Milberry Green Glamping

1. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting your glamping business?

Our journey into glamping was a stroke of fate. Having navigated through the challenges of breast cancer we found ourselves seeking respite from our demanding day jobs. I serve as the Chief Operating Officer of a college for young disabled adults, while Matthew is a software engineer and gaming industry consultant. We decided we wanted to live, work, laugh and love together while running a values-based business in nature that makes people feel good and gives a little back.  In 2022, we stumbled upon a Victorian cottage surrounded by pasture for sale, a discovery that would pave the way for the realisation of our dreams.

2. What challenges have you faced in running a glamping business, and how have you overcome them?

Starting our glamping business had its fair share of challenges. Working out where to set up, dealing with planning regulations and adapting our site to cope with limited access to water, sewage and electricity weren’t easy. We spent a lot of time researching and we have a great planning consultant. In the end, it was a chance encounter at a glamping trade show that brought us to a planning solution. Matthew is fantastic at coming up with creative answers to practical problems and we’ve also found it invaluable to build relationships with similar businesses that we can talk through issues with.

We had to make sure our site didn’t harm the natural surroundings, as we are located in an Area of Great Landscape Value and we’re committed to rewilding. Balancing the needs of guests with our environmental principles is still a work in progress. People want to get close to nature, but not too close, especially where spiders are concerned! Last year we planted over 300 trees and our breakfast packs are sourced from local farms.

Our first season was a marketing challenge, but we are constantly learning what works and refining our targeted campaigns and social media. We have now focussed in on our ideal customers rather than trying to please everyone and that has helped enormously.

Dealing with different seasons, from cold winters to busy summers, meant changing up our offerings and prices. Adding some luxury extras like a hot tub and outdoor bathtub have helped us boost occupancy in the winter months.

Finding contract workers that share our commitment to quality has been a challenge. What has been successful is training up younger workers and we’ll be doing more of that this season coming.

Every challenge, whether it was dealing with rules or adapting to seasons, became a chance for us to get better. During our first season we met weekly to review customer feedback and integrate it into our future plans. We’re now branching out into hosting events like weddings, birthdays and speciality themed weekends like arts and crafts, tastings and astronomy.

3. How do you balance creativity and practicality in developing your glamping accommodations and experiences?

This is at the heart of our approach. We work together really well. I’ll have the vision and Matthew will make it a reality!

On the creative side, we aim to design unique and visually appealing spaces that harmonise with the natural surroundings. This involves quality suppliers, stylish furnishings, and attention to detail that creates a memorable atmosphere for our guests.

But we also know that things need to work well and be easy to take care of. That’s where the practical part comes in. We use materials that last, organise the space so it works in practice and make sure everything is comfy and eco-friendly. So, we’re both creating a magical escape for our guests while making sure everything works smoothly. It’s the best of both worlds!

4. Can you describe a moment when you felt particularly proud or accomplished in your entrepreneurial journey?

We love when guests share how much they loved their time at our site. Their happiness and the memories they create, make us feel like we have done something special. It’s especially rewarding when a guest comes to stay who has never experienced glamping before and has a great time. There was a particular guest who was so nervous about glamping for the first time, to the point that he asked in advance if he would be able to leave in the middle of the night if necessary. He ended up having a fantastic stay and when he wrote his review, he said the only negative was that he had to go home at the end of it!   It was a memorable moment knowing that our vision had come to life.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own glamping or outdoor hospitality business?

Research good locations (don’t forget to take planning into consideration from the get-go) and make sure your glamping spot is both beautiful and practical.

Listen to what your guests say—whether it’s good or bad—because their feedback can help you improve.

Be ready to adapt to changes and meet the challenges that all new businesses face.

If you can, like us, start gradually and build your business up over time to reduce risk.

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