Hotel booking engines focus on the camping sector

Booking Engine 25/03/2024
an illustration of two people sitting in front of a dome
The good weather is accompanied by the desire to get away from the noise of the cars, the hustle and bustle and the routine. Running away to nature for a few days has become one of the main desires of this era in which being adventurous or not is no longer the question. Allegedly competitive prices (which, as we shall see, are not so competitive nowadays) and the modernisation of services have meant that the idea of loading up the car and escaping with the aim of getting in direct contact with the environment, whether on the beach, in the countryside or in the mountains, is increasingly on the traveller's mind.

The camping sector has become the big winner in tourism in recent times, changing the habits of many travellers, who have decided to change the large tourist buildings for these new "horizontal hotels". These cosy independent lodgings, often built of tarpaulins and poles, are in vogue, and the data corroborate this.

The irruption of glamping, a determining factor

The positive evolution of this sector in recent years is not only reflected in the growth in numbers, but also in the birth and proliferation of new accommodation specialities. The idea of calling the campsite to check the availability of pitches, preparing the car and keeping your fingers crossed during the whole trip, hoping that when you arrive there will not be no more pitches available, is still a reality among campers. This uncertainty, which is not suitable for everyone, has pushed this type of accommodation to reinvent itself until it has come up with the concept of "glamping", an increasingly widespread term that has managed to merge concepts that are, a priori, very distant from each other, such as glamour and camping.

Dating from around 2020, glamping has brought the comforts traditionally associated with hotels to the prime locations of campsites. In addition, the variety of accommodation formats is also constantly evolving and now includes bungalows, tents of various categories, cabins, container flats, static caravans, designer bubbles, etc. All these changes can be extended to the new target groups that are seduced by this new range of options. While families and retired people used to be more popular, it is becoming increasingly common for couples and young people to opt for this alternative getaway.

Another way of selling, another user experience, through technology

Most campsites have adapted their facilities and products to the different traveller profiles, but in terms of technology, digitalisation, user experience and revenue management, in many cases, change is slower, despite the fact that their operations, and even their guests, are now more similar to those of a hotel than to the traditional concept of a campsite.

Although, their usual way of managing bookings, seen from the outside, could be described as rudimentary, the fact is that their share of direct sales is usually very high, above 60%, largely due to their reduced distribution network. In fact, most of these accommodations have been channelling their entire flow of guests by means of requests (without immediate confirmation) through their website and voice channel.

But then, what can the technology and know-how of more specialised hotel suppliers bring to the table? In our opinion, a lot. All the changes we have been discussing so far are accompanied by an increase in the level of demand from guests, and these new expectations must be met at every stage of the guest experience, starting with the booking process.

In other words, the new breed of visitor is willing to pay more, but they no longer simply carry their rucksacks on their backs and pray for an unoccupied pitch. They now value, even demand, a perfectly tarmac pavement on which to slide the four wheels of their state-of-the-art suitcases, trade in their sleeping bags for pristine sheets on double beds, and forgo cold bathrooms and shared facilities in favour of cosy toilets and small private spaces shared only with their companions.

Of course, not all technology companies have the capacity (or the interest) to undertake the necessary changes to adapt their products to the needs of campsites and glampings. But for those who are willing to allocate resources to these tasks, it may be encouraging to know that Spain has around 1,190 accommodation units of this kind, most of them managed by their owners or by individual managers.

South America has also joined the glamping success story. At the beginning of last year, 202 active glampings were counted in the National Tourism Registry (RNT) in Colombia, most of them located mainly in Antioquia, Caldas and Quindío. Mexico has not been left behind. In 2023, the Mexican Association of Glampings (AMG) counted more than 130 such accommodations throughout the country, especially in Baja California, Baja California Sur and Jalisco.

Paraty Campings in response

Although in terms of increasing direct bookings as such it is not as easy to obtain such powerful results as in other types of establishment, technology can favour a change in the way of doing revenue, fostering loyalty, favouring a more controlled booking pace, increasing the average ticket, optimising the purchasing process, professionalising telephone customer service, improving online reputation or controlling the pricing strategy, both of competitors and their distribution channels which, with the new accommodation modalities, are gaining some prominence.

We have taken the leap with the launch of Paraty Campings , which merges the best of the booking engine for hotels and chains, with functionalities and modules specifically developed for this sector. For example, the possibility of applying a base price by capacity, which is taken as a reference for the type of accommodation selected, being able to add everything else as an extra or additional service, or an advanced filtering system by levels, which allows the user to choose between the different types of accommodation available (plots, bungalows, glamping, etc.), as well as to make the best possible selection. And this is just the tip of the iceberg...