Booking a CL site has now become a simple task. A small group of CL site owners have designed a mobile App and website (clbooking.co.uk) that allows caravanners, motorhomers and campervanners to check availability on their site.
For those of you who don’t know what a ‘CL’ (Certificated Location) site is. They are small sites with a maximum of 5 vans that are affiliated with the Caravan and Motorhome Club. Most are hidden gems tucked away in the countryside. Some only have basic fresh water and waste disposal, whereas others have full facilities. To use these sites you have to be a member of the Caravan and Motohome Club.
The website is free to join and once logged in you can search by Name, Postcodal Area or County. There is also a quick glance map showing sites and prices. You can also filter more options for your search.
Once you have selected a site in the area you are looking for the website bring up further details of the site with all the available sit facilities pertaining to that site. It also shows the availability for booking that site. There is also useful information including Price Information, Rules for that particular site, Payment methods and Must see attractions in the local area including local pubs.
CL Booking is still only an ENQUIRY system for CLs across the UK. It is NOT a full-blown booking system per se. A booking system that takes payments may follow, but for the moment, you will only see the provisional availability for each CL site.
NOTE, you MUST confirm with the owner of the site you wish to visit (and we recommend that you do this in writing) that they DO indeed have a pitch for you and then CONFIRM your booking with them, and pay a deposit if requested.
“The small 5-pitch caravan site we have on our farm is a vital part of our farm diversification. Ensuring we get good occupancy and helping campers find a site that suits them was the driving force behind the development of this App.
On the one hand, we were taking phone calls from campers looking for a site, only to tell them that our site was full, or on the other hand, when we had space due to an unexpected cancellation we then had to advertise the space again on social media at short notice. Not something you can do very easily when you are busy farming.
Over the winter we got together with fellow farmers and landowners and realised there was a need in the marketplace. Some research kindly done by an A-level student son of one of the group determined that 49% of caravanners wanted to book online. After a couple of zoom-meetings and some research we found a developer who was happy to take the risk and do the work and I’m pleased to say it’s been a remarkable success”.
said Nicola Wetherill from Skybarn Farm in Lincolnshire.
“So far we have 115 sites – many based on farms – across the UK listing their availability in real-time.
We’re solving a problem for campers looking for a pitch for their caravan or motorhome and for farmers operating or running these sites who are looking to increase their occupancy or fill a cancellation”.
said Ted Howard-Jones from Cholsey Grange in Buckinghamshire.
How many people are using it?
Over 8,000 campers have already registered to use the App, we have 18,000 followers on Facebook and so far we have generated over £70,000 worth of bookings.
What does it cost the farmer?
Unlike some other websites we’re not taking any commission on bookings. We simply ask each site owner to list their site and keep their availability up to date for a low monthly fee of £12.50, this is less than the average per-night pitch fee, meaning most sites will only need to have 10-12 nights booked via the website to cover their annual cost of listing. “It’s a no-brainer” said Julian Bailey, who runs one of the sites near the New Forest in Hampshire.
Although the Caravan & Motorhome Club, which oversees these sites provides a booking system for their larger club-owned sites, they haven’t had the resources or time to work with the 2,000 or so smaller sites during the Covid pandemic.
Who else benefits from this?
It’s not just the farmers who benefit. These small sites are often in very rural locations and their local economies such as village pubs and farm shops for example, also benefit greatly from visitors. In fact some research entitled ‘Pitching The Value’ conducted by Frontline Consultants and sponsored by an array of interested bodies including the Caravan & Motorhome club concluded that small campsites contribute £100 Million per annum to the rural economy.
How does it work?
CL Booking mimics the functionality customers have all started to expect from sites like AirBnB, meaning you’ll get all the information you, as a camper, need to know such as price, facilities and photos.
For the 115 CL site owners that have been listed so far, the app allows them to quickly and easily advertise their site to thousands of campers.
“With Covid, many people have had to change their plans at the last minute which means late-cancellations are a real issue for us. With the App, if I get a cancellation I can immediately update my site availability to thousands of members with just one click, so much easier than having to go onto Facebook and create a post, or just hope the phone will ring.
The key dierence between CL Booking and the plethora of other campsite listing sites out there is that it shows availability. We’re also ensuring that sites list themselves accurately with descriptions, features and photos and helping the user find a site that suits their needs with filters (such as CLs with Toilets or those who welcome dogs) . It is saving campers and site owners time by providing both parties with the information they need.
We’re adding new CL sites to the website every week. When owners realise we not only list them on the website, but also provide a full package of support, marketing advice and promotion they quickly appreciate the benefits and see that their listing fee (just £12.50 a month at present) is rapidly recouped”.
said Ted Howard-Jones, owner of Cholsey Grange and the leader of the consortium of farmers and landowners behind CL Booking.