Experts in the RV industry forecast that 2022 will be another sold-out RV camping reservation season. Now that campground owners have had a chance to attend the National Association of RV Park and Campground’s (ARVC) Expo, they’re all preparing their properties for next year.
We’ll show you the biggest topics discussed at the Expo that will directly impact your camping experience. Also, some RV camping reservation websites you may not have heard of can help you grab up those canceled RV site spaces. You’ll also learn about other RV park reservation webpages that’ll give you a leg up ahead of everyone else to find the best campsites for the upcoming year.
The Campground Trade Show of 2021
To learn about the latest innovations, it was a full house in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the ARVC Trade Show of 2021. The Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo (OHCE) took place from November 8-11 and saw more than 900 campground owners from all over North America.
The conference brought up many important issues, but here are the most impactful to 2022 that attendees came away with.
Solving the EV Problem
The elephant in the room was the EV problem. Rivian’s R1T became the herald to the many EV trucks that will hit the road in 2022. Some motorhome RVers are starting to bring their all-electric vehicles with them to campgrounds. However, very few campgrounds have the electrical capacity and charging ports for these passenger vehicles to charge up. Many just finished getting their wireless internet coverage put together.
Presenters discussed strategies like:
- Installing rapid chargers in designated areas
- Adding additional charging ports to electrical ports on electric posts
- Upgrading electric systems
How Much Should a Non-Refundable Deposit Be
The issues of how much should a non-refundable deposit be, strategies on making a deposit refundable, and other related topics were discussed. Campers should expect to pay half of the total campsite reservation cost as the non-refundable deposit. An additional premium will make the initial payment refundable if offered but make sure you know the deadline.
RVers should also expect RV camping reservation non-refundable deposits to reach 90% of the total cost within three to five years. Also, RVers and campers will need to settle the payment within the deposit deadline, days before arrival. If you paid the premium to refund your deposit, that protection payment stays with the campground either way. So, if the campground has a 72-hour deposit deadline before arrival, you’ll also need to be paid up by then too.
Campground Dynamic Pricing
One of the most prominent groups of vendors at the OHCE were companies selling camping dynamic pricing reservation software. In past years, campgrounds would use flat rates based on the time of year, amenities, and number of guests.
Dynamic pricing uses algorithmic software to determine the optimal price for a campsite – similar to the airline industry. It uses many factors, including the previous flat rate factors, availability, and other data. In the workshop, the presenter asked how many campground owners already use the software; more than half raised their hands.
The 2021 Generational Camping Report
A master class workshop discussed the 2021 Generational Camping Report study conducted by the ARVC and RMS North America, an online reservation software company. Campground owners could purchase the detailed report if they wanted to see all the details, but the panel presented the findings to those that attended.
The report showed that 76% of campers use the internet to research campgrounds, yet only 46% follow-through by booking their campsite online. Over a third (32%) will telephone the location directly to speak with a staff member to complete the RV camping reservation. (Callers crossed all the generations). The study sampled 500 people. Additional data showed that the average family of four spends about $500 a day during their RV vacations!
The study concludes that RVers and campers want options when making RV park reservations. Many other studies show that Millennials and Gen Z prefer online transactions, but there’s still enough of them that will pick up the phone and make a person-to-person call.
The New Campground Battleground
A final key point had to do with the new campground battleground being the customer experience. A former Disney executive led the workshop saying that the on-property experience for their guests was just as necessary as customer service in today’s campground climate.
Features like staff-led activities, playgrounds, boat rental, restaurants, and other features can make one RV park stand out from its local competitors. Essentially, he said that campgrounds need to start developing their properties to become mini-resorts that cater to all age levels. He pointed to the success the hotel and cruise ship industries had with this method.
Best RV Park Reservation Apps
Here are the 5 best apps for finding RV park reservations for your next trip.
When Eric and Kim Shelkie of Vancouver, British Columbia, bought their campervan, they had ready to hit the road and stay at the best campgrounds in Canada. Unfortunately, with everything booked even beyond driving distance, their hopes and dreams became a little deflated. Kim turned that frustration into determination by hitting the refresh button repeatedly. After a while, she found a new availability and booked it.
The couple developed an algorithm and an app with some help from a computer expert friend. First, you enter your check-in/out dates and RV type; the algorithm refreshes your search every 2-60 minutes (depending on your membership plan). Once an availability pops up, you’ll receive a text message on your smartphone.
Campnab has multiple membership plans or pay-as-you-search options. You’ll have to go to the campground’s website to book the RV site, but they’re working on adding that capability in the future. You can set your scans up to 12 months in advance and filter them by your RV’s category. That way, you’re not getting tent sites for your 42-foot fifth wheel.
Would you pay $9.99 a month to get RV camping reservation availability information before everyone else? RVSpotDrop sends you emails on campgrounds that fit your search criteria based on your profile including travel dates, RV type, and other factors. Simply sign up, create your profile, and wait for available campgrounds to roll into your inbox.
Think about it: no more sitting up until 2 a.m. scrolling through endless campground lists trying to find a decent RV site. Emails only come through when the availabilities appear. You’ll see all of the campsite’s features, the location’s pet policies and amenities, and receive a direct link to the campground’s website to book it. Ten bucks to get a jump on open RV sites!? Need we say more?
3. RV LIFE Pro
Have you had that family meeting experience where you, your spouse, and the kids have everything with a screen on a different campground search website trying to find an RV reservation? You know that line between passion and going overboard?
For $49 a year, you can use one laptop or tablet that gives you the best trip planner on the market. RV LIFE Pro gives you:
- RV LIFE Trip Wizard for planning and integrating with the RV LIFE RV Safe GPS™ App
- RV LIFE Campgrounds
- RV LIFE Maintenance
When you use the RV LIFE Trip Wizard trip planner, it’ll give you a panoramic view of your destination. You can see all of the campgrounds in the area, their peer ratings and reviews, features, and things to do in the area. You can filter the campgrounds to see which ones use your RV discounts clubs like Passport America, Good Sam, or others. You’ll even see the excellent attractions along your route that are worth stopping at that make the journey fun.
RV LIFE Trip Wizard pulls its information about the campgrounds from the RV LIFE Campgrounds website, so you’ll know that the information is accurate. Also, you’ll find RV park locations other websites may not be aware of yet since RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard had the most comprehensive directory online. So be kind and stop killing batteries.
You’ve planned an excellent trip across the country from the east coast to the Grand Canyon National Park. To save money, you’ve chosen to dry camp through lot-docking at commercial parking lots, truck stops, and other locations. After the third night of trying to sleep among the cacophony of semi-tractor diesel engines, your spouse and kids are giving you the “look.”
Campersapp. Site Tonite. lets you find those possible same-day RV park reservations. As you read about the campground, you’ll learn about special events, discounts, and other things going on at the location. Once you complete the RV camping reservation process through the app, you can order firewood and complete other transactions to improve the camping experience. For redemption from your family, we recommend booking two nights.
5. Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts
Technically, these two have separate websites, but they’re now one company when Boondockers Welcome sold itself to Harvest Host in June of 2021. Expect to see new combo plans in 2022 and an eventual website migration of Boondockers Welcome into Harvest Hosts website.
Both brands allow guests to camp at guest locations. Harvest Hosts uses local businesses like breweries, farms, museums, and wineries as one-night stopovers. Boondockers Welcome lets you stay up to five nights at private owner home property based on the Host’s discretion. Boondocker Hosts may also offer hookups and usable wifi. Either way, your overnight stay can be a wonderful experience.
There’s Hope for Last-Minute Camping Reservations in 2022
Despite the expected changes discussed at the 2021 Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo, the impromptu camping experience isn’t going anywhere. Our fellow RVers have found opportunities by creating websites and apps that do the hard work of searching for those difficult to find canceled RV park reservations.
The hitch up and go method where you drive without any plans may result in lot-docking. You could receive a text or email on a Thursday that tells you your favorite campground has an availability. After a quick call to your spouse, you could end up running to the boss, telling them you won’t be in on Friday, so you and the family can hit the road the next day.