Keshia and Erik Joot were living regular lives in Las Vegas until they decided to plunge into the world of glamping tents. They left their jobs, sold their house, went on a small journey around the world and eventually settled in Southeastern Utah, where they would start their very own business: Glamping Canyonlands. The couple wanted to pursue their passion for hospitality and hosting, and also express their creative sides, all while working for themselves. Thus, the idea of a glamping business was almost natural for them. It became easier to buy 22 acres of land in Monticello, Utah because it was only 40 minutes away from Canyonlands National park – a place they fell in love with during their honeymoon 8 years ago.We had the pleasure of speaking with them about how they started their business from the ground up and what tips they have for any new glamping business owners.
An introduction to Glamping CanyonlandsThe couple started Glamping Canyonlands not too long ago with the capital earned by selling their house in Las Vegas. It’s currently run by Keshia and Erik themselves who create glamping tent resorts with up to 4 canvas glamping tents in fixed locations. As they grow their business, they hope to provide 10 different structures ranging from a yurt to a 1970s van.
Services and amenities provided with the glamping tentsGlamping Canyonlands provides french press coffee in the morning to guests but the team is yet to delve into the world of more elaborate offerings like wine tastings, movie nights or meals. They will be adding breakfast to their menu as well since the nearest breakfast place does not come on the way to Canyonlands National Park.The overall resort experience is nothing short of luxury; you have access to a toilet, sink, and shower. As Keshia told us, “We want this be luxurious in a way so a bathroom is necessary.”Despite that, the camping part of glamping still exists and that’s why each luxury tent has a firepit where you can grill your food for a picnic. You can also make use of other cooking basics: the stove, fridge, and kitchen. If the weather allows, you can laze around using the outside furniture. Lastly and arguably most importantly, they do not provide any WiFi services. So if you’re hoping to escape the material world for a rustic getaway, this is what you need.
“We are completely off grid so there is no WiFi and little service which most see as an amenity.”
Some things to consider before starting a glamping businessOne of the first few things to consider is where the capital will come from. Keshia and Erik sold their house in Vegas and used this amount along with advanced booking payments to kickstart their venture.They also believe that it’s hard work that pays off.
“There is never a day off. To be a successful glamping business, you must be there for your guests and connect.”Unlike checking into a hotel, glamping is a far more personal experience and employers have to make a meaningful connection with their guests. Also, the laundry and cleaning will always keep you busy! So enjoy yourself and be as creative as you can because you want to build something that no one will want to leave.
Deciding on a location for the glamping tentsKeshia and Erik ran into some confusion in the beginning when they couldn’t find the right land to buy. They knew it was going to be Southeastern Utah, but the land was too expensive for them. What eventually convinced them was the promise of a return. They noticed how there were no affordable glamping businesses nearby and thus, there was a possibility of tapping into a market. Glamping Canyonlands is on the only road to and from Canyonlands National Park, so it’s an ideal location for people making an overnight trip. Once the location was set, Keshia and Erik decided to invest in bell tents because of how popular they are, ease of setup and relatively lower upfront costs.
How do you get your name out there?Keisha and Erik have used multiple mediums to get the word across about their business. They published an article in Glamp magazine, had their county, San Juan, cover them, and also did a radio interview with Salt Lake City. However, they think that their Google Listing, social media promotions, and regular word of mouth is what is really helping them acquire new guests. They’re also hoping to explore other marketing techniques as they expand their business in the near future.Glamping Canyonlands is also present on Airbnb, Hipcamp, VRBO, Glamping Hub and Pitchup, in addition to their own website.
Deciding on a nightly rateThey started off by comparing themselves to other accommodations and also by testing the waters. After setting a nightly rate of $65 they have now moved onto a $95 nightly rate, as demand for their glamping resorts has grown. Their advice for new glamping businesses is to use trial and error to assess the real value of their services.
Tips for glamping businessesAs many business owners would agree, Keshia and Erik also think that you should be confident in your abilities to run the glamping business, even if you’re a little scared about how everything will turn out. You don’t want to look back and think, “what if?”
“It’s also never too late! I’m 34 and my husband is 44 years old. It’s a lot of fun and the most rewarding thing you could ever do.”Also, it’s important not to neglect the amazing glamping community. Keshia and Erik recommend reaching out to others in the glamping business and making use of their experience, skills and knowledge to continue to improve your own operations and services.