Time is a precious commodity for anyone, let alone park owners.
Between phone calls, emails, park maintenance, and the myriad of other responsibilities that always seem to fall on their plate, operators are BUSY during the season.
But what if you take all of your reservations for the year in one week? Imagine how much time you could get back to focus on other areas of your business. We’ve seen dozens of campgrounds grow their parks’ business faster than ever all in the first week of the year with a strategic campground launch.
Here are four steps to follow to launch campground reservations and make a year’s revenue in a week.
1. Start with online reservations.
Statistically speaking, most guests want to book online. In fact, is that 97% of your guests will make their reservations online if you give them the chance (Forbes).
And the reality is that having an online system is all upside.
On average, campgrounds save 300 hours a year in administrative responsibilities (like answer phones and checking emails), while taking in an additional 25% more annual reservations than they were before using our system.
Plus, with channel partners like the CCRVC or Outdoorsy, our parks receive an extra 2 million visitors to their websites.
However, despite the advantages of an online system, much of the industry is still “old school” in its approach.
One of our partner associations recently surveyed their campgrounds and found that 51% of their parks “do not have online booking where a person can complete a reservation online with a credit card.”
While this was just one survey, this seems to reflect a common trend amongst the industry. Meaning, that just having an online solution will make you more competitive than half of the campgrounds around you. Getting started with an online reservation system can be overwhelming, but we’ll cover a few more details about the setup process in step 3.
2. Set a date and stick to it.
Once you’ve found your online reservation solution you’ll need to give yourself a deadline to launch, because starting with a “go-live” date in mind gives your park a clear trajectory and allows you to come up with the right plan.
There’s no perfect date or time to launch your online reservations, but most campgrounds go live in Q1 for the upcoming camping season. For winter camping destinations for snowbirds, parks often offer discounts on next season stays for current campers, but launch reservations in Q2 for the public.
A 2019 study from Gartner found that businesses miss launch deadlines 55% of the time, and when they do it’s usually delayed by at least a month. There’s no need to lose four weeks of reservations due to an ambiguous timeline.
To ensure success, Athabasca County put a launch date on the calendar and stuck to it. Once they chose the date, they scheduled out meetings with our team ahead of time to make sure their system was ready to launch on time no matter what.
Having a clear date in mind even gives campgrounds the opportunity to do a private “soft-launch” and test out the system to make sure everything is copacetic.
3. Create a plan.
With an end date in mind, it’s time to get granular and come up with a plan. When a campground is organized and has clear goals, it increases the odds of a successful launch.
Outline a process that includes onboarding, training, and ultimately promoting your park, and have consistent check-ins along the way. With Athabasca County, we had weekly calls to make sure we were moving along according to plan, which prevented a lot of headaches for everyone involved.
A few things to consider while planning your campground’s launch:
- Have your campground’s information prepared and ready to be input to your new online system. For example, site measurements, number of sites, policies, pricing, hookup options, etc.
- Anticipate training time for you and your team, especially if it’s your first time using an online system. Make sure everyone has access to their own user accounts and plenty of time to familiarize themselves with the software.
- Give yourself ample time to review and test out the system. Don’t let your launch date be the first time you see how the system works.
4. Make launching an event.
If you really want to build momentum, make your launch or “go-live” date an event. Not an in-person conference or anything involved. But an event in that everyone already marked their calendars for that date because you’ve promoted it so well.
Since Athabasca had a launch date two months out, they had time to get the word out and build up excitement for the upcoming camping season.
Having an official launch for reservations gives your campground an initial push and influx in bookings. For instance, Athabasca County took 150 reservations in the first hour, and over 300 reservations by the end of the first day.
Athabasca’s manager, Warren Vowel, said “last year, it would have taken us more than 2 weeks and 3 staff members to call back and confirm all of the reservations that came in [online] today.”
Because they promoted their launch ahead of time, campers were excited to get online and snatch up reservations for holidays, long weekends, and family vacations.
Launch Campground Reservations
Athabasca did more reservations in their first week with Campground Booking than they did in previous months on their own.
If you’re looking to free up your schedule and make more reservations this year, you can grow your park’s business by following these four steps:
- Start with online reservations.
- Set a date and stick to it.
- Create a clear plan.
- Make your launch an event.
Looking to increase your reservations and cut down on admin work this year? Campground Booking can help. Request a demo today!