Our goal this year was to slow the pace of each move such that we aim for fie to seven day stays everywhere we go rather than the less than three day average we pushed ourselves with in 2015. Unfortunately, the extremely popular state park campgrounds in the Florida Keys do not lend themselves to easily obtained long stays. Even during the low summer season you have to be extremely flexible about the dates, reserve very early, or hope for cancellations. During the peak winter season about the only legit way to get a stay is to frequently check for cancellations during a flexible window. It is almost impossible to get a reservation any other way; they are fully booked within seconds of the maximum eleven month in advance reservation window.
Last year we spent a week waking up earlier than our usual leisurely hour, logging into the Reserve America site with three different laptops and tablets, opening multiple windows for the various individual sites scheduled to come available that morning, and feverishly hitting “refresh” in an attempt to secure a site at Bahia Honda within the first few seconds it became available. We had no success. At the time I became suspicious that someone or some organization was hacking the system, i.e., using a script/program to automatically reserve sites and somehow profiting from the process.
During our recent short stay in Long Key we had a knock on the door from someone advertising a “booking service” with 95% success for the hard to get parks. He handed us a cheap, hand written brochure, explained that he was drumming up business, and that they focused on the hard to reserve parks in the Reserve American system, specifically mentioning Bahia Honda as one of their primary targets. They charge $60 for a successful reservation.
This confirms my suspicion, and it pisses me off. I may be a touch hypocritical about this in that I have used a script to check on the cancellations at the popular Reserve America parks, but it was free, didn’t automatically reserve a site, and no one profited. The state parks are not for-profit private resorts operating in the free market system. They are tax payer subsidized places that allow all citizens to enjoy the public areas at a reasonable cost. Now these jokers come along and turn the system on its head, basically making them almost primarily available for those that can afford to pay more.
Anyway, just thought I would rant. The group or individual in question is likely within the law since they are not technically selling sites, they are merely providing a booking service. I strongly suspect they are in violation of the Terms of Service for the Reserve America site and the Florida State Park system, but don’t have the knowledge level to explain it beyond that. Any thoughts or recommendations?