Home' Open Road Sydney North and North West : OR0916 Contents WE HAD TALKED ABOUT hiring out our 1957 caravan ‘Woody’
for a while. It wasn't an easy decision – the thought of strangers
sleeping in our van and using our things was enough to put me right
off the idea. But ever pragmatic, my husband Nathan reassured me
and we listed Woody online with the Airbnb-style service, Camplify.
This online business has the aim of connecting caravan owners
with non-owners who would like to have a holiday in one. In 2014,
Camplify was a successful finalist in the NRMA’s Slingshot
Jumpstart Accelerator Program, which provided the new company
with investment and mentoring to help it develop.
Essentially, if you own a caravan that’s not in use for any part of
the year, you can list it on the site for free, hire it out to others, and
pocket the cash. A booking fee goes to Camplify, which is how the
company makes its money.
We first wanted to check out the other vans online, but before we
could browse the listings we had to go through an extensive sign-up
process. We tried to make our description as honest as possible and
choosing the price was difficult. Woody has a vintage charm and
aesthetic appeal, but he lacks the mod cons we figured paying guests
would expect. The basic and comfortable set-up suits us just fine, but
we found ourselves feeling a little self-conscious offering a van with
no air conditioning or hot water, and only a hand pump over the sink.
Nevertheless, a guest soon booked a two-night stay at a caravan
park. With terrible mental images of our beloved van strewn across
the road at the hands of a novice tower, we opted for the ‘tow and
set-up’ option for bookings. Our guests would send their payment
through, and the email correspondence would begin.
As I prepared the van for our guests, I was quite anxious. Were
the sheets okay? Would they mind that the towels didn’t match
the face washers? Was our crockery too mismatched? Should
I take out our shell collection?
My panic finally settled after delivering the van to the pre-booked
site at the caravan park, with wine glasses and a friendly bottle
waiting for our guests. It was actually quite fun thinking about the
wonderful times we’d had in our caravan and knowing that
somebody else was about to have a great weekend with him also.
The warm and fuzzies didn’t last long, however, because our
phone rang a few hours later and it was our guests’ caller ID. We
assumed they were calling with a complaint: Woody was not what
they expected or something was majorly wrong. Instead, our guests
sheepishly admitted they had locked themselves out. Laughing with
relief, we drove down to meet them with a spare key.
Waiting for us, lounged on our deck chairs outside Woody,
were the nicest ladies we could have ever hoped for. They were
sisters and told us they loved everything about Woody (especially
my orange 1970s tablecloth) and were so excited to be staying.
We recommended a few great local places to eat and headed
off feeling relieved.
After their stay they sent a wonderful thank you message and gave
a terrific review on our Camplify profile. Woody was left in immaculate
condition and we were left encouraged to hire him out again.
To learn more about Camplify, visit www.camplify.com.au.
The owner of a retro caravan relates her real-world experience with the caravan-sharing service, Camplify
WORDS & PHOTOS LUCY HERSEY
Our caravan has a vintage charm
but lacks the mod cons we figured
paying guests would expect
Holidays for hire
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