‘Unfair’ van park booking systems come under fire

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A familiar sight for 'non-regulars' at popular destinations

Christmas products have started appearing in the shops and that means only one thing … it’s time for grey nomads to start thinking about where they are going to ‘sit out’ the busy holiday period.

Even remote free camping areas tend to get packed out as ‘hordes’ of holidaymakers join the lucky few who live on the road long term. And, even with most caravan parks cranking up their fees, it’s sometimes difficult to get a spot in a caravan park in popular holiday destinations.

Once again, the way ‘precious’ sites are allocated is being brought into question.

In Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, people unhappy to get a spot at affordable council beachside caravan parks are venting their anger at a booking system which gives preference to repeat visitors.

The current booking practice allows guests to book their sites a year in advance upon departure means ‘regulars’ can effectively monopolise certain sites. If there are any sites left, they can be applied for after the annual ‘release’ date of February 1.

The Sunshine Coast Daily reports that there have been calls for bookings to be taken out of park management hands and replaced with a centralised system which gave all people equal opportunity, whether or not they were repeat visitors.

It quotes one disgruntled would-be visitor, known only as ‘Debbie’.

“As these are council parks and not private businesses, how can it be fair that the same campers can book the site year after year before it is released to the public?” she asked the paper. “Is the council maintaining these sites just for a select few?”

A council spokesman said it was usual practice in the accommodation industry to give regular return guests the first option, prior to their departure, to book for the following year.

He told the Sunshine Cost Daily that little consideration would be given to changing the booking procedure.

“Sunshine Coast Holiday Parks is a business activity of Sunshine Coast Council and is required to operate on a level playing field with the rest of the industry,”’ he said. “This includes adopting the same booking policy and procedures as the whole industry, including privately operated caravan parks and accommodation providers.”

Do policies like this discriminate against genuine ‘travellers’ touring the country in favour of ‘holidaymakers’? Is this the fairest way of allocating precious van park sites? Comment below.



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11 Responses to ‘Unfair’ van park booking systems come under fire

  1. We spent last Christmas at Halls Gap Caravan Park in the Grampians at no extra cost, we were just passing that way on our way home to Albany WA. We had the most wonderful few days there including Christmas, surrounded by people from so many different countries celebrating Christmas in their own different ways – it was a fantastic and memorable Christmas.

  2. There is nothing new with this booking system. When I was a child – 60 years ago – we always booked our site a year in advance in NSW. It allows family groups to camp near each other over the holidays – it was our way of spending time with rellies. It also allows caravan parks to keep their good customers.

  3. I agree with Jenny. Lots of families meet up at Christmas and re book every year. I think this is a good idea and the caravan parks know where they stand. Because at the end of the day, it is a business.

  4. I agree 100% with Jenny. There is nothing wrong with that practice.
    My children looked forward every year to us going to the same caravan park and having the same site each year. Let’s face it, the caravan park is running a business after all, if you can encourage people to come back year after year then what’s wrong with that?

  5. I agree with Jenny too. Its like a xmas friend reunion and it happenes once a year, then it should should be first in best dresses. One thing that is wrong is council owned parks that fill up with locals first then the tourist can book a site if any left. The council park in warrnambool does this.

  6. I also agree with Jenny, and I am a grey nomad traveler who will be looking for a park this Christmas. I understand the need to book a year in advance to secure the annual holiday for many families and I think the parks also benefit from the return business year after year. Long term travelers must realize that the parks are not there just for them and fit in where and when possible. Most of us can camp out of a park if we have to. Families need the caravan park facilities.

  7. Thanks Linda for the tip about Halls Gap CP Always handy to know the parks that DO have sites available.

  8. It is amazing though these same parks want our patronage for the rest of the year and bitch like hell about free camping

  9. Sorry I disagree with Jenny ?? just say there is 10000 council caravan park sites ?? BUT there is 80000, families that would like to do the park holiday thing at Xmas ?? Do you think it fair !! that the same families can have it year after year, ?? and to the other 70000 families ”Tough” !! — That’s not my idea of ”Fair Play ??

  10. We use to manage a tourist park and this is a standard practice for the peak times. We had several family groups that only got together at these times and when they are prepared to book in advance why shouldn’t parks take these bookings. Its called “Planning ahead”

  11. Being a traditional practice doesn’t make it right. Time to consider whether this is a non-discriminatory practice. If parks want to reward repeat customers for loyalty, they can offer discounts rather than exclusivity.

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