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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA RESTORES 50% CUT TO SENIOR DISCOUNTS FOR CAMPING AT KERR LAKE & UPS THE DISCOUNT FOR ALL STATE PARKS

Kerr Lake Park Watch has been notified by the NC Division of State Parks that the 50% cut for discounts to senior citizens who camp at Kerr Lake has been rescinded and the full discount of $6 per night for seniors 62 years of age and older has been restored. In addition, that discount now applies throughout the entire park system for the State of North Carolina.

For more than a week though, the Reserve America system that takes NC State Parks reservations would not give campers the $6 senior discount, only the $3. But as of sometime Thursday, the computer glitches in Reserve America’s system were fixed and the statewide $6 per night senior discount restored.  The pictures below show that the system said $6 but only allowed $3 discount.

2016 KL Reservation that says $6, but only gave $3 #2 (2)     2016 KL Reservation that says $6, but only gave $3 (2)

 

For a number of years, senior campers at any of the seven Kerr Lake NC State Recreation areas have enjoyed a $6 per night discount applied when they made their reservations. Around the first of May of this year, the Division of State Parks and Recreation which manages all state parks including the recreation areas at Kerr Lake put a “dynamic rate plan” into effect and at the same time, cut the senior citizen discount from $6 to $3 per night or by 50%. One of the Kerr Lake Park Watch members was in the process of booking a site and noticed the change; almost immediately, several other campers found out about the change.

A news release and several radio broadcasts brought an initial response from NC State Parks that there had been no cut in the senior discount for camping. Adrian O’Neal, Chief of Operations told Kerr Lake Park Watch that sometimes when implementing something new like dynamic pricing that related items are inadvertently affected. O’Neal stated, “After some additional research, it seems there has been some inconsistency in the administration of the Senior Discount (for camping) not only at Kerr Lake, but throughout the system.  To remedy this, we will be restoring a statewide $6 Senior Discount (for camping).  I assure you this was not an attempt to sneak in a price increase. With that said, we are implementing a model that does charge premium rates for premium times such as holidays and weekends in season, but additionally, provides for reduced rates during off peak times such as weekdays and winter months. This model is used widely throughout the travel industry.  You will also see some minor increases in entrance fees later this year.   Again, we hope dynamic pricing will allow us to make fee changes incrementally so visitors will not see drastic changes from year to year and can plan appropriately for upcoming visits.

“The members and the leadership of Kerr Lake Park Watch are pleased with the swift action by the Division of State Parks to restore the senior citizen discount to 100% of what it was at Kerr Lake. It’s even better that the discount has been further extended, uniformly, to all state parks in North Carolina,” said Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Lead for Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake adding, “As far as Reserve America, we’re used to their glitches and foul-ups.”

Timberlake added, “Regarding the dynamic pricing, we now have the beginnings of a rate schedule from O’Neal and that helps. We will study it and at the same time listen to our members and the public to gather any and all reactions.”

“People sometimes forget that yes, sometimes we are a whistle blowing operation, but that we also are a strong support group of our rangers, our maintenance professionals, other park personnel and the parks themselves. We appreciate the way that Mr. O’Neal stepped up to our issues and the way he and the other leaders dealt with them quickly and to our members’ satisfaction. I truly appreciate Mr. O’Neal’s interest in Kerr Lake Park Watch and his spending time to find out more about what we see as opportunities and issues, said Timberlake.”

Regarding rate increases, most Kerr Lake campers who talk to members and leaders of Kerr Lake Park Watch are not opposed to incremental rates increases as long as they see money being put back into the parks for things like improved campsites with more camping pad gravel, improved bath facilities and possibly lighted boat ramps operated by the park system.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Reservation Information

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NC STATE PARKS QUIETLY RAISES PARK FEES & CUTS SENIOR DISCOUNTS BY 50%!

NC State Parks has quietly and confusingly raised rates and at the same time, cut senior citizen discounts by 50%.   This happened this week to Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Lead of Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake, who regularly books working trips to campgrounds around Kerr Lake, “The people at Reserve America said that they did not yet have new rates for North Carolina State Parks, which includes the seven state recreation areas at Kerr, but that they (Reserve America) were advised to begin new charges around the first of May.  I asked for a rate schedule and was refused several times.  They referred me to another person and eventually to a supervisor who could not explain very much.”

“The first thing I noticed is that they cut the senior citizen discount in half and that they upped my regular rate” continued Timberlake. “They couldn’t produce anything but they said I still had to pay a $3 per night fee for them booking the site, online or on the phone so Reserve America is still taking in the big bucks.  I had to sit on hold for 14 minutes for them to look up an old transaction and the new one I made today because Reserve America’s computers are slow according to two CSR’s and a supervisor. NC State Parks just operates in this vacuum and asks for zero input. Hell, the parks belong to us not them but one wouldn’t know it by their actions! And why should they go picking on older folks for more money?”

Conducting further research, Kerr Lake Park Watch found a short obscure notice on the NC State Park website that says the state is phasing in dynamic pricing which means a new supply and demand rate non-structure and that took effect on May 6th. The last time state parks raised rates was at the bottom of the recession in 2010, another very popular move with the public.

costs going up

North Carolina State Parks users which includes those who visit the seven State Recreation Areas at Kerr Lake pay some of the highest reservation fees in America.  Those fees, the $3 per night, means that if a camper stays at an NC State Park for two nights Reserve America charges that camper $6, but if the same camper reserves the same site for 14 nights, Reserve America charges and keeps $42, for the exact same transaction work.  It’s a one time transaction so why is it based on the number of nights?

Against the advice of other states like Virginia, NC State Parks began with the $3 charge because Reserve America supplied all the reservation software and systems.  Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to know why people have to hold long periods to make reservations and why such a steep transaction fee continues on.

Reaction to the rate hikes and senior citizen discount cut from Kerr Lake Park Watch members and campers has been direct.  KLPW Steering Committee Chair Larry Matthews said, “When our well managed park system pays $700,000 for a new bath house (Hibernia), they have to come up wih the bucks somewhere. And while we’re at it, how long does it take to hire “highly skilled and educated” park rangers. To my knowledge, we still don’t have a ranger at Hibernia. Last, check some of the RV forums. Other states use Reserve America and are no where near as pricey as our $3/night fee. Come on Raleigh!”

A camper who has grown up camping for years at Kerr Lake, Brook Cannady said, “It seems like what has been a good avenue for good family fun with reasonable rates is coming to an end . What was an economical family avenue seems to be changing but without more amenities to support the rate increases. Campers have many family camping options not priced much higher than these state campground with amenities such as pools , wifi, planned kid activities , horse shoe pits, entertainment, and with much cleaner shower facilities with actual ways to keep clothes dry in between changing area and showering space and the list can continue.  Maybe this increase will result in a decrease in park camping.”

“This is not the transparency and good state government customer service that Governor McCrory promised us.  State Parks just goes and makes changes without asking anyone anything.  It makes us think the only way to change this is at the polls,” said Timberlake.  “We will continue to raise questions and if necessary throw darts!  This is just wrong.”

 

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - MAIN NEWS

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