On the Road Again
RV reservation app Spot2Nite eliminates the hassles in finding the perfect place to park your vacation
Summer vacation time is here, and while the COVID-19 pandemic is abating in many areas, both faamilies and individuals looking to set out on vacation are more often opting to travel via recreational vehicle on the open road, avoiding crowded planes and mass transit options.
According to a recent report from GoRVing.com, “RV ownership is at a record high, with 11.2 million households owning an RV in 2021, up 62% over 6.9 million households in 2001 and 26% more than 8.9 million RV-owning households in 2011.”
A June 2020 survey from Ipsos also indicated, “One in four respondents plan to take some kind of RV action in the next 12 months. Specifically, 18% plan to take an RV trip. Another 18% plan to research more RV information online.” Additionally, the survey noted, “Twenty percent of U.S. respondents are more interested in RVs as a recreational travel option, which was the highest of any travel option tested.”
With that renewed interest in getting outdoors, along with a change in the basic way people are conducting business (via remote offices and Zoom meetings), interest in camping via recreational vehicles goes well beyond the retirement age crowd, with millennials and Gen Z consumers showing new interest in the option as an alternate travel method.
Capitalizing on this trend, a new app called Spot2Nite gives RV and campers an easy way to plan ahead and find the right campground for their vacations, or even remote work, at locations all across the United States.
The brainchild of two New Orleanians, Chief Executive Officer Terry Broussard and Chief Operating Officer Sam Bruner, Spot2Nite was dreamed up after the two combined their years of camping, bed-and-breakfast experience, and financial know-how to create a one-stop-spot for recreation seekers looking to make reservations at campgrounds both on the fly or well in advance.
“As background, I am a retired Air Force veteran and a four-time RV owner,” Broussard said. “One evening in October 2019, Sam Bruner, my son-in-law [and Spot2Nite’s COO], asked that we go camping. I asked when, to which he replied, ‘Tonight.’ I handed him my phone and said, ‘Here, try to find a spot.’ After realizing how hard it was to locate reservations for campgrounds, we had the ‘aha’ moment and began our journey. We are a great match: I am a camper, and he is the numbers expert, as well as having a family background in the bed-and-breakfast industry.”
Before now there has not been a single spot where one could search for camp sites that was updated to reflect current availability. Instead, a camper would have to scroll through multiple different sites, and/or make phone calls in hopes of finding and securing a spot. Spot2Nite also allows users to input the details of their RV and equipment needs to help ensure the perfect fit.
“Spot2Nite is an online travel agent engaged in redefining the campground reservation process for recreational vehicle travelers,” Broussard said. “Our open architecture integration with robust park management systems combines state-of-the-art technology and real-time asset visibility to provide immediate booking of available campground spots to the traveler. Through the Spot2Nite mobile app, end users can communicate and book in real-time, avoiding the hassle of antiquated reservation methods. The Spot2Nite platform drives campers to campgrounds, increasing reservations for campground owners and providing a convenient reservation process.”
Although conceived pre-pandemic, the launch of Spot2Nite comes at a critical time in the recreational business world, with current statistics indicating an astounding renewed interest in RVing.
Spot2Nite is free and available for download on Apple and Google with no subscription required. The app is averaging around 100 downloads per day according to Broussard.
Broussard sees these trends reflected in Spot2Nite’s current, and growing, list of clients and users looking for a wide range of recreational activity.
Did You Know?
In 2019, the RV industry had an overall economic impact to the US economy of $114 billion, supporting nearly 600,000 jobs, contributing more than $32 billion in wages and paying over $12 billion in federal, state and local taxes. (RVIA)
“Spot2Nite is ideal for all ages of RV travelers, but especially for those that prefer easy access to real-time visibility and immediate booking of RV spots. We cater to those that enjoy a wide range of parks from small family-operated campgrounds to very robust RV resorts with amenities such as lazy rivers, boat launches, organized events and more. All amenities are searchable to match your equipment and destination. Availability includes those for tonight as well as future dates based upon campground release of vacancies,” he said.
“We are so excited to share that our network is growing every day,” he said. “Presently, our network of connected parks covers 49 states (none in Hawaii) as well as Canada. Park sizes range from one spot to 1,100 spots. We are on our way from 25,000 to hosting over 85,000 RV spots available for immediate booking and the number increases daily.”
Booking fees with Spot2Nite are minimal, with a process that will look similar to anyone who has used an online site to make travel arrangements.
“Spot2Nite is an OTA (online travel agent) similar to Expedia or Booking.com. Our travelers pay a small convenience fee that averages $3-$5 per booking and is capped at $20 per trip,” said Broussard. “We also frequently offer booking discounts on our fee. Additionally, many RV parks offer discount bookings, and those flow through to the corresponding memberships in the app. These include military veterans, first-responders, medical personnel, Good Sam, FMCA, etc.”
For campgrounds, Broussard said creating an affiliation with Spot2Nite is also a win-win for business.
“We do not charge our parks to connect to Spot2Nite,” he said. “To connect to Spot2Nite, RV parks must be using one of our integrated reservation systems. Presently we are connected to five systems: RMS Cloud, Checkfront, NewBook, ResNexus, and Rover Pass. Many more are in the queue as we continue to grow on a near-vertical growth curve in year two of live operation.”
Funding and design for Spot2Nite came through personal connections, as well as generous support from the local business start-up community.
“After completing our market research into the world of RV park reservation systems in use, we floated the idea to a very close family friend who has had a strong history of app and web development,” he said. “That resulted in the [development of] a minimally viable product for feasibility, and we were off to the races. Funding was primarily through a very close ‘friends and family’ network. We were also warmly welcomed into the NOLA entrepreneur community through participation in the Idea Village for Tech Start-Ups, which continues to be a huge resource for our team.”
The impact of COVID-19 is reflected in the success of Spot2Nite, with future predictions in market statistics continuing to show encouraging signs of growth despite the waning of pandemic precautions.
“We started pre-pandemic, and went live during the pandemic and well into the RV craze,” Broussard said. “Industry numbers reflected a spike in RV purchases for family outdoor activities as well as mobile living for health care workers and those requiring isolation from family when exposed. In general, RV travelers are more comfortable with being outdoors and the security of their own cleaning techniques in their personal camper.”
When asked what’s next for the app, Broussard points to the exploding market, as well as an expansion of sites and offerings that will continue to reach out to those looking to plan an outdoor experience, with the ease of using an application.
“Year two will capitalize on the near-vertical growth curve in both park sign-ups and travel downloads and bookings. Our listings will soon include all camping accommodations, such as cabins, tent spots and yurts. I wanted to add that we are extremely excited to share that we are launching our web version of the app later this week. This will open up the real-time visibility and immediate booking of RV sites to even more travelers across North America and directly complements our mobile platforms.”
46 million Americans plan on taking an RV trip in the next 12 months.
RV owners responding to a recent survey noted the benefits they see in this type of travel include the ability to:
• Control the cleanliness of their environment
• Avoid contact with others and still feel like they were vacationing
• Control their own itinerary with no set schedule
• Bring everything they want from home
• Travel with pets
Source: RV Owner Demographic Profile Study, released in March 2021 on GoRVing.com