Written by Janeta keuser

The glamping industry continues to take the hotel and leisure industry by surprise. With short stay glamping vacations going from strength to strength, there seems to be little or no stopping its aspirations of leisure industry dominance. But what are the trends, where is the main growths and what is the next big thing?

At Oasis Habitats, we’ve been researching the Hotel and Outdoor Leisure sectors, along with the Wellness Travel industry over the past 18-months and have noticed distinct “key changes” and influences driving growth in glamping, holiday lets, ecotourism and how the Hotel industry is trying to adapt to rapid changes in the leisure industry.

Over the past 6-years the outdoor leisure industry has grown on average by 23% year on year with a combined global net worth for North America, Europe and Asia to be estimated at $16Billion US source: thecaterer (not including Wellness Travel). However, over the past 2-years the most noticeable area of growth has been attributed to the high-end “luxury” sectors, which focuses on portraying eco-friendly attributes. Whilst the traditional low-cost optional aspects of the glamping, holiday let and outdoor leisure industry are still thriving, it is plain to see bookings have begun to plateau.

Why is the Hotel Industry looking to diversify into Glamping Experiences and Wellness Breaks?

According to HotStats. the UK’s hotel industry has seen average hotel profits drop from 38.2% from the previous year’s 12 months to February, to just 28.7% for the same period in 2019. This represents consecutive drops in operating profits for 4-years in succession, with similar profit falls being witnessed across the hotel industry
globally. This is in direct contradiction to the glamping, ecotourism and Wellness travel industries which have seen profits soar in direct comparison. With some top end luxury resorts, camps and facilities in North American, Europe and Asia reporting record operating profits of up to 61.4%. Top this with the understanding that glamping, ecotourism and wellness travel industries also have significantly higher revenue generations per visitor, and you can
quickly see how important this information becomes.

So why is this?

First, we must look at the obvious, all industries evolve and adapt their offerings towards the ever-changing needs of their clients. This is the way of life and the way of every business if it wishes to survive. Over the past decade or so, a push to connect back with nature “as a way of destressing from the hectic metropolitan life we all lead” has been understandably realised. Which is why there was an almost instant acceptance to the glamping industry.  Additionally, over the same period we’ve also been gradually exposed and educated to the benefits of wellness in our lives, be it physical, mental or spiritual.

The result is, we’re all “deliberately or subconsciously in many instances” drawn to leisure breaks that reflect a connection with nature and wellness. This is something which the traditional Hotel model has been struggling to acclimatise and adapt to. It doesn’t mean the established hotel model is dead and buried, it simply means they need to adjust and evolve their offering if they wish to compete for the lucrative short break and holiday makers.

Open and frank discussions, with several industry insiders, have shown that the larger hotel chains are actively seeking to develop business models to attract visitors back from the glamping aspects of short breaks. With several hotel chains in the beginnings of site developments, utilising the hotels resources to cater for secluded standalone accommodation units.

However, with the luxury sector demonstrating the biggest areas of growth, it also means that any evolution in the leisure industry will need to include a strong element of opulence if it hopes to reach the giddying profit levels it once did.

So, what’s next?…….What’s the next big trend?

Presently, the big thing in the glamping / holiday let and outdoor leisure industry is Treehouses. Be it a carefully engineered structure wrapped around the trunk of a tree or a stylish rustic cabin on stilts, set amongst the backdrop of woodland. These structures conjure up emotive feelings of freedom whilst also being joined at the hip with nature. Currently, there are 37 treehouses of varying quality and design in the UK which can be rented, and a least another 16 “which we know of” that are currently under construction. On top of this there are a myriad of treehouses across
France, Italy, Portugal, America and Australia which can be rented on AirBnb. With even more stunning examples in China. Whilst all these treehouses are amazing, the ones which achieve the highest return on investment are those which provide a feeling of seclusion and opulent luxury found only in a five-star hotel resorts. It is clear to see that the feeling of exclusiveness, together with modern luxury facilities are heavily sort after.

However, with the clear and present danger of climate change being brought ever closer to home, backed by the increasing notoriety Greta Thunberg’s incredible work is receiving, more and more of us are looking closely at the environmental impact we have; be it at home or on vacation. With the word “Staycation” no longer representing a cheap alternative, but rather an environmental decision. This can be clearly seen by the sharp increase in bookings
for sites, hotels and resorts that demonstrate an eco-friendly remit and low carbon footprint approach. Woe is the business that does not quickly understand how important sustainability and environmental responsibility will be to their future.

So, as you can see market trends are moving rapidly towards more exclusive, Luxury offerings, with 5-star amenities and a heavy bent towards ecotourism sustainability. The next stage of this rapidly moving sector will see these factors aligned with wellness industry offerings such a yoga retreats, so as they become commonplace.

The above underpins the approach which Oasis Habitats has been built upon and reinforces the business model which we are so passionate about. With a caring approach to both client, environment and natural habitats, Oasis Habitats looks to develop unique destinations to be enjoyed by all, for now and into the future.

Written by Janeta Keuser
Research & Marketing Director