Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Campspot is set to take part in the California Association of RV Parks and Campground’s Software Education Day on Feb. 27.

The company will be featuring their real-time, web based reservation software system, according to a press release from CalARVC. Campspot’s customers include parks affiliated with the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort franchise network, Northgate Resorts and Adventure Bound Camping Resorts.

Campspot Chief Operating Officer Josh Traxler said his company began developing the reservation system in partnership with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Northgate Resorts just over three years ago.

“After an extensive evaluation of the industry’s existing software applications, Northgate (realized its) needs would go unmet,” Traxler said, adding, “When you make your inventory available online, you lose some level of control. (But) there was no online reservation system Northgate trusted with the management of their reservation grid. For Northgate to trust their reservation system meant it had to be smarter. It had to be as smart as their best reservations manager.”

For example, Traxler said, “Reservationists exercise discretion. If a guest calls a reservationist and wants to book two nights during a period of time that requires a three-night minimum, whether or not the reservationist allows that reservation depends on the proximity of the arrival day. If this reservation is a last-minute booking, for example, the reservationist would likely allow it because the window of opportunity to rent that site is closing and a reservationist recognizes ‘some revenue is better than no revenue’. If instead that guest would’ve tried to book online, they may have given up and booked elsewhere after being notified of the three-night minimum requirement. Your online reservation system should also understand that ‘some revenue is better than no revenue’ and it should be capable of exercising that same level of discretion.”

Traxler added, “When a guest visits your online reservation portal, they should have the same options available to them as they would if they had called instead. If they don’t, (the) worst case is they give up entirely. (The) best case is they call and clog up your phone lines when they would’ve been perfectly happy to book online at zero cost to you. Reservationists, when possible, will ‘create’ availability by shifting existing reservations around on the grid. Campspot’s programmatic optimization algorithm can provide this same service to your online guest, in the absence of the human element, real-time and seamlessly in the background.”

Traxler said there continues to be significant differences between the campground industry and the hotel industry in terms of the percentage of reservations booked online.

“The hotel industry takes approximately 60% to 70% of their reservations online,” he said. “Comparatively, and from what I’ve experienced thus far, the campground industry is taking 9% to 15% of their reservations online. The camping and hotel industries are obviously different. However, I believe they are similar enough to make this comparison useful. The gap between the industries is significant and indicative of a problem.”

Traxler believes part of this gap is explained by the reluctance of the industry to encourage online bookings due to the same concerns Northgate had prior to blazing its own trail with respect to Campspot. According to Traxler, this is unfortunate as a large and rapidly growing camping demographic – Gen Xers and Millennials – typically insist on booking their vacation online.  

“Gen Xers and Millennials expect a software application to look and feel a certain way,” Traxler said. “If it doesn’t fit their expectations, you risk losing them. Your design and user experience must be modern, intuitive and inspire confidence in their decision to do business with you. If it doesn’t, they will never trust you with their privacy or the success of their family vacation.

“Through our commitment to an intelligent business rules engine, programmatic optimization algorithm, and a modern and intuitive user experience, we’ve seen the online reservation gap between the hotel and campground industry close. On average, properties using Campspot take more than 50% of their reservations online,” Traxler said.

Campspot is one of six companies that will present their reservation systems during CalARVC’s Software Education Day, which is open to park operators across North America.

The day-long event takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 27, at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif.

For more information on Campspot, please visit www.campspot.com.

For more information on CalARVC’s Software Education Day click here.