Campspot, a reservation and management software provider, is having a great start to 2021 in this thriving camping marketplace.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company, which also has development offices in Denver, Colo., and Chicago, Ill., was founded in 2015 with the intent to provide a simple, modern online booking experience serving campers and campgrounds. According to the company, since the initial software was launched, it has processed hundreds of millions of searches and millions of bookings.
“We had an incredible 2020 with more than 600 new parks starting on our service,” said Casey Cochran, director of business development. “We passed 1,100 parks on the system, with plans to increase what we accomplished last year into 2021.”
Cochran explained that Campspot has technology built into the system that no other software system in the market has.
“Between our Grid Optimization Algorithm paired with our Lock Site feature, our eSignature with Express Check-In, and recurring billing with automated payments, we have helped park owners gain significant revenue while saving lots of administrative time,” explained Cochran. “But our hottest seller will always be our support and account management team. They are the difference-maker.”
He stated that his team will continue down the path of automating processes for campers checking in by adding text messaging and even camp store add-ons that are tallied when campers reach the online checkout.
“All this, as well as online cancellations, are all slated to be completed before the season kicks off in 2021,” added Cochran.
He said the company’s concept began in 2014 with a small group of campground owners looking to make their lives easier.
“It started out as a group of park owners that had a portfolio of parks and just needed software that had a little bit more flexibility for their day-to-day needs,” Cochran explained. “So, what started out as running very large transient parks has taken on a life of its own. We now can accommodate all parks of all shapes and sizes.
“It’s a modern booking engine with the focus on driving revenue for the campground owner,” he added. “That has always been the focus but it’s taken on a life of its own. Right now, we plan to have somewhere between 1,700 to 2,000 parks by the end of the year. That is the current roadmap or plan.”
Cochran stated that part of Campspot’s dramatic growth is partially due to recent trends in staffing and human resources at the front office level.
“Owners are realizing how time-consuming it is to take every reservation over the phone,” he noted. “Especially with last year’s boom, it just became almost impossible to manage the amount of interest that owners were seeing. There has been a big shift of owners realizing, ‘Hey should I be taking reservations online?’ And just as important, they want to be able to implement the rules and the strategies that their park has had with that online system.”
Cochran shared that growth for Campspot also sprang from the fact that its software was developed for campgrounds, not modified from hotel and hospitality software.
“Campspot was built by park owners for campgrounds specifically,” he said. “And this doesn’t take anything away from any other software in this space, but we feel it has given us the advantage to be able to accommodate a lot of those unique features that only park owners have and demand.”
But the No. 1 reason for Campspot’s exponential growth may be its business income strategy.
“We’re a little unique in this space,” said Cochran. “It’s free to sign up with Campspot. There are no upfront costs. There are no monthly costs or yearly fees. If a park has eight sites or 8,000 sites, they get the same software. There is no tiered pricing, there are no different levels, everything that the software has, every park gets.
“And so once a park is signed up, we make that entire investment upfront to build everything out, build their map, put in all the rules, import any of their data, do all the training, do all the support,” he continued. “We don’t charge anything for that and then once they are live and taking online reservations, we charge $2 per online reservation that’s made.”
Cochran said most parks, more than 90%, take that charge/fee and pass it onto the guest.
“They really don’t pay anything for Campspot,” he noted. “To be honest, there is really no costs to them. That’s the pricing model, there are no hidden fees or anything else there, it’s just what we charge per reservation.”
On a park’s website, Campspot installs links to its software platform.
“We provide a direct booking link for them,” explained Cochran. “They get their own direct booking link that is mirrored to look as if it’s an extension of their own website. Then we also have a marketplace as well that we use to bridge the gap between new campers looking for parks that have availability and linking them up with the parks that are using Campspot.”
All internal reservations, point of sales, and reporting are all run through Campspot. The campground collects the money upfront and then Campspot bills the park at the end of the month based on how many online reservations they took.
“We service most of the large parks in multi-park owner groups in this space, including Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, Northgate, and Horizons,” noted Cochran. “Most of the multi-park owners in this space use Campspot and their advanced reservations have skyrocketed.”