In Which “Glamping” Becomes a Thing

Warning: the following is not from The Onion. The following is from The Wall Street Journal, and from the mind of pollster and Consumer Mind Seer-Througher Mark Penn:

Europeans love touring churches and museums, but when it comes to vacations, Americans have always loved the great outdoors. Fishing, camping and just driving around are great American pastimes.

But now, welcome to the early stages of the era of “glamping” — glamorous camping.  It’s a visit to the outdoors, but updated and upscale. While it’s just starting to take off, it’s likely to grow significantly based on emerging travel and vacation trends.

Yes: “Glamping”! Caloo, calay!

While the term is clearly incredibly valid and intellectually rigorous, less so is the claim that “glamping” is “likely to grow significantly.” Because, uh, not necessarily. Penn’s latest column cites random stats suggesting that camping is becoming more popular—“outdoor equipment store REI reports sales of family tents are up by 20%,” and “Ohio State Parks data from mid-July show camping has increased by over 15% from last year,” etc.—but does, really, little to demonstrate that glamping itself: a). exists, b). is popular, or c). is bound to become widely popular.

But, hey, no matter: the piece does give the author an excuse to refer to Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Rider himself, as “First Glamper.” And, for that, if for nothing else in this Onion-tastic affair, I doff my cap*.

* That’s right: cap-doffing. “Coffing” being, of course, another recent and report-worthy microtrend.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.