Thinking of running your own campsite?
1. Choice and acquisition options
What type and size of site
Type and size of site are fundamental elements of choice and both are inextricably linked to budget, and personal aspiration and preference:
- Tent camping only
- Mixed touring - caravans, motorhomes & tents
- Caravan holiday homes (owned and/or rented), Glamping/staycation units
- Basic facilities - water & waste, or full facility - toilets, showers, laundry, etc.
- Ancillary facilities - shop, takeaway, bar, restaurant, entertainment, swimming pool, recreational activities, caravan storage, etc.
- Seasonal or open all year round
Complimentary to existing or new stand-alone business
The majority of campsites today were set up and still operate successfully as stand-alone businesses or as part of a group or network of sites.
Other sites however are set up as a means of diversification and often to compliment and grow existing business activities, for example: theme parks, attractions, activity centres, country parks and estates, marinas and farms/farm shops.
Businesses are often only seeking to operate a small site, or at least start out that way and one way of achieving this is through the ‘certificated camping model’ with an exempted partner organisation.
Location is a leading factor which determines how busy and successful a campsite is.
Whilst the cleanliness, presentation, service and standards are all very important attributes, all the research says visitors today are seeking to add value to their leisure and recreation time through great experiences.
Is the area popular with tourists and visitors through what it has to offer in terms of local attractions and activities?, which will encourage people to stay longer and visit again.
Acquisition / build options
The number of brand new ‘greenfield’ sites developed today are far and few between and the most common form of acquisition is through purchasing an existing site. That said, there are a number of ways to acquire, build and/or manage a campsite.
- If landholding is already in place, then the relevant planning permission for change of use and greenfield development will be required.
- Purchase or lease of land with a view to obtaining the relevant planning permissions to develop.
- An existing freehold or leasehold campsite purchase.
- A partnership or management agreement with a body who wants to retain ownership and some control over the land and infrastructure assets, but does not want to manage the day-to-day campsite operation. Many local authorities who own campsites across the UK adopt this model.
- When ownership, leasing or partnership are not options, then there are numerous opportunities across the sector for managers on campsites at varying levels of responsibility, on both a seasonal and full-time basis (search the web for ‘campsite manager recruitment’).
Funding and planning consent
Funding and planning consent will be fundamental requirements for many new initiatives, but local authority planning departments will support well thought through and presented schemes that bring benefits to the tourism and visitor economy, and local economies. If external funding is required, then most of the corporate finance providers have a specialist tourism/hospitality/leisure division, who will be looking to invest in solid initiatives.