A lakefront glamping village in New Zealand makes for happy campers on Airbnb
Lotus Belle Tents is a proud partner of Airbnb
Paradise Valley Glamping in Kerikeri, New Zealand, might be the world's first themed glamping village. We talked with Hosts Wendy and Donna to learn about their experience hosting Lotus Belle tents on Airbnb, plus get tips for anyone looking to start a glamping business.
It all started 25 years ago, when Wendy and Donna met in Crete. Donna was a barmaid, Wendy was a patron from the UK, and before long they were fantastic friends.
Later, Wendy traveled to New Zealand, fell in love with the country, and decided to stay. Then, while booking a trip on Airbnb, she discovered that people were hosting tents on the platform. She'd also come across an Airstream hosting business while traveling in France, and an idea began to form to start a hosting business. She knew all she needed was an X factor.
Wendy landed on glamping. She bought a property with a lake within a four-hour drive of the country's busiest city, Auckland, that she felt was perfectly suited for tents. She also felt she had found her X factor: Each tent would represent a different place where she and Donna had traveled.
"With eight completely different designed glamping bell tents from around the globe, the ones that stand out for superior quality, design, longevity, and strength—the four main ingredients you need in a tent to sustain a viable glamping business—are the Lotus Belles, with the eye-catching Outback Deluxe being our favourite,” Donna says. “These tents check all the boxes, get booked the quickest with our guests, and outlast the rest.”
Because tents didn't require a major upfront investment, Wendy and Donna were up and running fast. Starting with four tents, they soon made $65,000 NZD. In fact, their least expensive tent would prove to be their busiest. They paid it off after just one week of hosting it.
"Since Paradise Valley Glamping has started hosting with Airbnb, our lives have been totally transformed," Donna says. "We have made so many friends from around the world. The whole hosting experience is something everyone should have a go at. Meeting the guests and seeing them enjoy themselves or relaxing resonates back to you, so you are constantly caught up in the vibe. And to me, there is no better vibe than happiness."
In addition to listing their tents on Airbnb, Wendy and Donna run their own website, but they find that people prefer to use Airbnb because they feel it is safer and more secure. Because Airbnb also handles marketing, booking, payments, insurance, and support—and with travelers around the world searching Airbnb for unique stays, your glamping business will have the opportunity to thrive.
"My advice to anyone thinking of setting up a hosting business is to do it," Wendy says. "Work out what you can offer, and price it accordingly, so people will know what to expect. That's really important. Also think about what makes your stay unique. We were the first glamping business to set up as a cultural theme in the world, making each tent theme different, from African to Greek. This made the newspapers and gave us great publicity."
Wendy and Donna say they've learned a lot about hosting along the way. One of the most important rules is to be flexible. For example, they weren't Internet-savvy in the beginning, and were getting double bookings, so they put up an emergency tent in just one weekend. It ended up staying, and they planted olive trees around it to add privacy—it became their Greek-themed tent.
Other tips for hosting glamping sites include:
* Use plants to make each tent as private as possible
* Keep the tents cozy with homely themes
* Be willing to host seasonally, when the weather is generally pleasant
* Go for quality—Lotus Belle tents are "hands down the best" and withstand traffic and rain
* Air out the tents every so often to keep the air fresh and prevent mold
* Greet the guests and show them where the facilities are and how they work
* Help guests feel at home and share favorite locals places and activities
Wendy and Donna host guests from all over New Zealand, but primarily from the cities. When Auckland went into lockdown, many locals wanted to come, so they now have a waitlist due to their popularity.
Whilst they've closed down for New Zealand's cold season, they are exploring adding geodesic domes, as well as expanding into Australia to set up another glamping village within three hours of a major city. They're also keen to do an LGBT-themed tent week during Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2022, but are first waiting to see what that will look like.
Ready to try hosting a tent on Airbnb?
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