Millennials and generation Z'ers make up the bulk of Glampers. Younger generations seek escape to nature, from the stresses and impacts of urban living.

"Campfire" by Michiel Van Nimwegen is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


So, What Makes a Glamper?.


Glampers seek to juxtapose rurality and urban living together, by highlighting the comforts and luxurious available in the cities  and place them in the wild where they are mainly absent

"200124 35th 寨酌然家族 Glamping" by Moody Man is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The great thing about being a glamper, is experiencing the outdoor, escaping everyday life and for a moment living a simpler, more authentic life.

“Glamping in Northland, New Zealand” by Greg Watt is All Rights Reserved

Seems obvious? … someone who goes glamping. Well, it’s not as simple as that. While glamping has established itself within recognised lexicons, the usage of glamper is less acknowledged. Much of this has to do with exclusivity. People that go glamping don’t always go glamping. It’s not an all or nothing designation. For some, glamping is captivating, and they constantly seek to get away at every chance. However, for others, going on a glamping trip may just round out their holiday choices (which may be varied). For the former, glamping is a passion; for the latter, it is a novelty. Both have been glamping, and therefore both can be perceived as glampers.

Regardless, the notion of being a glamper remains powerful, not least because it is also shrouded with eclectic and almost mystical imagery. Depending on the context, representations include; bohemian free spirit’s frequenting music festivals; middle-class eco-warrior’s saving the last vestiges of virgin forest; yogi’s seeking fulfilment in remote locations; gourmet’s savouring ethnic cuisine; adventurer’s challenging themselves within nature; or, simply holidaymaker’s enjoying rurality and beautiful landscapes. The reality is that glampers could embody none, some, or all of these representations.

What about the future? Is identifying as a glamper just a fad? Or is it something more serious? The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) affected society in ways that couldn’t be predicted. COVID has impacted tourism to a far greater scale, and yet the concept of Staycations and being a Glamper has never been brighter. So, what is the future of being a glamper? The representations, the instagrammable images, are they just a passing phase, promoted by stay-at-home constraints, or are they fuelled by the notion of more sustainable and authentic holidays? The jury is out.


The Generalised Glamper.


Glampers have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor experiences simply not possible in the city. Here a glamper views the stars at night in a dark sky environment.

"Dave Checking out the Perseid Meteor Shower at 10,000 feet" by Dave Dugdale is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

It is unlikely that a generalised glamper should or could be described. Sakacova (2013) set out to identify features that characterised glampers from academic literature, web pages, along with newspaper and online articles. Eight features can be construed as significant and can be grouped as being highly, moderately, or lightly appealing:

Highly Appealing Features.

• Nature.
• Luxury.

Moderately Appealing Features.

• Quality of Service.
• Eco-Friendly.

Lightly Appealing Features.

• Escapism.
• Active/Adventure.
• Recreation/Well-Being.
• Good food and Drink.

Sakacova’s assessment of features is supported by others, where appeal is associated with “immersion in nature, but accompanied by high comfort, service and a wide range of activities” (Boscoboinik A. & Bourquard E., 2008, p. 158). More casually, it can be “a way of satisfying your craving for the outdoors and your penchant for a good meal, nice glass of wine, and a comfortable bed” (Urban Dictionary, 2019).

Glamper attachment to Nature and Luxury were salient features for glampers. However, these features are not independent, each heavily impacting the other. While a glamper’s expectation of luxury in a peri-urban area may equate to that of a five-star hotel, their expectation in the deep tangle of the Brazilian jungle may simply to have a bath and clean sheets.

This leads us to the “sea-change” attached to the perception of luxury. Where once luxury conjured up imagery of tangible objects and exorbitant living, today, it is more closely associated with experiencing the abstract and intangible:

The new luxury is primarily composed of what modern consumers think is a scarce commodity to them, like time attention, space and room, peace and quietness.
(Bo Jensen, 2018)

For glampers, more than anything, a time away glamping is more precious than any bauble, digital gadget, or time at an expensive restaurant.


Millennial and Generation Z Glampers.


Millennial glampers look to the countryside to experience authenticity, and to experience adventures in the natural world, escaping from their lives in the city.

"Vineyard Sunrise" by Malcolm Carlaw is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In regard to demographics, glampers appear across all generations. Interestingly, many current campers are increasingly looking towards glamping for their future stays in the US. Across all ages, this change in perspective is significant, with 45% across all ages expressing a desire to become glampers. Further, a focused study found that 26% of all leisure travellers have both camped and glamped (Cairn Consulting Group, 2019b, p. 3). This supports the assertion that glampers enjoy different types of holidays, and choose to go glamping for specific reasons, at particular times and places.

Significantly, “a full 50% of millennials and nearly 50% of Gen Xers say they are interested in glamping” (Cairn Consulting Group, 2019a). In the actual demographic makeup of glampers, millennials account for 48% of glampers, while Gen Xers considerable less at 28% (Cairn Consulting Group, 2019b, p. 4). Societal similarities suggest that comparable percentages will be manifest in the UK and Europe. It is clear that as time passes, millennials will have a more significant influence in the direction of tourism and that, as a consequence, more individual and authentic stays will be sought after.

Millenial glamper's will increasingly influence tourism trends, and seeking authentic, nature based tourism will become increasingly important.

"Millennials pose for a selfie on Lake McDonald" by GlacierNPS is Public Domain

Glamping facilities that offer great outdoor experiences will increasingly become popular with millennial and generation Z glampers.

"Spectacular Views" by Ranch Seeker is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Millennials are unique in that they were exposed to extensive brand marketing and a more affluent lifestyle before the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Subsequently, many have turned retro in their style, interior aesthetic, and food preferences (Bo Jensen, 2018):

For them [millennials] glamping is a new way of going back to nature. They love the rustic look of the interior at glamping camps, the rough way of cooking and the feeling of being in nature – and some of them take it all the way to actually sleeping outdoor under an open sky.
(Bo Jensen, 2018)

Perhaps overlooked is the existing participation and potential influence of Gen Z, who currently make up 12% of glampers in the US. Given that Gen Zers are around 24 years or younger, their influence socially and economically, is only beginning to be expressed. Research to date indicates that their preferences appear to be more eclectic. Similar in outlook to millennials, they are the most likely to be interested in aspects associated with health and wellness. Further:

Generation Z likes to be even more outdoor, and nature plays a major role in the way they spot the luxury in glamping. Add fishing, gathering of berries and mushrooms and even hunting with bow and arrow and you have the picture of a young generation taking glamping further into nature.
(Bo Jensen, 2018)

However, illustrating their eclectic nature, of all age groups, they also “prefer a more high-end, luxury experience” (Cairn Consulting Group, 2019b, p. 17).


The rise of the Glamper - Reviewing Glamper Motivations.


Glamper motivations to experience new and exotic stays such as Nights in the Sahara, will fuel venturesome travel.

"Night in the Sahara" by Riccardo Maria Mantero is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Glamping takes in active relaxing, where glampers get out and about in the outdoors, enjoying interacting with and being in harmony with nature.

"Sculptures on the Humber River" by Michael is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Which raises further questions? Is it the pull of glamping that attracts people, or is it the push of some inner need or desire within people that makes glamping something they choose to do? Perhaps it’s a combination of both? Reasons are eclectic and chaotic, regardless of the theories that attempt to pigeonhole their motivations. For some, being a glamper is as superficial as it is fanciful; to get great instagrammable photographs.

Sakacova’s assessment of generalised features appealing to glampers constitutes pull factors. Such pull factors have existed previously, without significant engagement. What explains the sudden emergence of glamping and, indeed, of glampers as a definable group?

Glamping had manifested itself in various forms before the millennium, with the advent of European styled comfort camping, African safari excursions, Middle Eastern Bedouin desert experiences, and niche Asian resorts embedded in local ethnic rurality (Bali being the exemplar). Patently, glamping characteristics have been around for generations without any mainstream appeal. So, what changed? It is clear that glamping in the UK obtained significant publicity from the likes of the Glastonbury Festival and gained modest popularity from 2005 onwards. Despite this, Google Trends (Google, 2021) reveals that “glamping” as a term received little attention until about August 2010 in the UK and most other countries the following year. From this time forward, glamping and the idea of being a glamper became more prominent, more substance was attached to the terminology, and identifying as a glamper took on some significance.


Push Factors are More Important in Defining Glampers.


The secret for glampers is to juxtapose rurality and urban living so that one is intertwined  with the other, created admirable here with a candlelit dine  surrounded by nature under a pavilion roof.

"Candle Light Dinner" by Tara Angkor Hotel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It is asserted that the sudden rise of glampers has more to do with psychological influences that abound today, which previously, were less pronounced. The push factors associated with mental and emotional machinations within current society have been instrumental in the appeal and popularity of glamping and the consequent fashioning of glampers as a group.

Do glampers evolve from other types of travellers, or are they created by circumstance? If the former, it signifies a shifting focus amongst travellers that is likely to be lasting and perhaps even instrumental in effecting change in mainstream tourism. If glamping becomes a definite trend, bolstered by the life values of the glamper community, then its growth is likely to be assured, and the industry will continue to be profitable. Conversely, if glampers are created by external actions, then they have merely adapted to unfolding events. While they may enjoy the short-term novelty, ultimately, they will gravitate back to previous travel preferences. The importance to glamping-entrepreneurs becomes sobering; if glamping is merely a fad created by circumstance, then glampers will eventually move on to the next thing, leaving glamping investments floundering.

 

Glampers Evolve (Inwardly Impacted).

Does the need to go glamping evolve out of inner personal conflicts.Today's busy work-life is performed in confined environments, with stressful challenges, under impossible timeframes. For some there is the necessity to escape and find time to re-evaluate their life, re-energise themselves and revise their pathways. Glamping provides that time away.

"Hackers,Part 2" by Phil Whitehouse is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One truism can be stated about glampers; they are primarily urbanites. While most societal living comes with baggage, in recent years, urban living has increasingly expanded and compacted its baggage on the psyche of urban dwellers (not to lessen the circumstances of rural dwellers). The expectations, pressures, and aspirations of work and home life have resulted in a pressure cooker existence for many. The need to get away, re-assess, revitalise or even rethink futures has become more commonplace. In all of this, “the countryside has become the object of a quest for inner truth; it is positively valued through its stability and conservative values of identity” (Boscoboinik A. & Bourquard E., 2008, p. 150)

This model construes that glampers evolve due to their internal contemplation and development of views towards life goals, personal identity, and individual beliefs. Relating oneself as a glamper is the result of mental and emotional attachment to specific characteristics of terra and its interaction with society. All people hold a view of the world and how we impact it. Further, everybody has a self-image of how they relate to that world. As one portrayal, identifying as a glamper (amongst others) allows people to express empathy (privately or publicly) for notions associated with glamping.

Further, in a world governed by social media postings, it is not sufficient for identity representations to be kept personal. Increasingly, they must be broadcasted through imagery posted within public forums. Today, almost everything about a person is instagrammable. In this regard, not only are glamping spaces and experiences inherently photogenic, many of the notions associated with glamping have positive social connotations.

In the evolution model, glampers have made decisions about themselves, who they are, what they stand for and how they want the world to be. They will actively pursue the connected ideas and activities. Commitment to glamping is therefore likely to be steadfast and enduring.

 

Glampers Are Created (Outwardly Impacted).

Is glamping created. Does it come of the consequences of external events. Did the Global Financial Crisis cause people to have staycations for their holidays, revitalising taking time out in the country.

""Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state." ` Thomas Jefferson." by eyewashdesign: A. Golden is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The assertion that glampers are created assumes that people, in general, are malleable, reacting to things that occur around themselves rather than acting in any pre-emptive fashion. People re-assess, adjust and recast their perspectives, thoughts and pathways according to the various situations they find themselves. In some ways, this can be considered superficial, in others pragmatic.

There is no doubt that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) affected a broad cross-section of society everywhere and caused both economic and social upheaval. While the publicised collapse of financial institutions occurred in 2008, its widespread effect would not be felt in Europe until 2009 and 2010, with breathtaking damage to the UK economy and the Eurozone crisis (BBC, 2013). Reacting to adversity, vacationers looked to staycations, with camping holidays gaining substantial interest (Daily Mail, 2010). However, a new attitude presented itself. No longer were such vacations to be a test of outdoors endurance, but instead, the trappings of comfort and the pretence of luxurious consumption were introduced. If the ideal holiday became unavailable due to financial constraints, then its semblance could be created. New advances in tentage, cosy beds, laid on power, gourmet food and new adventures in socialisation fuelled upscaled and upmarket camping.

In this fashion, it can be argued that the advent of the glamper is not an evolution of tourist preferences, but instead, the sharp reaction to political and economic events. Reasoning suggests that it is not tourists that shape the socio-economic environment (particularly tourism-space), but that the socio-economic environment shapes the tourist. If this is the case, it can be asserted that glampers have been created (by external events) and are not evolved (from internal cognitions).

 

A Glamper Bricolage (Outwardly & Inwardly Impacted).

Is Glamping fuelled by a bricolage of creation and evolution. Do major events such as the Global Financial Crises, act as catalysts for social change. Re-evaluating life means that urbanites take more time out in the countryside doing things like glamping.

The Glamper Bricolage Model is a hybrid holding that changes in perception and attitude require a dramatic event as a catalyst for change. However, it is not the event in-itself that leads to the creation, but instead, the knock-on, or secondary, influences that provide evolutional stimulus.

It can be argued that it was not the immediate impact of the GFC, nor the resultant surge in staycations, that created ongoing interest in glamping. Instead, it was the more contemplative and introverted view of life that living in the outdoors nurtured. People who would not normally spend time in the wild found themselves enjoying country landscapes. This secondary, but no less critical consequence, was a reconnection with rurality and the natural world. Many were urbanites who viewed the societal carnage occurring around them and began to re-assess their pathways, the things they thought were important, and the differences they now wanted to pursue. Reinforcement of core values also came with the rising awareness and gradual acceptance of global warming and an increasing political instability presenting itself globally.


Glampers and COVID


The search for glamping on the internet has steadily increased from about 2010 globally, with a significant increase in interest in 2020

Total Global Searches: For the Term Glamping

search for glamping as a word in the UK has enjoyed a constant increase year on year since 2010. However, in 2020 searches doubled from the year before. This was a direct consequence to COVID and the increased popularity of Staycations. In the following year, 2021 glamping has not been searched for as much.

UK Searches: For the Term Glamping

In Norway, searches for glamping has significantly increased from earlier years in 2019 and jumped dramatically in 2020, no doubt helped by stay at home orders surrounding COVID. projections for 2021 remain strong and appear to be differentiated from most other countries who have experienced less internet search fro the term in 2021.

Norway Searches: For the Term Glamping

Both new Zealand and Australia have followed a policy of elimination of COVID from their Countries. As a result communities their have generally carried on much as they had pre-COVID and the demand to be away from other people has been less marked

New Zealand Searches: For the Term Glamping

If glampers have come about through any of the pathways above, what then has happened as a consequence of COVID? and equally important, what will happen to glampers as the effects of COVID diminish?

The enforced stay-at-home consequences of COVID has caused a pronounced interest in glamping for obvious reasons. While glamping as an online term enjoyed appreciable year-on-year increases since 2010, it truly obtained a watershed moment during the European summer of 2020. Google Trends (Google, 2021) shows that “glamping” as a term received 150% searchable interest globally, with this increasing to around 190% in the UK and has been particularly salient in Scandinavian countries (Norway 310%, Sweden 208%, Denmark 475%). Interestingly, the increase was more muted in the US, being 140%. In Australasia, where COVID has been controlled (to date) under elimination protocols, increases in searchability have simply followed projections (as if COVID did not exist).

These results can be explained by the circumstances surrounding each of the various regions. Europe and the UK, the initial flashover region, was overwhelmed, and as with the GFC, the general populace reacted to new realities, not perhaps as a first choice but as a consequence of necessity. A combination of American scepticism and lack of governmental support of its populace can be viewed as inhibiting many from considering a time away. For Australasians, life has remained essentially the same as pre-COVID, and so the pressure to be away from fellow citizens has been less severe (although glamping venues have experienced exceptional bookings). The Scandinavian response is less discernible.


The Future: Glampers and Post-COVID?


Placing future glamping facilities in the desert will typify the trend of glampers  seeking more remote authentic experiences and unusual  accommodation spaces.

"IMG_429.jpg" by Frode Bjorshol is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For the future, If glampers have, in fact, been created by circumstance, there is a concern that they are merely transitional travellers, and when whatever is to come ……. actually comes, then glampers will simply morph into another transitional entity. Are glampers fickle, and glamping merely a fad, and not a sustainable trend. If that occurs, what happens to the glamping industry?

The latest Google Trend statistics provide some clues. While in almost every world region, searches for glamping in 2021 have reduced compared to 2020. However, the reduction is not a collapse. Simple statistical smoothing indicates that the growth in interest in glamping (and, as a consequence, glampers) is consistent with pre-COVID predictions. If this is true, then COVID has provided a short impetus to the industry, which has since settled.

Growing world instability, environmental concerns, and financial worries are likely likely to fuel people’s desire to escape, if only for a time. Driving the popularity of glamping and an increase in those identifying as glampers is the new interpretation of luxury. If the GFC initiated the reflection and realignment of goals and values within the societies of developing nations, then COVID has been a stark reminder of the fragility of humankind. In re-evaluating and recasting themselves to meet future challenges, people are likely to deliberately take time out in spaces away from their everyday lives. Becoming a glamper, and spending time in natural sanctuaries, where life is much simpler, may quickly become a lifestyle necessity.


References.


BBC. (2013). UK economy: The Story of the Downturn. Retrieved June, 2021, from
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-22283940

Bo Jensen, J. (2018).Glamping - A Global Trend. Nordisk Go Magazine, 2018. Retrieved from
https://nordisk.eu/inspiration-to-great-outdoor-experiences/glamping-a-global-trend?

Boscoboinik A., & Bourquard E. (2008). Glamping and Rural Imaginary. In Horakova H. & Boscoboinik A. (Eds.),
From Production to Consumption - Transformation of Rural Communities. (pp. 149-164). Berlin, Germany: LIT Verlag.

Cairn Consulting Group. (2019a). The 2019 KOA North American Camping Report: Kampingground of North America.
Retrieved from https://koa.com/north-american-camping-report/

Cairn Consulting Group. (2019b). The 2019 North American Glamping Report:
Kampingground of North America.

Daily Mail. (2010). Boom Time For The Happy Glampers. Daily Mail, 21.

Google. (2021). Google Trends: Glamping. Retrieved June, 2021, from
https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=glamping

Sakacova K. (2013). Glamping - Nature served on a silver platter. Aalborg University,
Aalborg, Denmark.

Urban Dictionary, R. (2019). glamping. In Urban Dictionary. Retrieved from
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=glamping.