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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

RV park owners admonished: Pay attention to customer Internet access

"WiFi is the fourth utility, after electric, gas, and water." – Dimiter Zahariev.

While Zahariev is an expert with the air travel industry, his comments could well apply to the RV park community. Many RVers scratch their heads – or worse – when trying to find an RV park that offers their customers more than mediocre Internet connectivity. A story that recently ran in Woodall's Campground Management – a publication viewed by some 14,000 RV park managers, should sound as a wake-up call to park owners to do something to improve the state of WiFi in private parks.

Here's a synopsis of the main points that the Woodall's story featured:

RVers depend on Internet connectivity. KOA's technology director summed it up well: "It (WiFi) is so important to your guests. It's almost moved from being an amenity to a utility. It's an expectation." KOA has done a bit of its own checking on the demand. The company says 73 percent of customers want WiFi, way more than those that want cable TV, a virtual whisper of 30 percent in comparison.

Pay to play? With WiFi high on the expectation list, should RV parks charge a little extra for those who want it? One California park operator put it succinctly: “If you want to go ahead and piss off your guest, go ahead. It’s an expectation. I don’t think you’re going to get away from that.” Not all industry talking heads agree with that. “The ‘utility’ label implies a cost to be borne by the end user, which will do away with free,” said Joss Penny, executive director at the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association. Still, charging for a "utility," implies a responsibility on the part of the purveyor. "It also demands a higher standard of service expectation, so RV parks will need to increase bandwidth.”

And what about campground coverage? There are plenty of RV park owners who claim to have WiFi on site, but get a bit too far away from the office and your Internet speed acts like your laptop has swallowed sand and glue. Campground owners are being urged to offer WiFi in the park where it's a good, solid, fast connection – and don't offer it anywhere else in the park, lest we customers get disappointed. And as the article cautioned park owners, don't plan just for today – put in a system that will offer more than you need now, as demand will only increase.

If Woodall's is correct in their readership figures – 14,000 – than that means every RV park manager in the U.S. should have had access to these reminders. Will they read the story? We could hope so. The important thing is – will they act on what they read?

For the complete story click here

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Train Ride Recorded on Google Earth with My Tracks App

We took a day to play tourist the day before we left the Verde Valley in Arizona. We posted a question on the Facebook group “Living the RV Dream” asking for suggestions of what to do. Within the hour we had no less than 20 responses. More came in over the next day. The consensus seemed to be Take the Train! So we did.

We called and made reservations for the Verde Canyon Railroad. We arrived the next day around noon and boarded the train at 1pm. Then I turned on My Tracks on my smartphone. This is so cool. It is GPS aware so it just keeps drawing a line on a map that plots where we are. But, more than that, you can take pictures along the way and they will be added to the correct spot on the map. When your trip is complete you stop the recording. Then you can view the tour or share it.



My Tracks is a Google product, so it integrates with Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Drive.  If you use Google Drive your Tracks are automatically saved there, so you can access them from your computer, or whatever device you like.  This also makes them easy to share with others.  I tapped the share icon at the top of the screen and chose the option to share publicly with Google Drive.


If you have Google Earth installed on your computer (or whatever you’re using to read this) you can click on this Verde Canyon Track to download it. Then, when you open that .kmz file it will open in Google Earth. You should then see something like the following screenshot. I think the most entertaining way to view it is by double-clicking the Marker labels at the left. So, double-click on Marker 1 and Google Earth will fly you to that point and open up the picture. Then double-click on Marker 2 etc.


After you record a track, you should be able to open your Google Drive and see a folder called My Tracks.  This folder can be on your computer as well as in the cloud if you download the Google Drive Desktop. 

The one big problem with My Tracks is that there is no App for iPhone, just for Android phones.

I doubt that I’ll use this feature very often, but it sure makes for a ‘gee-whiz, look at that!’ way to view some special trips.

Previous article on My Tracks: My Tracks Makes Maps

Name: My Tracks
Author: Google
Cost: Free
Available for: Android phones and tablets
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