Host Spotlight: Karen and Jon

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Karen and Jon and their beautiful ranch with these luxury tents near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The hosts, Karen and Jon, relaxing on the front porch of their home at the ranch.
Keep reading to see what Karen has to say about their property below!

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

Our glamping site arose from a need of where to put all the family and friends that were coming to visit us at our new property in Westcliffe. We had built a small, 700-square-foot home and needed a place for them to sleep.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

I'm an architect, and my husband is a hunting outfitter, so we were familiar with large canvas tent type accommodations from his outfitting business before we started our glamping site. What drew us to glamping were the luxury tents that we had seen online when I was trying to find inspiration for the timber framing of our tents.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

Our accommodation fits the definition of glamping in that it truly is luxury camping in canvas tents with heavy timber frames. The ensuite full bathroom in each tent takes the luxury to a whole new level! Meanwhile, the barn-style kitchen and living space, which also form part of the accommodation, bring the ranching aspect to glamping.

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

The most special thing about our property is the incredible mountain views. The property sits right at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Watching our 30 horses grazing on the grass with the mountain views behind them makes it even more special.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

What we love most about running our glamping site is that we have met the most incredible people! We've made some amazing friends along the way. Some of the challenges we have faced have been helping guests learn how to start a fire. Starting fires in the wood-burning stoves in the tents has been a real challenge for some of our guests, so one of the things we've done to help our guests stay warm all night is change the wood-burning stoves in the tents to gas stoves. Now, they can still have a beautiful fire, but stay warm and toasty all night! Guests still have several wood-burning fireplaces in the gathering areas that they can roast marshmallows on.

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

Our most memorable guest experience to date was a family that came from the East Coast that stayed for a week. Seeing how they were blown away by the views and how much they enjoyed having the horses around made us appreciate where we live even more.

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Incredible, amazing, and unforgettable.

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

Our guests experience incredible mountain views in a remote setting with quiet evenings, incredible stars at night and unspoiled mountain views and scenery.

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

Kenny Chesney. We love him and his music!

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

We're adding a barn on the property that will have an amazing barn loft made of heavy timber, which guests will be able to rent for weddings, family reunions, and gatherings. We're also making the glamping tents available year-round for our guests starting this fall/winter.


Interested to know more about Karen, Jon, and their incredible glamping site? Check out the feature Colorado Homes Magazine did about this couple and their unique property. And make sure you go experience it firsthand, too!

Host Spotlight: Tim and Helene

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Tim and Helene and their romantic yurt near Yosemite National Park in Oakhurst, California.

The hosts, Helene and Tim.
Keep reading to see what Tim has to say about their property below!

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

Helene and I met on Cinco de Mayo in 2015. A local brew pub owner was having a party and invited me to join in the festivities. As the party was winding down and the sun nearing the horizon, I noticed Helene off by herself. Her son had invited her last minute, though I insist she crashed the party just to meet me! It was also rumored that the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight was going to be shown as a surprise, and Helene likes a good boxing match.

From that evening forward, we connected and did not look back. Helene had just landed a job managing a wine bar, which she loved. I had worked in L.A. making TV commercials for years, which allowed me to live five hours from the city when not working—a nice balance with nature.

A month into our relationship, Helene was diagnosed with cancer, and everything changed abruptly. When faced with life-threatening challenges, the importance of living each and every day to its fullest potential becomes vividly apparent. Sink or swim. Well, Helene beat the cancer, but she had lost her job in the process.

We decided that we wanted to control our destiny more than in the past. We realized that's not really possible, so we decided to say "steer our destiny in the right direction" instead! The idea to create a short-term rental came into play. With the help of a good friend, Thor, who is an architect, and Shelter Design Yurts, our dream took form. It took Helene and I a year to build it—a crew of two! Helene now has her own schedule. She also makes mine. So we said, Glamping Hub, here we come!

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

Helene has lived in our town for 46 years! She has been in the hospitality industry for the majority of that time. "From slinging burgers to pouring $400 bottles of wine, making people happy is what makes me happy," Helene says to me with a smile. It felt like a natural progression really…the only difference is there was no time card to punch!

I have made commercials in L.A. for over 20 years. I was fortunate to grow up here in Oakhurst! I needed to get out and see the world when I was younger, but it is always nice to come home. With our new opportunity here now, we are loving the freedom and the ability to meet people from all over the world!

Helene, with the couple's dog, Bru.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

Well, first and foremost, Yosemite National Park is in our back yard! There is really nothing that says camping, or glamping, more than our wonderful national parks. When we first began formulating ideas about our future, we asked ourselves a few questions. What can we do that is healthy, rewarding, and close to home? It had to be artistic, make us proud, and have little or no environmental impact if it we here on our property. It had to fit in and embrace nature seamlessly.

A view of Shuteye Peak, a nearby mountain from which the hosts drew inspiration for the name of their glamping site.

We knew we were going to be working with a budget, and we knew we were going in it alone. We were going to be the two-man crew that got it all done! We went about finding the location to build on, much like we do when finding a camping site. It has to be aesthetically pleasing! Morning sun is a must, with afternoon shade and a view of the sunset when toasting friends, new and old! We love our creation. We absolutely enjoy sharing it with our guests. The wildlife, deer, birds and fresh smells just put a final touch on the perfect theme.

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

To be terribly honest, if it weren't for Helene, it would not be the same. She really has a passion for this and aims to make everything wonderful for our guests. Having said that, we have four distinct seasons. Each has their unique place.

Spring is drenched in greens and new growth. Flowers abound. Life emerges with a quiet roar. Summer has endless blue skies, with sleepy warm afternoons. Ahh, dream of high mountain tops, meadows full of flowers, and breathtaking falls as the snow thaws.

Fall is when it all winds down, and colors glow bright orange, yellow, and red in the evening light. It's certainly a pleasing visual pallet desired by most nature lovers! And, finally, winter. A quiet time of year here...listen for the first drops of rain. Smell the fire, and feel its warmth in the early evening. Nothing like it! We love the fire pit and star-filled nights. S'mores, anyone?

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

We love meeting new interesting people. We get many couples that are adventuring out into the wilds of Yosemite and then returning to relax at the end of the day in our peaceful yurt. It's the best of both worlds! As far as the challenges, I'd say keeping our guests happy and making sure everything is as good as we can make it for them. Bru, our yellow lab puppy who is turning into a mischievous dog, loves playing with our guests. The biggest challenge is to get your shoe back!

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

The wedding proposals are awesome and unexpected. One time, a gentleman from Singapore asked me if I would take photos hidden out of sight while he proposed! So I hid behind a tree and watched a life together unfold as he went down on one knee. I was so nervous! She said yes, and the rest is history.

Another couple stayed in our yurt and forwarded photos of their two hands together facing the ceiling of the yurt with a pretty engagement ring on—super fun! It has been a great celebration place for many birthdays, honeymoons and anniversaries, too. We are so happy and proud of that!

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Magical, romantic, and peaceful.

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

We have had such a wonderful experience with all of our Glamping Hub guests. I think that people drawn to nature are the people we want to attract. We have had only the best things to say about our guests from all over the world. We are proud to be a part of the Glamping Hub family. Another good barometer is the awesome reviews our guest have given us!

Chetan, a guest we had from the U.K. last year, said, "Helene and Timothy have created an amazing, beautiful and blissfully peaceful space from which to explore Yosemite and surrounding areas. We loved the original art on the walls, the incredibly comfortable bed (best of our whole trip) and the little kitchenette. Thanks you so much, we'll be recommending your place to everyone!"

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

If only Anthony Bourdain, David Bowie, and my sister, Constance, were still with us! What a party that would be. Helene says we need some music, so B.B. King and John Lee Hooker! I bet the sound would be great in a yurt.

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

We're constantly making the yurt space better; we listen and learn from our guests. We're going to add another cool glamping site on our six acres—a tipi that is equally as secluded and special, which will be ready to book in 2020. It'll even have an outdoor shower! Thanks so much for letting us share our place with you.

Two happy guests who loved their stay at Tim and Helene's yurt.

Ready to head to California? Go experience the magic of Tim and Helene's glamping site firsthand!

How to prepare for low season and boost your bookings

By Fred Jéquier

For guests fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose when they're going on vacation, it's becoming increasingly more common to opt for a trip outside of high season, as low-season travel comes with its own rewards. With cheaper flights and little to no crowds at popular destinations, it's hardly surprising that off-season is becoming the time to indulge in a getaway. This is great news for hosts, but we've got five more tips to help you further prepare for low season and ensure you get a boost in bookings.

Whether you own a ski chalet in Colorado or a beach hut overlooking the ocean in Hawaii, let us help you get your accommodation the exposure it deserves, no matter what time of year it is.

1. Rethink your demographic

No matter if your vacation rental is overlooking the ocean or set deep in the heart of the mountains, peak seasons tend to fall around school vacations. Marketing your rental is relatively easy during that time frame, as you can really sell the idyllic family getaway to entice guests to book. Once school starts again, however, you need to think about who is going to be planning their trip and how you can get involved in off-season tourism.

Your target market will likely shift to those who don't have parental responsibilities, such as single people, young couples, couples who don't have children, and those whose kids have flown the coop. This gives you a wide spectrum of people to market to, and you can even try and make your rental appealing for weekend group getaways, encouraging college or school reunions.

2. Adjust your rates accordingly

Photo courtesy of Upwork.

One of the benefits of heading on an off-season trip is that the cost of getting from Point A to Point B becomes significantly cheaper. Major airlines launch all kinds of promotions and discounts to encourage people to head out on a trip, even though most of them are already back to school pick-ups and full days at the office. By lowering your prices during this period of time, you can tap into this demographic that could be swayed by a reduced rate. You'll have guests lining up for a memorable getaway at your accommodation in no time!

3. Minimize your minimum night stay

While your goal is to ensure that your booking calendar is as full as possible throughout the year, guests are looking for a bargain to ensure they end up with the best off-season vacation possible. During low season, you may want to consider changing your minimum night stay to encourage more bookings. You could even go one step further by offering deals for multiple-night stays! Why not offer three nights for the price of two or encourage a week-long stay by giving guests one of the nights for free?

4. Update your unique aspects for all seasons

Depending on your location, your peak season could be in either summer or winter. Nevertheless, you've more than likely got some photos and information in your listing that show potential guests some of the more popular activities for a vacation during high season. To get off-season travelers knocking on your door, you should add some tips and advice about activities, festivals, and events unique to your area for low season, too.

If summer is your high season, let people now about your local harvest festival in the fall or annual Christmas market in winter. Alternatively, if winter is when guests come flocking, make sure you're telling potential guests about the nearest summer fair or outdoor movie series. Additionally, seasonal photos that show how amazing it would be to enjoy a trip to your rental, regardless of the time of year, will also attract more booking requests during the off season.

5. Reassure with reviews

Reviews go a long way in encouraging other people to book a stay. Prospective guests appreciate the chance to read an honest, individual description about someone's time at your accommodation. It's important, however, to make sure you get reviews from guests during both low and high seasons. Even a couple of sentences from a guest that stays with you in the off season may be enough to give a future guest the reassurance they need that your place is perfect for their getaway, no matter what month it is.


Find out firsthand how our Glamping Hub hosts make sure guests come back time and again in our Host Spotlight blog series!

Host Spotlight: Diane and Raul

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Diane and Raul and their stunning safari tent near Pismo Beach in Arroyo Grande, California.

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

We were invited to our niece's wedding in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. We went online to make hotel reservations and found that the site of her wedding offered many different accommodations, i.e. a lodge, cabins, tents, Airstream trailers, and...GLAMPING!

We had never heard of "glamping" before, but when I saw what they offered, we knew immediately that it was something we wanted to try. We own 10 acres full of oak trees—plus a beautiful tropical pool area behind our home. It didn't take too much discussion, and we decided to build a glamping site that was unique, totally private, and like a classy resort, with every amenity possible.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

Raul is a federal contractor, who provides hospital housekeeping services to military medical treatment facilities (Army, Air Force, and Navy), and I enjoy trading stocks along with being Raul's executive assistant and "girl Friday." We were drawn to the glamping idea to help generate some additional income, since retirement is quickly approaching. We loved the thought of sharing our beautiful, resort-like property with others.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

We own 10 picturesque, oak-filled acres of land, so nestled in the woods, we built a large, sturdy deck and erected a huge safari tent, or canvas cabin, on it. It is located 180 feet from the patio area, where you'll find the bathroom, a BBQ area, a Jacuzzi, a koi pond, and a tropical pool.

The tent itself is furnished with a rustic, woodsy theme and offers many comforts, such as beds with memory-foam mattresses, a couch, a table, and chairs, as well as a TV with a VCR and a selection of 40 movies. There is also a mini-fridge and a Keurig coffeemaker. Guests enjoy cold waters or their choice of Starbucks coffees, STASH teas, or various hot chocolates. This is luxury camping at its finest!

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

Not only do our guests enjoy the seclusion of a cozy "cabin in the woods," but we provide more private amenities than any expensive hotel or resort. Where can people go to find such luxurious surroundings and not have to share it with strangers? You don't have shared walls or have to share the exotic pool area, as you would at any hotel.

Everything is here for our guests' own personal use—their own private tropical resort that is surrounded by stunning landscaping; a bridge crossing over a koi pond filled with fish, rockery, and waterfalls; fire pits; and beautiful lighting. Once we give our guests the initial welcome and tour, we are scarce (unless they need something, or simply want to chat). We have put shades on all the windows and doors around the back of our house, so our guests have total privacy.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

We love sharing our piece of paradise with others. Our glamping site has given us the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the world. We have had guests from Tibet, England, and Canada, as well as people from across America. People from all over California also come for staycations, since it's just a few hours away by car, and they arrive to a completely different world!

So far, we haven't had many challenges, and we feel blessed to have found this great opportunity to provide a service, as well as supplement our retirement. The only tough thing we face at times is the short turn-around time when we have back-to-back reservations. Since it's just the two of us, it's not always easy stripping beds, cleaning, laundering towels and linens, tidying up, and re-stocking in just three hours—especially when we have six guests who need three beds made up, instead of just one.

Carrying down and inflating the queen-size air mattress and hauling the additional memory-foam mattress to add to the sofa bed down the long path from the house to the safari tent is cumbersome. We haven't come up with an easier method yet, but who knows? Things are getting easier as times goes by. We are still pretty new to this, and practice makes perfect, right?

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

Wow, it's hard to pick just one! We had a wonderful family from England stay with us, and they were lovely; we ended up becoming very good friends and will be keeping in touch. There was a pre-bachelorette party of five gals, who absolutely fell in love with our place. They had a blast and are now walking advertisements for us—they are definitely planning to return.

We had a very sweet couple from San Francisco, who we wouldn't hesitate to adopt! Lastly, we had a very special Tibetan family, who upon their departure, honored us with a special gift for being their host: a gorgeous scarf/runner, made of white silk, for good luck. It made me cry!

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Welcoming, comfortable, and amazing!

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

We provide the perfect place for our guests to relax, unplug, and enjoy nature. They get the best of both worlds:

  1. A comfortable camping experience, with memory-foam mattresses, in a spacious safari tent nestled in a countryside that is filled with oak trees, where you can fall asleep to the sound of owls, crickets, and frogs, and wake up to the birds' songs. You're surrounded by nature and wildlife and can enjoy sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee, watching wild turkeys and deer roam about the property. You can also go hiking on our nearby trail, which has stunning views of both the mountains and valley vineyards, in addition to breathtaking views of the ocean, from Avila Beach to the Guadalupe Dunes.

  2. The private use of our tropical pool area, Jacuzzi, and a large, modern, indoor bathroom with a shower and every amenity you could possibly need. You can spend your days lounging in the private pool area, with lush landscaping and waterfalls, or sitting on our little bridge over the covered pond, as you watch our beautiful koi and goldfish. There is a BBQ area, with plenty of patio tables, chairs, and loungers, as well as a gas fire pit to sit around while sipping on your favorite beverage.

There is literally something for everyone!

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

We would have to say my mom and Raul's dad. Sadly, they both have passed away, but they both loved our property—especially the exotic, tropical backyard, with the pool, lush plants, and waterfalls. They both would have been thrilled to see how we found a way to share our piece of paradise with others. (I also wouldn't mind a visit from Elvis; I was always his biggest fan!)

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

We have just ordered a two-burner electric combination kitchen—with a sink, counter space, cupboard space, and a compact refrigerator and freezer—for the covered patio area near the barbecue. Now, instead of just barbecuing, folks can actually cook, clean, and enjoy the use of an actual mini-kitchen. Plus, the additional refrigerator will accommodate more food and will be easier than using the provided ice chest and the mini-fridge down in the tent.

We also hope to pave the long path from the tent to the pool area, which will prevent everyone from tracking bark into the tent and bathroom and make everything much cleaner.


To book an unforgettable stay at Diane and Raul's safari tent in California, click here!

Host Spotlight: Robert and Emma

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Robert and Emma and their glamping property—with everything from pods and tiny houses to cabins and cottages!—in Essex, England.

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

Emma:

After converting two redundant farm buildings on the farm into cottages, our road into the accommodation sector began. A friend later suggested we offer a small field for touring caravans. Later, a Sunday supplement feature about MegaPods resulted in a conversation with Ian Bone of The Pod Company, and a few weeks later, our first MegaPod arrived.

Rob was a little skeptical, but a simple addition of a photograph of the MegaPod at the bottom of the cottages website resulted in lots of bookings. Two more MegaPods were quickly bought and installed.

Robert:

Shortly after this, Emma suggested we convert shipping containers into more glamping pods. Why not? We ship potatoes from the farm in shipping containers! This was way before George Clarke got in on the act.

Not long after a visit to a trade show resulted in a conversation with Archie Hunter at Armadilla, and a deal was struck to buy three, which our younger guests love, as they have mood lighting, TVs, DVD players, and Bluetooth connectivity.

The business rolled on but we were regularly turning folks away. We needed to expand, but carefully, without losing our ethos of providing luxury accommodation in large separate private spaces. We looked around the farm and decided on the next location—a little way from the original location, but with fantastic views across the fields to the estuary of the joining rivers: Colne, Crouch, and Blackwater.

After much debate and a trip to Slovenia, we installed 12 fabulous Lushna cabins. There are four different designs—each one in its own huge 25-meter by 15-meter plot—and they're already proving to be extremely popular with our guests.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

Emma:

Before setting up the glamping business, Rob was a potato merchant, buying and selling potatoes from across the U.K., mostly for export. He also helped out with the family farm, where the glamping business is based.

Robert:

Emma had a successful career in TV working for various companies in London, as well as for a time in Singapore, before moving back to her original home turf in Essex. After meeting Rob, she got involved with the glamping business and uses her marketing and branding qualifications and skills to guide the business on its way.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

Robert:

Our pods are what glamping is all about, "like a hotel room in a field." It's all the pleasure of camping, but with the luxury and comfort to make the stay as pleasurable as it can be.

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

Emma:

Our location is the best thing about our glamping site. Just a short drive of an hour and 25 minutes from London, the property is on a quiet, peaceful lane, where, except for the odd tractor, the noisiest thing you'll hear are the birds and bees in the hedges and trees. The views across the fields to the estuary beyond are fantastic, and the nature reserve, beach, and marshes at the end of the lane are a place of natural wonder.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

Emma:

Rob loves developing new things, so his mind is currently scheming his tree house! He's already got a design worked up for a two-story, luxury, circular cabin, which will float in the branches of the fabulous holm oak tree in the farm's yard.

Robert:

Emma says my personal challenge is keeping our guests happy and wanting to return here. Coming up with new ideas for the business is important, too, so it evolves for our guests and inspires us and our team here at the farm.

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

Emma:

For Rob, I think it is some of the funny emails we get from guests. Perhaps the gem, "can you quote me happy," still makes him chuckle. I love the marriage proposals at our properties, as well as guests returning over the years to make further memories with their children.

Emma:

And who can forget finding fish swimming about in one of the hot tubs?! That was rather memorable. Some of our younger guests had caught some fish and were not allowed to take them home, so thinking quickly, they popped them in a hot tub for safe keeping. Thankfully, the hot tub had cooled down by that point. When found, the fish were safely returned to the river after their morning spa treatment.

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Emma:

Relaxing, peaceful, and wonderful.

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

Robert:

What we provide is an opportunity for guests to switch off. We don't need guests to check in, as they receive all the information they need to arrive at their accommodation in advance by email and text message—leaving them with nothing left to do but get on with relaxing.

Emma:

As Rob says, we run the business how we would like to be treated. No check-in means you're not worrying about arriving at 3 p.m. because the owner needs to show you around—all while the kids are driving you nuts in the car and you just want to arrive, relax, and have a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

Reducing stress to start with, so the holiday begins the minute you set off, is important. We encourage our guests to relax or go and explore the local area, including the beautiful stretch of coastline at our doorstep.

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

Robert:

Barack Obama—the only person of renown that I have ever really felt that I would like to meet.

Emma:

Aside from celebrities, I would like to look at charities for next year, perhaps offering a couple of weekends for families that are facing or have faced challenges, perhaps a bereavement, for example. Children caring for a sick parent really resonate with me, and I would like to offer a family some time to relax and get away from the strains of home life for a couple of days, if possible. As much as we are running a business, for both of us, it is important to add an ethical purpose, too.

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

Robert

My tree house and our hope and dream to add three cabins to a lovely area of grass between our wooded area and our reservoir. It is a beautiful location on the other side of the village—perfect for glamping!

Emma:

We have a few ideas. Another site would be good, with some variation. It's been a challenging year for us in a few different ways, and we have been talking recently about how, despite this, we are getting ready to move forward and create something new and different.


To book an unforgettable stay at Robert and Emma's property in Essex, click here for the cottage, some tiny houses, another tiny house, pods, one more tiny house, another pod, a few more pods, and a cabin!

The importance of reviews: How to naturally encourage your guests to leave one

By Eric Wright

Guests reviews about your unique accommodation are absolutely crucial in encouraging more intrepid travelers to choose your retreat as their next vacation getaway. Reviews give potential guests an honest insight into what to expect when they arrive, and they give your accommodation a more personal, individual character—creating a real bond between guests, hosts, and the property itself. They also offer a precious way to receive invaluable feedback that will help future guests have that once in a lifetime experience they have been dreaming of.

With these handy tips on how to naturally encourage your guests to leave a review, you'll be receiving better reviews—and more of them!—in no time.

1. Leave a welcome gift and basic necessities

The phrase, "A little goes a long way," couldn't be truer when it comes to providing some simple, affordable items for your guests upon arrival. Nobody likes to arrive at a secluded getaway in the forest only to have to head back out on those winding country roads to stock up on basic items, like salt, pepper, and oil for the kitchen. A few cold beers on the table, a modest bottle of wine, or a small platter of local food will make a world of difference when it comes to guests leaving a glowing report about their vacation rental.

2. Have a chat as guests check in

Our stellar hosts typically handle the check-in of their newly arrived glampers themselves, and this is the ideal time to both thank guests for choosing your accommodation, while also kindly asking them to leave a review at the end of their stay with both highlights and any potential improvements you could make. Guests always want to know about the best things on offer in the area, too, and with your keen local knowledge, you can help point them in the right direction to make their stay an unforgettable one.

3. Leave a thank you note

Right before your guests check out, leave them a personalized thank you note. Cute, affordable stationary and cards are readily available at stores like Target and Walgreen's, and it won't take more then a minute or two to leave a quick, yet heartfelt, message to thank them for choosing your rental. If they do end up leaving you a winning review online, be sure to respond to their comments expressing your gratitude and welcoming them back for their next vacation!

4. Make sure your accommodation is spotless

A high level of cleanliness is at the top of almost every guest's list when it comes to things that help them view an accommodation favorably and want to leave a glowing review. Guests look for everything to be spick and span throughout the entire rental, but pay extra special attention to the bathroom, as well as smaller details, like the bed linens and the first glass or mug a guest will grab to pour themselves a glass of water or a cup of coffee. If everything is sparkling, your guests are definitely going to want to rave about it afterwards.

5. Get to know your guests

Whether your guests are planning an outdoorsy vacation filled with activities and adventures or celebrating a special occasion, like an engagement or birthday, you'll want to find out right from the start so you can make their stay even more special. Ask your guests what else you can provide, no matter how small it may seem, as we all know it's the little things that often make the biggest difference.


Have you seen the rest of our GH Tips blog series? Check out the rest of our advice on how to create the best listing, accommodation, and experience possible for your guests!

How to prep your accommodation for summer guests

By Eric Wright

Summer is that time of year that most of us are eager to head out into the great outdoors, enjoy the sunshine, and make more long-lasting memories with friends and family. Whether it be a day of lazing around at the beach sipping a cold brewski, an epic mountain hike with majestic summit vistas, or exploring vast lakes by kayak, it's vital that we, as well as our guests, have an idyllic spot to retreat to.

With these handy tips on how to prepare your accommodation for summer, you can brighten up your guests' glamping getaway, making it as comfortable and unforgettable as possible.

1. Maintain the pool

Chilling out poolside is the epitome of summer for many of us, so making sure your pool is in tip-top condition is an absolute must when summer is approaching. Important processes in keeping your water pristine include regularly checking the pool's pH balance, cleaning out the skimmer baskets, checking the water level and chlorinator, and cleaning pool filters. Blow your competition out of the water by having your pool in perfect condition, just asking to be dived into!

2. Set up outdoor furniture

Decking out your accommodation with comfy outdoor furniture is the perfect way to allow your glampers to really make the most of all the outdoor spaces in your unique getaway. Be sure to place well-maintained tables and chairs in spots with the best views, as well as provide equipment, such as barbecues for them to cook up some tasty treats out in nature. Bring a vacation of pure bliss to the table this summer and kit out your decks and outdoor spaces with the highest quality furniture!

3. Offer summer sports equipment

If your getaway sits by a peaceful body of water that already attracts thousands of tourists each year, offer your guests the chance to get out on the water by providing a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. Most glampers are looking to explore the area where they stay, so what could be better than throwing on a life jacket and taking some water sports equipment out for a spin? With many affordable options on the market, this may be a purchase that keeps your guests coming back year after year. Splash out this summer, and the guests will be streaming in!

4. Put in mosquito nets

The sound of a pesky mosquito flying around your ear when you're trying to get a good night's sleep can be a real buzzkill when it comes to guests leaving a positive review of your accommodation. For that reason, it's imperative that your mosquito nets are well-maintained and free of any rips or tears from the previous year. Checking your nets and regularly buying new ones when necessary will ensure your guests are not bitten and sleep soundly.

6. Supply cold drinks and snacks

Arriving at a seemingly perfect romantic getaway with your significant other after a long drive can be slightly ruined if you have to head out right away for some essential supplies, such as cold drinks and snacks. A delicious local beverage and a few tasty treats laid out for your guests upon arrival may only cost you a few bucks, but it will mean the world to your guests. Make sure you're unique retreat is well-stocked this summer to avoid your next glampers wine-ing as soon as they get there!

7. Provide outdoor games

Whether it's a family get-together or an annual camping getaway with friends, outdoor games are the perfect way to hit a home run with your glampers. Games like Jenga, darts, ring toss, bocce ball, and even the odd soccer ball and football are a cheap way to ensure that your guests get a real kick out of your property. Don't drop the ball and make sure your getaway is a frontrunner in your area this summer.

8. Update your listings with upcoming events

Maybe your property is near an upcoming music, arts, film, or even beer festival? If so, it will be music to your guests' ears, while also enticing them to make that all important booking. Sites like Eventbrite offer a user-friendly way to find out what's happening in your region this summer (and year-round!). Blow your own trumpet, and hit the right note with your glampers by keeping your listing, as well as your guests, up-to-date about all the events happening near you.


For more GH Tips, created just for our hosts, stay on the blog, grab a notebook, and keep track of all of our top tidbits for your accommodation!

Host Spotlight: Mindy

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Mindy, who manages this romantic A-frame cabin in Zion National Park, Utah.

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

The A-frame on my glamping site has been a labor of love and was built as such. It is a getaway to relax, hike, and enjoy. The stargazing is stellar, and I wanted to share this place because of the location, the views, the ambiance, and the unforgettable experience. I want to let fellow adventurers bring the outdoors in and the indoors out.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

Before becoming a glamping host, I was, and still am, a full-time biology student. Studying biology has drawn me to nature and helped me gain a true appreciation for the incredible environment around me. I've decided it's only natural that I share that beauty with those who value it as much as I do.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

Glamping is a way to let guests connect with nature, without sacrificing comfort. My A-frame cabin provides the option to be outside, inside, or both. To maintain comfort in our space, there is a very big, very comfortable bed that gives the luxurious feel that is expected from a glamping experience.

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

The most incredible aspect of my property would have to be the incredible views. Standing at the base of the Canaan Mountain Range is breathtaking, overwhelming, and completely gorgeous—all at the same time.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

The joy that I feel from sharing such a unique experience is unparalleled. I can't tell you how many times my glamping site has given full-grown adults the urge to giggle with excitement. The convertible wall lets visitors stargaze in the evening and wake up to stunning views in the morning. That said, there are challenges. The biggest challenge I've faced is encouraging guests to respect the environment by staying on walking paths and letting the vegetation thrive.

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

My most memorable guest experience was with a woman named Lauren. She was visiting from California. I met her upon arrival, and she was so sweet. As we introduced ourselves and began to converse, she spoke to me about some of the struggles she had been going through. She had recently been forced to put down her long-time fur-baby due to health complications. Lauren stayed for a few days, and at the end of her stay, she expressed that the getaway to southern Utah was exactly what she needed to take a break from it all and reflect, re-energize and reset.

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

The three most common words I hear in feedback are view, stars, and magical.

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

The A-frame offers an experience so unique and so closely connected to the outdoors. The goal is to contribute an unforgettable way for travelers to disconnect from daily life and reconnect with one another.

I always recommend that my guests bring food for grilling and light the tiki torches as the sun sets to fully enjoy the experience of eating and witnessing the awe of an entire canyon as their front yard.

Instead of driving out to nearby hiking routes, I encourage guests to search for their our own hiking paths out in the canyon right in front of the cabin. It is the best way to be able to hike without any people or distractions around.

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

If I could host anybody at my cabin, it would be George Daniel. He's weird and talented and makes incredible tunes. Who knows? Maybe it would inspire him to make more music.

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

I have big plans for my glamping site! Southern Utah is a truly magical place, and I am designing a site that will allow me to share my personal slice of magic with others. I want to add another A-frame cabin that offers the same experience as the first, but with enough space between the two that guests still get seclusion and privacy. I also plan to add a common area that will offer a community experience, if desired. The common area will include a hot tub, a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen, and other goodies.


To book an unforgettable stay with your special someone at Mindy's A-frame cabin in Utah, click here!

Photo and video credit go to Ethan Abitz.

Host Spotlight: David and Marta

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have David and Marta, who manage a unique glamping property on the Península de Setúbal near Lisbon, Portugal.

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

[David:] There are two stories behind starting our glamping site: a childhood dream and a love story. I was a boy from Lisbon, spending all of my weekends and holidays at my parents' bungalow in the countryside (what is now the glamping property) and reading many Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and pirate books that took me on amazing travels and adventures around the world without ever leaving the sofa.

Fascinated by Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn's tree house, when I was about 10, I decided to build a tree house—which ended up being a few wood boards tied together with a rope on a big pine tree close to our house. Since that moment I dreamed of living in cabin or tiny rustic space one day.

Many years after, Marta and I met and fell in love in Lisbon, and as soon as she visited the property for the first time, she, too, surrendered to the beauty of this place, and we soon decided to leave the city and move to the countryside to start our glamping project.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

[David:] After high school, I studied hotel management at university and started working as a bellboy in a 180-room, four-star hotel in the center of Lisbon, later moving to reception. Six years later, I changed to another international hotel chain, where I later became the Front Office Manager where I was also responsible for the Back Office, group reservations, meeting rooms and events.

The turning point to change things was when I decided to go back to university and do a postgraduate degree in hotel management. One of the subjects was innovation in the hospitality and tourism industry, and we had to present a group project. I suggested a project about eco-friendly tree house glamping, including an organic garden, animals, solar energy, rain water collection, and school excursions to put children in touch with nature, see how food is grown, and have them taste some real, healthy, organic veggies grown without any chemicals or pesticides.

The teacher liked our project but we were even more enthusiastic. The glamping "seed" that had been in my mind for so long had finally started growing, and I started to feel the need to change my direction towards a more natural way of life and to share our unique space with others.

In 2015, we made the first experience transforming a storage space into a small cottage. After the successful results, we started seriously believing we could make a living out of it—a family-friendly life in harmony with nature and far from the stressful urban environment of the big city. One year after I left the company, I moved with my family to our property in the countryside, and we started making our dream come true!

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

My idea of glamping is a way of connecting people to nature and wildlife without sacrificing luxury, sleeping in original and cozy accommodations in an environmentally-friendly place.

Our original "Hobbit pods" and tree house cabin are entirely made of wood and perfectly match their natural surroundings. The caravans from the '80s are completely renovated and lay in the shade of the property's beautiful pine trees, where our guests can fully immerse themselves in nature in a place where ecological awareness and sustainability are always present.

Environmental problems are of great concern for us, and we make a real effort to be as eco-friendly as possible. Our electricity comes from solar panels; the water comes from our well; we use dry compost toilets and organic amenities; and we have a beautiful organic garden, from which we take most of our food during spring and summer, that we love to share with our guests.

Living our lives like this also gives us the opportunity to help develop the local economy, as we buy most of what we need in the village, including fresh and delicious regional cheese and bread from the local baker. We also recommend great restaurants in the area and a large number of outdoor activities organized by local companies, such as dolphin watching, rock climbing, caving, paragliding, kitesurfing, and more.

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

If I had to choose only one thing, it would have to be the special and unique beauty of this place! We're just 45 minutes by car to the south of Lisbon, and we're in a secluded area near the sea, which forms part of the Parque Natural da Arrábida. It's the perfect place for those looking to connect with nature, explore the beauty of the nearby beaches and the endless coastline trails, watch stunning sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean, and stargaze while listening to the waves.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

What I love the most about running a glamping property is the independence that it gives me. It allows me to simultaneously spend time with my family and work in the place I've always dreamed to live, surrounded by pine trees and beautiful landscapes while listening to the ocean nearby.

In the last few years, I have learned so many different things—from management to organic gardening, from social media to carpentry, from accounting to electrical work and construction. This changed my way of looking at things and to start focusing on solutions instead of problems. The most important thing is to live a happy life and go to bed each day with a smile on my face and the feeling of having had a productive and fulfilling day.

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

We have had quite a few memorable experiences, but the last one was just before Christmas. We received a message from a super-friendly couple with a photo of an ultrasound scan, saying that this was their baby—a result of the two amazing weeks they spent on holiday in our caravan last September. What could be more memorable than that?

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

The words we hear most often to describe our accommodations are peaceful, magical, and charming.

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

There are different kinds of experiences you can take away from a stay at our glamping property.

On the one hand, our unique, eco-friendly glamping project is an ideal way to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury. You will be immersed into nature and have the chance for a relaxing holiday that mixtures countryside, sun, and sea.

On the other hand, and from a more philosophical point of view, it can be an introspective exercise that may lead you to find out that you could happily and easily live without most of the stuff we have at home. Why not downsize and get rid of things we do not really need? We had this conversation with many guests where we noted this question stayed in their minds.

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

Greta Thunberg is definitely the person I would love to host the most. She is a 16-year-old Swedish activist that is seeking to fight global warming, and she is a perfect example of the determination that young generations need in order to face big environmental challenges, such as global warming, carbon dioxide emissions, and plastic pollution.

She has participated in the Rise For Climate demonstration outside the European Parliament, the United Nations Climate Change conference, and the Davos World Economic Forum, among other events. She represents the future we want for our children and younger generations, who fairly deserve a healthier planet than the one we have now.

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

Last season, we built a new cabin that has been a success, and during the winter, we did the deck and insulation. We now have six accommodations in total! This year, we will not add any more units, but who knows if next season a beautiful gypsy caravan may make it's way to the property or not...?


To book an unforgettable stay with your special someone at David and Marta's glamping property, click here or here for a "Hobbit" pod, here or here for a caravan, here for the tree house cabin, and here for the cottage!

Pet-proofing your vacation rental

By Arran Wallace

More than 60% of American households own a pet; pet-friendly cafes and workplaces are becoming more and more popular; and in 2018, 4,416 dogs stayed at one of our accommodations with their owners! And when guests with pets want to head on vacation, organizing a caretaker for them can be both stressful and expensive, meaning more and more travelers are considering taking their four-legged friends with them on trips.

As a host, you can stay ahead of the curve and ensure that your vacation rental will appeal to this new generation of animal-loving travelers, in addition to getting as many bookings as possible. We understand, however, that animals can be—as anyone who has had a pet can tell you—well, messy.

Things like your rental's floors and furniture are understandable primary concerns, so it's important to know how to pet-proof your accommodation. It will not only save you time and money, but will also make your rental a clean and welcoming place for every guest, regardless of how many legs they may have.

Getting rid of pet odors

Walking into a house to be greeted by the smell of a wet dog is unpleasant—and not the first thing you want your guests to experience in your rental. Air fresheners and scented candles may smell great, but they are only masking the smell and can be toxic to many animals, as well as humans with respiratory problems. If you must use them, try to use them only between bookings, and if available, beeswax candles are a much healthier and safer option than regular scented candles.

The best way to avoid smells is with regular cleaning and washing. Enzyme cleaners are particularly good for areas that you suspect might have seen an accident, as they break down the proteins found in animal feces and vomit. Powdered cleaners are good for spot-cleaning stains; simply shake it onto the affected area, let it sit for 30 seconds, scrub, and rinse. Always make sure to read the instructions before using any cleaning product. For everything else, a good vacuum cleaner, broom, and mop are going to be your new best friends.

A great air purifier option is the Levoit Compact.

Air purifiers, especially those with HEPA filters, are great at removing pet smells from your rental, as they remove the particles from the air that cause odors. They also get rid of hairs and allergens, so people with allergies will be unaffected by past guests' pets. These devices can be pricey, but they are worth it in the long run.

Quick tip: We fully understand that this may sound like a lot of work and money, but people traveling with pets are more likely to be willing to pay large cleaning fees, so you can afford a good deep clean more frequently.

Furniture and floors

Carpets can become reservoirs of dust, hair, skin, and other tiny particles—and that's before throwing a hairy animal into the mix! Consider hardwood floors made from oak, cherry, maple, hickory, walnut, mahogany, or bamboo. They're much easier to clean; won't trap all that hair; look modern and stylish; and may add to your rental's resale value, should you decide to sell. Laminate floors are also a less expensive option, although they don't compare aesthetically to real wood.

This Lisann Sofa Throw is great way to protect your furniture.

Rugs in the right location can really bring a room together, as well as provide a soft surface for tired feet. If you do decide to include them in your rental, make sure you choose ones with bright colors and patterns, as they are much better at dissimulating any pet mishaps. This rule applies to covers and throws, too, which are a great way to protect your sofa and armchairs, as they act as barrier between an animal and the furniture (should you allow animals to be on the furniture, of course), and they can be removed and washed easily.

A cover or throw, however, will not protect your furniture from sharp teeth or claws, and exposed seams and legs are especially at risk. Prevention is key, and by that, we mean remove furniture that you don't want to be put at potential risk. If your rental is furnished with expensive sofas or family heirlooms, consider moving them to your own home or storing them away and replacing them with cheaper alternatives.

This Raliegh Dream Convertible from Target is a great option.

In an ideal world, your rental will be safe from teeth and claws, but accidents do and will happen, so if a puppy is going to chew the chair leg, you'd rather it was a mass-produced and easily replaceable-chair. It is the same principle with curtains—one of the most attractive items to young cats and dogs. Save yourself the hassle and expense of replacing those lovely drapes by using a cheaper and more readily-available option.

Making certain areas off-limits

Unfortunately, a Corgi isn't included with this Carlson Pet Gate from Petco.com.

Making your rental pet-friendly doesn't have to mean that guests' animals have full domain over your accommodation. You can specify that only certain areas of the house are open to pets and reduce the spread of hair and paw prints. When guests check-in, you can explain this to them, as well as strictly enforce the rule by installing a couple of strategically-located safety gates, if you so desire.

In a Double Door Pet Crate from Petvalu.com, this Golden Retriever won't be chewing anyone's slippers. Remember to close the doors, though!

If you're not happy with the visual impact of gates, you can install a door closer, which automatically closes doors after you. Another alternative is providing an animal crate, which will give guests the option to leave their pet unattended overnight and for small periods of time during the day while ensuring they cannot escape and wreak havoc on your rental.

Storage units and loose cables

The image above is a few of my books after my own dog had gotten to them. Luckily, I had already read them! That day, I learned a valuable lesson: never store anything within reach of prying paws. Keep books and treasured photos on shelves around eye level, and make sure there are no "stepping stones" nearby that adventurous animals can use to climb up.

With storage units and cupboards that are closer to ground level, consider installing child-proof (and therefore, pet-proof!) locks and catches, so that only your human guests can open them. Loose cables often prove too tantalizing for many animals, so try tying them together and fix them to the wall. Not only will they be a less appealing distraction for animals, but it will also make your rental a lot tidier and easier to clean, saving you time in the long run.

Garden

Human guests love a nice garden, but animal guests love them even more! It's easy, though, for animals to escape from an unsecured garden, so make sure your garden is completely enclosed—with appropriately-sized fencing or walls running around the whole perimeter. Make sure there is nothing that determined animals can use to help them make their escape. If you are concerned about curious creatures making holes in your garden patch, burying chicken wire, flat rocks, and citrus peel is a good way to deter digging doggies.

This Pet Bathing Sprayer Grooming Glove by Innovations Plus is great for cleaning up a dirty dog.

For smaller animals, an uncovered pool can be a risk. An unattended animal may jump or fall in and be unable to get out again. A pool cover will prevent this from happening, as well as keeping out other undesirables, like leaves and insects, when not in use. Another cool feature to have is a garden hose; guests can use it to hose down particularly muddy dogs after rainy hikes in the woods, therefore avoiding all that dirt being brought in (it’s also a good idea to leave a towel out for drying down that wet dog).

Toys and rules

Click on the image above for a list of great dog toys and here for a list of great cat toys!

Keeping a selection of good pet toys at your rental is a sure way to keep animals occupied and distracted. After playtime, they'll be too tired to even think about scratching the furniture! Keep them in area where you are most worried about damage, and leave a couple of tennis balls in the garden, too, for a cheap and easy way to entertain and tire out energetic dogs.

A couple of strategically-placed Post-It notes will help remind guests to not let the dog go upstairs.

Remember, it is standard practice for any rental owner to provide some ground rules for guests, so don't be afraid to add a few more that are pet-specific. As mentioned above, you might want to make some parts of the rental off-limits to animals, which is a reasonable request that most pet owners will understand.

It's also a good idea to leave your rules written and displayed in an obvious place, like the front door or kitchen wall, as a gentle reminder. We also recommend putting the details of the nearest vet and animal emergency center somewhere in the accommodation; it's a thoughtful touch that will be greatly appreciated, no matter whether they are needed or not.


If you haven't read it yet, be sure to check out our blog with our top tips for creating the ideal listing for your unique accommodation, too!