RVs, Yurts, Treehouses: What’s the Best Unique Rental to Invest in?

types of glamping

By The Hospitable Team

Glamping is a serious trend right now, from pods and yurts to treehouses and more (bed in a bubble anyone?). But faced with so much choice, it can be overwhelming to know whether you should invest in a unique rental at all.

And if you do invest, what type of glamping might work best for you as a vacation rental host? Who would your customers be, what do they want, and how can you transfer your skills from one type of rental to another? We get it—there’s a lot to consider!

That’s why in this post we’ve explained:

  • Why outdoor travel is so big right now, and five key trends that could inform your investment
  • What to think about when considering whether to invest in unique property hosting
  • The main types of glamping properties, and why each might (or not) be a good option for you
  • The key tools you need to make hosting glamping properties just as easy as regular rentals

Why is outdoor travel so big right now?

glamping types 01

The soaring popularity of outdoor travel can be explained—at least partly—by some key trends dominating travel right now. These include shifts in the way people work and relax, and what they’re prioritizing most.

1. Isolated breaks + remote working post-pandemic

The post-pandemic “new normal” has left a lasting impression on people’s work and travel habits, especially for the increased numbers of those who work from home. 

Now free to work from anywhere, remote workers are seeking peace and quiet in the great outdoors—without sacrificing fast WiFi or good coffee. This has caused a consequent “shift towards outdoor accommodation” that is not too far from civilization, this report found.

2. Digital detoxing

In contrast, the rise in people working from home has meant that the office is increasingly creeping into people’s everyday lives, prompting a rise in vacationers seeking total “digital detox.”

Glamping is perfect for this, as it invites guests into the outdoors and gives them access to remote spaces and a simpler kind of living, without giving up all creature comforts. 

Guests looking for digital detox may include usually-busy city workers looking for an escape, or families wanting to reconnect with each other away from the usual 24/7 screens.

3. Popularity of music festivals + “luxury camping” option

The increased popularity of music festivals has arguably pushed glamping into the mainstream, as many such events now routinely offer glamping in pods, yurts, or bell tents as a higher-end accommodation option to the mud, mess, and mayhem of normal camping.

Guests in this vein will want to feel as though they’re getting close to nature and culture, without foregoing hot showers or a comfortable night’s sleep when the last act wraps up.

4. Eco-friendliness

The rise in eco-friendliness has been unmistakable in recent years, as more and more consumers wake up to the climate crisis and the small changes we can all make to take action. 

The Vacationer Sustainable Travel Survey 2022 found that sustainable travel is either “somewhat important” or “very important” to 87% of American adults, and that 92% of Americans aged 18-29 are likely to make travel decisions based on eco-friendly factors.

Glamping sites that offer solar power, composting toilets, or nature-friendly shampoo and body wash, —to name just some eco-friendly options—are more likely to appeal to increasingly environmentally-conscious consumers.

5. Prioritizing wellness

The growing conversation around mental health has seen many travelers prioritize vacation activities that take them closer to the outdoors, such as “forest bathing” (the Japanese wellbeing practice of “shinrin-yoku”), wild water swimming, sunrise yoga, or even just a good, old-fashioned bracing hike.

Studies by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) found that the wellness tourism industry is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2025, and a report by Grand View Research stated: “People are looking for restorative vacations that help them feel better, particularly in…North America and Europe.” 

“There is a “rising need for getaways as a result of [people’s] hectic lifestyle, and the increasing need to unwind in healthy ways for one’s wellbeing”, it said, concluding: “This is expected to have a favorable impact on the [glamping] market.”

Should you get into hosting unique properties?

glamping types 02

As a business owner, it may seem unwise to jump on every “trend” that comes along. But while glamping is definitely having a major moment, it’s definitely more than a passing fad. 

A report by Grand View Research valued the market at USD$2.35 billion in 2021, predicted it would hit USD$2.74 billion in 2022, and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9% from 2022 to 2030.

So, investing in the “trend” might make sense to you. But before deciding, we recommend that you:

  • Hone your brand identity first. We recommend building up a strong vacation rental brand before you begin. This means guests will be likely to trust you and book, even if your property is a little unusual.
  • Consider your target audience and if you can (or want to) offer what they’re looking for. This will likely have a strong impact on the type of glamping property you choose, from connected pods for remote workers to larger cabins for families with kids.
  • Consider style and price point. Will your ideal guests want rustic and boho—or high-end luxury? If you’re planning on marketing your rentals on Instagram, for example, what kinds of people, brands, or accounts would you target? Do young, boho guests have the money to pay for $1,000-per-night luxe, or are they more $120-per-night kinds of travelers?
  • Consider location, and whether it will work for a glamping site. Will your space be close to the sea, or tucked away in the mountains? Will it be open-plan for outdoor living, or cozy and cute for winter “hygge”? Can guests get to it easily, or will it require some major planning?
  • Consider whether you need any permits, licenses, or legal permission to host a glamping property or business on your site (no matter what type you choose), otherwise, your “temporary” tipi might end up being a whole lot more temporary than you anticipated.
  • Figure out the tech. Is there a signal or WiFi, or is this more of a digital detox destination? Can guests get to you via public transportation or will they need their own vehicle (or a ride or taxi organized by you)? How will you communicate with guests if there is no signal? 

Some tools such as Hospitable.com can send guests messages automatically in advance so they have all the info they need even before they arrive. This is crucial if they won’t have a signal on-site. 

Have conversations with your guests even when you sleep.

We will detect questions and answer on your behalf; send fully custom messages triggered by events, and much more!

Similarly, Hospitable.com’s online check-in system means you can use smart locks to offer access, and some locks, such as Igloohome, don’t require WiFi or signal to function.

(For more extensive and specific tips, check out our post on how to start a glamping business here).

Types of glamping properties to invest in

One of the most appealing aspects of glamping is the variety and uniqueness of the property types. 

Cabins and pods are among the most popular types—UK-based company Pitchup.com has reported a 102% and 73% increase in cabins and pods respectively since 2018—but specialist channel managers such as Canopy & Stars and Glamping Hub list a vast variety. 

Depending on your location, priorities, and business model, take your pick from:

1. Treehouses

glamping types 03

From nest-like pods to luxurious treetop hideouts, treehouses offer a unique vantage point on the world and can help guests truly escape from reality. They might be more complicated to build but once up, they’ll be a real talking point for years to come. 

Accessibility and plumbing may be more of a challenge, however, so it’s important to bear this in mind.

2. Cabins

glamping types 04

Cabins can span everything from expansive wooden homes to super-little lodges, and might include anything from a few basic beds to a full-blown house with kitchen, bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and a wood-burning stove. 

Traditionally found tucked in a field, up a mountain, or perched near water, they can be more popular with larger groups or families seeking countryside without compromising on mod cons or accessibility.

3. Yurts, bell tents, and tipis

glamping types 05

Once more well-known as the accommodation of choice for Mongolian nomads, yurts of all styles (as well as bell tents and tipis) now offer a taste of camping under canvas without the discomfort of a regular tent.

Often showing creative wooden workmanship, some include woodburning stoves and power, while others keep it simple with just a bed and blankets. Either way, most have separate bathrooms and outdoor seating areas, and offer a unique stay that is both cozy and super-close to nature.

4. Stationary RVs and caravans

glamping types 06

Modern RVs are an obvious choice for an easy glamping option, with likely higher upfront costs but less manual work needed—although you might sacrifice uniqueness and style for convenience. 

Alternatives include traditional Romani wagons and vintage vados, which have often been restored to their former glory for a magical taste of traveler history. Depending on their size and your skill level, they can even offer cutesy kitchens, woodburning stoves, huge beds, and built-in bathrooms.

5. Glamping pods

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Pods have an eco-friendly reputation, and tend to be smaller, simpler dwellings, which are often clustered in groups around a given view or natural space. 

Traditionally wooden with curved roofs, they can also include super-modern, sleek designs, and can vary hugely in amenities depending on the level of luxury provided. They are also one of the most popular types of property within the sector.

6. Huts and train carriages

glamping types 08

Huts may sound humble but can range from simple tin structures to luxury shepherd’s huts that have been given a full restoration (although accessibility and plumbing may be a challenge). 

Train carriages offer a similar metal-based style but will usually offer much more room, accessibility, and flexibility for families or larger groups.

7. Tiny houses

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It’s been difficult to escape the tiny house trend in recent years, as people seek more affordable, minimalist living options. For example, the hashtag #tinyhouse has more than 2.7 million mentions on Instagram, while one of the topic’s most popular YouTube channels, Living Big In A Tiny House, has more than 4.3 million subscribers.

As a result, many travelers are seeking to trial tiny houses before taking the plunge themselves. Think loft beds, fully-equipped kitchens, eco-friendly bathrooms, electricity, and water, but all within the creative confines of a smaller space.

8. Vans and skoolies

glamping types 10

Sometimes seen as an extension of the tiny house trend, vans take the movement even further, and compress living square footage into the space between four wheels. Skoolies (the nickname given to converted school buses) offer slightly more room—but the crucial point about vehicles is that more often than not, they still move

This might be an altogether different proposition for your rental business, but offers guests a level of freedom they just wouldn’t get with a stationary unit. 

9. Unique properties

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As you might expect, there are a ton of property types that defy categorization. These include lesser-seen, off-beat properties such as transparent bubbles, bell tents, geodesic domes, Hobbit houses, converted shipping containers, old towers, disused (or even still in-use!) lighthouses, floating homes, and even caves. 

These properties will present a long list of their own challenges, but are almost guaranteed to offer an unforgettable stay that guests can’t stop talking about.

How to make running unique rentals easy

Whatever kind of property you choose, rest assured that running a less-common rental doesn’t have to be more complicated than running a regular one. 

From enabling easy online booking to ensuring streamlined guest communication, automating as many processes as possible will ensure your rentals run smoothly, whether guests are cozy in a cabin or tucked up in a treehouse (even if there’s no signal to be found on-site).

Automate communication and task management

Team management taken to the next level.

Assign tasks to your team automatically, send reminders, decide on the necessary level of access, and share calendars.

Automation solutions for property owners, such as Hospitable.com, enable you to keep on top of operations even as your properties become more unique, by automating common tasks such as:

  • Guest messaging and automated replies. Confirm bookings, enable remote check-in, send info to guests well ahead of time, and answer questions quickly even if you’re busy or offline.
  • Task management. Keep track of tasks, enable coordination and communication between team members, and streamline changeovers and maintenance easily.
  • Channel management and calendar coordination. Distribute changes over all listings automatically, prevent double booking, enable manual changes
  • Dynamic pricing and financial management. Make sure your pricing is correct across all channels, and track key financial insights.
  • Request reviews and respond to feedback. Give guests a chance to share their great experiences and show off your property’s high ratings to attract future bookings. 
  • Enable smart locks. Offer online, remote check-in via smart locks and smartphones. Some locks don’t even need WiFi to function, making them perfect for remote locations.

Build a strong brand with a direct booking website

Get a direct booking website within minutes!

Our system will ensure your calendars stay synced with OTAs, and your guests get the best experience.

Way back at the top of this article, we said that building a strong brand was key to unique vacation rental success. Building your own dedicated website—with the help of tools such as Hospitable.com Direct—is a major way to do just that. It includes:

  • A specific design to encourage conversions (direct bookings)
  • Dedicated space to send potential guests, showcase properties, and build social proof
  • Easy-to-use booking widget for existing websites
  • Calendar synchronization with OTAs to avoid booking clashes
  • Automated communication to confirm bookings and send crucial info to guests promptly
  • Online payment management for instant booking (coming soon)
  • Security integrations to risk assess and background check each guest automatically

Glamping rentals: Which type is the best investment for you?

Ultimately, the best type of glamping investment is the one that you find most exciting, and is the best fit for where you’re looking to operate.

From cabins, pods, and treehouses, to the massive tiny house and van life movements, there’s a huge choice of property types to satisfy even the most creative and adventurous host and guest. 

But whatever you choose, know that going more remote and scaling your business to include rustic, back-to-nature glamping doesn’t mean going old school with your tech too.

Enabling automated systems—such as Hospitable.com—that improve the guest experience, streamline operational tasks, and maintain amazing guest communication before, during, and after each stay, makes managing any type of unique property as breezy as a night in the treetops.

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Glamping Business: Beginner’s Guide

Glamping or glamorous camping is a new trend in the tourism industry that is quickly becoming popular worldwide. The global glamping market size is huge, so starting a glamping business as an alternative to traditional vacation rental homes can be a great small business opportunity to explore.

vacation rental investment

Vacation Rental Investment: Is It Worth It?

Thinking about real estate investment to make money outside your 9-to-5 job? Buying a vacation rental home might be the best way to enter the real estate business and become a property investor.

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