A bespoke search engine is the driving force behind pitchup.com, a site launched this week for the UK camping and caravanning community.
Founder Dan Yates, formerly of lastminute.com, told Travolution that the search engine had been built from scratch and was “appropriate” to the needs of a camping audience, with the information coming from a number of sources, including campsite managers and the government agencies.
“We’ve adopted a crowdsourcing, wiki-type approach for some content,” he said. “Some campsite managers have got log-in details so they can provide details about their site which then feeds into the search.”
He also said PitchUp.com was taking advantage of the information provided by government agencies in the UK. “There is a lot of data which is made available to the open-source community for mash-ups,” he said.
“We’ve sourced the battlefield information from English Heritage, there’s the World Heritage information, we’ve even taken some information from the RSPB and we’re using figures from the Marine Conservation Society about the water quality of British beaches.”
The site will also feature user-generated content, with users reviewing and rating sites.
PitchUp.com is currently self-funded, with Yates’ initial focus on building up and establishing it as a content source. There is a media campaign, with some banner ad activity on other specialist activity sites, as well as a Facebook fan page and a Twitter feed.
“I’m being quite selective about where we advertise,” Yates said. “I think camping is a social, collaborative activity so I think we have the chance to build traffic and interest through word of mouth and virally.”
He added: “The next stage will be to get involved with affiliates and have advertising on the site, but we want to be able to take online bookings within 6-12 months.”
The potential for online bookings is significant, Yates claimed, in a market which is even more fragmented than the hotels sector. Mintel reported that in 2008, more than a quarter of UK camping holidays were booked online.
“The big companies like Park Resorts and Haven can take online bookings but there is a whole range of smaller sites which we think we can help out,” he said.