While most hotels and other lodging properties are taking a hit during the COVID-19 crisis, RV vacations are on the rise. Wall Street Journal declared RVs “the safest way to travel this summer,” as social distancing is a built-in part of the experience. Unsurprisingly, demand for RVs is up. Way up: with RV rental companies reporting 1,000%+ spikes in reservations as more states eased their lockdown regulations amidst the Covid pandemic. Beyond rentals, sales also jumped for custom van conversions and traditional RVs.
According to Airbnb, current travel trends during this time include guests searching for entire homes, local travel is more popular, and group travel is trending – all factors that make RV rental and campground facilities more appealing than other accommodation types.
For RV park and campground managers, this is a welcome sign – and a major business opportunity. To seize this lucrative burst of demand for outdoor vacations, it’s time to leverage the power of RV park and campground management software.
With the right software, your customer journey should be seamless and as self-service as possible. The same goes for your staff: distributing inventory, handling customer communications, managing slots and marketing should be easy and stress-free, with less manual work and more automation.
It’s a big decision to choose an RV park and campground management software to optimize your operation, but it’s one that will radically improve profitability, guest satisfaction and staff efficiency. Here are five ways that you can grow your business using an online RV and campground reservation software.
As you know well, campground and RV park sites often have multiple lots and housing types. There may be standalone cabins and several RV lots of varying sizes (some with utilities, others not), as well as a few campgrounds. You’ll need a customizable booking engine that gives you the flexibility to accurately reflect your site’s inventory.
Customizations also give the user more control over guest experience. You’ll get fewer calls asking for more information, which gives you more space to handle other pressing tasks. And the guests will be happier with a complete self-service booking flow, which is something that they’ve come to expect.
As the popularity of outdoor vacations has increased over the years, the ways to sell your inventory online has also grown. This new development is great for getting more reservations but makes managing inventory on so many channels quite a chore.
If you’re currently limiting your distribution channels so you can manually manage inventory without being overwhelmed, you’re also limiting the amount of revenue you could be earning. Also, manually managing channels takes long hours and includes the risk of double reservations when you aren’t able to quickly update availability on each channel. No doubt, dealing with overbookings is stressful and detrimental to your online reputation.
A better option is to let technology do this work for you. With an integrated channel manager that manages inventory on all your chosen channels, your availability will always be current. And, since you no longer have to manually manage your channels, you can distribute your inventory more widely and access new guests.
A few key channels to consider in your RV park and campground distribution strategy are:
Another complicated part of distribution is handling larger groups. RV vacations and campgrounds are popular with families and groups of friends. This may be doubly true during a pandemic when people want to gather but don’t feel as comfortable doing so in an indoor location or with others outside their immediate family or social circle.
These groups want to be situated next to each other. When booking, they need certainty that they’ll have those side-by-side slots. If you’re manually managing your slot assignments, accommodating groups can mean shuffling other things around, which can grow tricky, especially as occupancy increases. There also may be sections of your park that have specific accommodation features, such as pet-friendly or adults-only, that you’d also have to take into consideration.
To accommodate groups and specialized property sections, shared inventory supports selling the same physical space in more than one way. For example, you can sell four campsites (or four RV slots) as either individual units or as 1 unit to be booked by a group that’s traveling together. That way you can create grouped sections in a way that makes the most sense for your current occupancy map.
One note of caution: improperly allocated shared inventory can result in overbookings. So be sure that you work with your account manager to set it up correctly and avoid errors.
When it comes to campground and RV reservation management software, simplicity and ease-of-use are essential. The last thing you need to be added onto your long list of to-dos is “learn complicated new software.” And you know that if it’s complicated for you, it’s also going to be difficult to train your staff.
You may have many different employees active across different roles, so your software should be flexible to help you manage both your needs and theirs. For example, a good software system will let you set different access levels for multiple users so you can control what information is viewable and by whom in order to keep sensitive information protected.
Finally, you also want a system that works on any device, anywhere on the property so you’re not bound to a desktop in an office. When working in a setting where most of your guests are spread out outdoors, it’s nice to be able to access your RV park and campground management software on a mobile-responsive device for when you’re on the move.
Rounding out the top five features of the best cloud-based RV and campground management software is automation. With automation, you can eliminate tedious manual tasks so you have more time for higher-impact tasks, like providing excellent service to your guests and earning great online reviews.
When evaluating software, here are a few automation tools to look for:
Email automation saves hours of time on guest emails and ensures things don’t fall through the cracks. -Mary Grant, Springs RV.
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