Your campground needs an online reservation software.
Over 148.3 million online travel reservations were made in 2019 alone. By the end of 2020 the online travel industry was estimated to be worth over $800 billion; and with more people camping as a result of the pandemic, this number is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
With so many people traveling, there are plenty of online reservation softwares for campground owners; but it can also be a challenge finding the right one for your business.
What features does your campground need out of a reservation software? What should you expect to pay for an online booking system? How much support will a campground software provide?
To help navigate what’s out there, here are three considerations for finding the right RV park reservation software for your campground.
Obviously, every campground is different, and not every park requires the same tools.
Maybe your campground has specific requirements for pricing around holidays and peak seasons. Maybe you need a service that can bundle your accounting and point of sale. Maybe you just need a user-friendly system without a learning curve for your employees.
Regardless of what your campground needs, here are a few features to consider.
Online booking systems just make life easier, for you and your guests.
Services like Good Sam’s Campground Solutions can automate and handle all of your reservations, giving you back (literally) weeks of your year spent on fielding phone calls and emails. Not to mention, they’ll market your campground for you, bringing in even more online traffic, and guaranteeing higher occupancy.
Furthermore, online reservations allow for last-minute reservations (as in the day or week-of) which has brought in an additional 5 percent to 7 percent annually for some of our campgrounds; and in some cases, could even add up to 44 percent of a park’s business.
A drag and drop dashboard gives you the ability to easily move guests around on a reservation grid. You can check in campers, print parking passes, issue refunds, and add individualized notes to camper profiles.
A fully interactive system can cut down on the time it takes to train employees and work campers, while making it easier to navigate your reservations week to week.
A flexible pricing system allows you to create booking minimums during peak seasons, as well as increase revenue on popular weekends. Dynamic pricing gives you the autonomy to adjust pricing based on your park’s business model, and ensures maximum profit.
Ideally, a good reservation system will be a one-stop-shop for everything you need to run your business – including reporting and integrations.
Whether it’s check-ins, cancellations, inventory, or any other feature of your business, you need daily reporting to show you how your park is performing over time. Plus, life is much simpler when your system integrates directly with other tools like Quickbooks, or third party channel partners like Go RVing Canada.
If you have a camp store or online inventory, having a POS will make things easier on you and your customer.
A cloud-based POS system can run off of an iPad or smart tablet device, and integrates directly with your accounting and reporting, keeping all of your financials in one place.
For a decent POS, you can expect to pay between $79 and $150 a month.
Similar to feature offerings, campground booking softwares can offer a number of different pricing models; so it’s important to think through what makes the most sense for your business.
Do you want a free system that charges guests a convenience fee? Do you want a system that takes a commission out of your bookings? Do you want a hybrid pricing plan with both?
To give you a better idea of what to expect, here are three different pricing models you’ll come across when looking for a system for RV park reservations.
Like most online storefronts, reservation softwares generally make a large chunk of their money off of online booking (or convenience) fees. You’ll also find some negotiation in pricing between booking fees and monthly (or yearly) rates.
At the end of the day, these models tend to work in the park operator’s favor, allowing them to pocket most of the revenue. For instance, Good Sam parks can get started for free (with guests only paying $1 per reservation), and non-members can use the platform for $99 a month (with guests paying $3 per reservation).
The advantage of this model is complete autonomy and control for park owners who just want a little help running their business.
Some reservation systems will, however, operate more like an online travel agency (OTA).
In this model they’ll give you their platform for next-to-nothing as a “dangling carrot,” but then they’ll outrank your campground’s listing on Google to control where the reservations are coming from.
This means that even though you could make your own bookings and claim most (if not all) of the profit, they’ll likely still bring in most of your reservations and charge a commission on anything they send your way.
Now, this can be beneficial for campgrounds looking to outsource the headache of maximizing their reservations; however, it will likely cost you 10-30 percent of your annual reservations.
A merchant model is almost an agency model in reverse, where the OTA receives inventory (sites) from your campground at a discounted rate, and then books guests at a marked-up rate.
With a merchant model, the OTA will charge guests on the front end, and then give you the discounted rate, while they pocket the difference. They will also foot the bill on credit card fees, and show up on a statement (instead of your park).
Again, this offloads a lot of the heavy lifting for collecting reservations, but it will definitely cut into your profits.
A good reservation software should also come with a competent support staff that can manage any training and troubleshooting your park needs.
When you’re looking for a team to work with at your campground, be sure to ask the right questions.
With more people booking online, and with more reservation services than ever, there’s certainly one that will work for your campground.
As you consider the best option, make it a point to think through:
Good Sam has you covered! Providing campgrounds with marketing and advertising, online reservations, personal support, and access to a network of over 2 million RVers, Good Sam takes the heavy lifting out of managing your park. Request a demo today!