UK: In our seventh session focus feature ahead of the inaugural STRz Summit in London on Wednesday 18 October, we take stock of the fortunes in the outdoor lodging segment with ‘Redefining the outdoor lodging market, what’s next?’.
This session will explore how private equity and investment are continuing to surge into the outdoor lodging space, from holiday lodges and parks to pop-up accommodation, glamping sites and RVs that are riding the staycation wave. With record premiums being achieved, will this continue or are there headwinds gathering?
On top of this, we’ll be answering questions such as:
- Can the offering appeal to a wider demographic?
- What effect will the cost of living crisis have on demand and valuations?
- How are country hotels with large grounds developing to get a premium slice of the action? What’s next?
- Emily Newman, co-founder, NewDog PR
- Desmond Taljaard, MD, L+R Hotels
- Raoul Fraser, founder, Lovat Parks
- Chris Penn, founder, Do to the power 2
The outdoor lodging segment is riding the crest of sustained wave, with more and more consumers looking closer to home domestically for their annual escapes and the market is also piquing investor interest with a number of high-profile transactions in recent years.
With lockdowns and Covid restrictions putting paid to international travel in 2020 and beyond that, families and groups of travellers had little option but to put away their passports and holiday in leisure or rural destinations away from the hustle and bustle of urban cities.
Holiday parks, campsites and glamping sites were some of the accommodation types to benefit from the restriction in travel options, while traditionally popular tourist destinations saw unprecedented demand for stays and supply was stretched as a result, leading to a lengthening tourism season.
As the demand for outdoor lodging has soared, so too has the number of active players marking their presence in the market. This competition is leading some operators to explore the route of additional funding to increase the size of their portfolios, while others are acquiring other companies or being acquired to consolidate the space.
The likes of Park Holidays UK, Butlin’s, Roompot and Vacanceselect in Europe have been purchased for eye-watering figures, while industry behemoths such as Center Parcs, Awaze and Parkdean Resorts have been put up for sale and are exploring their options. Fluctuating valuations have also come under the microscope amidst a challenging economic environment.
Similarly, tiny home [Unyoked, Getaway et al] and glamping [Hipcamp, Kampaoh etc] operators are expanding their footprints in overseas markets and investors are prepared to back their ventures as travellers continue to flock to off-the-beaten-track locations, with some making the most of the opportunity to detox from their busy working, tech-dominated lives.
Now more companies are wanting their slice of the outdoor lodging pie. Outdoorsy, traditionally an RV rental marketplace in the United States, is one such company that has diversified its offering by launching Outdoorsy Stays, which curates a selection of accommodation options such as cabins, A-Frames, tiny homes and yurts.
In addition, the trend has not escaped the attention of country hotels and large global brands, many of whom [including Hyatt, Accor and Marriott] have debuted their own vacation rental booking platforms. Hotels are increasingly realising that they can maximise their revenues by broadening their accommodation offerings into glamping and luxury lodges, thereby providing typical hotel-goers with an alternative stay option.
It should therefore be no surprise that the blurring between hotels and short-term rentals is accelerating, as both verticals keep their eyes on the outdoor lodging segment. Habitas, a luxury hotel brand, experiential travel lodging and experiences company that raised $400 million for its ‘hotel circuits’ in Saudi Arabia in June, is a prime example of a brand seeking to bridge this gap and offer a unique, luxurious and personalised experience for affluent travellers.