Thankfully, RV vacations and camping in our post-COVID world have become more fashionable, and considered more safe than other forms of travel and vacationing. And in our post-pandemic world, it’s often said that what’s good for the customer is good for business, and we absolutely agree! Today, consumers are interacting with more companies, sellers, and service providers online rather than by other means. They’re purchasing more types of food online through Uber Eats or DoorDash, having more groceries delivered online by Instacart or Walmart, making pet grooming reservations online with PetCo, selecting more entertainment online from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Peacock, so why shouldn’t they be viewing and reserving their RV and campground spaces online?
Vacationers just like other types of consumers have become accustomed to other online travel reservation options such as Kayak, Expedia, and Google Flights for air, hotel, and car rental; and they desire the same experience and ease and convenience when it comes to booking and reserving their RV experience. They’re proficient with and love exploring various RV and campground sites virtually using Google Maps and 360 to select the prefect location for their vacation or short stay. They value being able to see real online reviews and explore answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). And very importantly, they value the ease of securely booking, and pre-paying for their reservations from the safety of their home or RV; knowing they have the space they want, when they want it, and with the features and add-ons desired.
As a RV Campground owner, the value of being online with a reservation system is enormous. While it is sometimes argued that all camping spaces are the same, we differ with that assertion. Just like houses, each one is different. Some are closer to the lake, or the highway, some are quieter, some are larger, they vary. You could make the assertion that all airplane seats are the same, after all, every passenger arrives at the airport at the same time, right? Well, yes and no because seats in the front of the plane disembark faster and that may be valuable especially if you’re trying to make a tight flight connection. All seats in economy class are the same size, right? Yes, but not all seats are equal. Some have a bit more leg space such as exit row seats. Some seats are nearer the restrooms, which may or may not be desirable depending on your personal situation. Some passengers like aisle seats versus middle seats, and the distinctions go on and on. The same can be argued about your campground spaces. Some are easier to maneuver in and out of, some are near the dumpster, some are nearer the lake, etc. You get the point.
Online booking systems allow you, the site owner, to price different spaces based on their particular attributes more easily. Online booking systems, just like for airlines allow you to also change pricing to reflect demand thereby optimizing your margins and returns. Consumers can easily review available spaces and make informed purchase decisions by viewing your site, and using tools such as Google Earth and Google Maps and 360 to view your property to select the best location for their holiday or stay. Online campgrounds that offer this flexibility and service are more apt to get increased bookings than traditional campgrounds that simply have a landing page and a “Contact Us” phone number.
Additionally, many consumer purchase decisions are not made during business hours, and are made after 8pm as well as into the night. With online reservations, property owners no longer need to worry about returning calls in the morning or playing phone tag trying to secure a paying reservation. It’s confirmed and owners can now accurately predict demand, available supply, and importantly their cash flow for the upcoming period with much more certainty.
Online booking systems also provide property owners with additional marginal revenue opportunities by showing the consumer valuable revenue generating add-ons such as recreational equipment rental, bicycle or golf cart rental, firewood and delivery, BBQ / shelter and Lodge rental, cable or internet and Wi-Fi hookups, etc. These valuable, consumer oriented services can now be made available at checkout just like purchasing any product through Amazon Prime. Online systems also allow for blocking availability using a calendar function and thereby eliminating duplicate reservations for equipment or facilities and thus eliminating consumer dissatisfactions and misunderstandings. It’s either available or it’s not. Add-ons can also be showcased below space reservations to induce vacationers to select more services as follows: “Vacationers like you also rented Kayaks etc.” These add-ons substantially increase the value of a reservation, improve owners’ cash flows, and ensure that the vacationers will continue to return and recommend your property to others in their social network and on social media including Facebook and Instagram.
Online reservations allow property owners to increase incrementally the price per space until demand weakens, thereby allowing owners to maximize returns each and every day. Yet, there are no surprises for the consumer and vacationer. They select or don’t select a space. They vote with their fingers. If the owner has too many spaces unfilled, it’s merely a simple process to decrease prices online to fill unused spaces. Your costs don’t necessarily decrease just like an unfilled airplane seat’s costs don’t decrease – the plane leaves regardless of whether that seat remains unsold or not. So, it’s in the interest of the property owner to reduce the price of unsold spaces until it they’re filled. After all, on a marginal basis, a dollar of revenue is better than zero dollars of revenue. An unfilled space is lost revenue…. Period.
Online booking reservation systems also give vacationers comfort that the price they’re paying is the actual price, and there are no surprises. This simple fact helps alleviate many painful interactions between guests and front desk management during check-in or check-out, and improves the guest experience and supports favorable online reviews. Obviously, there will always be some discrepancies and issues. After all, catering to vacationers is a people business.
Online booking systems can also give vacationers the access tools they need to arrive when they can, not when you need them to arrive. By providing them with access codes similar to automated storage facilities, vacationers can arrive late and leave early. No longer does a manager need to remain available 24/7 to check in guests, nor do guests have to race to meet a check-in deadline. This simple guest convenience allows travelers to avoid heavy traffic, arrive calmly and safely, and leave early to beat traffic home or depart for their next exciting camping spot. Vacationers truly appreciate flexibility that accommodates their schedules. Simply, if they can order food to be delivered 15 minutes after they arrive home from work, why shouldn’t they be able to arrive and leave your property when they desire? It’s simple customer service.
So, what’s good for your guests is good business for the RV and campground property owner. It’s simple logic. We hope we’ve been able to share a bit about our perspective regarding the value of being online and having an online RV campground reservation system. If you have any questions about this or other topics in our industry, please reach out to us at Mysites.com and we’ll be glad to answer your questions. Happy Camping, everyone!