Reservations and cancellation fees

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Jammer

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Folks, I realize that many of you don't find it necessary to reserve campsites in advance for one reason or another.  This thread is not for you, and I encourage you to start your own thread on the non-necessity of reservations and post there at length about how reservations aren't really necessary.

Anyway, campsite availability is tight on weekends in the summer in Minnesota and the surrounding area.  The state parks have been converting more and more sites from walk-in to reservable, and so in practice you have to have reservations unless you plan on starting your weekend stay on Wednesday afternoon.

We are finding that reservations must be made well in advance, and real life being what it is, cancellations are sometimes necessary.  Cancellation costs are large with the state parks and Corps of Engineers not refunding fees under any circumstances and requiring substantial sums to change reservations to another date or location.

Wondering if this a new trend and what the experience has been in other parts of the country.
 
I believe it's the new trend started maybe five or more years ago.  We now make reservations at Arizona State Parks that we like to ensure we get in when we want as well as to park with a group if more than just us.  State parks are becoming more and more popular, especially on weekends, so if your stay requires a weekend, reservations are a real necessity.  However, we do pay for our entire stay by credit card, but they charge an extra $5 for the "Campground Reservation Fee."  However, if you cancel in less than 24 hours all fees are forfeited.  If before 24 hours, you just lose the $5 "Campground Reservation Fee" and the regular camping fees are refunded.

We ran into reservation problems several years ago, both in Wyoming and Wisconsin SPs, which were made but not honored.  Some sort of snafu, and I would hope by now those types of problems had been rectified.  We haven't been back to find out.

Daisy
 
More and more places are either keeping the whole reservation fees including camping fees while some others are only keeping the first day fees and camping charges.

If making a reservation be sure to check what the cancellation policy is before commiting.  We stayed in one RV park this summer where we had a weeks reservation.  Cancellation was to forfit the entire weeks charge.  Not even Hotels do that for a late cancellation.  BTW, I was in the office when we made the reservation and were committed to activities there for at least the week so there was no issue.  To make them a few days earlier and 500 miles away, no way, things happen like blown radiators etc.
 
We've full timed in 14 states in the last two and a half years, and I have seen every possible variant of the cancellation process known to man. I don't know that I see a pattern so much.

My general suspicion is there is a different driver for public parks than private, and other than trying to maximize fee revenue in a given time frame, I am not sure even they can tell you the reason.

I am about to get a $100 cancellation fee for cancelling a reservation I have had for almost a year where we winter because our daughter has some complications with her pregnancy and we have to be closer. The bite here is that I am cancelling 29 days before the start of the stay, not 30 days, which has no fee.  :mad:

I don't agree with some of the cancellation practices at all, but there has to be a balance for both the consumer and the owner.

But you're right! Life happens! Flexibility comes at a price, it appears.
 
Here in Nebraska you can reserve a year in advance. The fees to cancel are crazy. Any holiday weekend is impossible to rent. Any holiday weekend a lot of campers don't show up & the sites sit empty. We gave up trying.
 
I camp mostly at CA state parks and find the cancellation fee to be reasonable but can't say the same for private & some county campgrounds.  For the state park there is a $7.50 cancellation fee (along with the $8 nonrefundable reservation fee) and you can cancel as late as the day before (but before 5 pm) without forfeiting the first night fee.  For some nonstate campground cancelling can be real pricey.

I don't like fees but $15 isn't going to break the budget if I end up cancelling a reservation especially after holding it for 7 months.
 
Jammer said:
Cancellation costs are large with the state parks and Corps of Engineers not refunding fees under any circumstances and requiring substantial sums to change reservations to another date or location.

Wondering if this a new trend and what the experience has been in other parts of the country.

Personally I think it is just the beginning of an era where parks are attempting to hold costs down and remain open.  In California for example, where they're facing their own financial cliff, they've doubled their camping fees and are still closing parks.  Being able to pass the reservations process to a third party will save parks significant money.  But not returning the actual camping fee other than the first day is surprising.  That said, we are at our fourth Escapee Co-op park this month and none will return any unused portion of a prepaid stay.  When I asked they stated it was because their computer system will not allow them to refund any prepaid fees. 
 

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