March 15, 2022
Camping is booming and in recent years it has become increasingly crowded at European campsites. Especially in the high season, many campsites are completely booked up weeks or even months in advance. Campers who prefer to set off spontaneously and let themselves drift according to their mood and the weather are currently having a hard time. There is a lack of simple campsites that can be approached spontaneously. In the following interview with the Flims campsite, you can find out how such sites can be created and managed with little effort.
What to do when campsites are full? A popular alternative to campsites are simple pitches. But the supply of pitches in Switzerland is still scarce because they are not so easy to manage. The founders of the digital parking platform Parkn'Sleep have also recognised this and launched a digital payment system for non-reservable pitches in the current year 2021. The so-called "Parking App for Campers" includes a live availability display of the pitches, digital check-in, integrated payment and automatic tourist tax billing with the local municipality. This expands the range of legal and easy parking spaces and brings calm to the tense wild camping situation. In the first 4 months, around 550 individual pitches were created at over 70 locations. A win-win situation for all involved.
Campsites in particular can now benefit from the digital pitch app and create an attractive additional offer. Benjamin Schmid, alias Benj, reveals in an interview how this works and why it can make sense for campsite operators to offer additional pitches on Parkn'Sleep. Together with his partner, Benj runs the Flims campsite and has recorded over 300 overnight stays via Parkn'Sleep in the last four months.
At the end of the article, we explain how you too can become a host and offer a pitch through Parkn'Sleep.
Benj, how long have you been running the Flims campsite?
We took over the campsite in the middle of the corona pandemic on 1 May 2020. That was a big challenge! While we weren't allowed to take in any guests at the beginning due to the lockdown, we were completely overrun after we reopened on 6 June 2020. It just didn't stop. We had to turn away so many people throughout the summer because we were constantly fully booked.
How did you find out about Parkn'Sleep?
The founder of Parkn'Sleep came to visit us this spring during a biking holiday and introduced us to the concept of digital parking spaces. Until then, I had never heard of Parkn'Sleep. He explained to us how the app works. Of course we wanted to try it out, because we have had six so-called "Stop & Go" pitches outside the campsite for quite some time.
How do the pitches you offer on Parkn'Sleep differ from the pitches on your campsite?
The six pitches we offer at Parkn'Sleep are larger parking spaces with electricity, located outside the campsite. A fixed flat rate of CHF 35.00 per night and camper incl. visitor's tax currently applies to these pitches. This applies regardless of how many people actually stay in the camper. This is cheaper than camping. The people who stay on the pitches can use the entire infrastructure of the campsite and also receive the guest card.
In addition, these pitches cannot be reserved in advance, but there is no minimum length of stay during the high season, as is the case at our campsite. Parkn'Sleep users can see in advance whether there are still free pitches or not by looking at the live availability display. The biggest difference, however, is that check-in and payment are not handled via our campsite reception, but entirely via the Parkn'Sleep web app.
Who are your Parkn'Sleep pitches suitable for?
They are very popular with our active guests. So for those who only need the camper to spend the night and are out and about during the day. There are many things to do here in Flims. The campsite is also popular with people who are travelling spontaneously or only need a place to sleep for one night.
How exactly does the check-in for the guests work?
They simply scan the QR code on the check-in point on site and can then choose on the app whether they want to check in for one or more nights. The stay can be extended at any time. There is no maximum length of stay with us, pitch guests can stay as long as they want.
How long have you been using Parkn'Sleep?
Since this summer 2021, so for about 4-5 months. During this time, we have been able to process over 300 overnight stays via the platform.
Could you have sold these nights without Parkn'Sleep?
Probably so, because camping is still a huge hype. Currently, you could probably put a free parking space with a parking meter or a Parkn'Sleep panel anywhere and the thing would run. Nevertheless, the introduction of Parkn'Sleep has been worthwhile for us, because the concept of digital parking spaces brings us a great reduction in workload.
How do you use the Parkn'Sleep offer in everyday life?
We had previously rented out the six pitches as so-called "Stop and Go" pitches. At that time, check-in and payment were handled by our camping reception. This effort is now eliminated by the introduction of Parkn'Sleep, as check-in and payment are digital. This leaves us more time for other things.
In addition, the web app helps us to check the pitches. For example, when I come to work in the morning, I can stop at the pitch on the way and check with my smartphone whether all the parked campers have checked in. That wasn't so easy before, there were always black sheep who avoided paying.
Do you plan to use Parkn'Sleep all year round? Or do you see it more as a solution for the mid-season?
We will certainly use the system all year round, as it takes a lot of work off our hands. However, we will close the pitches on some days, for example over Christmas and New Year, because then the whole campsite, including the pitches, is fully booked.
How do you like the Parkn'Sleep web app?
Setting up our offer was simple and our questions were answered quickly by Parkn'Sleep. I find the app very user-friendly, it is clear and everything works without any difficulties.
And how does it work with the payment to you?
This is also simple. We can view our current credit balance at any time and have it paid out at the touch of a button.
How reliable is the availability display of free pitches on the app?
It works perfectly and is always up to date. It rarely happens that someone has problems with checking in - for example because the guest does not use a smartphone or the credit card does not work. In such cases, it is possible to pay at our reception. We can then block the pitch ourselves via the app so that the availability display is still correct.
What guest reactions do you have to the new Parkn'Sleep pitches?
The guests' reactions are very positive. Many of the guests who come to us already use the app. They see the available seats, drive up, stand and are satisfied.
We have not had any negative experiences so far. If someone made a mistake in the app and booked one night too many, for example, this problem was always solved promptly with the support team. But we are always happy to help if someone wants to use Parkn'Sleep and doesn't know how. This sometimes concerns older people who have perhaps never scanned a QR code before.
What advantages do you see in Parkn'Sleep's "non-reservable pitches" concept?
For campers who don't want to spend the night at a campsite, the offer is great. They can travel spontaneously and flexibly and can always see where there are still free pitches. On site, they can check in, pay and manage their booking themselves with their mobile phone.
For us hosts, it is an easy way to manage pitches and handle bookings. Private individuals also have the opportunity to offer pitches. I think the concept is ingenious.
What would you say - for which campsites is the introduction of Parkn'Sleep worthwhile and why?
I personally think it makes sense especially where a campsite offers separate pitches, as is the case with us. With Parkn'Sleep, these can be digitised, which eliminates the workload of check-in, payment and tourist tax billing for the campsite. With the app, guests who want to arrive and depart outside reception opening hours now also have the opportunity to make their stay uncomplicated.
I find the live availability display of the free pitches particularly ingenious. As already mentioned, the app can also be used to check the camping vehicles parked on the pitch.
Finally, your personal conclusion in one sentence?
I see a lot of potential in Parkn'Sleep and we will definitely continue to use it.
Contact Camping Flims
Camping site Flims
+41 81 911 15 75
Via Prau la Selva 4
Offer pitches with Parkn'Sleep
If you are a campsite operator, restaurant guide, private landowner, mountain railway or municipality and want to turn a piece of land, a few empty parking spaces or a vacant backyard into a pitch and generate a passive side income, then become a host on Parkn'Sleep!
To set up a pitch, you must be registered as a host on Parkn'Sleep and equip the pitch with a QR code on site. You will receive the corresponding signs and/or stickers free of charge. The activation and use of the system is free of charge, there is no minimum contract period and you can unsubscribe at any time. For the service fee, 15% of the accommodation price is paid to the platform.
If you have any further questions, please contact the Parkn'Sleep team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 041 552 31 33.
Author of this article - Stephanie Köllinger:
Steffi travels with camper and dog whenever possible and loves to discover Switzerland in hiking boots or on a mountain bike. As a camping author, she regularly writes articles and texts about everything to do with camping and van life. Follow Steffi on Instagram or visit her on her website.