UK campsites: a buyer’s guide
A good campsite business can offer its owners an independent, low maintenance lifestyle in one of the UK’s most beautiful locations. There are hundreds of campsites for sale, so to choose the right one to buy, you need to consider a number of key elements.
As with any business purchase, you need to question the site’s current reputation and ongoing business commitments. Ask yourself: what is the star rating of the current campsite and why? What laundry and showering facilities are already in place on the site? Is the campsite committed to leasing one or more pitches to long-standing tenants? Does the campsite have any employees whose contracts will need to be honoured after the business is sold? Once you have a clear picture of these elements of the business, you will be able to make a judgement on the likely future of the campsite, and your estimates on whether you can improve the campsite’s earnings yourself will become more accurate.
Campsites with high occupancy rates tend to be close to tourist areas. The campsite might be successful because it’s in a picturesque location, or surrounded by a number of long-standing summer festivals; make sure you fully understand the reason why tourists currently choose this site, and be realistic about what occupancy you can fairly expect. Your campsite will need to stand out somehow – if there’s nothing immediately obvious about the campsite’s location, what can you do to make it unique and attractive?
Ensure that the title is clear. You need to be totally confident that you are purchasing every square foot of land that you think you are purchasing; fence boundaries don’t necessarily line up with the land that’s owned, and roads leading up to a campsite aren’t necessarily public access roads. There may be longstanding, half-forgotten rental agreements with local farmers that have redefined the working area of the campsite; if this is the case, it’s not necessarily a problem, but you need to know about these arrangements up-front so that you can make an informed decision.
Consider overnighting in the campsite yourself to get a sense of the site from a customer’s perspective; staying a full 24 hours on the site will help you pick up on any issues that you might not see during a midday viewing, e.g. problems with night time noise, light pollution etc.. It will also help you to see what parts of the camping experience you could improve if you bought the business.