Contact Steven McQuinn
National Camping Reservation
Center Expects Opening Crush
you call to make a reservation, the last thing you want to hear
is a busy signal.
redial again and again. Still can't connect. Will there be any campsites
to choose from by the time you get through?
is Yes, if you are calling 1-877-444-6777, the toll free number
for the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS). There
will be thousands of campsites available starting October 15 when
the service activates, and more select sites will be added to the
inventory in the months to come.
As many callers have discovered, just be persistent. The initial
flood of inquiries will subside.
Folks who have
sought tickets to a Garth Brooks concert know that anxious feeling
when the line is always busy. Callers seeking reservations for a
California, New York, or Texas state park campground during the
opening week of service or a popular holiday experience similar
owes to a limited resource in great demand. But it also can be compounded
by customers who call too soon.
agencies, the USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
have cooperated to place select campgrounds nationwide with the
NRRS inventory. Individual campsites will come available 240 days
before occupancy, group campsites 360 days ahead.
callers from all over the country this October will be seeking camping
reservations for one of the most popular camping holidays of the
year: Memorial Day weekend, 1999.
But it also
means that anyone wishing an Independence Day camping holiday starting
the Thursday preceding the 4th of July weekend should call no sooner
than November 3rd, 240 days in advance of arrival.
Vice President of Operations for Park.Net, the NRRS service provider,
has brought camping reservation call centers on line for the three
largest state park systems in the country: Texas, New York and California.
He will be at the helm when the interagency national service initiates.
of calls at 'Go Live' and major holidays is part of the business,"
says Weaver. "This temporary demand can be overwhelming. However,
we will combat it by expanding the call center hours, reducing the
number of unnecessary calls, and speeding up the transaction time
so more calls can be processed."
When he was
bringing the Texas reservation service on line Weaver watched in
awe as calls for a single test state park blew out telephone connections
in Texas and surrounding states.
people said the only other time they had seen such volume was when
tickets went on sale for a Garth Brooks concert in Dallas."
stress is worth enduring, according to the participating agencies,
because the NRRS creates significant value for the camping customer.
the NRRS Interagency Program Manager, has seen the dream of a National
Recreation Reservation Service become a reality, in good part
because of the enthusiastic support of Forest Service and Army Corps
leadership. The Forest Service has experience with national reservations,
while the program is new for most of the Corps.
level of Interagency cooperation is really unprecedented,"
says Ardner, "and the driving force behind it is the prospect
for improved service to the customer."
benefits from having a service as close as the phone. No more long
trips from home only to find a campground that is full," Ardner
With a reservation
service, even when a requested campground is completely booked,
reservation agents will utilize their database to find alternative
areas with vacancies, Ardner points out.
the agencies will have to weather the inevitable tidal wave of initial
With a little
preliminary planning, callers can minimize unnecessary waiting.
Here are some helpful hints:
sure the date you want to camp has come available. The 240 day advance
window for individual sites means that when the NRRS debuts in mid-October,
summertime availability will extend only through Memorial Day to
mid-June, 1999. Someone wanting to arrive the Friday of 4th of July
weekend should call no sooner than November 4th. No point in battling
busy signals for a date that is not yet open. Just mark on your
calendar the date when the reservation window opens for your date
of arrival, and call at that time.
sure the facility where you wish to camp has been included in the
NRRS inventory. Starting October 13, the initial offering of select
Forest Service and Corps of Engineers sites will be posted at the
NRRS web site, ReserveUSA.com. New campground inventory will roll
into the program every Wednesday thereafter, so it pays to bookmark
the web site and return frequently. By checking on the web first,
you may save yourself a long wait on the phone during the start-up
and prepare all your reservation information ahead of time for a
smooth, quick transaction. You can make up to four reservations
at one location per call, so be prepared to identify the desired
campgrounds. Also, have your credit card number available, and the
specific site type you need for your camping vehicles. The reservation
agent will step you through the process quickly.
sure you can identify the campground or facility you want to reserve
by exact name, agency and location. Many campgrounds in different
locations have the same name, or names that sound very similar.
The reservation process can go much faster if you can also specify
the National Forest or Corps of Engineers project where the campsite
you want is located.
that on November 16, customers will be able to make NRRS camping
reservations over the Internet on the ReserveUSA.com web site. If
you are planning on taking your summer camping vacation after mid-July,
you will be able to reserve your sites quickly and efficiently via
holds tremendous potential for combining reservation capability
with trip planning information," says Weaver. "There will
always be people who wish to talk to a live agent, but many will
prefer the web for making reservations because it will allow them
to search for the perfect campsite at their own leisure, using the
same database as the call center."
By next spring,
prospective campers with the NRRS will have available to them approximately
40,000 reservable facilities in two thousand field locations nationwide.
The facilities include campsites, group picnic areas, Forest Service
lookouts, and cabins.
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