Originally Posted by Wobbles
As I search for weekends to choose, I find that they are all booked with the exception of a few days in the middle of the week.
Some younger kids have told us about having parties where they get together with buddy's and at some witching hour begin making reservations, canceling them and re-making reservations until they reach the desired dates where they can all be together. I do not understand how this works but wonder, is this how it is done?
Have I stumbled onto a dirty little secret that nobody talks about? I am certain that this topic will generate some strong feelings on the subject but still want to hear how others reserve sites.
The short answer is yes - there are games to be played to manipulate the system. And people do. Whether that's "right" or ethical or whatever - I guess is up to the individual. But if you want to take the position that the rules are the same for everybody and then use them to your advantage there are ways to improve your chances at getting the prime sites at the prime times.
I have never seen the system for COE, but we have made reservations at state parks in several states that use Reserve America for their reservations.
Last summer I was sitting on the site waiting until 9:00am exactly 6 months to the day before our trip to book one of 2 open sites at Horseneck Beach in Mass. My computer said 9:00 so I clicked it. Web site said it was too early - meaning my computer clock was a little fast. Wait 30 seconds, click it again - gone. Somebody else grabbed them.
So rule #1 is you have to know the reservation window and be at the exact day/time a site opens for reservations.
Again, not sure how other places work, but for NY where make most of our reservations, the window is 9 months before the arrival
date with a 2 week max stay. So, if you want to go camping on Saturday the 8th of August, you can book that date on November 8th (of the prior year). Now this is a pain, but that is how they set it up. And you can reserve from 1 night to 14 nights. I have watched a site for several days leading up our desired Saturday arrival, and usually on Wed or Thurs, somebody takes it.
Maybe they are going camping that day- maybe they are "gaming" the system. Say you want to arrive on Saturday and stay a week. You book on Wednesday for Wed, Thur, Fri plus your original Sat-Sunday.
You pay in full when you book, but after a certain waiting period (I think), you can make a change to an existing reservation. So you cancel for Wed, Thurs, Fri and get a refund, less a 9 or 10 dollar "change fee." Now you have actually booked a site prior to the registration opening up for the day you intend to arrive.
And the cynical side of me says Reserve America likes this, because they collect the change fee, then post the cancelled days and can collect another booking fee when somebody else books those open days.
From that concept, I'm sure there are other more elaborate ways to work the rules in your favor.
And, back to our beach site that I wasn't able to book - when we got there, we intended to park the trailer near by at my Uncle's house, but the park did have a walk-up site open. We took that and got into the cg. When we got in, about 1/3 of the sites were not occupied despite everything showing booked. And as far as we can tell, the park staff was not actively enforcing the policy that you have to occupy a site if you book it. In NY, they do seem to enforce that. That is also very frustrating to see sites sit empty all week because somebody wanted to have it for the weekend.