Campsite booking service launches

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Campers rejoice. There’s a new way that bummed-out outdoors-lovers can save booked-up weekends at Ontario camp sites.

Campnab, an automated service that launched this week, scans fully booked provincial campgrounds for openings and, if it fins a cancellation, alerts potential campers with a text message and link to the campground’s booking page.

Ontario Parks campsites can only be booked a maximum of five months ahead of time.

Eric Karjaluoto, one-half of the British Columbia developer duo who built the program, and a camper himself, said it’s not uncommon for someone to book multiple weekends in a row at a campsite, without intending to use each of them.

“What often happens is (someone who wasn’t planning on using the campsite) will want their reservation fee back, so they’ll cancel in the last few days.” said Karjaluoto.

Karjaluoto and his business partner, Eric Shelkie’s smashLAB, launched the service two weeks ago for B.C. parks but quickly brought it to Ontario because they received numerous requests.

Karjaluoto likens the service to paying someone to hold a spot in line at a new iPhone release.

“There’s nothing preventing anyone from hitting refresh on an Ontario Parks site all day long if they want, but it’s a really bad way to use your time and this automates it.”

Campnab will scan a camp site every hour for $10, every 20 minutes for $15 or every five minutes for $20. There’s also a paid subscription option, with memberships costing $5, $10, or $15 a month for the same service.

The user doesn’t get a refund if nothing becomes available. As the Campnab website says, “that’s just the way this life works out sometimes.”

The Campnab website says thousands of previously-booked campsites become available in B.C. and Ontario each day.

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