b'itiveandwanttoshowcasethemselvesnotedthatreal-timeintegrationsdonethat larger OTA platforms can charge is a more to new travelers who are coming onthrough APIs should eliminate those con- tough pill to swallow and is noted by many as the scene and are using OTAs like Airbnbcerns, no matter how many websites a parka reason they dont want to work with OTAs. and VRBO.is listed on.OTAs and booking platforms in the outdoor It doesnt take six hours to update thehospitality industry have a wide range of fees site, it happens instantly, Broussard ex- they charge, and some dont charge anything plained. On our platform, we have a clockfor bookings, but a number of insiders sug-that tells campers how long they have togest that park owners need to evaluate it book and if they dont book in that amountagainst some of the other marketing efforts of time, they lose the campsite.they spend money on. BrianNolan,co-founderandCEOofMayfield said that the OTAs only charge BookOutdoors, an OTA that is preparing towhen a booking is made, providing parks launch, noted that his company is using itssome owners.with an opportunity to market and only pay Casey Cochran, director of business de- experience in other fields to create an OTANolan noted that Book- when a booking is made. velopment at Campspot, a reservation andthat avoids mistakes like double bookings.Outdoors isnt looking toI compare it to a billboard that a park park management platform, noted that theThrough these types of API integrations,control how park ownersowner may advertise on, he explained. companyalreadyoper- once a booking is made it is taken down fromoperate their businesses.You have that billboard up, but you are pay-ates a large OTA throughother listing sites automatically, he added.Wewillgivecontroling for that billboard without really knowing itsplatformfeaturingDouble bookings arent an issue at that point.over how much inventorythe tangible impact of that marketing effort. 1,300 campgrounds andorwhatinventorytheyWith OTAs, you only pay when you use 150,000-plus sites whileI Want Control of My Inventorywant to put on the market- them. You are seeing the tangible results at noting that the companyAnother area of concern for park ownersplace. Its not an all or noth- Dan Yates that point. is also working to openis the control factor. Some owners still useing, explained Nolan. Of course, we want toNolan noted that a park owner can spend its API and integrate withphone calls and emails to feel out a camperhave as much as possible and well incentivize10%-15% of their revenue on Google ads other platforms.and see if they want to reserve a site toto have as much as possible, but owners willthat dont translate into sales. We have worked hardCasey Cochran themespecially when it comes to sea- ultimately have control. We dont want to takeThe way we look at it is, they should to create a real-time booking platform versussonal bookings.control away from anybody on that front.think about it as a marketing expense that just another listing site, he explained. WithManyoftheplatformsweconsultedBroussard highlighted the fact that mostis risk-free where they only have to pay if these types of integrations, it follows all of thepointed out that park owners would stillOTAs, including Spot2Nite, are collectingwe do what we say were going to do, dynamic pricing rules a park owner may havehave control over their listings and coulddata on campers that the companies are thenwhich is bring them bookings, he said. set up and there is no need for park ownerseven include rules and regulations, alongpassing along to park owners. Meaning parkSome campsite listing platforms, like The to go in and manipulate listings.with other warnings before a camper is per- owners are going to know who is showingDyrt, offer profiles and campsite listings for mitted to book a campsite.up at their park before they get there.free, instead focusing on paid memberships What About Double Bookings? That was one of the main objections weThese campers have a secure profileto cover the businesses costs. Many park owners WCM has spokenheard when we first launched Pitchup be- with a secure credit card on file, and they with about OTAs note their concerns aboutcause more experienced park operators de- pay for the whole trip up front, he noted.When it Comes to OTAs, are Hotels the real-time capabilities of integrating withveloped this great skill at being able to sizeand Campgrounds that Different?these platforms and other booking web- peopleupoverthephone,notedDanI am Already Full; Why Bother?Campground owners and even other in-sites. Park owners are concerned aboutYates, founder of Pitchup, a campgroundThis is a comment that WCM has hearddustry experts have pointed out that the out-double bookings and other site reservationlisting and booking service. Over the yearsfrom campground owners even more dur- doorhospitalityindustryincluding issues that could create more headacheswe have added warnings and rules so thating the past two years. Most parks are see- campgrounds, RV parks and glamping parks down the road.the consumers know what to expect at aing campsites fill up fast and many ownershaveavarietyofdifferentsitetypes, The sources with whom WCM spokepark, and that has helped ease the fears ofare wondering why they should even botheramenities and other offerings that make inte-listing on different OTAs or booking web- grating onto an OTA a harder transition. sites when what they are doing is generat- Butmanyastuteobserverspointout ing more business than ever.noted that OTAs that currently work with ho-Rates should be moving up if a park istels are adaptable, and also noted that in-full, noted Cochran. And as rates move updustry-specificOTAsaretacklingthose you want to draw more eyeballs to yourissues and delivering platforms that work park. You want more people that are willingfor campground owners. to spend at that higher rate, so then you canMayfield told WCM that the outdoor hos-continue to charge it. You can never havepitality industry and hotels have quite a bit too many eyeballs on your park. You canin common when it comes to integrating never have too many people who are awareonto an OTA.that your park exists. And really, the bestThey both have tons of complexity, he way to go about that is a marketplace.explained.Youvegotcorporatetravel, Now, not all campground owners feelevents and other things that hotels owners that they need it, and a lot of times theyhave had to figure out with the OTAs they use dont,headded.Theyrefull,theyreor through their systems. These OTAs are booked out, theyre booked in advance, andgoing to figure out ways to work with camp-grounds and offer the solutions they need. thats great. But overall, there are so many new people camping that its best for both.Will the Industry Ever Have Larger Its best for the consumer to find that youOTAs or Booking Sites?have availability and its best for the camp- Many of the people that WCM consulted groundtohavethatmanymorepeopleindicated that OTAs or other booking sites aware that you either have availability or thatmay get too big to ignore. your park exists. When they are looking toThere is going to be a tipping point book that camping trip, at least they arewhen everyone starts to recognize some of aware that you are there.these companies and begins to register with Nolan explained that no amount of de- them, Mayfield said. mand should be too much for park owners.Nolan mentioned that he expects some You can never have too much demand,consolidation of booking sites and OTAs as even if youre at a 100% capacity, he ex- time progresses. plained. If you get more demand then youIt takes a lot of money and a variety of have room for, that gives you power as an op- components to build a good marketplace, erator to control your pricing and to controlhe explained. Its not something that you your expansion or investments in your prop- can bootstrap or if you do, it just takes way erty. You are the one with the control at thattoo long, and the market passes you by. point. There is always going to be some occu- I just have to imagine that as more pancy; nobody is at 100%. There are going toreservation companies offer APIs, integrate be gaps in schedules and cancellations. Weand more sites are online, its just going to come in and help with those things and fillput more pressure on some of these park those gaps as part of driving discoverabilityowners to get involved, said Yates. I think and new customer segments.once OTAs get to a certain size, its just going to be very hard not to have your park What About the Fees? listed on them. You are going to be losing For some park owners, the 10% to 15%business if you dont.WCM 26 December 2021Woodalls Campground Magazine'