How Reservation Software Can Improve your Campground

Recently we published a detailed article on our parent site called “What Does Booking Software Do For Campgrounds?“. Since this is our online booking software site, I wanted to highlight the main points of the article here.

So let’s list the benefits for you:

  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

lets camp booking software blog friends by campfire

Booking Software Saves You Time

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.

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.

Stop Chasing Payments

When people book online, they pay online, so when they come to your park you don’t need to collect any money from them. You no longer have to call people to collect money.

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!

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.

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.

lets camp booking software blog wood bundle kayak pancakes

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.

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

There is power in 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.

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?

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.

lets camp booking software blog bringing back kayak

Booking Software Enables Your Growth

Track Analytics

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?

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!

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 fulfill?

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.

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.

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!

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