Unused reserved spots

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,820
Ok...In Nebraska...i was shocked on our family camping trip how many reserved spots sat empty...the campground was 100% booked and reservation tags on every site...i have seen this many times over the years and i cant figure out why the state parks do not put in a policy where if you are not there within a certain time your spot becomes available...im not talking a car or camper was on the site...i mean the whole weekend and all 5 days i was there no one ever showed up...i walked around and checked reserved stickers and dates and i bet 50 spots were complete no shows.
You have a 48 hr window to cancel and get a refund however these spots were never made available to drive ups and they stayed empty.
I would think the parks could double their money if they said be here by a certain time or lose your spot....i get some people may arrive a day or two late for whatever reason but to not show at all is crappy for drive up people who want to camp but cant because a spot is reserved even though it sits empty the whole time.
Again there was no camper or cars on any any of these spots but the reserved tags were there showing the dates.
I have tried to ask and never get a answer other than they paid for the spot so it cant be taken even if no one shows up....pretty dumb i think.
 

slowcarfast

Member
Nov 5, 2019
83
Sunshine State
I think it'd be tough to do, practically. At what point to you cancel the reservation? I know sometimes I don't get to a campsite that I've reserved until after the park staff have left. So I appreciate that they don't give my site away at 5pm or something. And I'm sure sometimes someone misses night 1 but still wants to show up for the second night. I think the biggest practical change for the better would be for people to actually cancel their reservations instead of letting them sit unused, even if they aren't getting a refund, it would be a helpful thing for fellow campers. I've always shown up, or canceled in advance if I'm not able to make a reservation.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,566
Nj
I can easilly see people not cancelling especially if there is no refund. So, i plan to go, stuff happens. I cant get any money back , so why bother dealing with a bunch of paperwork in addition to dealing with why im not going. It also could be that they knew people cancled and wanted to limit people camping to see how it goes. Who knows or cares really, it just shows you the need for planning in advance. And not leave crap for the last minute.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,566
Nj
I get held over at work a lot and i would be pretty pissed if i had a stay cancled because of it. Do they let tou call and aay ill be late?
 

neighbormike

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 6, 2012
4,166
WI
^^ Same in Wisconsin... I think you have 24 hours to occupy the site. There is a refund window (here) but I always make sure to cancel (albeit rare) just because I’ve been on the other side of the coin too many times. My current concern is the “no contact registration”.... you no longer check-in when you arrive, so what’s to say people won’t pull in and “pick out” my site before I arrive after work?? I guess we’ll find out Friday night! Our SP campgrounds open tomorrow!
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
All the campgrounds I stay at have the following rules:

You must camp the first night of your reservation - if you do not, you forfeit the entire reservation.

You must camp each night of your reservation. If there is a camp host and you need to leave for a night, they can make an exception.

This means that if you book Wednesday through Monday in order to nail the weekend, you will lose it. It also means you can't park your camper/tent for a month and just drive up on the weekends.

Now, if you arrive and there is a campsite with a tag for 5/12 thru 5/16 and it is 5/13 after check in time and no one is set up at the site, you can take that site on a fcfs basis. If the original person shows up, they can transfer their reservation to an unreserved campsite - they may pay a penalty depending on the host/staff. However, if the campground is not fully reserved, most people will select an untagged site, so if you are late by a day (maybe due to a Great GPS Adventure), you may find your site still tagged for and empty - in that case, you're good. The campgrounds are either full of campers in every site or there are empty and available campsites.

Some campgrounds allow you to book all summer and just camp for a weekend or two. In those cases, you will find lots of empty sites. Some have no repercussions for not showing up so people book multiple trips and then pick and choose which ones to use.

One option could be to penalize recurring no shows. Your first no show, you forfeit just your nightly fee. The second no show, you forfeit the nightly fee plus 20%. The third no show yiu forfeit the nightly fee and 50% penalty. The fourth you forfeit the nightly fee plus a 100% penalty. In addition, you lose the entire reservation, not just the no show night(s).
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
I get held over at work a lot and i would be pretty pissed if i had a stay cancled because of it. Do they let tou call and aay ill be late?

Depends on your definition of late. Most that have a "must occupy the site on the first night", allow you to arrive anytime after checkin on the first date of the reservation and before checkout on the following day. So if you make reservation for 7/9 - 7/15, you can arrive anytime between checkin on 7/9 and checkout on 7/10. That allows you to arrive late at night on your reservation start date and unforeseen emergencies that result in your arriving the next morning.

If you routinely cannot arrive until the following night, then you would lose your site. Your alternative would be to book a day later than you do now.
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
^^ Same in Wisconsin... I think you have 24 hours to occupy the site. There is a refund window (here) but I always make sure to cancel (albeit rare) just because I’ve been on the other side of the coin too many times. My current concern is the “no contact registration”.... you no longer check-in when you arrive, so what’s to say people won’t pull in and “pick out” my site before I arrive after work?? I guess we’ll find out Friday night! Our SP campgrounds open tomorrow!

If Friday is your check in date, then you should be fine. Your site is reserved for you to arrive at some point during that first day. If someone does take your spot, then you call the rangers for assistance.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,566
Nj
Depends on your definition of late. Most that have a "must occupy the site on the first night", allow you to arrive anytime after checkin on the first date of the reservation and before checkout on the following day. So if you make reservation for 7/9 - 7/15, you can arrive anytime between checkin on 7/9 and checkout on 7/10. That allows you to arrive late at night on your reservation start date and unforeseen emergencies that result in your arriving the next morning.

If you routinely cannot arrive until the following night, then you would lose your site. Your alternative would be to book a day later than you do now.
Late is as late as it is. Lol. I dont get a choice. I routinely stay an extra 24 hours at work for a 48 hour stright stint. I usally dont want to drive after that. So it could be 2 days late.
 

JustRelax

Super Active Member
Feb 20, 2013
1,031
Indianapolis
50 no shows seems inflated to me. How big is the campground?

Typically I see one or two reserved that sit open but not a large amount. I would guess there was an extenuating circumstance like tags placed on sites by the park to create social distancing.
 

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,820
I can easilly see people not cancelling especially if there is no refund. So, i plan to go, stuff happens. I cant get any money back , so why bother dealing with a bunch of paperwork in addition to dealing with why im not going. It also could be that they knew people cancled and wanted to limit people camping to see how it goes. Who knows or cares really, it just shows you the need for planning in advance. And not leave crap for the last minute.
Here you can reserve starting in mid January all the way through the peek season.
When we booked our reservation in January we needed 4 spots together and that was tough
because 75% of campground was booked for a June weekend already.
We had a family show up late and a whole section across the road was reserved and empty all week
and the whole weekend...She had to settle for a drive up only non electrical site.
Planning in advance is important and i always book ahead...But i stick to my plan
and if i couldn't i wouldn't just say oh well...If i can't go then someone else isn't getting my spot.
Pretty dumb to lose that money i think if you don't cancel in time before losing your refund.
Sounds to me by reading replies on here...Some campgrounds have figured out that you snooze you
loose and your loss is someone else's gain.
I know stuff happens...But really...A 200+ site facility having approx 50 complete no shows
tells me many book to far in advance or decide to just not go rather than stuff comes up.
Some people don't have the money to book multiple weekends in advance to secure a spot.
And those that do...It appears they can afford to eat that money and not show up.
It doesn't effect me one bit but i don't think its fair across the board for everyone.
Why should someone with unlimited funds be able to gobble up in advance every weekend
for 4-5 months and not show up half the time?.
In my parts you better book in advance or forget about camping...I sure see a lot of vacant sites
when i go... Considering all the parks are book solid online every weekend for 4 straight months.
 

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,820
50 no shows seems inflated to me. How big is the campground?

Typically I see one or two reserved that sit open but not a large amount. I would guess there was an extenuating circumstance like tags placed on sites by the park to create social distancing.
Notta...Social distancing sites are tagged with signs...And i did walk around and look at reservation
tags which show reserved dates...My guess is mid 90's heat.(if so i say suck it up)..Regardless they were no shows.
I posted 200+ in another post...223 is exact number and that is electrical sites only.
They had maybe 10 sites tagged a no go because all sites must be a certain distance betweem them per covid guidlines.
 
Last edited:

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,971
Northern Virginia
Some of the Campgrounds I go to give you until check out time the following evening and if you still do not show you risk losing your site. Particularly if it's their busy season. I've been late before but always managed to make it the following day. Now with new procedures I'm not sure how on top of it they will be.

To me I think that is more than fair personally I don't understand why someone would want to throw their money away by reserving a week and only to use a few days. Now I've reserved the previous night so I have the excuse to come in before their normal check in time. Especially if all I have is a weekend. If I managed to take the Friday off I want to have time to enjoy the place. Not come in after 4:00pm and rush to get set up and cook dinner hoping you still have a little daylight left to swim or something. That's another bugger thing is why such a huge gap in time before check out/ check in? Many places don't bother cleaning the sites anyway.
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
Late is as late as it is. Lol. I dont get a choice. I routinely stay an extra 24 hours at work for a 48 hour stright stint. I usally dont want to drive after that. So it could be 2 days late.

This is why different places have different rules. For you, the campgrounds I like wouldn't work because you'd lose your entire reservation showing up two days late. With your work, you need a campground that offers flexibility.

For others, especially walk ins, that flexibility is problematic. People book up the sites and leave them empty and when a walk in shows up, they are turned away even though there are empty sites.

For me, I prefer the "must occupy the first night" rule. It means I can forego reservations during the week and be able to find an available site - instead of driving past a campgroundful of empty sites on a Monday because everyone reserved them for two weeks to use just on the weekends.
 

Toedtoes

Super Active Member
May 28, 2018
2,840
California
It really doesn't bother me one way or the other. Someone has paid for the site, let them use it or not. Honestly I'm happy if the site next to me is vacant as we will use it for lawn games, etc, or at least a bit more privacy.

If the site next to you is empty, that's great. But what if you arrive to find a site empty while you are told " no availability, go elsewhere". Unfortunately, like most things, we see it differently when someone else is told no than we do when we are told no.
 

Old_Geezer

Super Active Member
Sep 29, 2009
2,760
Southwest PA
Typically Army Corps campgrounds have a rule where if you do a no show the site goes back to available at checkout time after the first reserved night but if you call the host or campground if issues pop up they'll forego that.

At PA state parks a lot are on the honor system and there is no one to call as the host does not have phones or a listed number, park management is only on duty 5 or 6 days a week during business hours, and you have some lag with the reservation system. Basically the campground is unmanned so no show sites sit tagged and empty. They would have to put on more paid personel 24/7 to track it, or put it on the plate of the Rangers who are already stretched too thin. The site is paid for in their eyes so be it.
 

Tonya Harding

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2018
1,948
Virginia
See it at times at Va State Parks; main thing they do that pi$$es me off is when they allow 1 night reservations in prime time on a weekend night, essentially shafting those that wanna come up on a Friday & leave Sunday...park personnel would love to see a 2 night minimum policy implemented, no luck so far. I went round & round w/ the reservation lady in Richmond a couple years ago over this, & the fact that there's no penalty for no shows; if folks would call & cancel, that would help, many don't...
 

1380ken

Super Active Member
Nov 7, 2013
3,001
Mass
All the campgrounds I stay at have the following rules:

You must camp the first night of your reservation - if you do not, you forfeit the entire reservation.

You must camp each night of your reservation. If there is a camp host and you need to leave for a night, they can make an exception.

This means that if you book Wednesday through Monday in order to nail the weekend, you will lose it. It also means you can't park your camper/tent for a month and just drive up on the weekends.

Now, if you arrive and there is a campsite with a tag for 5/12 thru 5/16 and it is 5/13 after check in time and no one is set up at the site, you can take that site on a fcfs basis. If the original person shows up, they can transfer their reservation to an unreserved campsite - they may pay a penalty depending on the host/staff. However, if the campground is not fully reserved, most people will select an untagged site, so if you are late by a day (maybe due to a Great GPS Adventure), you may find your site still tagged for and empty - in that case, you're good. The campgrounds are either full of campers in every site or there are empty and available campsites.

Some campgrounds allow you to book all summer and just camp for a weekend or two. In those cases, you will find lots of empty sites. Some have no repercussions for not showing up so people book multiple trips and then pick and choose which ones to use.

One option could be to penalize recurring no shows. Your first no show, you forfeit just your nightly fee. The second no show, you forfeit the nightly fee plus 20%. The third no show yiu forfeit the nightly fee and 50% penalty. The fourth you forfeit the nightly fee plus a 100% penalty. In addition, you lose the entire reservation, not just the no show night(s).

That is a lot of rules. I don't think camp sites should have that many rules. I think that if you pay for a site it should be your no matter what. The campground should offer some compensation for people who cancel late. If they gave a 50% refund on last minute cancellations then people would call if they can't make the trip. Nothing like having your TV not start on the morning of a trip.
 




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