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A tent supplier that has been identified as one of the most forward thinking and innovative in the industry despite being such a young company, Outstanding Tent is poised to enter 2020 at a full-on sprint. We caught up with co-founder Robin Van Kooten to discuss what is being pitched for the upcoming year.
As readers may recall from our previous focus on Outstanding Tent in our April 2019 edition, the company is based in Netherlands and was launched in 2014. With over 400% growth within the first year and 100% growth on every consecutive year since, it’s very clear that they have entered their market with just the right product at the right time.
“Timing does play a large part in this business,” Robin says, “However, the glamping industry is still growing and moving so fast that it is even more important to identify the needs or the holes in an industry as early as possible. That way you can make sure you have a relevant and reliable product of the highest quality to fill those gaps in the market.”
THE NEWEST DEVELOPMENTS
In terms of new developments for the new year, there are quite a lot of things that are happening. Robin explains that on a product level they have just finished the last details on a brand new interior line and are in the middle of launching their insulated thermo tents. They have also been expanding their services as well as working closely with their international agents who have been instrumental in growing their reach from their base in Netherlands to the rest of the world.
“They know their local camping and glamping market best and therefor can be of better service to our customers,” he says, “We have advisors in multiple countries, and from now on we even have an agent in Japan and one in the USA.”
Robin reveals that in September 2019 they went to a trade show in Tokyo and over October 22nd and 23rd they will be attending the Glamping Summit in the USA. So, it is clear that there is a lot going on at the moment. He goes on to add that this forms part of his strategy for growth as glamping continues to grow in popularity and innovation is more important than ever.
“To make sure we can offer our customers the diversification they need, we need to know exactly what’s happening and be able to take swift action,” he says, “Fortunately we have enough enthusiasm and energy in the whole team, to stay ahead of most needs and developments!”
Innovation comes in many forms and one example is their Outstanding trucks which have been launched and are now delivering their product. Custom designed for their task they’ve enabled them to make some of their shipments all the more personal and outstanding.
While often the bigger innovations do steal the limelight, Robin points out that his company is always thinking and creating, and these big innovations are reliant on the smaller ones.
“It’s an attitude of change and improvement,” he says, “That drive of always seeing how we can improve and change. That is what propels a company like ours.”
In recent years Outstanding Tent focused on developments within their current range of safari tents and scaffolding wood furniture. These were all great developments, but now is the time to really make a difference.
“We wanted to offer a second interior style that was different, innovative and exclusive,” Robin says, “That’s why we launched our new Glamping Chic line which offers a wide range of exclusive and luxurious furniture to match our exclusive and luxurious tents.”
The company have worked hard on this new line for the past half year and it’s exclusively developed by professional interior designers. The intention is to give luxury camping a whole new dimension.
“Glamping equals luxury,” Robin says, “But we had to ask ourselves ‘how to translate the comfort of a sofa back home into your glamping?’ Our Glamping Chic range gives guests the sense they are staying at a luxury hotel, combined with the camping feeling of glamping.”
Anyone, site owner or guest, can appreciate the allure of combining a wonderfully designed bathroom, a luxury kitchen with all the mod-cons to prepare a delicious meal with the ambience of being surrounded by a canvas tent. If you’ve ever enjoyed a good meal while camping, you’ll be able to imagine why this would appeal so strongly.
The Glamping Chic line offers two styles: Stockholm and Paris to suit all tastes. Stockholm equals Scandinavian beauty and is characterised by its minimalist, often white details. Paris, on the other hand, lives up to its name and bustles with full-on activity that’s absolutely gorgeous, stylish and chic.
NEW INSULATED THERMO TENTS
Robin believes in listening to clients and always taking comments seriously. For example, in 2018 they heard that their tents were not as good in cold environments.
That triggered them to find a solution, and the new insulated thermo tents seem to have found the balance between functionality and aesthetic appeal. While some of the design has had to change, what the new line of tents offers is a nice temperature without exaggerating heating. Allowing their customers to extend their season and therefore get more sales and returns from their accommodation.
The tents still maintain the adventurous outdoor and recognisable Outstanding look, by using wooden frames and roofing. All models are based on some of Outstanding’s most popular safari tents such as The Safari Tent Wood, The Safari Tent Compact and The Safari Cottage.
Robin explains that some of the limitations were down to fabric and not being able to find a way to make it as insulated as they wanted. With tent cloth they encountered a number of disadvantages such as mould formation and ultimately higher costs. Therefor they decided to work with strong insulated panels instead, which actually opened up some new design possibilities.
“A big difference of the thermo tents is the glass front which helps us maintain a relationship between comfort and experiencing nature,” Robin says.
The thermo tents are not yet available in the UK market. Robin reveals that in the UK the regulations are quite strict when it comes to safety and the use of fire-retardant fabrics and materials. Therefore they have all their safari tents and lodges available in Campshield as well. This cloth is mainly made of TenCate fabric, same as their regular tent cloth, but Campshield has flame-retardant properties. The fibres in this material offer additional security and protection which are a requirement in the UK Market.
“We will be rolling out our insulated thermo tents in the UK as soon as we are able,” Robin assures, “But until then, we can provide our Campshield safari tents and lodges for those who are in more of a hurry.”
Innovation and learning go hand in hand, often with the best lessons being learnt from the most disappointing trials. But according to Robin his team are convinced that you learn best by trying, doing, listening, failing and doing it again.
“We have been growing like crazy and have developed and expanded our assortment in multiple ways year after year,” he says, “Obviously with ups and downs, but that didn’t stop us. It only made us stronger, better and smarter. No pain, no gain, right? Everybody in our team has the same mentality.”
The other important lesson which hasn’t so much been learnt recently as reinforced is the value of staying small while growing big. As a team they are very selective of who they bring on board and even when it comes to collaborations, they always try to find a partner with the same mindset.
“This approach isn’t only best for our customers,” Robin says, “But it also makes sure the working pleasure and enthusiasm remains high for the whole team.”
Robin appreciates the value of every staff member and the importance of developing teamwork and camaraderie. They have a team of 20 people working in the office and as international agents and a further four teams as set up crews. The challenge is how to bring them all together to understand what they do as a business. Fortunately, he knows exactly how to get his team immersed.
“At the end of August we all went to Norway to visit Dyreparken who are one of our dear customers,” he says, “Here we’ve built thirty safari tents, some even at four or five metres tall and overlooking the water. Glamping is an experience and the best way to pass that on is to make sure that every member of our team experiences the charm of glamping.”
The other aspect that has singled Outstanding Tent in the modern market where so many first-time investors are taking a financial risk to secure their “uniqueness” in the industry, is that they offer 100% satisfaction guarantee.
In our previous article, we covered how even in the early days of the business if a customer was not completely satisfied with their tents they would be replaced, or the customer refunded. However, this guarantee does extend to going the extra mile.
Robin shared a story that last year a customer received the wrong end-fittings and therefor couldn’t continue building his safari tent. This was human error on their part so the search for the quickest solution began. Unfortunately, they were unable to ship the new parts to him within the timeframe needed, so one of the directors and a co-owner of Outstanding, got on a plane that same day, with a suitcase filled with end couplings to go and fix the problem personally.
“It’s not enough to tell your customers that you are willing to go the extra mile, if when the need arises you don’t do it,” Robin says, “After all we are not “Moderately Good Tents”, we’re Outstanding. That counts for a lot.”
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +31 (0) 318 575 056