When Outstanding Tent set about their journey in 2014, they did so with a carefully laid out plan of action. Their business, which is based in the Netherlands, has not only kept up with the industry’s development but has kept one step ahead of it, and achieving this has been down to a key principal and philosophy of action over reaction. During 2019 their business has enjoyed a year of growth, expansion and new developments and 2020 is looking to offer more of the same and then some.
Leaving one year and entering another we spoke again with Robin Van Kooten, co-founder of Outstanding Tent and all round glamping champion.
“We’ve made a lot of progress this year along our growth plan,” he says, “But really it’s just business as usual. Product development, innovation, team development and expanding our boundaries is very much what we do, and it is built into the company’s DNA.”
THE YEAR PAST
From a number of prominent developments in the last year, one of the key aspects that identified 2019 was the development of a new interior style for their tents. As we have covered previously, Outstanding Tent offers a full kitted out tent solution for their clients and after five years it was decided that it was time to offer a new and updated interior style.
“There were a number of reasons why we did this,” Robin explains, “Firstly, after five years we wanted to offer our clients, both new and old, different stylish options for their sites. Secondly, a lot of our competitors were using the same materials as we were, and it was no longer really a USP for us. This made us think of developing something completely different because you always need to have a good unique selling point. Something that immediately identifies you.”
To ensure the best results were achieved, they enlisted the skills of an interior architect and stylist firm who guided them through the process of developing what Robin refers to as “Glamping Chic”. This has since become a base style for their tents. Glamping equals luxury, and the question was how to translate the comfort of a sofa back home into the glamping arena. Now, the Glamping Chic range gives guests the sense they are staying at a stylish luxury hotel, combined with the camping feeling of glamping.
The business has worked hard on this new line throughout the year. The intention was to give luxury camping a whole new dimension. Anyone, site owner or guest, can appreciate the allure of combining a wonderfully designed bathroom, a luxury kitchen with all the mod-cons to prepare a delicious meal and the ambience of being surrounded by a canvas tent.
“The Glamping Chic line offers two styles to suit all tastes,” Robin reveals, “Stockholm and Paris. Stockholm equals Scandinavian beauty and is characterized by its minimalist, often white details while Paris lives up to its name and bustles with full-on activity that’s absolutely chic and stylish.”
In 2019 the Glamping Chic line was very well received at the eight exhibitions they attended across six countries. It demonstrated the appetite of the industry and those working in it for innovative ideas and products that offer high material and aesthetic standards and great style.
“The glamping industry relies on innovation and creative ideas to drive it forward and it doesn’t seem about to slow down,” he says.
INDUSTRY AWARENESS AND COMPANY GROWTH
Robin explains that when glamping was younger and not as developed it was enough to just have an idea and offer an accommodation that was different to the standard. Now everything is moving in the direction of offering a complete and entirely unique experience. The stakes are higher than ever.
“Early in the industry, if you had a kitchen in a tent, it was considered new and innovative and glamping but as the industry has matured the expectations have changed,” he says, “Now it has to be massively different and have that wow factor. A completely new experience that is planned and executed on all fronts. I can see this as being the movement that will define glamping in 2020.”
He concedes that the industry is still wide and diverse enough, with enough categories and sub categories, to have a place for all sorts of sites and not everyone is looking to make use of the newest ideas, or the best tents made of the newest materials. This is the beauty of the industry, as it develops its scope grows. However, as a business that prides itself on its market awareness and long term vision, Outstanding Tent have seen the drive for more complete, comprehensive packages to serve an industry that has outgrown its cottage and kitchen-tent roots.
“Because of the growing number of local and international distributors that we have,” he says, “It has meant that we’re able to gather local knowledge from the frontlines and can continuously optimize our assortment and service.”
And, as they continue to both deepen their existing markets and enter into new ones, they have expanded their operations and moved into new premises to accommodate the expected workload of the new year.
NEW WAREHOUSE FOR WORLD DOMINATION
One of their strengths is that they deliver from their own stock and this allows them to stay flexible and deliver quickly to clients. Their new move into the new warehouse has resulted in both a better work environment for the logistic team and an easier job of keeping up with the growing orders.
The new building offers more warehouse and office space as they grow in terms of people heading up individual departments, such as logistics and administration, buying and planning as well as recruitment and basic management. Moving to a larger base of operations is an important step for any business and Robin explains that they didn’t get to this position by allowing the industry to determine their role. They made the decision.
“We had an ambitious growth plan from the start,” he says, “And that allowed us the confidence to take risks along the road we wanted to follow. We are always moving and preparing for new growth and investing in advance. It wasn’t that we were short of space at the old site, but we see and expect new growth in the new year and pre-emptively need to be ready to meet it.”
“Glamping,” he says, “Is worldwide now and we saw the potential right at the start and did not want to grow a little per year, we wanted to tap it. Nobody really knows what the full potential of the industry is because new markets are developing every year and current markets are moving too. Guests may think that glamping is about relaxing and leisure, but supplying glamping is the complete opposite. You have to keep running!”
Even a small slice of such a vibrant market place would sustain their plans for ongoing growth and expansion for years to come, but their journey to world domination in this sector may already be underway. Supplying their clients through their distribution channels and increasing their share of these sectors while keeping current clients and partner relationships strong and polished is always the immediate priority… however…
“So far we’ve sold tents in forty nine countries,” Robin says, “There are still over a hundred to go.”