Why is glamping taking over the travel industry?

The growing trend of ‘glamping’

Terra Glamping CEO Rebecca Martin on the growing trend of ‘glamping,’ or glamorous camping.

Whether it's luxury lodges, quaint cottages, state-of-the-art tents or even treehouses, the way we camp has evolved over the years, and our expectations of vacations and travelling are higher than ever.

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Millennials, the age group of those who are 38-19 who are often chided for "killing" traditional industries, are driving the demand for luxury camping vacations especially as the older cohort becomes parents, according to Curbed.

“Camping habits have changed drastically over the years," Glamping Hub founder and chief strategy officer Ruben Martinez told FOX Business. "Twenty years ago people tended to do traditional camping. Any version of a unique glamping accommodation felt out of most people’s price range. Now, our website has 30,000 (glamping) listings all over the world with something for everyone.”

Glamping is a portmanteau of the words "glamour" and "camping." Glamping.com describes glamping as the point “where stunning nature meets modern luxury,” a way to experience the remote and wild without sacrificing comfort. But Glamping can mean different things to different people. Roughly 34 percent of the camping population lists Wi-Fi and GPS as the most luxurious facility to have on a campsite, but others want showers, electricity, and refrigeration, according to Arizton’s 2019.

With glamping, you get access to certain parts of the environment that you just wouldn’t have access to otherwise — beautiful treehouses overlooking a Costa Rican beach,” the Glamping Hub founder and executive said. Hotels wouldn’t allow you that kind of closeness to nature.” 

The "glamping" market in the U.S. is projected to reach $4.8 billion in revenue by 2025 at an estimated CAGR rate of 12.5% during that forecast period, according to a recent Market Watch report from Oct. 6. And the demand for cabins and safari tents is expected to grow 2.5 times over the next five years. Meanwhile, between 2014 and 2018, growth in U.S. camping households has steadily increased, from 71,500,000 homes in 2014 to nearly 80,000,000 last year. Millennials represent the fastest growing demographic in terms of new campers, with more and more diversity being represented amongst camping demographics.

“You don’t have to spend $10,000 per night, although you certainly could if you wanted to. You can spend $45 a night and have a level of comfort while camping in the most beautiful regions nature has to offer,” Martinez told FBN.

While glamping wasn't on the travel and hotel industry's radar until about five years ago, entire organizations and conferences have since emerged in recent years, all of which are dedicated to the glamping market. The American Glamping Association launched back in 2017 to offer accreditation and manage customer expectations. Then there is Glamping.com, Glamping Hub, and even a Glamping Summit USA.

Both RV ownership as well as interest in luxury cabins increased last year, with “campers of all ages seeking to have a luxury cabin experience in 2018, outpacing all other accommodation options,” according to the 2019 camping report.

“Campers are excited to try new and different methods of camping, including full-service cabins, 'glamping' tents and van camping," according to Kampgrounds of America 2019 North American Camping Report. "Their excitement has spawned new and expanding extensions of the outdoor industry.”

As glamping “emerged and grew – likely via high rates of sharing on social media – we see another example of how campers have adopted the camping lifestyle in a way that works for them,” according to Kampgrounds of America's 2019 North American Camping Report.

Between 2014 and 2018, growth in U.S. camping households has steadily increased, from 71.5 million homes in 2014 to about 80 million last year. Millennials represent the fastest-growing demographic in terms of new campers, with more and more diversity being represented amongst camping demographics, reports Kampgrounds of America.

“Glamping has definitely gained popularity over the last two to three years, Martinez told Fox Business Network. "Something I’ve noticed more and more is the outside investment coming into the (glamping) industry.”

By 2025, the glamping market is projected to become a $4.8 billion industry, he said. Glamping touches every part of the outdoor industry, and it has been growing each year in popularity.

"That figure is probably pretty conservative, actually. Autocamp, I think they recently got a $125 million investment. There are quite a few camps and organizations that are receiving outside investments in large numbers, and a lot of these are just in U.S. Glamping is also going worldwide, from hotel chains and hoteliers who are basically saying (to glamping companies) that they have the cash and land and want to reinvent themselves. Just the accommodations and everything else involved like transportation, it could far exceed ($4.8 billion)" Martinez added.

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The growing popularity of glamping appears to be directly proportional to changes in the way we vacation, with wellness tourism, adventure vacations and even corporate retreats making big inroads in the travel and tourism industry, with all three pioneering the art or glamping.

"When you have small kids and a family, sometimes having things like electricity, comfortable beds, and running water makes for a better (camping) experience. If you have your family sleeping on floor of a dark, cold tent or cabin, they might start asking 'why the heck are we doing this?'"

"It’s a win-win for everyone, and great for families," Martinez added.

Pricing for glamping can actually be surprisingly affordable, depending on the accommodations. Under Canvas, a glamping company that offers glamourous campgrounds in scenic spots through the United States, U.S including the Great Smokey Mountains, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon, prices their glamping accommodations between $150 per night for a 3-4 twin bed safari tent or closer to $400 a night for luxury suites.

Included in the stay is "a private deck, wood-burning stove, and an en suite bathroom with hot running water, shower, sink, and a flushing toilet. But our Suite Tents take it a step farther with a bedroom wing with a king-sized bed, lounge area with a queen sofa bed, and the best location in camp. Camp cots and bedding can also be added for two people," according to the Under Canvas $399 luxury suite listing.

“Despite the more luxurious accommodations glamping provides, you’re still very much in a remote area to disconnect, and that’s something that I think resonates with a good portion of people worldwide, but especially families.”

For those looking for cheaper glamping accommodations, the $199 a night option features three twin beds, bedside tables, lanterns and USB chargers, shared community bathrooms with individual stalls, flushing toilets and other conveniences. Each Safari tent includes wood-burning stove.

Other glamping campsites can be pricey, with The Resort at Paws Up in Montana offering campsites ranging from $1,155 per night to a whopping $3,434 a night.

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For $1,155 a night in Montana, the Pinnacle Camp has six large tent suites — including Tango Point, an exquisite honeymoon tent — that includes en suite bathrooms with a jetted tub and shower, a plush dining pavilion and other resort amenities, according to the resort's website.

For those with money to spend, the $3,434 a night option at the tony North Bank camp offers all of the above, but also features camping butlers as well as a camp chef, a stone fireplace, bar seating and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, with each tent boasting majestic riverfront views of the Montana wilderness.

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