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Glamping is hotter than ever, just ask millennials

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Thirty percent of North American travelers have glamped in the past two years

A white canvas tent is set up in a forest with poles and wooden seating as an example of glamping.
An example of a KOA glamping tents in a forest at the Philadelphia South / Clarksboro KOA.

If you’ve stayed in a cabin, yurt, or luxury tent recently, you’re part of a growing group of “glampers,” or luxury campers. Glamping might sound like a laughable term, but it’s big business: A new report shows that 30 percent of North American travelers have taken a glamping trip over the past two years. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.

The 2019 North American Glamping Report is an independent study supported by KOA, or Kampgrounds of America, Inc. As the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds, KOA consists of more than 500 campgrounds in almost every state and in many Canadian provinces.

The new report is an offshoot of KOA’s annual camping report. As we reported last spring, more than 78.8 million households camped at least once in 2018, marking a new all-time high. That report also showed that not only do millennials make up the largest group of campers, many of them are glamping.

It makes sense, then, that KOA decided to do an in-depth dive into alternative camping experiences.

“We’ve been tracking glamping as an emerging travel trend for the past several years as we’ve seen growing demand for different types of glamping experiences, and Deluxe Cabins in particular, at our KOA campgrounds across North America,” said Toby O’Rourke, President and CEO of KOA. “The results of this new research reinforce that North American travelers are in fact seeking different ways to experience the outdoors, even if they aren’t traditional campers.”

To help understand how glamping is changing camping in North America, here are five key takeaways from the report.

Glampers are young and diverse

Like camping more generally, younger and more diverse people are glamping more than other groups. Sixty percent of leisure travelers who reported that they had glamped in the past two years are from the millennial or Gen Z generations, meaning they were born after approximately 1980. Millennials also make up the largest group of glampers at 48 percent.

Of travelers who glamp, 42 percent self-identify as non-white. This dovetails with the data on camping more generally; in the 2019 KOA camping report, the percentage of new nonwhite campers in 2018 (51 percent) outpaced the percentage of new campers who identify as Caucasian.

A chart that shows leisure travel participation in glamping by generation, with millennials leading the way at 48 percent. KOA

Why people glamp: It’s like camping, but better

If glamping is so similar in demographics to camping, why aren’t people sticking with DIY tents? It may seem obvious, but the KOA report shows that 67 percent of travelers are turning to glamping because they view it as a more unique vacation experience than other options. They want to get outdoors, but 63 percent say they glamp because they want services and amenities that aren’t available with traditional camping. Read: They don’t want to suffer in a cold, damp, tent.

Accommodations range from cabins to tree houses

There’s no one way to glamp, however, as accommodations vary. The best way to think about glamping may be to define what it’s not: Unlike traditional camping, you don’t bring your own tent, set it up, and supply all of your own sleeping bags, pillows, and gear.

The KOA report shows that travelers are most often staying in cabins, tree houses, or tiny homes, but accommodations can also include canvas safari tents, teepees, yurts, and repurposed Airstreams or train cars.

All types of glamping include more amenities than traditional camping, but what is offered looks different depending on the spot—amenities might include Wi-Fi, kitchens, private bathrooms, linen service, pools, and other recreational activities. Perhaps the most sought-after amenity? Fifty-five percent of glampers say they prefer to have Wi-Fi.

A cabin interior includes a white bed, small wooden table for four, TV on the wall, and galley kitchen with a window above it.
The interior of a deluxe cabin in the Virginia Beach KOA.

Glamping makes sense for families

A large proportion of vacationers are glamping with their kids, which makes sense. Fifty-nine percent of glampers go with their children, likely because glamping gives families the fun of the outdoors without the stress and hassle of traditional camping. Glamping accommodations are often cheaper than regular hotels, making them a more affordable option for families on a budget.

Once you’ve glamped, you want more

There are plenty of horror tales from first-time campers of camping trips gone awry—tents collapsing in rain, problems cooking food, or getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Tent camping has an undefined, and potentially high, attrition rate.

But glamping, according to the report, seems to be a more positive experience. Seventy-seven percent of travelers who have glamped before say they are interested in glamping again, with 66 percent of Gen Xers and 61 percent of millennial travelers expressing an interest in taking a glamping trip in the future. The report’s conclusion? Glamping is here to stay.