Startup pitch: Glamping Hub is the global resource for glamorous camping
“Unique Access to the Outdoors” is how one new startup targeting the upscale outdoors accommodation market pitches their service.
The startup, Glamping Hub, is positioned as the international resource for glamorous camping – which is loosely defined as rustic-yet-luxurious accommodation that connects guests to a comfortable out-of-doors experience.
Think of it as luxury opened up to nature – an exceptional experience not only because of the service or fancy digs, but also because of the spectacular presence of surrounding nature areas.
Nestled in treetops and nature preserves, this style of accommodation is only becoming more prevalent as travelers seek to retain creature comforts while communing with nature. There is a very real market developing here, targeting the most affluent of customers seeking something more authentic and connected than simply a canned 5-star luxury experience.
The team shared their product with Tnooz via the Vine and Q&A with co-founder David Troya below.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
I founded the company while I was doing a Masters in Business in San Francisco. I have a background in hospitality, and I was automatically drawn to the concept of luxury camping. I thought there would be value in putting together a directory of these unique outdoor accommodations.
Also, I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I was living in the Mecca of entrepreneurship. What started as a side project slowly became my primary occupation and a complete obsession.
What is the size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?
Ruben Martinez and I, David Troya, co-founded the business and we are still heavily involved.
The company has changed a lot since we the days when we would take a couple of hours at night to exchange emails about the project. The company currently employs 10 extraordinary professionals. Talal Benjelloun, our COO, has been one of the key players in taking our business to the next level and Hector Giner, our CTO, is now revamping our site to make sure that there are glamping hubbers for years to come.
What are your funding arrangements?
We raised a round of funding from private investors and have been awarded funding from different acceleration programs such as StartUp Chile. We have recently been selected for the Next Step Challenge acceleration program that takes place in Denmark, which has helped our funding needs. Only 8 companies have made it to the final phase of this program.
What is your estimation of market size?
Not short of $2 billion.
Please describe your competition.
There are all kinds of competition, from traditional OTAs to some specialized travel websites. Airbnb and Homeaway also cover a huge portion of the vacation rental space, even though they don’t have curated directories like we do.
What is your revenue model and strategy for profitability?
We charge per booking.
What problem does the business solve?
We think that there is an untapped need for curated directories in travel. Travellers are time poor and do not have the time or desire to browse through thousands of accommodations if they already know what type of accommodation they are interested in. We think that many travellers would prefer to have a short list of what already suits their interest.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
Initially, we thought our business model was better aligned with the advertising model like vrbo but as we found out more about our market, we quickly transitioned to the commission model.
Why should people or companies use the business?
First off, I think people should visit our website to discover unique forms of accommodations and see the amazing photos of our collections. I think it would spur creativity and wanderlust.
Additionally, for people that are looking for truly unique outdoor accommodations, our directory is a time saver. It is easy to throw the word unique around, but it is much harder to say NO to accommodations that do not fit your theme to make sure the end user gets access to the special collection we promise.
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
Honestly, we have been fortunate to be featured over and over in the press, which has helped tremendously. In the short span of just a few months, we were featured by TIME magazine, mentioned by Forbes and selected as StartUp of the month by Entrepreneur Magazine. The media likes our concept and our beautiful photos, so we are riding the wave.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
We think our portal is going to be a reference in the travel field. Choosing an accommodation in our directory will be on most travellers’ bucket lists, which will hopefully bring millions of visits.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
There are too many options out there, and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, people need filters so that they can be more efficient in planning their trips.
What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style… and why?
It’s hard to say. We like what many other companies do, but we think we have a very distinct culture where human psychology is an extremely important factor. We look at our team members in a holistic, inclusive way, and I think that makes people feel free, empowered and appreciated. We have also been lucky to attract great professionals that have just the perfect mindset to run a startup.
Glamping, along with flashpacking, is most definitely a growing niche. More people are interested in connecting with the outdoor world without having to sacrifice creature comforts. And regardless of personal judgement on whether this is a good or bad thing, one only has to look at the proliferation of upscale glamping-style accommodations to see that business is certainly booming.
As far as the website is concerned, it is attractive and engaging, and really brings the user into the experience. Of course, the inventory is niche but this limitation can have advantages as far as a clear value proposition and utility for customers.
The scale question is very real given the niche focus – can this company become large enough to create sufficient returns for investors? Does it need more investors to grow or can it simply keep growing organically at its current investment level and build a healthy-but-not-giant company? These are all questions that matter, but also are aligned with the management team’s own vision and goals.
The site does have some competing directories, such as Glamping.com, and seems to be differentiating itself with a more similar design style to other P2P operators like Airbnb.
The site also has an interesting collection of manufacturers – almost a “how to” guide to create your own glamping-style accommodations for operators. This is a smart approach to grow their own market using simple informational tools. From yurts to spas, the links bring together a direct way to build out accommodations.
Overall, the focus on curated lists and specific styles of accommodations is smart, and something that OTAs have been doing for ages. However, the focus on glamping is something that up until this point hasn’t resonated – and the growing market opportunity is already being leveraged by Glamping Hub.
Nick Vivion was a senior reporter for Tnooz from August 2012 to July 2015.