What Does Booking Software Do For Campgrounds?

  1. Booking Software Saves You Time
    1. Put Down the Phone
    2. Stop Chasing Payments
    3. Clear Out Hold-Ups at the Gate
  2. Booking Software Makes You Money
    1. Get The New Generation of Campers
    2. Sell Add Ons
    3. Stop Spending Your Budget on Manual Work
  3. Booking Software Enables Your Growth
    1. Track Analytics
    2. Identify Opportunities
    3. Put Your Plan in Action

Booking Software Saves You Time

Put Down The Phone

By far, the #1 reason we see people just like you switch over to using our Let’s Camp Booking Software is that struggle you experience on the first day you take reservations for the season.

Picture this all-too-familiar scene: It’s the morning of the first day you’re accepting bookings; you’ve got hundreds of people who set their alarms to wake up at just the right time to call in and get the site they’ve been thinking about all year. The phone rings—the storm has begun.

Over the next few days, you spend what seems like every waking minute picking up that phone and frantically writing down details in your trusty—though worn-out—notebook. You hope that this year you’ve prepared enough that you won’t accidentally double book sites between your notes and your calendar.

The final call comes in—you’ve done it! You’ve taken the last booking and you’re free. But wait, why did it just start ringing again? You pick up the phone with dread and hear, “Hello, I’d like to change my booking…”

Yes, most of the campgrounds we talk to suffer from this. Booking Software can help your campers create their own bookings, and it can also help them manage their bookings after the fact, freeing you up to do what’s most important to you and your campground.

—especially if what’s most important to you is getting one more week out of your vacation…

lets camp booking software blog work to relax

Stop Chasing Payments

You’ve reached an answering machine for the 30th time today. You leave the same message you’ve left countless times in the past, “Hello, you have a booking coming up and I would like to confirm. I see you’ve paid a deposit, but as per our policy, full payment on large bookings is due 48 hours before check-in.”

You hang up the phone, knowing fully well that you probably won’t hear back from them until either they show up the day of, or you don’t hear from them at all and you’re left with a 3-week no-show to fill up. You think to yourself, “Why can’t people just be responsible?”

lets camp booking software blog payment successful

With a campground booking software, your can choose for your campers to pay for the site in full when they book. On top of that, you’re also able to manage no-shows with fully-automated refund rules. You can create different rules for different instances, which means you can choose to refund 30% to someone responsible enough to cancel a week in advance and refund 0% to a no-show at the same time!

Easy!

Clear Out Hold-Ups At The Gate

It’s the Friday evening of the September long weekend. Everyone’s excited to get out for one last hurrah before school starts again. Unfortunately, you have 33 sites that need to stop at your gate and pay for their booking and 9 of them just drove up at the same time.

lets camp booking software blog trucks at the gate

You do your best to get them through efficiently without any mistakes as they wait there in their trucks, boats towed behind, kids with swim trunks already under their clothes ready to burst out of the vehicle and hit the water. (September’s too cold for me to swim, but kids are determined!) Hopefully, tonight’s 45 minute wait won’t leave a bad taste in their mouth.

Now, imagine the opposite. All of your sites are fully booked and fully paid and, wouldn’t you know it, the arriving campers are strolling through your gates in what feels like seconds.

Yes, this is the power of automated booking software. Don’t just do this to save yourself some time; do it to keep your campers happy, give them more time to take part in your activities, and watch them come back just one more time before the water freezes.

Booking Software Saves You Money

Get the New Generation of Campers

Your campground thrives on the regulars you’ve had coming around for years and years, but like every industry, you need to be ready for the change. Life happens, families grow, and every year there’s a new bundle of people ready to get out there and test out the wilds.

In fact, according to the 2018 North American Camping Report, 60% of millennial households tried a new type of camping in 2017. From tents to campers to the new oTENTiks here in Canada, this generation wants to try out new experiences.

Side-Note: I had the pleasure of trying out an oTENTik this summer in the Saskatchewan Grasslands and it was a unique experience that you just have to try!

lets camp booking software blog millenial booking

How does this relate to booking software? As a millennial myself, I’ve spoken to several people in my age range that actively avoid trying out new campgrounds that handle everything manually. After all, my generation is known for our impatience and our aversion to talking on the phone.

Get online and get new campers—simple as that.

Sell Add-Ons

If you’ve been in the sales industry, you know the sheer power of the upsell. You likely have additional services to offer your campers like bundles of wood, kayak rentals, marina space, tickets to special events, and more. When I used to sell furniture and was expected to sell the warranty and add-ons that went with it, the rule of thumb was “bring it up early and often.” This means that you can put people in the mindset for purchasing add-ons before they even drive through your gate!

lets camp booking software blog wood bundle kayak pancakes

Are people actually looking for these sorts of add-ons? Yes! Coleman’s 2017 Camping Report shows that 88% of campers participated in more than one outdoor activity when they camped, and this Stats Canada’s 2018 Infographic shows that 41% of Canadians participated in at least three!

When asked which outdoor activities they participated in, the top results were as follows. How many of these do you provide add-ons for?

  • Hiking & Backpacking – 44%
  • Wildlife Viewing or Photography – 32%
  • Tent Camping – 24%
  • Fishing – 22%
  • Canoeing or Kayaking – 22%
  • Motor Boating or Jet Skiing – 20%
  • Snowmobiling or Other Off-Road Vehicle Use – 17%
  • Foraging for Food – 16%
  • Mountain Biking – 13%
  • Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing – 13%

Here’s a list of example sentences you might hear that could mean you missed out on money:

  • “I bought wood at the store before I came.”
  • “If I knew you offered rentals here, I wouldn’t have had to borrow my cousin’s kayak.”
  • “You have a pancake breakfast? I wish I knew sooner, but we already planned our meals”.
  • “…”

That last one is the sound of someone not coming to your campground at all because they didn’t know you had a marina they could park their boat at.

A camper logs into your booking software, they pick their favourite site, and then they see the amazing list of extras that you have to offer them when they come in. Now that they know what you have, maybe they won’t need to buy their own wood, borrow a kayak, pack a third breakfast, or go to any other campground than yours!

Stop Spending Your Budget on Manual Work

We can keep this one nice and short. How many hours do your employees log performing manual tasks like:

  • Taking payments
  • Writing down bookings
  • Looking back through old notes to confirm whether or not a particular camper requested a late checkout when they initially called?

lets camp booking software blog old notebook

Now, I’m not saying that the goal is to take jobs away from your staff, but instead to utilize that free time toward growing new services and opportunities, which I’ll discuss in the next section.

Booking Software Enables Your Growth

Track Analytics

Before I tell you what sorts of things your campground could be growing into, it’s always important to look at what’s already working. Remember: what’s measured is improved!

Booking software allows you to run all sorts of useful reports that can provide key insights. At the click of a button, you can see which sites are your most popular, who your main demographics are, which add-ons are selling well, and more.

Take some time to write down the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to every aspect of your campground. If, overnight, you tripled the customers you have today, what would that look like? Would you increase your rates because you’re high in demand? Would you expand into new land and develop additional sites?

Let’s explore your opportunities!

Identify Opportunities

Now that your analytics are in order and you’ve identified the strengths and weaknesses of your campground, it’s time to figure out what growth looks like to you. After all, camping isn’t going anywhere any time soon—just look at these statistics:

According to this 2018 North American Camping Report, the total number of camping households in the US grew by more than 6 million between 2014 and 2018. They observed that the newest generation to experience camping with their parents have actually shown more passion about the benefits of camping than those parents!

Sure, US stats are a little different than ours, but just think for a moment why we go camping. Many of you probably guessed, “to get away from it all”, and you’d be right! We spend every day glued to our devices—parents and kids alike. This report shows that camping has created an environment of close interaction with family and friends that so many of us feel like we’re missing out on.

lets camp booking software blog friends by campfire

Now are you convinced that camping is on the rise? Good—back to growth. Try to answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have geographical space to develop new sites?
  2. Do you have a new type of site to introduce (like oTENTiks or rental cabins)?
  3. Who is your main competition in the province (or larger area), and what do they offer that you don’t?
  4. From the list of outdoor activities above, is there any way you can advertise, feature, or monetize any part of the activity?
  5. Can you think of any way to run daily, weekly, or seasonal activities that campers would be willing to participate in? (Guided tours, volleyball tournaments, fishing competitions, etc).
  6. Do your campers have needs that your facility doesn’t fulfil?

To quickly give context to #6, I often visit my sister’s cabin at a lake here in Saskatchewan. It’s a small campground, but when we need things like milk, eggs, matches, etc., we have to drive about 30 minutes into the nearest town. I understand that stocking perishables isn’t feasible for every campground, but try to keep a close eye on what people are bringing back into your gates.

lets camp booking software blog bringing back kayak

As a campground owner, you know your destination better than anyone. However, it’s important to realize that we can all get caught up in what we’re doing and lose sight of where we’re headed. Keep these 6 questions handy. It may not be the right time for you to expand, but you should always know what your options are for when that day comes.

Finally, it’s time to make a plan.

Make a Plan & Put it Into Action

Before finalizing your plans, you’re first going to want to create a document including all of the possibilities you have moving forward. At this point, include even the items you think are extremely unlikely—when an opportunity arises, you want to be ready.

Once you’ve mapped out your possibilities and chosen the path you’d like to take, dive deeper into the requirements for each one. For example, if you’re building new sites, what are the questions you need to consider?

  • Do you need to clear anything with a board?
  • Do you need any permits?

All of these little considerations need to be itemized and tackled one at a time to ensure you don’t need to keep saying things like, “I’ll need to look into that” and can instead make some real progress.

Do yourself and your campers a favour—look into Let’s Camp, or other booking software and start automating so you can save time, save money, and grow beyond your wildest imagination!

Do you want to take part in shaping the future of Let’s Camp?

Send an email to me at zack@yastech.ca and I’ll make you one of our Focus Group Stakeholders! We’ll be running ideas by you, asking for input, and selecting you to be the first to test our cutting edge beta features before public release.

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