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Your rural land and property can be more than just where you lay your head. You could welcome guests from far and wide to take in the same lovely surroundings as you do. Here are some ways you can open as accommodation. Some won’t even require planning permission, but being aware of which do, is important, so that you avoid enforcement action by your Local Planning Authority. 
Shepherd's hut
You may have an existing building which is used for something else but wouldn’t need a lot of building work to convert into a range of accommodation solutions. Perhaps you have a building which is currently home to anything from cattle to a tractor, which could be renovated and converted into accommodation? Or maybe you just have space in a great location to site anything from a permanent building (either built with foundations or one of the very popular log cabins or static caravans, which can be sited on a concrete base in a matter of days. Increasingly popular are the non-permanent solutions, such as Shepherd’s Huts, Yurts, Gypsy Caravans, Tree Houses, Eco-Pods or Domes which offer a lovely, different ‘get away from it all’ solution to urban-weary visitors seeking space and fresh air. 
Whatever your potential form of accommodation, there are also plenty of ways it can provide income, with different levels of service. Here are a few: 
Bed & Breakfast 
The humble B&B could be a brilliant option for those who are looking to provide a personal, family feel to their guests’ stay with them. You might provide a private room within your house or separate living quarters altogether. This is likely to attract people who are looking to get away for a night or professionals spending a day in the local area. You can expect a high turnover of guests. There are also specialist booking agents such as Farm Stay who attract people specifically interested in staying on farms. 
Self-Catering Stays 
You provide a great place to stay, your guests sort everything else out. Simple. This type of accommodation is often used for holidays, and, with the increasing popularity of staycations, the more places people have to choose from, the better. This is usually an entire property left for guests to come and go as they please. 
Bread & Breakfast diversification
From glamping to camping and from caravans to camper vans, your rural land could be an amazing place for people to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the working life and relax in the countryside. The beauty of opening a campsite is that it is much easier to look after than a property. If the plant life is kept on top of and any communal facilities are taken care of, you’re onto a winner. Of course, the exception to this might be a glamping site which could be more like self-catering stays, depending on how much you’re looking to provide. 
Glamping diversification
Mid-Long Term Seasonal Workers 
You might like to consider opening to seasonal workers who work in the local area, sometimes for weeks and months at a time. We’re thinking of construction workers, actors, freelance consultants, event co-ordinators, trainee or locum doctors. Offering accommodation to these workers guarantee your income for a longer period than the methods previously mentioned. 
The business model you choose for your accommodation offering, will depend on how much interaction you would like to have, personally, with your visitors and how much service you would like to add on, to add value. This can range from simply preparing the accommodation before they arrive and cleaning it afterwards, to providing breakfasts or even evening meals. On farms, you can offer the added attraction of access to animals (even letting them be involved in helping to look after them), or natural features such as a river to fish, boat on or swim in, some of which may directly involve your time. The great thing about accommodation is that you are in control of the booking so if there are times you don’t want to rent it out, you can simply show it as ‘fully booked’ which is never a bad thing! 
Do you offer accommodation on your rural land or property? What do you offer and who is your target guest? We’d love to hear from you about the pros and cons of it! 
This blog series is designed to inspire rural businesses to undertake diversification projects to increase income streams and improve revenue. It’s important to remember that not all land and property is suitable for every method of diversification so be realistic before setting your heart on a project. Also, following your passions is more likely to result in long term success. 
Make sure you look out for our next blog in the series, which will look at how your rural land and property could be used as conference and/or wedding facilities. 
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