The Glamping Business: Highway West Vacations

Interview by: Alexandria Autrey

We spoke with Avery, the marketing director at Highway West Vacations, to discuss how they run this niche glamping business.  She discussed challenges, learning experiences and what it takes to give guests that luxe camping experience.

How long have you been in the Glamping business?
We have been involved in the Glamping Business for 2 years.

How long did it take to start the business up?
We are still in the process, Palm Canyon at this point is complete with its 8 airstreams, but there is the potential for adding more.  And, Flying Flags is still undergoing some renovations to add more safari tents and cottages to the destination.

Were there any hurdles you had to tackle?
Yes, we had a few hurdles to tackle.  The integration into our pre-existing RV resorts and campgrounds.  In addition, Airstream renovations are very costly and time consuming.

Where do people like to stay mostly?
The airstreams have grown increasingly popular.

What activities do people do during the day when staying?
It definitely depends on the location.  For our Flying Flags property in Buellton, people wine taste, hike, sight see in Solvang, travel down to the coast, barbecue, enjoy the onsite amenities such as swimming pool, dog park and our common lounge area.  At our Palm Canyon property in Borrego Springs, there is a lot of hiking, sightseeing, dining at our onsite restaurant and bar, lounging by the pool and many people bring out motorcycles and bikes to explore the desert landscape.

Why did you decide to offer the glamping vs. traditional accommodation options?
To cater to a larger demographic that includes people that wouldn’t normally find themselves at a campground.

Do you have plans to expand?
Yes, at this point we have 9 properties.  And, we are looking to add ten a year for the next few years.

What is the biggest challenge operating the glamping? How did/do you solve this problem?
Housekeeping is a big challenge in this business.  The properties originally operated as campgrounds and RV Resorts, with a few cottages and cabins.  However, the airstreams and safari tents require more attention as they take longer to clean.  In addition, the airstreams require a lot of maintenance.

What, if any is your Target demographic?
Our target demographic includes baby boomers for the RV, families with children and we are trying to reach out to the younger demographic that might not have experienced camping before.  We want a more comfortable environment, for our guests, with some modern conveniences.

What is the demographic your resort actually see’s, if any? ie, what type of people do you find coming out to your locations? 
Right now they are primarily families, younger families, baby boomers and retirees.  We are starting to see the shift however, to include millennials and other younger campers looking for a different adventure.

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