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Airbnb-style camping is coming to the UK as US giant Hipcamp buys Cool Camping | Camping holidays

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UK camping brand Cool Camping has been taken over by a major US company, Hipcamp, which aims to bring its Airbnb-style camping booking model to the UK.

Starting today, all 25,000 campsites and glamping structures on the Cool Camping website will be listed on Hipcamp.

Based in San Francisco, Hipcamp claims to be the world’s largest provider of outdoor stays, offering half a million campsites in the United States, Canada and Australia. This is his first foray into Europe.

In addition to covering commercial campsites and glamping, the site allows private landlords to rent out their outdoor space to campers, similar to how Airbnb allows landlords to rent properties and vacant rooms to vacationers. Anyone with suitable land can charge from £10 a night for a pitch using the Hipcamp platform, setting their own nightly rates. Listings on the website are free, but Hipcamp takes 15% off each booking.

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Only those who live in rural areas, rather than urban and suburban areas, and who have an acre or more of available space can apply. They must provide restrooms for tent campers (but not RVs), may choose to offer outdoor activities and extras, such as fresh eggs or chips for breakfast, and must meet a list of other criteria concerning safety, hygiene and planning laws. Many will operate under the UK’s 28-day planning exemption, which allows landowners to use their land for commercial activities for up to 28 days a year. Private hosts will be eligible for Hipcamp’s liability insurance, which protects them up to £1million.

Hipcamp founder and CEO Alyssa Ravasio, who started the company in the United States in 2013, said her goal was to make it easier for more people to get out. “I realized that given the density of our public campgrounds, the only way to accomplish this mission was to create new places, which we started doing on private grounds,” he said. she declared. “We mine the data to understand which specific destinations are likely to book months in advance, and then we reach out to landowners in that area.”

Only landowners in rural areas can register according to Hipcamp
Only landowners in rural areas can register according to Hipcamp. Cool Camping glampsites will be included in listings

Since its launch, Hipcamp has “unlocked” some 1,618,000 hectares of private land, ranging from a blueberry in Canada to glamping on an Australian ranch. It has booked over six million nights, seeing a 460% increase in bookings since 2019 and acquiring Australian camping platform Youcamp in 2020. Its fundraising campaigns have raised tens of millions of dollars, including investment from musician Jay Z’s venture capital firm, Marcy. Business Partners.

Meanwhile, Cool Camping bookings have increased by 340% over the same period, thanks in part to the covid-related boom in staycationing. Jonathan Knight, the founder and former managing director of Cool Camping, said he hadn’t been looking to sell when approached by Hipcamp, but was “struck by the similarities between the two brands. Not only the types of places we offer – small independent campsites and glamping sites with something a little special about them – but also our philosophies. It seems natural to combine everything.

Knight said enabling UK private landowners, farmers, winemakers and others to create new sources of income through camping would help conserve the land and keep it wild, while boosting the economy of communities. rural.

It transformed Cool Camping from a publisher of guides into a booking platform in 2015, phasing out guides a few years ago. He will remain as UK manager of Hipcamp.

Hipcamp is not the first to offer camping on private grounds in the UK. Wildpoint.com, which launched in 2021, makes it easier for people to camp in backyards and outdoor spaces, as do Campspace.com and HomeCamper.com, while Wild With Consent lists locations for RVs and campsites. -cars.

As well as attracting private guests, Hipcamp will continue to add commercial campsites to its UK portfolio and launch an app allowing Britons to browse and book stays. There are no plans to expand into other countries at this time.

“As far as we know, camping as a recreational hobby originated in the UK. As a result, the camping market here is the most developed in the world,” Ravasio said. “This country is leading the way globally in its thinking about agritourism – in particular, that camping and glamping can support not only the preservation of local culture and economies, but also the regeneration of habitat. essential.

“For a long time,” she said, “the demand for unique, private and affordable outdoor living has outstripped supply in the UK. So we see a real opportunity for Hipcamp to help solve this problem.

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