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Meet startup team campersAPP

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The Future Of Camping Is Here

Two Dartmouth employees enhance the camping experience with campersAPP, a network that connects campers with campgrounds, nationwide.

 

Heather and Travis Gere want to put a modern spin on camping. The couple are avid campers and through their own camping experiences noticed that campgrounds lacked the tools needed to engage with their guests prior to their arrival and during their stay.  They were also frustrated by how difficult it can be to find an open campsite while traveling.

 

“We saw a real need,” Travis says. “There was a disconnect between the campgrounds we were visiting and their ability to communicate with us in a modern way.”

 

The Geres, both 43, set out to find a solution. The couple, who both work at the Tuck School of Business, knew that technology could solve many of the issues they were seeing. With Heather’s experience as a graphic designer and Travis’ skillset as a developer they began building campersAPP, the first digital engagement system for the outdoor hospitality space.

 

The application brings all aspects of camping into the twenty-first century.

 

“Campers can discover parks, receive notifications during their stay and even order firewood and pizza for delivery to the campsite,” says Heather.

 

The app also makes life easier for campground owners. The software helps owners and operators streamline their operations, generate revenue and communicate more effectively with guests, whether about upcoming social activities or impending emergencies.

 

“The mobile app was designed to meet the needs of campers and when we approached park operators at trade shows, the positive feedback was overwhelming” Travis says. “We were showing them something that they didn’t realize was a necessity for their park.”

 

This year, campersAPP placed third in the 2019 Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum, hosted by the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. Heather and Travis will use prize money from the pitch competition to help introduce the app to more campers in order to build their user base in the 2.0 version, which is expected to launch in early May.

 

“This year we will be shifting our marketing efforts from business to business to business to consumer,” Heather says. “We are excited to share our vision for the future of camping with our fellow campers.”

 

The Geres are both entrepreneurs at heart. In their early 20s they owned a small retail store, and have dabbled in other ventures since then. Those experiences, as mentoring from The Magnuson Center through the Dartmouth Accelerator, have helped the Geres grow the campersAPP network successfully.

 

“One of the biggest things we’ve learned through the Dartmouth entrepreneurial network is the importance of knowing and listening to your customers,” Heather says. “Through the conversations we’ve had with park operators, we have made some changes from our initial launch, resulting in a product that works for parks.”

 

CampersAPP offers a myriad of services and features to users, but it is focused on two main goals: to enhance the camping experience and to help parks run more efficiently. The new version of campersAPP has a critical feature — Site Tonite — which allows campgrounds to post their open campsites on a matchmaking reservation marketplace.

campersapp_heather

Two Dartmouth employees enhance the camping experience with campersAPP, a network that connects campers with campgrounds, nationwide.

 

Heather and Travis Gere want to put a modern spin on camping. The couple are avid campers and through their own camping experiences noticed that campgrounds lacked the tools needed to engage with their guests prior to their arrival and during their stay.  They were also frustrated by how difficult it can be to find an open campsite while traveling.

 

“We saw a real need,” Travis says. “There was a disconnect between the campgrounds we were visiting and their ability to communicate with us in a modern way.”

 

The Geres, both 43, set out to find a solution. The couple, who both work at the Tuck School of Business, knew that technology could solve many of the issues they were seeing. With Heather’s experience as a graphic designer and Travis’ skillset as a developer they began building campersAPP, the first digital engagement system for the outdoor hospitality space.

 

The application brings all aspects of camping into the twenty-first century.

 

“Campers can discover parks, receive notifications during their stay and even order firewood and pizza for delivery to the campsite,” says Heather.

 

The app also makes life easier for campground owners. The software helps owners and operators streamline their operations, generate revenue and communicate more effectively with guests, whether about upcoming social activities or impending emergencies.

 

“The mobile app was designed to meet the needs of campers and when we approached park operators at trade shows, the positive feedback was overwhelming” Travis says. “We were showing them something that they didn’t realize was a necessity for their park.”

 

This year, campersAPP placed third in the 2019 Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum, hosted by the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. Heather and Travis will use prize money from the pitch competition to help introduce the app to more campers in order to build their user base in the 2.0 version, which is expected to launch in early May.

 

“This year we will be shifting our marketing efforts from business to business to business to consumer,” Heather says. “We are excited to share our vision for the future of camping with our fellow campers.”

 

The Geres are both entrepreneurs at heart. In their early 20s they owned a small retail store, and have dabbled in other ventures since then. Those experiences, as mentoring from The Magnuson Center through the Dartmouth Accelerator, have helped the Geres grow the campersAPP network successfully.

 

“One of the biggest things we’ve learned through the Dartmouth entrepreneurial network is the importance of knowing and listening to your customers,” Heather says. “Through the conversations we’ve had with park operators, we have made some changes from our initial launch, resulting in a product that works for parks.”

 

CampersAPP offers a myriad of services and features to users, but it is focused on two main goals: to enhance the camping experience and to help parks run more efficiently. The new version of campersAPP has a critical feature — Site Tonite — which allows campgrounds to post their open campsites on a matchmaking reservation marketplace.

 

Although the hotel industry has already adopted this idea through a variety of booking websites and apps, booking in the camping industry remains fragmented, Heather says. Finding an open campsite while traveling is a frustrating process for campers seeking an overnight stay or impromptu get away. With Site Tonite, campersAPP enabled parks can easily list their open inventory, which campers can then browse and book through the app.

 

“This is going to revolutionize the industry and fill campsites that would normally go unfilled,” Travis says.

 

Still, the work of campersAPP doesn’t stop once someone has booked a site. Parks can use the application to send notifications to all their campers — say, for a pending storm warning or missing child. They can send activity reminders and use notifications to drive traffic into their camp stores.  Campers can also connect directly with one another, for a pick-up game of basketball or softball at the park.

 

“It’s not just about parks communicating with guests, but guests interacting with each other,” Heather says.

 

This summer, campersAPP will have over 200 campgrounds on the network and the Geres hope to grow that number by raising awareness among campers and getting them excited about using the app. If the campers come, they reason, the parks will follow. In an environment where everyone uses their smartphones to connect with activities and destinations “near me,” the Geres want campersAPP to become the go-to way to get outside.