Calgary-based CanaDream Corp. has been renting out recreational vehicles for more than 15 years, with locations in six provinces and territories. Although there are various high-tech aspects to the company’s business, including the software it uses for booking and reservations, it was a recent digital endeavor that got customers buzzing – an iPad app.
The Globe and Mail, Toronto, reported that six years ago, CanaDream began working on a project to develop a GPS-based tool that would offer RV users access to nearby points of interest, CEO Brian Gronberg says. CanaDream initially designed the software for GPS navigational units, which at the time were still growing in popularity. But that all changed in 2010.
“We were all set to launch (the software) a year ago on GPS screens,” Gronberg explains. “And then they announced the iPad, and we went ‘stop’ – the technology has caught up with the idea.”
The company quickly reworked the software for the larger tablet screen, and it soon signed deals with its carrier partners to give RV customers access to data through cellular or Wi-Fi connections, making the CanaDream app accessible on the road.
The idea is simple. The app essentially picks up a user’s location and offers information about nearby points of interest such as camping sites. The almost 3,000 options are collected from CanaDream’s 700 or so partners. In addition, customers get access to special discounts from those partners.
Just as they rent RVs, customers can now also rent iPads from CanaDream, or bring their own and download the app from the company’s website or on Apple’s iTunes store. A version of the app is publicly available for anyone to use, but only the RV rental customers get access to the discounts feature.
The explosive growth of consumer tablets has proven to be a boon for many small businesses, from restaurants that now use them as menus, to traveling salespeople who can do video displays of their products on the spot. Unlike major technological investments, tablet apps often cost relatively little, and they are easily distributed through various app stores.
But there’s another advantage. Unlike the somewhat more fragmented smart phone market, the tablet industry is still essentially a one-device arena. Because Apple’s iPad still dominates sales, small and medium-sized businesses can usually get away with designing an app specifically for that device, rather than paying extra for a presence on multiple platforms.
For now, Gronberg says CanaDream is focusing on adding more destinations and discounts to the app, in the hopes that the location-specific information and discounts it provides RV users will distinguish it from the competition.
“Yes there’s all kinds of guidebooks out there,” he says, “but sifting through it all to make the information applicable is always a very tedious job.”
After extensive research and beta testing in the RVing community, Rand McNally has released the TripMaker RVND 5510 – the first navigation device designed specifically for RVers.
“We’ve listened carefully to members of the RVing community, who told us overwhelmingly that they would be interested in purchasing a GPS if it provided RV-specific routing, stops and amenities that RVers need while on the road, and things to see and do along the way. Our new TripMaker RVND line will solidly deliver on these expectations,” said Dave Muscatel, CEO of Rand McNally.
The TripMaker RVND features:
– RV-Easy Routing with a base of award-winning navigation from Rand McNally, the TripMaker RVND 5510 layers on all the information needed to have an enjoyable and safe trip in an RV. The routing includes legal (including propane and other RV-only), height and weight restrictions, right- or left-turn preference based on 11 different RV types, and a quick reference to the Rand McNally Road Atlas. Turn-by-turn spoken and text directions keep the driver focused on the road ahead.
– The TripMaker RVND features more than 14 million points of interest – including festivals, and national, state, and regional parks. Other key information includes:
• RV campgrounds, RV dealers and service, parking and rest areas, travel centers with detailed amenities such as dump stations, propane availability and more.
• Detailed exit information and available amenities on upcoming interstate exits.
• RVer Tools such as checklists for set up and take down, maintenance logs, trails back to your campsite, and quick mileage calculators.
• Pet-friendly locations including parks, animal hospitals, and beaches.
In addition to routing and tools critical to RVers, the TripMaker RVND features Rand McNally Editor’s Pick Content – proprietary data provided by our editorial staff with video and photos. The content includes:
• Best of the Road – three-to-four day adventures including unique stops, photos of the locations, maps and more to plan a memorable adventure.
• Regional Trips, Scenic Tours, Weekend Getaways, and City Trips.
• 12,000 researched locations that will make any trip exciting and unique.
The Rand McNally Best of the Road program is also being featured this month in a promotion with USA TODAY (for more information, visit www.BestOfTheRoad.com), and in the recently released 2012 Road Atlas.
The TripMaker RVND 5510, available in North America in June, is fully operational in English, Canadian French and Spanish.
For more information, visit www.randmcnally.com/rvgps.