Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Hotel Reservations Versus Campground Reservations

Nights versus Dates = Confusion!

We have made a number of reservations to go camping this summer and I noticed something odd. Mark went to hotel/restaurant management school, and when we logged on to, say,, he would say, "we are arriving on August 21st and staying three nights!"  Meanwhile, the site wanted to know our arrival date and departure date.

This resulted in confusion, as, for example, under the hotel reservation rubric, the reservation is "Arriving August 21st and staying three nights" whereas in campground lingo, the reservation would be, "Arriving August 21st and departing August 24th" - which sounds like four days - because it is. To someone versed on hotel reservations, well, it sounds like you are staying four nights.  And indeed, we ended up making a mistake in our reservations, leaving a "hole" in our itinerary as one reservation had us checking out on a Sunday, and Mark assumed that meant we were staying Sunday night and departing Monday.

And that is not the first time this has happened. Last year, we ended up "homeless" for one night because we got confused between "departure date" and "number of nights" as one campground was indeed using hotel reservation software.  Fortunately, we were able to stay over another night - but were only made aware of the issue when the campground manager asked us why we hadn't checked out yet!

Why do hotels do this whack-a-doodle way of taking reservations?  Beats me, but I suspect it is because they sell hotel rooms based on the number of nights you are staying.  You are buying a night's sleep basically and then getthefuckout, dammit.  With campgrounds, I guess, they want to make it clear what day you are arriving and what day you are departing, so people don't stay over an extra day or reserve an extra day they don't need. Campgrounds sell days, hotels sell nights.

There are exceptions of course. One campground, using a hotel reservation software, reported the reservation in terms of arrival date and number of nights, rather than giving a departure date. Some hotels, on the other hand, give all three pieces of information - arrival date, number of nights booked, and departure date (and checkout time!).  Hey, it pays to be clear!  Still another place listed each day you were staying, which was kind of confusing.

I tried to make a reservation on for one night and it bounced it right out.  I had to select two days - arrival date and departure date - otherwise it thought I wanted the campsite just for the day.  So, two days equals one night - right?  It's not like it is confusing or anything!

How these systems evolved is an interesting topic.  I suspect since the hotel and camping worlds don't intersect very often, they evolved in different ways for different reasons.  Hotels want to know the number of nights so they can multiply that by the "rack rate" and calculate your bill.  Campgrounds want to make sure a site is vacated on a certain time and date so the next camper can occupy it - I guess.

To me, as an ordinary human being, the "number of nights" is confusing as all get out.  I have to count on my fingers to figure out what my departure date is, if I am spending a number of days at a hotel.  When I ask the desk clerk for clarification, it goes like this:

"So, I am departing on Sunday, right?"

"You are booked for three nights."

"Yes, three nights, so today is Thursday, that means I depart Sunday, right?"

"Three nights, sir!"

"OK. that's Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, departing on Sunday.:

"Three nights!"

"Never mind, I figured it out myself!"

It gets more complicated if you are staying a week or longer.  I don't know why hotels don't just publish your arrival and departure dates instead of hoping you can count the days on your fingers.  It just seems like it would eliminate a lot of confusion.

But maybe that's just me.