The extension of permitted development rights for temporary uses of land has been a blessing for many land-based businesses who have used the opportunity to explore diversification by offering so-called pop-up campsites to cater to the growing number of people wishing to holiday in the UK.
At one end of the spectrum, you have farms offering wild camping. This offers an area of land where campers can pitch their tents with no access to any facilities and a price tag to match, but there are plenty of opportunities to add value to each stay by offering extras to campers.
If you can source a temporary ablution block for guests to go to the loo and shower, then it means you are attractive to a wider pool of casual campers and those looking for a longer holiday. It also means you can charge more for each night’s stay. Make sure you have enough facilities for the anticipated number of guests and ensure that they are regularly cleaned and re-stocked.
There are also other thoughtful touches that you can add to improve the guest experience. Simple things like leaving a cool box for guests to place their fresh food can enhance a stay, leading to better reviews and repeat bookings. There is also scope for other paid-for extras to bolt-on, including hiring firepits, selling charcoal and wood and an extra charge for dogs to stay on site.
By welcoming campers to your farm, you have something of a captive audience, and for those who have livestock, this is a prime chance to market your wares – you can either supply some of your popular meat box products to visitors to cook themselves and save them the hassle of buying from a supermarket or you could get really creative and use your produce to offer a breakfast wrap or other meals. The highlight of one of my recent stays was joining our hosts for an evening barbecue, which included their home-produced burgers and hotdogs as well as pizza.
Remember that your farm is a stage to tell your story and showcase how amazing British farming is. So, if you have the confidence and the time, why not offer farm tours or walks to show guests your livestock, your crops and your environmental work? If time doesn’t allow you to guide groups around, then you could offer a safe permissive paths map to guests and supply some basic written information about your farm on the route map.
The upshot is that there is plenty of scope to offer additional extras to guests and enhance their visitor experience, but do contact your regional office for a more in-depth conversation about how you can find your competitive advantage.