Thinking of running your own campsite?
2. Key considerations and pitfalls
Are you the right person for the job
Probably the most important personal attributes for running a campsite or holiday park, in terms of both business success and personal fulfilment are:
- A love of the great outdoors
- Like people and want to give them great experiences
- Hard working and not afraid of long hours
Some general business skills are also useful in areas such as staff management, business and finance, computer literacy, practical ability and a level of commercial acumen.
When considering sizeable acquisitions and projects it is well worth engaging the services of a specialist agent and/or consultancy. There are a number of leading leisure property specialists across the UK who assist clients in a variety of ways, including investment, valuation, due-diligence, planning and management, and providing professional agency advice and services. (Search the web for ‘leisure property specialists’)
There are also numerous surveyors and planners dotted around the UK, who can provide professional services at a more local level and many of these are members of:
A licence will normally be required to operate a campsite and these are issued by the local authority.
Small 5-pitch sites operating in partnership with an exempted organisation do not require a site licence.
Site layout & infrastructure
NB – a pre-requisite to developing a new greenfield campsite is the provision and management of 3 core services: water electricity and drainage, and the provision of and connection to these services at a viable cost.
There are of course alternative stand-alone means to provide the services, for example bore-hole water supply, solar and wind power, ground source heat pumps, sewage treatment systems and the like, but all come at considerable cost in order to adequately service a campsite of commercial scale and meet the expectations of the modern camper.
The design and layout of a campsite is crucial in terms of meeting the needs of the visitor, operational practicalities, optimising revenue earning potential across all seasons, and will include considerations such as:
- Access and egress
- Internal road system to provide widespread access, particularly during times of inclement weather
- Electric hook-up points and all-weather pitches
- Provision and location of amenity buildings, service points and any ancillary facilities, ensuring the level of provision meets at least the minimum standards required for the number of pitches on site.
- Product mix and designated areas, for example tent camping, holiday homes, glamping, caravan storage area
- Provision of children’s play equipment and a designated ball game area
- Adequate behind-the-scenes facilities for operational aspects, such as machinery storage and maintenance, refuse management and general storage.
- Environmental and sustainability aspects are becoming increasingly important and measures to mitigate or offset should be incorporated wherever possible.
The nuts and bolts stuff
Like any business, solid systems, procedures and processes are necessary to ensure effective operations and delivery, including:
- Marketing - website, social media, booking platforms, advertising
- Booking and site inventory management system
- Pricing – competitive, but with the flexibility to optimise market trends/changes
- Health and safety
- Business insurance, including public liability
- Compliance and maintenance
- Staffing - employment law, training, development, welfare