Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
This month I have asked Lana Makin, FMCA’s director of Administrative Services, to share information about a recent partnership FMCA has entered into with Friend Communications that will benefit not only family members but also some of our commercial members.
Looking back on the development of the Internet and Web sites, I am sure that many visionaries could see the opportunity for interaction and business transactions to occur without a single word being spoken. I, for one, waited as it developed and am still amazed at the information and data that are available at the click of a key. Friend Communications is a very dynamic company that has developed programs for the campground industry that are comparable to the airline, hotel, and rental car reservation capabilities that are available via the Internet today. Not only will this new campground reservation program provide a way for FMCA members to locate campgrounds to accommodate them in their travels and to make online reservations, it also will allow FMCA commercial member campgrounds the opportunity to develop Web sites and reap the benefits of an online reservations program. The ultimate goal is one-stop shopping for your campground search and reservations. FMCA members will receive discounts that many commercial member campgrounds offer to FMCA families; in addition, FMCA will receive a royalty for all reservations made through the FMCA Web site. While this program is certainly in the infancy stage at this point, we are hopeful that in the future we all will look back and be happy that FMCA took this step and became involved on the ground floor.
By Lana Makin
Director of Administrative Services
You may be asking, “Who is Friend Communications?” Friend Communications was founded by former RV industry executives who saw an opportunity to provide an efficient and productive business solution to the travel and leisure industries and to conduct e-commerce via the Internet. The Internet marketing and technology services organization connects consumers with businesses and Internet travel partners. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, Friend Communications partners increase their online marketing presence, create new revenue streams, improve operational efficiencies, and build ongoing relationships with online consumers. Essentially, the company provides a win-win solution for campgrounds and for RVers.
FMCA entered into a partnership with Friend Communications first to introduce online campground reservations to our members and, second, to encourage FMCA commercial members to become affiliated with this process. A third goal is to generate a new revenue stream for FMCA.
Booking hotel reservations, airline flights, rental cars, etc., through the Internet has become a common practice. Perhaps you already make campground reservations online when that service is available. If not, we suspect that you will be doing so in the not-too-distant future, and we hope to facilitate this process by providing as many campground options as possible on FMCA’s Web site “” FMCA.com.
One of the first steps FMCA is taking is to cross-check FMCA’s commercial member campground data base with the data base of campgrounds that have already become affiliated with Friend Communications. This search for matches will allow us to immediately tell FMCA families that they can make campground reservations online through FMCA.com. These online indicators will appear in the FMCA Business Directory next to the campground listing, and a click on the icon (indicator) will take you directly to the online service of the campground through Friend Communications. Remember, in order for your association, FMCA, to collect revenue from the online campground reservation, you must first go to FMCA.com.
The partnership between Friend Communications and FMCA is in the preliminary stages. Our future plans include marketing this concept to FMCA commercial member campgrounds so as to encourage them to become a part of the online reservation system and to give FMCA members the maximum opportunity to make reservations for campground stays online. Obviously, the more campgrounds that are involved, the better chance FMCA members have of finding a campground that suits their needs.
The program offered by Friend Communications provides an opportunity for RVers to instantaneously search, select, pay for, and receive confirmation of campground services, all in one single visit to a Web site. Today, although many RV parks provide customers the opportunity to make reservation requests over the Internet, very few have implemented the practice of user-friendly online reservations on a real-time basis. Friend Communications offers a Web-based solution that facilitates this process for campgrounds. They don’t need to invest in any special software to make this possible, and it allows them to maintain control of the campsite inventory. With online reservations, RVers can do business with the campground at their convenience. Of course, the campground benefits from this round-the-clock reservation process as well. They can be generating revenue for their facility literally while they sleep.
Campsite matching is a great feature that appears on most reservation software applications, and it is just one of the beauties of this technology. When seeking information about campsite availability, customers are required to enter the length and width of their RV. Based on the information provided, the system automatically finds compatible matches.
With FMCA members becoming ever more Web-savvy, online reservations are becoming a necessary service. We are in hopes that this system will provide what members want and need for making their campground reservations while making it simple and convenient for FMCA commercial member campgrounds to utilize. Look for the announcement of this service on FMCA.com.