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ArticlesKey Features to Look for in a Property Management System for RV Parks and Campgrounds

Key Features to Look for in a Property Management System for RV Parks and Campgrounds

June 10, 2024

Selecting the right Property Management System (PMS) for your RV park or campground is a critical decision that can significantly impact your business's efficiency, guest satisfaction, and overall profitability. A PMS is not just a tool for managing reservations; it is the central hub that connects every aspect of your operation, from booking and rate management to guest communications and onsite transactions. With a myriad of features and functionalities to consider, it’s essential to understand what each system offers and how it aligns with your business needs.

Download Park Vendor Review's Free RV Park & Campground Reservation System Buyer's Guide.

Bookings & Reservations

Park Vendor Review launches website for campground and RV park owners.

Bookings are the lifeblood of a park or campground operation and can take place through a variety of channels. You’ll want to cast a “wide net” of booking options to gain as much exposure and maximize your booking potential. Remember, a site or a roofed accommodation is a perishable commodity which expires daily. It is better to rent that spot out for some fee rather than miss a booking altogether. Although most bookings were traditionally made via phone or in person, this is an outdated and inefficient process that will cost a modern campground time, money, and customers.

Online Website Bookings

Virtually all PMS vendors have a booking engine which can be embedded on your business website via a “Book Now” button. Additionally, these booking engines often allow for booking via a map to allow the guest to choose site specific reservations. Many also include a “site lock” feature where the guest can pay an extra fee to lock in a specific site for their stay. The ability to upsell certain items like firewood, ice, or golf cart rentals will increase your business revenue and offer a valuable service to your guests.

OTA / Marketplace Bookings

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and marketplace bookings allow you to cast a wider net and list your site and accommodation inventory on other websites which will help drive reservations. Many guests that book on an OTA may not have found your park otherwise. It is estimated that 15-20% of OTA bookings come from international guests. Note there is a big distinction between 3rd Party OTA’s and Marketplace sites.

A 3rd Party OTA is an independent listing site which has a two-way connection to multiple PMS companies via their Channel Manager to list their customers’ park inventory in near real-time. OTAs have been wildly successful in the hotel industry and are now penetrating the outdoor hospitality market. While parks may currently list roofed accommodations on OTAs such as and Expedia, they cannot list RV or campground sites on these websites.

Enter campground and park specific websites such as HipCamp, Spot2Nite, and The Dyrt which are quickly approaching critical mass. These OTAs are the best for parks and campgrounds, and will help your business gain additional bookings. The revenue model varies–some OTAs charge the park for a booking and some pass along a booking fee to the guest.

A Marketplace listing site is different from a 3rd Party OTA, in that the Marketplace is owned and operated by a PMS company. The parks which use the company’s property management system are also listed on the PMS’s Marketplace site. Properties are listed on the marketplace site where guests can find the listing and complete a booking. Some Marketplace sites charge an additional booking fee in addition to the cost of their PMS.

Events and Amenities Bookings

In addition to traditional campsite reservations, many RV parks and campgrounds offer event or amenity bookings to enhance the guest experience. Event bookings may include reserving space for gatherings, weddings, or special events within the park. Amenity bookings allow guests to secure specific facilities or activities, such as picnic areas, pavilions, boat rentals, or guided tours. There may be additional fees for this feature set and bookings.

Rates & Rate Management

Rates and rate management are pivotal aspects of your RV park or campground’s reservation system. Setting the right pricing strategy can directly influence your business’s profitability and guest satisfaction. Your reservation system should offer flexibility in managing rates, allowing you to tailor pricing based on factors like seasons, holidays, site type, and length of stay. Effective rate management ensures you can optimize revenue while staying competitive in the market. Below are some of the rate management features you’ll need to consider.

Deposits & Deposit Rules are specific guidelines established by the park or campground regarding when and how deposits are required. These rules can outline deposit amounts, refund policies, and deadlines for payment, ensuring that both guests and the business have a clear understanding of reservation terms and financial commitments.

Dynamic Pricing/ Yield Management is a sophisticated pricing strategy to adjust rates based on real-time demand and supply factors. This approach allows businesses to maximize revenue by increasing rates during peak periods and offering discounts during low-demand times. Dynamic pricing algorithms consider factors such as occupancy rates, booking trends, and seasonality to ensure that prices are competitive and reflect market conditions.

Rate Periods refer to designated time frames during which specific pricing rules apply for RV sites or camping accommodations. These periods can vary and may include peak-season rates, off-peak rates, holiday rates, and shoulder-season rates. RV parks and campgrounds use rate periods to align pricing with demand fluctuations, providing guests with transparent and consistent pricing based on the time of year or specific events.

Packages are bundled offerings that combine various amenities, services, or activities into a single reservation. Packages can be tailored to meet guest preferences and often provide cost savings compared to booking individual components separately. Common examples include “weekend getaway” packages that include campsite rental, firewood, and access to recreational facilities, creating a more convenient and attractive booking option for guests.

Download Park Vendor Review's Free RV Park & Campground Reservation System Buyer's Guide.

Integrated Point of Sale (POS)

Integrated Point of Sale, or POS, is a valuable reservation system feature. It seamlessly combines reservation management with onsite transactions, such as retail sales, activity bookings, and limited food purchases. The integrated approach streamlines operations, enhancing guest experiences by allowing them to charge purchases back to their folio or purchase immediately. An integrated POS system not only simplifies payment processing but also provides bar code scanning, reporting, and inventory management. Integrated POSs vary greatly from software to software, so make sure to understand your requirements and research the feature thoroughly. Note that an integrated POS can rarely handle a full bar or restaurant experience. In those cases, a 3rd party POS system connected via the PMS’s API will be required.


Effective guest communications are essential for ensuring a smooth and pleasant experience at your RV park or campground. A robust reservation system should include features for sending automated booking confirmations, pre-arrival instructions, and post-stay surveys. Additionally, you can use guest communication tools to provide real-time updates via email or text message regarding amenities, events, or weather. Clear and timely communication not only fosters guest satisfaction but also builds loyalty. While triggered email communications are usually included in a PMS package, other communication systems may be an additional charge.

SMS/Text Messaging may be auto-triggered, bulk, or one-time text messaging. Many systems charge for the service because they are connected to a SMS/text gateway. Just as these systems connect to a credit card gateway to ensure payment, a SMS/text gateway operates similarly to ensure delivery of the text message. If the PMS is not charging for text messaging they may be sending that text as an email and thus delivery is not always guaranteed.

Surveys/Net Promoter Score (NPS) features are valuable tools for gathering feedback and assessing guest satisfaction at your RV park or campground. These features allow you to create and automatically distribute surveys to guests after their stay, providing them with an opportunity to share their experiences and insights. The NPS, in particular, is a widely recognized metric that gauges overall satisfaction and loyalty by asking guests a single question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our RV park or campground to others?” By analyzing survey responses and NPS scores, you can pinpoint areas for improvement and make informed decisions to enhance the guest experience. Some PMS systems charge an added cost for this, but Park Vendor Review believes it is a valuable feature.

Operational Efficiency

Reservation System Buyer's Guide from Park Vendor Review

Operational efficiency is the backbone of a well-functioning RV park or campground, and your reservation system plays a pivotal role in achieving it. Operational efficiency encompasses a range of factors, including streamlined check-in and check-out processes, automated task scheduling for housekeeping and maintenance, and tools for managing staff. By leveraging these features, your reservation system can help you maximize occupancy, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance the overall guest experience.

Guest Self-Service refers to the provision of tools and technologies that allow guests to perform tasks independently and access information during their stay. This can include self-check in kiosks, mobile apps for reservations and information, and online portals for managing bookings, payments, and communication requests. Guest self-service enhances convenience and operational efficiency by reducing the workload on staff and providing guests with greater autonomy.

Utility Management involves the effective monitoring and control of essential services such as electricity and water. A reservation system that includes utility management features helps staff track utility consumption, detect anomalies, and optimize resource usage, leading to cost savings and environmentally responsible operations.

Staff Management & Training functionalities within a reservation system assist RV park and campground owners and managers in overseeing and developing their workforce. This includes features for scheduling, task assignments, performance tracking, and training management. Effective staff management ensures that the right personnel are in the right place at the right time, contributing to smooth operations and excellent guest service.

Housekeeping features in a reservation system facilitate the scheduling and coordination of cleaning and maintenance tasks for RV sites, accommodations, and common areas. This includes assigning housekeeping staff to specific tasks, tracking cleaning progress, and ensuring that sites are ready for new arrivals promptly. Housekeeping functionality enhances the overall guest experience by maintaining cleanliness and order.

Job Maintenance tools aid in tracking and managing maintenance and repair tasks across the park. This may include creating and prioritizing maintenance jobs, assigning them to staff or contractors, and monitoring job progress. Timely job maintenance ensures that facilities and amenities are in excellent condition, contributing to guest satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Download Park Vendor Review's Free RV Park & Campground Reservation System Buyer's Guide.

3rd Party Integrations

3rd Party Integrations are essential components of a modern reservation system. These integrations allow your system to connect and interact with external services, software, and platforms, expanding its capabilities and enhancing the overall guest experience. Whether integrating with popular online travel agencies (OTAs) to increase your property’s online visibility, connecting with financial and accounting systems for seamless transaction management, or incorporating point-of-sale solutions for onsite convenience, third-party integrations help streamline operations and provide a more comprehensive range of services to your guests. Depending upon the PMS, there may be a monthly access charge to interface to this system via their API.

Access Gates are physical or electronic barriers installed at the entrance of RV parks and campgrounds to control access to the premises. These gates are often equipped with keycard or code-based entry systems and play a critical role in ensuring security and regulating entry for registered guests and authorized personnel.

Financial systems are the software and processes used for managing financial transactions, accounting, and revenue tracking for individual RV parks and campgrounds. These systems are integral to recording and reconciling payments received from guests, managing expenses, and generating financial reports to support the financial health of the business.

Online Travel Agent (OTA) is a third-party online platform or website where an RV park or campground can list available sites or accommodations for booking. OTAs provide an additional distribution channel, enabling properties to reach a broader audience and increase their online visibility.

3rd Party Point of Sale is an external software or hardware solution used to handle onsite sales and transactions beyond the reservation process. It can encompass various services, such as retail sales, restaurant & bar orders, activity bookings, and more.

Wireless Meter Reading is a newer integration option that uses wireless technology to remotely monitor and collect data from utility meters such as water, electricity, or gas meters, within an RV park or campground. This technology streamlines meter reading processes, enabling more efficient utility management and billing. The increasing popularity of electric vehicles and electric RVs coupled with rising utility rates, makes wireless metering reading a powerful tool for helping owners manage utility costs for seasonal and transient guests.

Kiosks are self-service terminals which campground and park guests can use to check in, check out, make reservations, obtain maps, and access other information or services independently, reducing the need for staff assistance and enhancing guest convenience.

Keycard Creation is the process of generating electronic keycards that grant guests access to their RV sites, accommodation, or other secured areas within the park or campground. These keycards are often used in conjunction with access gates and are an essential component of security and guest access control systems.

RFID Wristbands are similar to a keycard in guest access functionality and issued to each guest when arriving. The RFID wristband in conjunction with a POS system that supports the functionality allows the guest the added ability to purchase food, goods and services in a cash-less manner. RFID wristbands are an additional revenue generator for medium service and full service/resort parks.

Download Park Vendor Review's Free RV Park & Campground Reservation System Buyer's Guide.

Accounting & Reporting

Accounting and reporting capabilities are fundamental aspects of a robust reservation system. These features facilitate the management of financial transactions, invoicing, and revenue tracking with precision and ease. With the right reservation system, you can generate detailed financial reports that offer insights into your property’s financial health, occupancy rates, revenue streams, and more. Moreover, these reports enable you to make informed decisions, plan for the future, and maintain compliance with tax and accounting regulations. While most systems support both cash and accrual accounting methodologies, accrual accounting should be your preferred accounting method. As a service business, outdoor hospitality is better suited to recognizing revenue when the service is provided–not when cash is exchanged.

Data Migration, Setup & Staff Training

Crossing the chasm from one system to another can be a daunting journey. Data migration, system setup, and staff training are pivotal and critical phases in implementing a reservation system for your RV park or campground.

Data migration involves transferring existing guest and reservation data into the new system, ensuring a smooth transition without data loss.

System setup entails configuring the reservation system to align with your park’s specific needs, including site categorization, pricing, and rules.

Staff Training ensures that your team is proficient in using the system effectively. Well-executed training empowers staff to maximize the system’s capabilities, provide exceptional service to guests, and optimize operations.

Migration, setup, and training are no small tasks and committing the time and effort your PMS provider requires will make all the difference to executing a successful transition. Parks that do not prepare and familiarize themselves with the system will have a frustrating experience when they go live with the software.

What is the typical time commitment? The process can be minimally done in two weeks, but owners should plan for 4-6 weeks if possible, depending on available resources and onboarding timelines from your PMS provider. A campground can go live with the bare minimum set up to simply take reservations, but building out a fully functional PMS with all of the feature bells and whistles discussed above will take time and attention.

User Interface & Experience

campsite scene.jpeg

In the world of reservation systems, a seamless and user-friendly experience can make all the difference. The User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) play a critical role in ensuring that both staff and guests can navigate the system effortlessly. In this section, we’ll explore the essential elements that contribute to an exceptional user interface and experience, from clear navigation and intuitive icons to responsive design and logical workflows. A well-designed UI/UX not only enhances the efficiency of a reservation system but also elevates the overall satisfaction of users, making it an important consideration when selecting the right system for your RV park or campground.

Clear Navigation: easy-to-use menus and navigation are crucial for quickly accessing different sections and functionalities of the reservation system. Clear, well-organized menus ensure that staff can efficiently perform tasks and that guests can easily navigate the booking process.

Simple Layout: a consistent and straightforward interface simplifies the user experience. Design that maintains consistency in layout and visual elements across the system makes it easier for users to understand and use various features.

Intuitive Icons: recognizable icons for actions and features enhance usability. Intuitive icons can guide users to perform specific tasks without the need for extensive training.

Responsive Design: compatibility with various devices is essential in today’s mobile world. A reservation system with responsive design adapts to different screen sizes and devices, providing a seamless experience whether accessed on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Effective White Space: a clean, uncluttered interface with appropriate white space contributes to a visually appealing and less overwhelming user experience. It allows users to focus on the essential elements and information.

Logical Flow: intuitive workflows and processes guide users logically through the system. A well-structured reservation system ensures that tasks and actions follow a natural sequence, reducing confusion and errors.

Search Functionality: quick content or item search functionality can save users valuable time. Whether it’s searching for available RV sites or specific reservations, a robust search feature enhances efficiency.

Help Resources: accessible tutorials and documentation provide users with the support they need. Offering easy access to help resources, such as user manuals or video tutorials, empowers users to navigate the system confidently and independently.

These items may be highly subjective, but owners should rate these items while comparing systems. Download our feature comparison spreadsheet to keep track of UI and UX qualities for the various reservation systems that you research.

Every RV park and campground is unique and has different needs that will be served by the right PMS. By focusing on this list of core features and assessing how they meet your specific needs, you can choose a PMS that not only manages your reservations efficiently but also enhances the overall guest experience and drives your business's success. Whether you’re upgrading from an outdated system or starting fresh, a well-chosen PMS will be a cornerstone of your campground’s operational excellence and guest satisfaction.

Download Park Vendor Review's Free RV Park & Campground Reservation System Buyer's Guide.

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