The hardest part of going camping might be getting started. The upfront cost forces newbies to shell out for a tent, sleeping bags, and other gear. There are 13,000 public campsites in North America to choose from, and no definitive review site vetting them.
It can be overwhelming.
Tentrr wants to take the hassle out of camping. Launched in 2016, the “Airbnb for camping” lets users find and book upscale campsites on private land.
The company has just announced it’s opening 10 sites in the San Francisco Bay Area – its first expansion outside the East Coast. The majority of sites will be in Santa Cruz and Sonoma Counties, with another 50 Bay Area campsites in the pipeline for spring 2019.
We talked to investment banker turned startup founder Michael D’Agostino on why Tentrr could be the future of weekend getaways.
The mission of Tentrr is simple. “We want you to be able to run around naked and enjoy nature as you wanted to when you were a kid … without scaring the neighbour,” D’Agostino told Business Insider.
Tentrr has nearly 500 campsites across the Northeast. They sit on privately owned land, where guests can relax and recharge in peace.
Each rental comes equipped with a canvas tent on a large wood platform, a queen-sized air mattress, two Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, cookware, and a portable toilet.
The startup was inspired by a camping trip D’Agostino took with his wife a few summers ago. Upon arrival, they found a Wiccan convention going on directly across from their campsite.
It had “robes and UFO spotters and streaking and all,” D’Agostino told Bloomberg.
D’Agostino, a lifelong camper, was fed up with crowded campgrounds.
“They take a bunch of people who live on top of each other [in cities] and dump them in the countryside where they live on top of each other, but in tents,” he told Business Insider.
He left his job working on IPOs for tech companies and launched Tentrr on the generosity of his Wall Street buddies. “Our core belief is that we are the anti-campground,” he said.
When a landowner applies to host a Tentrr campsite, the startup sends a scout to check out the location in person. They ask questions like, “Can you see or hear a road or neighbours?” “Is there swimmable water on the property?”
Importantly: “Can you run around the campsite naked?”
Tentrr charges the landowner a one-time fee of $US1,500 to have the tent set up on site and to join the app. Landowners take 80% of the revenue generated by a reservation on their property (though Tentrr charges users an additional 15% processing fee that it keeps).
D’Agostino refuses to call it “glamping,” a luxury variety of camping that’s made to be shared on Instagram, though the accommodations at Tentrr tick off all the right boxes.
Queen-sized air mattress are outfitted with featherbed toppers for more comfort. Wooden crates double as bedside tables and storage. There’s also a wood-burning stove.
Guests can tie up the door flaps to take in the views of their private campsite.
Tentrr digs fire pits rimmed with rocks from the property at each site. Guests can cook their food over the grill using the cookware provided. (S’mores supplies are not included.)
A picnic table provides even more storage in the hollowed out benches.
The average nightly rate is $US144, which is three times more than the industry average. But it’s a steal compared to upscale glamping startup Collective Retreats, which charges between $US500 and $US700 a night.
Collective Retreats develops campsites across the US that offer access to the outdoors and the “comforts of a Four Seasons,” according to founder Peter Mack. Each rental has a king-sized bed, a wood-burning stove, wall plugs aplenty for charging gadgets, and a private bathroom.
Tentrr aims to reach 100,000 campsites nationwide by 2022.
The startup has logged thousands of bookings to date. D’Agostino said the most popular sites change with the seasons. In summer, sites with spectacular water features win over users.
During the fall, users flock to campsites with expansive vistas. Some landowners offer amenities, like guided hikes, gourmet meals, and foraging outings, for a fee.
D’Agostino said that 40% of Tentrr users said it’s their first time camping, which suggests it’s a solution for people who don’t have camping gear but do have money to spare.
“It makes the idea of going outside and sleeping under the stars something that just about anybody can do,” he said.
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