April 3, 2019

Living with Sunrise: Park Owner Interviews

by Tyler

After the videos are watched and articles are read, after functional needs are met and your questions are answered, the decision for or against a software solution comes down to this: How will I feel waking up to this system each day?

Outdoor hospitality often merges work and personal routines, so the reservation system you choose can introduce a great deal of frustration or satisfaction into your life and the lives of your family or staff. Who can best help you imagine your life with Sunrise, and anticipate whether it’s a life you’ll love? Frankly, it isn’t us. The Sunrise team is experienced and dependable (have you seen our company infographic?) but we make our livings creating and selling software. Supporting campground operations isn’t the same as living them.

You deserve unfiltered, practical feedback from park professionals like you, who have put Sunrise to the test in their campground or resort. That’s why we asked Mark Koep to interview Sunrise customers and share their stories with you.

Below are memorable quotes from this week’s live conversations with Sunrise customers. We hope this compilation helps you anticipate what it feels like to solve problems and get the most out of your park with Sunrise. (You can click the links in the headings to watch the complete interviews.)


Mary Hunter – Camp Gulf and Twin Lakes Campground

When Mary Hunter went looking for reservation software, Sunrise stood out as the most sensible and user-friendly. Mary implemented Sunrise at two separate campgrounds, and the online reservations and mobile friendliness made park management far easier.

At the first park, “phone volume was tremendous because of demand,” Mary said. “Sunrise was one of the most user-friendly online reservations systems that we had found, so it did relieve some of that stress on the phone.” She added that Sunrise’s mobile friendliness gave her flexibility and allowed the park to operate with fewer staff. “I could honestly go, I could be in Walmart and I could make a reservation. They could call in and I could make that reservation right there.”

Mary also discussed the transition from Camp Gulf’s old system to Sunrise. “Change is hard, but Sunrise made it easy…When you are a startup with [Sunrise] they walk you through a lot of things. They’re very accessible.” Sunrise helped Camp Gulf transfer over their reservation, guest, and site data. “They’re going to get you through the process.”

What is Mary’s big takeaway from her experience with Sunrise? “After a while [evaluating different reservation software options], everything kind of runs together, but this one just stands out to me as one that’s very user friendly. It has the POS system; it’s kind of the complete package, and that’s kind of hard to find.”

Phil Upton – Holiday Trav-L Park

For Phil Upton, transitioning to Sunrise meant being listened to. Phil described the system he used before Sunrise as “fairly static,” and said any requests for new features or improvements were usually denied as being too hard or just unlikely to ever be developed.

“What I found different with Sunrise was one, the people. So right away I could find a group of people that were interested in what I said were my difficulties…They were willing to collaborate with us to come up with what would operate better for us as a reservation system.”

Beyond finding a team to collaborate with, Phil also found a 6X increase in online reservation revenue last year with Sunrise! “It looked like 30% of our income last year for campsite reservations came through online bookings, which is huge considering prior to Sunrise it was probably at best 5%.” Not bad for just his second year using Sunrise!

Phil concluded by acknowledging that nothing is perfect, but willingness to improve is what matters. “The whole thing about Sunrise, whatever their faults or flaws may be as a reservation system, I feel like I have a team I can work with to correct them.” And this partnership creates measurable value for his park.

Jan Maat – North Shore RV Park

Jan Maat had been accepting online reservations through another program for about three years when he decided to find a better system for his park. Sunrise stood out from the competition, in the software demo and for being able to answer all his questions. Jan switched to Sunrise almost 7 years ago and is glad he did!

“Some systems are just a pain in the butt from the consumer side to deal with,” Jan said. “But I think Campground Automation Systems is one of the systems that’s easy to work with as a consumer and also as a campground owner.”

When asked what his “can’t live without” feature is, Jan said he’s happy he never misses revenue because guests can book at any time. “With the online reservation system you see quite a few reservations coming in early morning and overnight…and when I wake up in the morning I got a big grin on my face, hey, that’s another couple hundred dollars just right in my bank account.” Jan also earns money in the off-season. “January, February, March, we get a lot of reservations, and they’re paid in full for July, August, September.”

His parting advice to park owners is to choose software that’s easy to use. Simplicity is key when the system will be used by desk workers, temporary staff, and most of all, online guests. “If a potential customer gets tired and caught up in the system, they will abandon it and they might make the reservation somewhere else,” says Jan. “Don’t forget, they have wheels. They can go anywhere they want.”

With Sunrise, Jan is confident his park is accessible to guests and that he’s getting the most out of his campground.

William & Marsha Cable – Austin Lake RV Park and Cabins

Austin Lake had been using pencil and paper to track reservations since it opened in 1946. What prompted the shift to Sunrise in 2013, after 67 years offline? Visiting another campground and seeing how easy it was to make reservations with software. That experience got William and Marsha talking to other park owners about their systems and ultimately, led them to Sunrise.

The park didn’t face any resistance from guests or staff over the change. “It was necessary to get into the electronic age to survive,” William said.

Sunrise has helped Austin Lake increase revenue on their own terms. William and Marsha only require a deposit at the time of booking, but they do collect an online reservation fee. The Sunrise rules engine automates their rates and pricing rules in the way they want, to offer perks for longer cabin stays, or to charge a higher daily rate for the sites along the creek that always fill up first. There’s been “No pushback at all,” said William, in regards to these adjustments.

William and Marsha both admitted moving to Sunrise presented some difficulties, but the Sunrise team worked with them to meet Austin Lake’s needs. “Helpline, they know me personally just by hearing the sound [of my voice],” William said. “They’re able to rectify it at this point, and if there is an issue, then it is put on to the tech team to be resolved.”

“And they’ve been very polite,” Marsha added. “Answered all our questions, like any time we have a question, they’re very polite, patient, and get us right through it.”

Marsha concluded by adding that one thing they like about Sunrise is its ease of use. “It is so easy, and I feel like I know that [each reservation is] right, because it’s always right. So that is a relief to me, to know that I don’t have to be the one always signing everybody in, cause that’s totally impossible to do.”

Sunrise is proud to help William and Marsha share the fun of Austin Lake with new generations of campers.


Sunrise recognizes that each park is unique, with its own set of needs and goals. Hopefully these interviews give you an idea of what it would feel like if you choose Sunrise to be your digital staff.

You can watch any of these interviews by clicking the links in the headings. Leave a comment, ask a question, or best of all, head to our website and request a private demo.

Sincerely,
The Sunrise Team

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