A few weeks ago Chris & Cherie over at Technomadia emailed us about a project they had been working on. They wanted to get our opinions, comments, and suggestions about the website. But they asked us to keep everything a secret until roll out.
They provided us a special link and we went in and played around a bit. We love the concept. There are a few features that stand out from our perspective, and we'll talk about those later.
Okay, so we passed on our opinions, comments, and suggestions (some of which will be implemented in the future). I then expected to check in on the site off and on over the next few months. However, they've decided to go ahead and open it up in "Public Beta" mode.
So, here is our detailed introduction of: RVillage!!
RVillage ("Our Village", NOT RV Village) is a new website designed as a social network for RVers, but with a tremendous amount of functionality as well.
Here's their introductory video.
I won't go into all the details of what this website does, but I'll cover a few of the major points.
What Is RVillage?
Simply put, it's social networking for RVers. But it uses social media principles in conjunction with the unique mobility of RVers to allow for in-person interaction in addition to electronic interaction. It is designed to connect RVers as they cross paths in their travels.
- RVillage allows and encourages members to "check-in" to whatever RV park they are in (Not in a park? Check in using just city/town and state)
- RVillage makes it easier for RVers to meet people visiting the same RV park or campground or city or area
- Members can then see what other RVillage members are in the park (or town), check out their profiles, send messages, set up get-togethers, etc.
- Members can become "friends"
- Members can create groups or join groups of other, like-minded RVers
- Members can create "get-togethers" in campgrounds (such as potlucks, happy hours, campfires, etc), in the area (such as dinners, movies, tours, paddling outings, etc.), and in future locations
- Members can explore and see where other members, RV parks, and vendors are located
- Members can view a map of 1) all other RVillage members, 2) their friends, 3) members of groups they are part of, and 4) combinations of all of those
- Members can upload photos
There is no cost to join. The website and the administration will be paid for by commercial enterprises that want to get their names if front of thousands of RVers.
To sign up, all you have to do is complete the sign-up page to create an account.
You can sign up as individuals or as a couple or as a family.
You select your "Display Name", input your email address, name, and create a password. That's it.
Then you can add as much to your Profile as you wish. The "About Me" page includes lots of information and you can write your own bio. You can include interests that others can search on. You can upload photos of yourself and your RV. You can also add links to your website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, and Google+ page.
Here's what our Profile Page looks like.
On the left side, it shows the RV Park/Campground we're checked into, how many "Profile Views" we've had and the number of "Friends". Below that are Profile options, Friend Requests, etc.
In the main section is our Profile picture, our Display Name, where we're checked in, our Rig information, and our Current Mission as drafted while setting up our profile.
Below that are buttons for Basic information, Friends, My Rig, My Places, Interests, and Photos. Clicking on "My Places" will show a map of all the campgrounds/RV parks where we've "checked in" as an RVillage member.
Checking In & The Park Page
That's the first thing you do after each move. When you sign in you "Check In" to your RV Park or Campground. You start typing and the park should come up from the embedded Allstays database. If the park doesn't show up or you are not in a park, you go to the city/state box and start typing there. (You can request the park be added if it's not in the database - hopefully, that request will be easier in the future.)
Here's what the Park Page looks like.
The page has a button to go to the park's website and in the center is the number of other RVillage members checked in at the park.
Note: I have a suggestion that check-ins need to be updated periodically, so we don't see 20 people in the park and find out most of them left six months ago. That's a feature that I've been seeking when looking at potential RV-Dreams Member maps - out of date locations can be frustrating and can cause people to stop using the feature if it can't be relied on.
Below that are more buttons:
- Basic information
- Park Feed - this shows all the check-ins and is sort of a news feed for the park
- Member Say - this gives you a place to give the park a thumbs up or thumbs down AND it provides links to the various RV park and campground review websites so you can check out reviews or post one of your own
- Area Map - this shows the various vendors/advertisers in the area much like campground maps where local ads are sold
- Get-Togethers - this shows whether or not there are scheduled get-togethers in the park
Speaking of Get-Togethers, each member can create get-togethers and invite other members. We created one for our Fall Rally.
We think this will be a great tool for RV-Dreams Community members to create local and regional get-togethers. We'll have to figure out the best way to do that.
Also, members can join or create Groups within RVillage. We created the Group called RV-Dreams Community for those that are RV-Dreams readers, forum members, rally attendees, etc. Here's the RV-Dreams Community group page.
It has clickable buttons as well:
- Contact Owner (that would be us)
- Website (a link to RV-Dreams.com)
- Number in Group (you click to see a list of all RV-Dreams Community members)
- Basic Info
- Group Map (a map of all RV-Dreams Community members that check in - the single feature that we are MOST excited about)
- Forum (a link to the RV-Dreams Community Forum)
- Get-Togethers (RV-Dreams Community scheduled Get-Togethers)
Note: Anyone can create a Group and if you don't have a forum, you can create one within RVillage.
Here is a photo of the RV-Dreams Community page with the Group Map button clicked.
So, we can see the RV-Dreamers all over the country, see who's in our area, and see who all may be close to each other. We've been hoping for something like this for a long, long time. :)
There are also other cool map features as well. On the Explore page, you can view maps of:
- RVillage Members (you can zoom in, zoom out, sort by state)
- Group Members (you can select a Group, zoom in, zoom out)
- Friends (you can see where your Friends are located)
- RV Parks (you can see RV Parks/Campgrounds)
Here's a look at view I did earlier of the RV-Dreams Community Group map on the Explore page.
And here's another view that has the RV-Dreams Community Group, our Friends, and all RVillage Members in Georgia.
So, you can see lots of different combinations, zoom in and zoom out, and click on individual markers to see who is where.
Also, on the left side of the Explore page, you can put in "start" and "end" locations and get a route.
So, we think RVillage is a wonderful concept, and we're excited that RV-Dreamers can use it as a tool to connect more easily, organize get-togethers, and keep track of each other.
We had a map for RV-Dreamers at one time, but it didn't last long as the developer stopped supporting it. We've been hoping for a substitute for a long, long time, and RVillage can fill that need for us.
Now, with all of that said, remember that RVillage is currently in "Public Beta" version. There are going to be lots of glitches and issues - I've found several. But, hopefully, the design team will address those items as soon as possible.
There are ways within the website to report problems and errors and to suggest "wish list" items. The glitches will get worked out over time.
I have a couple of other concerns about RVillage, which we have expressed, but, overall, I think it's a great opportunity for RVers to connect without having to do it via other social media.
So, we'll be on RVillage, and while I'm not sure we need any more personal exposure :), we look forward to seeing how our wonderful RV-Dreams family might use it to build even stronger connections.