Pod company seeks farming partners for ‘glamping’ initiatives
Many farm families around the country have diversified into ‘glamping’ – glamorous camping – and now a Belfast-based start-up company that manufactures ‘pod accommodation’ is seeking partnerships with farmers and landowners in under-serviced areas of tourist interest.
Intupod works from Belfast, making ‘pods’ with aluminium outer skins. The partnership, the company said, would involve a 10 to 20 year agreement in parts of the country where there is an accommodation shortage.
The company provides: the pods; a booking system; a pod refurbishment plan; and marketing support, with the landowners providing functional sites.
The company retains ownership of the pods unless the site owner buys it out. There is a buy-out option at 10 and 15 years, according to Intupod.
“Our aim is to create new tourist accommodation that meets the needs of our ever-increasing visitor numbers in a timely fashion, with minimal environmental impact and with accommodation that is low maintenance for the site host,” a spokesperson for the company said.
“The pods are something a bit different for families or couples to holiday or take a short break in, allowing them to experience undiscovered areas off the beaten track, but with the home comforts of a good bed and full wash room,” she said.
“We only launched the JV model in January of this year and have currently four confirmed JV partners, three of whom are farmers, that we are working with,” said the spokesperson.
“We aim to deploy 40 pods this year and 80 next year,” she said.
Barry Caslin, energy and rural development specialist, Teagasc, said that several factors can push farmers to diversify into agri-tourism.
“We are still uncertain of the future CAP reform. High land prices; limited availability of land; low returns on traditional farming in relation to capital; and succession challenges, with farmers living longer and young generations wanting to make their mark as important ‘influencers’, are among them,” he said.
“Agri-tourism delivers enormous financial benefits to the farming and rural economy but it can also cascade a positive story and profile of Irish farming at home and overseas.”
Research has shown that some people are happy to stay in simple accommodation such as: a hostel; tent; pod; bunkhouse barn; hobbit; or shepherd’s hut – if interesting and absorbing activities are easily accessible, Barry said.
‘Glamping’ has caught the imagination of holidaymakers, and early adopters in attractive locations claim to be making good profits.
“‘Glamping’ is about providing what visitors view as a trendy, rustic experience in an unusual or unique structure while ensuring they have a comfortable and safe environment. We live in changing times and farmers have more options open to them.
“The Teagasc options courses are a very good source of information on tourism opportunities. Teagasc will run a rural tourism conference next September,” he said.
Pods and ‘glamping’ are covered in the Teagasc rural tourism booklet, available on the Teagasc website.
Details on forthcoming Intupod information days are available by emailing: [email protected]