The UK’s booming gig economy is seeing new microbusinesses emerging all the time and micro holiday experiences are the latest trend.
Campers aren’t left out in the gig trend. ‘Glamping’ experiences are now available from Airbnb hosts, and guests can stay in everything from Yurts to cosy classic Airstream caravans or even a converted jet (we’ll report on this later!)
If you’d rather take your own tent, but want a more personal experience, many enterprising homeowners rent space out in their gardens to campers on a novel site called campinmygarden.com. It’s a great way to meet new people, for both host and camper.
There is usually no special permission required to rent out your garden, however in order to avoid the need to obtain a licence, campinmygarden.com recommends that you do this for no more than 28 days per year.
Campinmygarden host Claire Fairburn explains why the concept works so well:
“Travellers can experience incredible generosity and hospitality from extremely warm and sociable hosts. I registered my garden in 2012, offering 24/7 access to a bathroom and water supply, a wifi connection, car parking and a pitch at the end of my garden on a daisy lawn between a beech hedge and a weeping birch. It’s beside my summerhouse which has a sofabed and power (this makes a great bolthole if the weather is extreme). There’s a barbeque and outdoor furniture. I can also take campervans.
“This isn’t big business, and it certainly won’t threaten the commercial sites. I get a gentle half dozen campers a year, and I remember every one of them. This thing works – enterprising interesting travellers and sociable hosts.
“No space for fussy people on either side – we cut out the rules, behave nicely, and look after each other.
“Trying it from the traveller’s point of view, I’ve recently enjoyed a few days in a lovely wildlife garden on the Isle of Wight. All we could see from our pitch was trees, a couple of horse paddocks, rolling countryside and a constantly changing sky laced with birds of prey. OK – so no 24/7 access to a shower and hairdryer, but there was an outdoor WC and a kind host who said on our first night that if the weather got worse (the wind having already busted a tent-pole) we could sleep in his lounge. He’d leave the door unlocked all night, just in case.
“That’s proper sharing, worth a great deal more than the £5 a night we both charge.”
For land owners who wish to operate their micro campsite for longer periods, The Freedom Camping Club offer a helpful guide to UK Campsite law and also offer their own scheme which includes the ability to issue a licence to operate a more commercial enterprise without needing to secure planning permission from the Local Authority.
With new hosts opening up all the time, it seems that everyone is joining the gig economy, however, there is a caution to operators of the new microbusinesses – and that is to make sure your property is adequately insured. Failure to have the correct cover could mean that any claim made under a insurance policy – even one not associated with a guest – could be rejected, potentially costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
campinmygarden.com advises hosts that is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their property and any related liability is adequately insured for this purpose, and advises that you discuss your proposals with your insurers before offering your garden as a campsite or any additional services related to the stay.
For Airbnb hosts, the company offer their own insurance, but leading insurers suggest property owners still check whether the cover is adequate for their needs.
Steve Bradley, MD of one of the UK’s leading insurance broking websites, UKinsuranceNET.com
“While Airbnb hosts are automatically covered by own Airbnb’s own Home Protection package up to US$1 million (about £780,000) for third party claims of bodily injury or damage to property, including claims arising from guests themselves who have been injured, the insurance is by no means fool-proof, leaving gaps in your cover.”
Mr. Bradley cites examples of instances that are typically not covered by the Airbnb Host Protection package, and which micro campsite owners should also check their policies cover:
- theft of cash or personal possessions;
- damage to property in shared or common areas of the property;
- personal liability;
- malicious damage caused by a guest injury to – or the theft of – your pet or pets; and
- limitations on the amount of cover provided for items of particular value (such as collectibles, jewellery and works of art).
“Although Airbnb’s Host Protection scheme is designed to work alongside your existing home insurance, hosts should note that in many cases, your home insurance policy will become invalid if you are letting all or part of your accommodation to paying guests or tenants. “
This means that in the event of an Airbnb host making a claim – even one not associated with a guest – that the claim may typically not be paid out.
Bradley’s firm offer their own bespoke Airbnb insurance, which enables hosts to tailor the cover to their own particular needs and circumstances, the type of property for which they are hosting and any additional areas of insurance needed. He says:
“The inclusion of cover against malicious damage caused by your guests, for instance, might be a particular case in point”.
The company have produced a free guide for Airbnb hosts, which can be requested here.
The overall message to hosts and campers is to enjoy the new opportunities but to remember that the experiences will be different to the more commercial offerings.
As for campers who enjoy the chance to try new experiences, staying in someone’s garden could be a memorable experience you’ll both treasure, and a real opportunity to make new friends.