HOLLISTAY - Bringing the camping industry into the 21st century with a central online booking system
In 2016, avid campers Malin and Lars Mellstrand noticed something was missing from the marketplace. In a world where most travelers can expect to easily search and book a stay at one of thousands of hotels and B&Bs around the world via booking sites like booking.com and Airbnb, reserving a campsite felt, by comparison, like trudging through mud.
“The camping industry has generally lagged when it comes to digitization,” says Lars Mellstrand, co-founder of Hollistay. “To book a campsite, it took at least eight steps, with searching, telephone calls and so on, before one could make a reservation.”
Intent on bringing campsite booking up to speed with the demands of the modern traveller, Malin and Lars decided to create a solution that would make the entire process—from discovery to booking and payment— easier and more accessible than ever before. In 2017, they founded Hollistay and contacted us at Fastdev to help realize their dream of creating a central, user-friendly booking platform where campers can discover and book thousands of campsites around Scandinavia.
A dedicated team was assembled at Fastdev to develop everything from scratch. Not only was a large and advanced booking platform needed to bring the Mellstrand’s dream to life, but Fastdev also stepped in to help facilitate and execute the design of a logotype and graphic identity, logistics, programming, project management, and more.
“We didn’t know anything about programming before,” says Malin Mellstrand. “But we received incredibly good help and support from Fastdev’s team. For instance, they advised us to start making a webpage before developing a more expensive mobile application.”
As the team set out to enlist and organize thousands of unique campsites in one uniform booking system, a multitude of challenges were discovered along the way. While some campsite providers priced per night, others priced according to the size of the camping party. While some wanted to use Hollistay’s booking function, others preferred to redirect campers to their own booking system. And then there were the questions of how to most optimally sort search results and create a smooth overall user experience—from discovery and booking, to payment and even potential cancellation. In short, the Fastdev team had their work cut out for them.
The development process kicked off with a roundtable discussion, together with Hollistay, about what the final solution should look like and what features it should include. After weighing the different alternatives and determining the best route to implementation, our development team designed and modeled a basic architecture for the booking system.
Once initial functions were in place, different filtering models were tested that would enable the diverse camping sites to coexist in one booking system and, ultimately, to create a uniform search and booking experience for the user.
The next step was to establish smooth booking and payment flows. The system was integrated with Stripe, an online payment system that allows payments to be split and paid out automatically to campsite providers directly after a purchase. Guests making a booking on Hollistay pay with a credit or debit card. They are able to view and cancel bookings using an account interface. In case of cancellation, money is automatically returned to guests’ bank accounts within the refundable period.
Last adjustments were made according to a final round of feedback from Hollistay to optimize the overall experience for all three user types—campers, campsite providers, and administrators.
Hollistay and their modern campsite booking platform officially launched in March of 2019, and the next step in their mission was spreading the word to as many people as possible. Fastdev helped get the ball rolling with SEO optimization and PR partners, which resulted in additional press attention at launch.
“The best thing about Fastdev is that they are very receptive,” says Malin Mellstrand. “They always respond at once, and we work very tightly together even though we are located in different cities.”
Fastdev continues to make improvements to the platform and booking system today, and the next step is integrating the booking systems between Hollistay and the various camping sites. We are also in the process of designing and launching a mobile application.
“I’m very proud over the end result and how we were able to transform their idea into a fully functioning solution,” says Lennart Källbäck, CEO of FastDev. “In fact, we connected with Hollistay’s idea so much that we ended up becoming an investor shortly after the launch. We’re looking forward to our continued partnership with Hollistay and advancing the mission of making camping more accessible in Scandinavia and beyond.”