facing, new trends in the market and hopes for the future of the industry. It was a pleasure to be involved in those discussions.
Q. What are you looking forward to about the California Summit?
Well, that’s an easy question… to visit California!
If this state was an independent country it would have the worlds 5th largest economy… one that would be ahead of our own in Britain (*source: New York Times). But that’s only a small p
art of what we can learn from California. The state also has a strict environmental protection policy in place. This is something that blends effortlessly with the ethos of glamping, which has its credentials firmly set in the same place and it’s exciting to take inspiration from that type of Jewel in the United States crown.
Before I attend industry events I always give myself a checklist of what I want to achieve while I’m there. This might be to connect with a certain service provider, to collect opinions on a new operational approach to find out what works – and more importantly, what doesn’t – and to expand my own knowledge of unique techniques that work well in this industry. I also make time to network and enjoy the atmosphere, which helps to recharge and inspire me. In fact, my business always witnesses significant growth after industry events, which is a testament that hanging out in the right places with the right people really works.
© Photo by Sarah Riley.