Unbundling park4night

I've just returned from a campervan trip that inspired me to share some ideas and observations around this hospitality niche.

That's me - working from a little campsite in the Pyrenees ⛰️

This was already my second long road trip with a camper van. Last year we drove from Amsterdam to Norway and this summer we decided to go to the south of France.

We didn’t have anything booked in advance, and almost each of the 16 nights, we slept at a different spot. Our main help to find the spots was the park4night app.

Park4Night: a "valley" of business opportunities

I wrote about unbundling Airbnb some time ago.

The idea is quite simple

  1. You observe a niche use case on Airbnb
  2. Then you replicate it as a standalone business
  3. Execute it MUCH better

Airbnb is a massive business, and if you can cut just a micro piece, it can still be enormous.

With park4night is different. Their business model is to sell premium access to power users. It's a discovery app, not a marketplace. There are no transactions.

I assume that they might be making about 2M Eur revenue a year - nice for a small indie project with a few contractors and a huge margin.

With some niches, you can build a business much bigger than park4night.

A quick overview of park4night

  • It’s the best discovery app for finding a camp spot
  • Strongest in Europe
  • About 10M app downloads
  • You can find any camp spots: campsites, backyards, parkings, secret spots in the wild, free, paid...
  • No competitor is even close to them (by the inventory and or number of app downloads)

What are some of these niche opportunities?

I should share some specific ideas now, right? Let's go:

1. Autonomous campsite

  • It’s like a campsite but fully automated
  • You scan a QR code, pay online, the gate opens
  • No employees onsite
  • Usually, 20-40 parking spots
  • We stayed in a couple of them - great value for money, low friction
  • Guests find these campsites mainly with the park4night app or Google Maps
  • Most of them don't have a website
  • This can be developed in so many ways and is very scalable
  • Example: Camper Park Bloesem (the one in the pictures above)
  • A company that is doing this on a scale (450+ sites, mainly in France): Camping Car Park

2. Wine camping

There are dozens of micro wineries in France offering free night stay for camper vans.

You get a parking spot in the vineyard and sometimes a few more services (access to bathroom, electricity, or kitchen). You even get a free tour with wine tasting. Amazing experience!

I talked to 2 owners, and both said it’s great marketing and at the same time, a nice revenue stream (people buy a lot of wine).This is just a super niche use case of park4night app (use the filter "Farms") where you can find these unique places.

I can imagine someone taking this concept and developing it more as a standalone business.The wineries can sell wine subscriptions (you get a six-pack of bottles every few months), and there are probably many other ideas.

Who is building the HarvestHosts for Europe?

3. Activities near campsites

  • One of the challenges when searching for spots on park4night was to find good campsites where you could do something interesting
  • You have to joggle between multiple apps to find the best camp spots
  • In my case, it was All Trails (hiking app) and Surfline (surf forecast app)
  • Example: I wanted to find campsites that are in walking distance from a starting point of a hiking trail that has 4.5+ stars on All Trails
  • And I care much more about this than the features of the campsite
  • Interesting problem to solve = there might be business opportunities here

Do you know anyone building such projects?

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