Reader Letter: Better RV park reservation system needed

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Dear editor,
I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with this idea, but I don’t know why no one has filled this need in the market.

If I want to spend a night or a week in a hotel anywhere in the world, I can enter the dates of my travel along with my other requirements in any of a dozen websites. They will locate hotels that ACTUALLY HAVE VACANCIES that fit my needs. I have found no such service for RV parks. All the websites I’ve found will show you which campgrounds have sites that meet your criteria; but if an area is busy, one can spend hours checking with individual campgrounds only to learn that they are all booked.

We need a website that operates similar to Travelocity or Hotwire, where we can find actual vacancies without having to contact individual campgrounds only to be told they are full.
I have neither the skills nor the inclination to pursue this idea in the marketplace. But it’s a need looking for someone to fill it. Perhaps you know someone.  —Andy Metts
Dear Andy,
I can’t think of a service that does this, but there very well may be one. Perhaps readers know (if you do, please leave a comment). —Chuck/editor
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Connie Van Horne
6 months ago

I wonder if the duo of Technomadia might know of something. Or RV Geeks?
They’re all pretty genius at the tech stuff, and Chris and Cherie have already written a couple RVing apps. Mobile Internet Resource Center.

Not a paid endorsement.😉

Tom R
6 months ago

I just google “rv parks in (town name)” and it comes up with a list of privately owned rv parks and a phone number to call, in addition to government run facilities. The privately owned parks usually have a website which is usually not up to date and refers one to the phone number to make reservations anyway. The info on government run facilities is not as extensive and there is usually no phone number anyway for up to date info, and if they are close to a National Park they will be fully reserved anyway during high demand times, and will not even have electricity hookups and decent showers, although they will usually be less expensive.

I have also used a website called campgroundreviews.com , lots of good info there.

Cam
6 months ago

KOA lets you book exactly the kind of site you need at each of their campgrounds as well as tells you what types of sites they have that are already sold out. Prices are listed and you can make your reservation on line. There are around 500 of them so that is probably the biggest network that meets the writers request. I also think you can book online at the Thousand Trails/Encore parks even without a membership. Not aware of anyone aggregating results from the chains & private & public parks.

ANDREW STOY
6 months ago
Reply to  Cam

Cam, not everyone wants to stay at a tightly packed noisey KOA.

tom
6 months ago

I think there is plenty of room for this service. I personally dislike using Reserve America. Their service fee is 50% of the fee paid for most State campgrounds. A real rip off!

Bill
6 months ago

I think Reserve America will give you a choice of nearby campgrounds if the one you want is full, but it is limited to its’ client campgrounds. Not all hotels are on the travel websites either.

Mike F.
6 months ago

Okay, number 1. a computer site is only as good as the people operating it. Which basically means they don’t keep track that well, so you think you could sign up for a camping site and when you arrive it’s going to be there with no problems, “ha” the people already there decided to stay longer so now the park is sold out, the owners have a paying guest there and are not sure your gonna make it ( so they keep the bird in hand ). So good luck with modern technology, I’ll call and leave a deposit any day or just boondock.

Alain Tasse
6 months ago

Actually, isn’t Woodalls the one company who should be thinking about this. As far as I know, they’re still in the directory-printing business which, in any case, should become extinct in a very near future. Maybe Chuck has contacts and can ask them the question. Even Passport America has developed an application that very efficiently replaces, or soon will, I suspect, their paper directory. By definition the minute a directory of any kind is printed it becomes obsolete after just a few weeks. This app does not permit direct vacancy searches or bookings, but it sure beats the paper version where you had to find, read, then try to understand the fine print of stay conditions. Now they’re upfront on each P.A. member campground’s listing. I gather their app is kept up to date on a regular basis. Gone are the days when you only had to let your fingers do the walking…now everyone knows I’m old enough to buy beer legally.

Roy
6 months ago

There are one consideration that applies to the hotel industry that doesn’t apply to the RV campground/resort industry. Most Hotels are owned/operated by a handful of conglomerates where all the information can be gathered from the corporate database. However most campgrounds are still privately owned. The majority don’t have nor want that information on an accessible database.

Kevin
6 months ago
Reply to  Roy

I have used Expedia and Travelocity to book B&Bs. I don’t see the conglomerate issue as a barrier. I do see that many (most) RV parks would have to upgrade their systems to allow a third party aggregator access. There would be a cost to the park owner in addition to the software upgrade. Since most third party providers offer rooms at a discount, this might also be a difficult decision for an RV park owner.

Eric Ramey
6 months ago

Thinking “Blue-Sky” I would like a consistent reservation system platform that does the following:
1-Allows you to log into one portal and make multiple reservations (ie Reserve America)
2-Synchs with mapping and calendar software. This would make trip planning so much easier.
3-In regards to mapping it would also provide you with other trip stats (estimated fuel consumption, current traffic conditions)
4-App Based as opposed to website based so that you can easily create, view or adjust your stays..if needed.

Thomas R Sloan/ Alice M Sloan
6 months ago

This is a service that will likely become available in time. There are so many varied reservation systems in use, from very detailed, computer driven to hand written at the desk. Some very large corporation owned RV Membership clubs, such as Thousand Trails, Encore and others do have such systems in use, exclusively for their paid members.
The thousands of individual owned RV parks likely do not see the benefit to pay extra fees that a Travelocity type system would charge. On the positive side, that phone call usually results in a pleasant conversation giving additional information about the area, and many times a couple of other RV parks to contact if the initial one is full.