The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is preparing to unveil a new state park reservation system. Project manager Sherry Arntzen says the online system, set to debut February 17, will include many of the current features – but with a “new look and feel.”
There will also be some enhancements. “Our customers are going to be able to cancel reservations or make reservation changes online,” Arntzen said. “Currently, you’re unable to do that. You have to go through the call center, which has a limited number of hours.” The call center hours will be expanded to include weekends in conjunction with the changes to the online system.
Arntzen says the DNR is switching to a new vendor, The Active Network, for a number of reasons. “We’ve had issues of double-bookings occurring, which we do not want the system to allow. We’ve had some timing out issues,” Arntzen said. “The current system is a little cumbersome and time consuming for us to make changes when facilities are updated, we’ve added facilities or taken facilities away. And the financial reporting mechanism has just not been in place with the old system.”
The current system will continue to operate and accept reservations for cabins, day-use lodges and shelters through February 3. Camping reservations for 2011 will not be accepted until February 17. The state park campgrounds open on April 1. “Generally, we do not have a lot of people who make camping reservations for the month of April and it’s somewhat iffy for the first part of May,” Arntzen said. “So we do think the February 17 launch date will coincide pretty well with when people normally are starting to think about camping and making those reservations.”
The Active Network operates park reservation systems in 41 states and already handles the Iowa DNR’s hunting and fishing license system.