b'SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT BY RON BARGERCheckBox Systems Has Evolved to Serve the Outdoor Hospitality Industry After operating a successful consulting was in 2001 and there were lot of folks in the We have a mix of outdoor resorts, hotels, a coordinated fashion and dont fight eachand training company, James Ganley de- food court with laptops. Wi-Fi was fairly new retail establishments and campgrounds to other. And then the biggest challenge, ofcided to branch out in 2002 and start Check- and there was no service in this food court which we provide Wi-Fi services, explained course, is to try to get a radio signal inside anBox Systems, a wireless Wi-Fi gateway and and we thought, Hey, it would be cool to offer Ganley. Some of our customers go back 18 RV. management systems provider.free Wi-Fi when we opened the restaurant. years to the early days of Wi-Fi. He stated that because of these uniqueI married into a restaurant family, and one That turned out to be a big hook for our cus- Ganley found through some of his initial challenges, campground owners must man-day we were getting ready to open a new tomers. research that providers in the early 2000s age the expectations of guests so they under-restaurant in a food court that was at the Based in Portland, Maine, the company were offering services that were ridicu- stand that just because they can streambaseofanofficetower,herecalledto currently serves more than 8,000 properties lously expensive with overcomplicated in- NetflixathomedoesntmeantheycanWoodalls Campground Management. This across North America.stallations. stream it miles from civilization. I called up a brilliant programmer I knew Its a unique challenge from beginning toand asked if he could give me a quick and end, but one that weve done thousands ofdirty Wi-Fi system, he reminisced. And 20 times, Ganley said.minutes later he emailed me a very crude Extreme wilderness campgrounds providepiece of software to run that was a basic Wi- the biggest challenge. Fi hotspot system. From there, it grew into a We have to look at what they have forside business and then suddenly it exploded. providers in the area for Internet connectivity,And before we knew it, Wi-Fi was an all-con- be it some aging DSL lines, or whether theyCheckBox Systems offers Wi-Fi equipment that is designed for easy setup by park owners. suming business for us. areluckyenoughtoEntering the campground space was a no- have a cable providerbrainer for Ganley and was a big piece of his oraT1orT3circuitbusiness foundation from the start. providernearbyfromIn 2004, we contacted a Kampgrounds of the old days, he elab-AmericaInc.(KOA)parkinMainethat orated.Or,wemaywanted to offer Wi-Fi throughout its entire have to fall back to acampground, he continued. This was a satellite. fairly new thing in campgrounds at the time. All of our systemsBy the end of that season, we were in around canaggregateband-25 to 30 campgrounds, and the following year width,headded.Ifit just became a huge part of our business.you can only get a slowCampgrounds are still a big focus for us, DSL line, you can getGanleyadded.Wi-Fiandcampgrounds three or four slow DSLpresent unique challenges that you just dont lines, and we can ag-see when you have Wi-Fi in other venues, gregate that bandwidthsuch as hotels or retail spaces.and get a bigger pool ofToday, CheckBox provides a turnkey Wi- bandwidth. Fi solution to campgrounds that a parks staff He said his systemscan install.thenhavetoallocateWe have different levels of service de- bandwidthtomakepending upon what the properties want, ex- sure everyone gets aplainedGanley.Wemanufacturethe fair share and one per-hardware and the software that goes into the son is not hogging allsystem, but 97-98% of our properties do their the bandwidth. He thenown installations.works with the park toHesaidhehasspecificallydesigned set user expectations.CheckBox products to be easy for a parks Ifweendupnot Access points ensurestaff to set up. In many cases, a maintenance havingenoughband- campers get goodperson or even just a front desk person can, width to allow smooth Wi-Fi service. with a little bit of coaching over the phone, streaming, we must sayget the system up and running.that is the case, he said frankly.For those who dont want to install, he He also works with park owners to prop-does have installation teams, but that adds to erly value Wi-Fi service as an amenity that isthe cost of the entire service. central to their guests experience. Good Wi-In the 17 to 18 years that weve been Fiandconnectivityhavebecomekeytodoing this, weve never had a property start campers, according to Ganley. installing their own system that couldnt finish So much so that in some cases a signifi-with a little coaching on the phone, he ex- cant capital expenditure to bring fiber downplained. the road and pay that construction cost canCheckBox currently has regional support be worth the investment in the long term, hedivisions in Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, explained. I tell folks that with Internet con-Calif.,alongwithanetworkofresellers nectivity, think of the expenditure sort ofthroughout North America.along the lines of building another bathhouseFolks that basically work out of those or putting in a pool. Its an amenity that youareas, he said. A lot of our employees work really do have to invest in to have a qualityfrom home or work remotely. And then we do campground. You cant just run down to Sta-have an office up in Canada, too. ples and buy a $100 router and call it good.You have to put real infrastructure in to pro-The Challenge of Providingvide a reliable service. Wi-Fi to Campgrounds For those parks that have significant band-Since many campgrounds are set in re- width coming in, Wi-Fi has replaced cablemote locations, the challenges begin with the service at the campground. amount of bandwidth coming into the camp- Weve seen a lot of parks move awayground. Some campgrounds will be in urban from providing cable TV services, he said.or suburban areas with good connectivity, but Now, few campers want traditional cable.campgrounds in remote areas where con- They want to be able to bring their Roku andnectivity is difficult need more attention.their Apple TVs and watch their content. So,You have to manage the bandwidth avail- itbecomesmoreimportanttoprovideable very carefully, he said. Once youre in streaming level quality to parks. the campground, you have to distribute that Parkownersmustbepreparedwithbandwidth around the park. And that means enough bandwidth to handle the new expec-setting up multiple access points that work in Supplier Spotlightcontinued on page 3624 -April 2020Woodalls Campground Management'