‘Airbnb of camping’ takes aim at crowded B.C. campgrounds

Have you had trouble booking a campsite through B.C.'s online reservation system?. File

Are you having trouble booking a campsite during the busy summer months? A pair of North Vancouver entrepreneurs think they might have the solution.

The new website, called “Campertunity,” is being called the “Airbnb of camping,” and it works along similar lines.

Hosts who own a piece of private land can list it through the site. They choose the price, with Campertunity taking 10 per cent. So far, it’s attracted about 16 properties — with nightly prices ranging from $6 to $50.

LISTEN: The ‘Airbnb of camping?’

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The concept takes aim at what has been a chronic problem for would-be campers: hot demand for provincial campgrounds.

The province changed its Discover Camping reservation system last year to create a booking window in which spots become available four months in advance, rather than all at once.

Screengrab / Campertunity

That change was in response to complaints of overbooking and campsite scalping, but many people are still having trouble landing a spot on desirable dates.

Speaking with CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show, Campertunity co-founder Guita Yazdani said that frustration was a driving force behind the new site.

READ MORE: Can’t reserve a campsite on B.C.’s booked-out online system? There’s an app for that

“When you go to book a campground, you’re dealing with stressful bookings, resales — booking a campsite in B.C. is like buying concert tickets, there’s this mad rush for it,” she said.

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“I can’t even plan my afternoon, so I don’t know how I can plan my summer in the winter.”

WATCH: Extreme camping tactics: What people are doing to get a spot

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Extreme camping tactics: What people are doing to get a spot – May 19, 2017

She said she and her business partner Nora Lozano fleshed the idea out after camping on someone’s piece of private property near Pemberton.

READ MORE: More than a quarter of B.C. camping reservations booked out of province

A few weeks later, they camped again — this time in a provincial campground — and something clicked.

“We woke up and it was just to the sound of RVs going by us, families, kids walking by, going to the bathroom, and I remember thinking you know, if I close my eyes right now, I would think I’m in the city,” she said.

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“That’s the difference, I felt,” Yazdani said. “I thought, ‘Wow, private land, and then provincial campground. Why isn’t camping on private land a thing?'”

WATCH: Province changes camping reservation system

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Province changes camping reservation system – Nov 7, 2016

Campertunity isn’t the first local digital platform to take aim at the high demand for B.C. campgrounds.

Last year, a B.C.-based entrepreneur launched an app that lets would-be campers snag popular campsites that have had a last minute cancellation — for a fee.

READ MORE: Hot demand spurs camping reservation black market in B.C.

The province says it is spending $22.9 million over five years to add 1,900 new campsites to take pressure off the system.

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But it says by April 30 this year, there had already been 100,000 reservations made through the Discover Camping website, up 30 per cent over last year.

To discourage scalping, the province has also made it so that campers can not change the name on reservations.

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