Farm buildings aren’t what they used to be. Today they’re more likely to be housing holiday makers than horses, cows and pigs.

You might have looked at a piece of your land or an outbuilding lying empty and wondered how you could turn it into money. How do you get started down the route of diversification, holiday cottages and lets?

I talked to Katie Williams at Sykes Cottages who specialise in this area. What’s the situation now and how has it changed in the last few years?

Changing times

Katie said: “The way in which we take holidays is changing. Whereas the average customer used to go abroad a couple of times a year, now they’re cutting down and maybe going once with some short breaks in the UK in between.”

I asked why that was the case. Katie replied: “The cost of flights has a lot to do with it, they’ve gone up quite a bit. In addition people have had bad experiences at airports. In August 2023, failures in air traffic control systems in the UK caused flight cancellations and delays affecting thousands of passengers during peak holiday season. The press was full of it. That’s not something people are prepared to risk again.

“People are more aware of their carbon footprint too and electing to holiday locally. Glamping has had a 45% increase from last year, people are looking for short breaks and unique stays.”

Which is good news for land managers with a few acres not earning its keep.

Grain silo anyone?

Think glamping pods, safari tents, holiday lets, cottages. Katie says one let offered by Sykes is a former grain silo that has been converted to a one up, one down, saying: “It’s absolutely gorgeous, very unique and very popular.”

“What we basically do is help farmers and land managers make the most of their land and create a new income stream. We suggest different ideas in terms of pods, bricks and mortar and have several case studies … it’s all about ideas. A lot of people want guidance on planning mortgages and the legal side and we do that too. Holiday lets are just one part of our business.”

Sykes have a stand at The Game Fair to chat ideas through.

Browse further around the Land Management area at The Game Fair and you’ll find plenty to fire your imagination. You’ll see all terrain camping pods and cabins that can be moved around, are fully weatherproof and don’t require planning permission. Luxury safari and camping tents (perfect for festivals). Awnings and trailer tents.

Time to put that unused acreage to work.