ReserveAmerica out. New efficient campsite booking system coming

Have you tried to go on a spontaneous weekend camping trip lately? So you went online to reserve a campsite only to find that all “reservable” sites have been taken. But some sites are held in reserve for people like you that make last-minute decisions. Except there are several hundred more just like you who have arrived first, so your chances are nil of getting a site. 

Booking a campsite in the summer of 2018 sucks. Most of us assume it has to be this way – we’re dealing with government, after all. But here’s the thing: While federal and state campgrounds all exist on public land, their online operations are run by private businesses – a fact few people would guess, given that booking websites are linked directly to Recreation.gov or state park pages and have official-sounding names like ReserveAmerica, writes Marc Peruzzi for Outside Magazine

For more than 20 years, a small number of companies have held long-term contracts that grant them exclusive control over reservations at publicly owned campsites, and their websites make you feel like you’re stuck in 1995 because they haven’t progressed much since then.

Fortunately, help is on the way – for federal campsites, anyway. In October, a new contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, a management-consulting giant, will take over operations from ReserveAmerica, getting the keys to some 100,000 campsites managed by the Forest Service, the BLM, and the National Park Service.

Unlike its predecessor, Booz Allen must adhere to two important requirements. First, it has to provide real-time updates on campsite availability through something known as an application programming interface, or API. This is tech lingo for the same kind of software that powers Google Transit, Hotels.com, and Kayak, which have made it delightfully easy to do everything from plan your commute to make a restaurant reservation. Second, the company has to make good-faith efforts to negotiate business relationships with third parties that create campsite-reservation applications.

This latter obligation incentivizes a wave of tech businesses to transform the booking experience – which is a big deal. Imagine an app that would notify you of openings at nearby campgrounds … and then let you book it on the spot. This won’t happen overnight, but the efficiencies of modern e-commerce are at last coming to camping.

##RVT858

 

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9 Thoughts to “ReserveAmerica out. New efficient campsite booking system coming”

  1. CHARLES R LANNING

    Will the handicap sights be reserved only by certified handicap people

  2. Robbie

    The surcharge and the inefficiency of the website keep us going elsewhere.

  3. Walt & Mary Jean Sinkhorn

    Wow! This is the best news I’ve heard in years. We use Reserve America for Florida State Parks. Many, many times we have tried reserved a site for 3-4 days only to be told that a site is NOT available for consecutive days. Wanting to be at this park, we agree to move to a different site for each night of our stay. This is a total pain. Only to find out the next morning, that our original site is vacant. This happens with regularity and is very frustrating. When I mention this to the Park Ranger, they are powerless to do anything, stating their system showed the vacant sites booked, so we must move. On many visits, we checked the sites and saw 6-10 empty sites. But we were informed weeks before by Reserve America that all sites were booked. I am so glad to see R.A. go, they should have been “fired” years ago.

  4. Brenda

    Will this affect recreation.gov?. We’ve always gone to that site for COE reservations without any problems.

  5. Roger

    Great news. It can’t be worse than RA is. Just wish it applied to State Parks as well. So, since this is only for federal parks, will Recreation.gov be replaced by something else, or will this just provide the “engine” under a revamped Recreation.gov?

  6. Phil McCraken

    PLEASE open Marcs link up in the article and TAKE ACTION.

    It’s our land, not some state government bureaucrats, who don’t give a hoot about the how bad this whole thing has become.

    If we, the campers, do not form a more perfect union, to preserve and protect our use of what is ours, they sure don’t give a crap.

  7. Phil McCraken

    Reserve America is run out of Toronto GTA (greater metro area) location, don’t ask me how I know, but obviously they dropped the ball and reservation systems, at least at the federal level will be much better.

    Typical government idiots, signing up for 20 year terms, not caring how poor a job a vendor performs. Well times are a changing. Yippie.

  8. Bill Bateman

    Good! Maybe this will help with the particular thorn in my saddle blanket .. that is: those that make reservations, sometimes for multiple sites and days, and then never show up … leaving empty campsites and frustrated would be campers. I have encountered this throughout the Northwest in state and federal campgrounds. The hosts have no way of getting these campsites open as there is no across the board way for them to find out if the site has become available until sometimes a day or so too late. This happens especially in places where the host has to rely on Rangers who have satellite phones or land lines to communicate with Reserve America. Sad to see HooDoo being replaced as campground management in much of the West. Seems like they were at least trying to get Reserve America to cooperate. Hope the new contract holder continues the fight.

  9. Nancy Jacobs

    Thanks. Been full time for the past 18 years, wouldn’t trade this life for anything!

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