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New app helps frustrated campers nab sold-out campsites

(May 17, 2018) -- Campers frustrated by sold-out campsites have a new ally in Campnab. Developed by two Vancouver-based campers, the app monitors campgrounds for cancellations. It then notifies users of availabilities, via text message. The app promises to get nature-lovers into the great outdoors, this summer.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Campers frustrated by sold-out campsites have a new ally in Campnab. Developed by two Vancouver-based campers, the app monitors campgrounds for cancellations. It then notifies users of availabilities, via text message. The app promises to get nature-lovers into the great outdoors, this summer.

Online campsite booking systems are problematic. Savvy campers reserve spots many months in advance. This leaves others unable to find a campsite, spoiling their summer plans. Eric Shelkie (Campnab’s creator) experienced this frustration first-hand. He had recently bought a campervan but found himself unable to book a campsite.

Shelkie’s ah-ha moment came while watching his wife repeatedly hit the refresh button on a campground booking website. He explains, “It took a while, but, a spot did open up. I started to wonder how often this happened.” Shelkie then programmed an application to automatically watch for new vacancies. Soon, he found himself bombarded by more openings than he could use. So, he asked friend, and designer, Eric Karjaluoto whether they should “make it pretty” and open it up to the public.

Within days, they made Campnab available to B.C. residents. Shortly thereafter they did the same for campers in Ontario. “What we found was eye-opening. In those 2 provinces, up to 4,000 new campsites opened up, every day. I suspect most don’t realize how many cancellations there are, so, they give up on looking—and those spots potentially go unused.”

Through the app, campers note when, where, and how long they want to camp. They also provide their mobile phone number and select a payment option. Campnab then continually scans that park for cancellations. If a suitable spot comes available, the app sends a notification via text message. From there, it’s up to the camper to book his/her spot.

Campers access the service in two ways. Infrequent campers can use the pay-per-use option. This costs $10 – $20 to track a single location, date, and duration. Regular campers may opt for memberships ($5 – $15/month), which allow them to monitor more campgrounds, at a lower price.

Although Campnab is still in its infancy, users are enthusiastic about the service. Campnab member Christine Muzsik remarks, “I love Campnab! I’m booked up for most of the weekends in July and August—half of which I found through Campnab.”

Besides BC and Ontario parks, Campnab now scans parks in Washington State, California, and Oregon. It also scans Canadian National Parks, and many parks and recreation sites across the United States.

SOURCE: Campnab press release

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About Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is a Wisconsin native currently living in Illinois with her husband, Eric, and two dogs, Maggie and Grace. She enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking and, of course, camping in cabins and park models.

One comment

  1. Sounds like this could be a great app. But…how does it scan parks? I would think it would have to either connect into their reservation system or bombard their reservation system with bot traffic to collect the data. I would imagine that the former would be logistically difficult considering the large number of online reservation systems currently in use. And, I would think the later would create poor site performance for actual users if it was constantly being hit with bots looking for cancelations. The many offline parks wouldn’t be scanned at all.