Home Technology Mobile Technology

Introducing RVillage.com – Technomadia’s ‘Secret Project’

It started last August.

We had just wrapped up closing down Cherie’s family business, which had been the focus of her career and her primary source of income for the past 20 years.

After several back-to-back major life challenges, we announced that we were excitedly looking forward to treating ourselves to a bit of a mini-sabatical – focusing on our own apps, books, and small projects for a while.

We even had a snazzy new logo created for our own partnership, Two Steps Beyond LLC, and polished up our professional web presence.

We wrote at the time:

We’re just not ready to dive into another life encompassing project until we’ve had a chance to reground after being in a continual crisis mode for so long.

Fortunately we are both skilled at setting intentions, and then letting go of our attachment to them.

Because just a few weeks later we got an email from another full-time RVer named Curtis:

“I just spent about an hour on your site, again, and I want to connect with you! As a reminder, our mutual friend tried to connect us a couple of years ago but we blew it off.… The reason I am contacting you now is I think I have a development job for you if at all interested.”

IMG_8952

Our focus – volunteering at Cape Blanco.

We get emails like this occasionally, and had gotten several all at once after we announced we shut down the family business.

We were sincere that we weren’t looking for new gigs, but we followed up nicely to them all and offered consultation sessions. All of our replies pointed out that we were mainly focused on our lighthouse hosting duties and in no rush to explore new opportunities.

A few weeks later, Curtis poked us again:

“I am really hoping to connect with you, and am wondering if you have time for a call in the NEAR future?”

That email lead to a great phone call, with Curtis revealing a very intriguing project, and all of us discovering some amazing serendipitous threads of connection and entwined history – even though we had never met.

But there was no obvious path forward – we weren’t looking to take on anyone else’s big project, and a skilled team made up of veterans from Couchsurfing.org (which grew to support 7 million members!) was already on board.

We told Curtis we were happy to brainstorm further with him, and it looked like our paths were likely to cross soon.

“Can’t wait to meet ya and show you where we are at with this “baby” I am having!”

Debuting RVillage at our Cedar Key Convergence - our month long focus group.

Debuting RVillage at our Cedar Key Convergence – our month long focus group.

The seeds were planted, and in early November we at last came face-to-face with Curtis on a magically serendipitous night in the desert.

Curtis shared with us his dream for creating something amazing for RV’ers craving community on the road – something he was calling RVillage.

“RVillage… Our Village.”
Kinda catchy.

It was a realization of something we had wished for in all our years on the road – and he had the funding, a development team, and a solid business plan for bringing it into reality.

He told us he knew we had some big role in this, we just had to define it.

We realized that this project had our name written all over it, and by the time we were back on the road eastward, we knew we couldn’t NOT be involved. We were in rare place in our lives where we had both the time and banked savings to invest ourselves into a speculative project that inspired us so much.

So we agreed to join the RVillage core team as advisors and “Launch Specialists” to add our unique perspective and talents.

And since early November we have been working (literally!) every day to help bring this dream into reality.

So much for avoiding life encompassing projects!

Sometimes the universe completely ignores the intentions you set, and gives you exactly what you need.

And now… Introducing RVillage!

RVillage_Logo_Final

The core idea of RVillage is to create a very simple (and free) tool for RVers to connect with each other – not just online, but right in the RV parks and places they are currently staying in.

When a user checks into a location in RVillage, they can discover the things that they have in common with other RVers right around them.

This sure beats leaving connections up to chance encounters while walking the cat, or the random stranger coming up asking “what type of engine is in that thing?” while you are busy dumping the tanks.

“With RVillage, an RV park full of strangers becomes a village full of friends.”

 

Our shared group map from the Cedar Key 2014 Convergence - showing where everyone has scattered to since. Perfect for keeping in touch with new friends made, and planning future rendezvouses.

Our shared group map from the Cedar Key 2014 Convergence – showing where everyone has scattered to since. Perfect for keeping in touch with new friends made, and planning future rendezvouses.

And RVillage isn’t just about making new friends out on the road – it also features shared mapping tools that let you track your current friends across the country and plan future rendezvous together.

Kiki managing her Fan Club on RVillage.

Kiki managing her Fan Club group on RVillage.

Even better – you can create both public and private groups to keep in touch with people who share your interests. Everything from smaller special interest groups to larger organizations will be able to have a presence on RVillage with a central map showing where everyone in the group is currently checked in at.

This is the sort of “Nomad Proximity Detector” tool that we have long craved in our own nearly 8 years years on the road.

Here’s a preview video our team put together to explain the RVillage concept:

RVillage aims to answer some of the common questions we see daily in blogs, forums, and groups:

  • How can I meet like minded people on the road, when I’m only in town for a few days?
  • Who else is traveling in this part of the country right now? Where will people be converging this winter?
  • How can I meet my new neighbors in a campground, skip the small talk, and get to the deeper things we share in common?
  • I keep literally passing my RVing friends on the highway – isn’t there a better way to know when we are near each other?
  • How can I find RV Parks that are more social, offering more than just a place to park?

RVillage is not just another social network focused on keeping people virtually connected and online.

This is about using technology to make more real life connections happen offline.

“It’s not only about the places we go, it’s also about the people we meet along the way.”

Planning Get-togethers within the park you're currently checked into.

Planning Get-togethers within the park you’re currently checked into.

We’ve partnered with Allstays for our park directory so nearly every RV park in the country is already in the system – including many in Canada.

You’ll be able to browse the profiles of others in the park – and you can then message them directly and organize or attended get-togethers.

You can post on the park’s feed and ask about local things to see, or about borrowing a ladder, or seeing who might be up for a photography expedition or grocery run. Or just hanging out around a campfire.

And RVillage can become a conduit for communication between park management and their village – relaying information ranging from propane delivery schedules to weather alerts – “Bring in the awnings tonight!”

It’s super focused on the RVing lifestyle – full timers, part timers, vacationers, and seasonal RVers alike.

RVillage has been created by RVers for RVers, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Ready to Join RVillage?

Building RVillage has been a massive undertaking, and a lot of pieces have had to come together in a relatively short time.

After a couple months of conducting intense focus groups (yup, serendipity perfectly timed the development cycle with our Cedar Key convergence to provide an ideal social RVing environment!), and hosting hundreds of private  previews – we think what we have in RVillage today is a solid very functional foundation.

But we know we are not nearly done yet.

There are still rough edges to smooth out, plenty of big and little bugs to squash, and a lot of potential that is still evolving as we work out the implementation details.

rvillage_logo_road

No one has ever created a site and community quite like RVillage before – and we have decided to invite the public in before the site is perfect with a “Public Beta” period beginning today.

Our intention is to turn “beta” into a badge of honor, indicating that we are being developed out in the open taking community feedback to heart.

In part we are doing this because we just couldn’t keep it secret any longer – so many of our preview users have been having a hard time holding back their excitement wanting to share about RVillage already.

Lots of awesome stuff is still under development and coming soon – such as  support for smartphones, boondocking sites, and travelers in Mexico.

We know that an active and involved village is the best way to determine what features are actually the most important to prioritize.

So if you’re up for joining us in continuing to shape this amazing tool as a community, we invite you to set up your free profile here:

Join us on RVillage.com

You can start making new friends right away, connect with existing ones, and finding the most social RV Parks along your route ahead!

Villagers are beginning to spread across the continent. Come join us!

Villagers are beginning to spread across the continent. Come join us!

There is a Technomadia Fans group for readers of this site, and of course the all-important Kiki Fan Club.

And if you’d like to be part of the conversation around submitting bugs and ideas for future improvements, as well as getting updates about major new features & fixes – we also invite you to join us on our RVillage Beta Feedback group.

Even before launch, RVillage already has had several success stories of new friendships made and existing ones strengthened.

We are so excited to see the impact that this project will have on the RVing world!

RVillage will always be free for us RVers, and even for the RV Parks who can choose to claim their parks and become social RVing hubs. The funding will come from the location aware service directory that you’ll see on the right hand side of the screen featuring RV friendly businesses who are advertising and supporting the community.

The RV Friend Network LLC Team (Don’t look for us in the group picture – we were hyper focused on our part of the launch in Cedar Key, and didn’t attend the sales team training in Las Vegas in February.)

We have teams already out on the road getting RV Parks to claim their parks and encourage their guests to sign into RVillage. They are also selling advertising to local RV friendly businesses. The service directory has actually proven to be a favorite feature in our preview testing – providing a valuable tool that will make it easier for us RVers to find the things we need when we’re just in town for a short while.

Imagine – useful advertising focused on the needs of RVers, and relevant to where you are at right now!

 

So this is it – the ‘secret project’ we have been teasing about.

If you are at all excited by the potential here – tell your friends, share this post, and help us spread the word! As RVillage.com grows, we all benefit by increasing the number of people we can connect with on the road.

We are so excited to finally be able to talk about this!!

Follow RVillage on:

Facebook | Twitter  |  Google+  | YouTube

 

A couple notes:

  • If you need assistance with RVillage, please use the ‘Contact Us’ link on the bottom of every RVillage page (including the landing page).  You can also contact customer service directly by e-mailing support@rvillage.com.
  • RVillage is focused on the USA, and will gradually grow to support locations in Canada and Mexico. You can also set your location to anything you desire (including ‘At Home’, ‘Out in the Boonies’, ‘On Vacation’, etc. under the ‘No, I’m Not in a Park’ location option. This will take you entire ‘off the map’ as well if you don’t want to share your location.)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, we receive a commission. Note that all opinions are 100% our own and we only link to products we personally use and absolutely recommend! Technomadia is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

74 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

Your comments mean the world to us... please don't be shy :)

  1. GREAT idea – like FourSquare for RVers, only better! Looking forward to trying it out when we hit the road…hopefully very soon now!

    Congrats to the team,
    Steph

  2. […] Technomadia – Cherie and Chris are part of the core team and shared the introduction first, and even though they were reluctant at first to take on a new project, I’m happy to see them so involved with all the RVing experience they have.  I particularly appreciated their insights into intentions:   “Sometimes the universe completely ignores the intentions you set, and gives you exactly what you need.” They explain, […]

  3. still getting endless loop where I cannot get past the location query. Not at RV park, enter city and it doesn’t like capital first letter, same for state plus did not accept fully spelled out state name. Enter city and 2 character state abbreviation and that at least allowed me to enter that information, but went into loop requesting same info over and over again.

    Can’t get past that so can’t report trouble directly. At least the main page now loads on my iPad mini retina using Safari browser on TMobile 2G connection.

    e3

    • What problem are you running into specifically? You can also click the ‘Contact Us’ link at the bottom of the landing page to reach our customer support folks. Thanks.

  4. Can not get passed the pop up on the RVillage page that wants to know if I want to join the park. I reply no and it will not let me do anything else. Any suggestions?

  5. About the sign up page…. do my husband and I sign up as a couple with a cool display name and one log in and password? Or do/can we each sign up as individuals with our own log in and password? Does it matter? Or am I way over thinking this?

  6. Hi—-I joined yesterday but can’t EVER get past the box about checking in to a park or not checking into a park. I thought I asked yesterday how to get past that but I don’t see my comment so perhaps I dreamed that I asked it. LOL

    so—–please, how do I get past that box? Even if I try to enter a location in the “no I am not checking in” box nothing every happens.

    i know this will be a wonderful tool and a great group—-if I can ever get it. Help, please!!!

    thanks—Beth

    • Just enter a location and click ‘Go’.

      If you’re having difficulty, there’s a ‘Contact Us’ link at the bottom of the page, and someone on the team can help you further.

    • I had the same problem when signing up from my iPad, but after I left the site and then went back in, it straightened up. If you still have trouble, make sure you tell them what browser and operating system you are using, as it may be a glitch related to that, and they can then try to duplicate the problem at their end. Best wishes.

  7. I was just emailed a comment from Rowanova, but it’s not showing up here. It was in regard to the need for a mobile app, and is true, although the site seems to work well with Chrome on my iPad. As a marketer, I receive a lot of info, and it was just announced last week that the web readership on mobile devices has now passed the 50% mark…up from a third just in the past year.

    One thing I have noticed is that out of the nearly 100 apps I use, many of them are designed by a small handfull of companies. I know that development costs money, even if you do it in house, but if you have to go to outside help, just take a look at the logos on anyone’s mobile device app, and it will give you several sources for those services.

    I like what I see, and agree with the privacy issues, too. Even on blogs, many people prefer to post after they leave a particular spot, just so people won’t know “exactly” where they are. Using a nearby city location in this program is a great idea. You don’t necessarily have to reveal what parking spot you are in.hat alone should satisfy the safety issues of “the shy ones”.

    • Like we responded, and announced in the article above – mobile versions are coming soon. This project has had a lot of ramp up efforts to bring together what is already there in a fairly short time, and there’s still a long ways to go. First steps 🙂

      As mobile app developers ourselves, we know very well how important an app version will be. But for now, we’re pleased that it works pretty well on tablets.

    • Speaking as someone who has undertaken this type of effort before, don’t rail them over the mobile app. They definitely know it needs to be done! But when you develop something like this you always have second thoughts as to whether or not you’re following down the right path. And then there is the sheer volume of work. A site like this is a toooooooon of work. You can’t imagine how much testing is involved to find all the bugs and make it work as well as it does. Frankly I’m surprised they manage to hold back as long as they did announcing the site. It works very well. The site is by far the most important since that works on any mobile device.

  8. Are there going to be mobile apps coming available for the site in the future?
    As the site is for people going, and already on the go, and while in motion, it would seem a necessity now days with social networking an be mobile.
    Sorry for double post, I forgot to add this question in my first comment. 🙂

  9. This is a really cool concept. As a member of a few RV forums, and a follower of several RV blogs, I’ve wondered if there were something like this. And upon learning there didn’t seem to be, I’ve thought some type of RV social network site should have great appeal amongst the community. I hope it all grows into a successful RV networking site. Congrats!

  10. At the risk of asking a dumb question, can a creepy stalker use this site to follow someone around the country? If I were, for example, to join the singles group, could some crazy woman join the group and then know exactly where I am when ever they wanted to know?

  11. RVillage looks to be a GREAT concept – Just one small challenge. I joined, however the screen turns opaque, asking for my location. I type in my location however I am told “Cant be found” – type in. I do this “Adelaide South Australia” however nothing happens. Just a glitch among several when these new ventures start up. Operating Windows 7 – Firefox 27.0.1 – All the best

    • Hi Larry… RVillage is not yet setup for Australia, unfortunately. USA and some Canada for now.. but we have big plans for other RVing areas of the world. Small steps 🙂

    • And yes — we absolutely do need friendlier error messages for people who are outside the currently supported areas. I consider improving the check-in process to be perhaps our #1 usability issue right now.

      Thanks!

  12. RV Village is going to be the best social RVing network in the world. One little criticism from a person that has owned several truck camper over the years. On your check the type of RV page you don’t list Truck Campers. You might want to check with truckcampermagazine.com or natcoa.com to find out how many truck campers there are.
    Keep up your pioneering spirit
    Syd Goldberg

  13. I tried to join RV Village, but thre screen I got just had blank lines. I put my name in the a password, then got about 5 error messages wanting last name Email address, etc. ?”??

    • What OS and browser are you using? We saw a similar issue this morning on Windows XP with IE7 earlier today. If we can recreate the issue, we can squash it.

      Thanks for the report!

  14. This is awesome!!!! As a vacation RVer (longing to be full time) I feel like this opens a whole new door to the “community” aspect of RVing that we love. We recently broke down and needed a tow into the state park because the tow truck refused (looooong story). We spent a long night in a BiLo parking lot illigally; however in the AM the first couple we asked in the park happily towed our TT in. They keep say “we would have came and got you all last night if we knew !” I feel like an app like this would have saved us a stressful night in our illegal spot. So so cool-thanks for sharing!

  15. This site is exactly what is needded. and it works well too. What language was it done in? It has an asp.net mvc/web api feel… I’m curious if I’m right. The overall functionality and layout is perfect.

  16. Nice! I’m looking forward to exploring this more. I love that I can choose a city/state nearby and not necessarily my exact location, since I rarely stay in an RV park (I wouldn’t mind adding my coordinates when I’m boondocking and would like visitors – maybe that’s an option that can be added?). I enjoy connecting with people while I’m on the road and really hoping this will allow me to make more of those connections.

    I had no issues signing up or uploading my photos. The one thing that was confusing, though, was when I went in to update my rig page; although I had already uploaded a photo of my rig, it said there wasn’t one so I uploaded it again. The profile photo page shows the currently uploaded photo so no issue there.

    Thank you!

    • Yes.. thanks… the Rig photos not confirming the upload is an outstanding issue that we’re aware of, and is on the list to be fixed. If you find yourself with duplicates as a result, you can edit the photos in the album it created by viewing your profile and clicking the ‘Photos’ button.

  17. I have been following your blog and your facebook for quite some time now and am very excited about RVillage! Looking forward to getting signed up and looking around. 🙂

  18. I used my non-cell iPad to join, and it put me into an endless loop trying to find my location, even though I entered the city where I am currently. It seems this program needs a way to identify city locations the same way Google Analytics does, without depending on cell towers or GPS. And there needs to be an escape button to get out of that location window! The rest of the site can’t be accessed without getting past it, and it won’t let you! Either that, or fix the problem with it not wanting to accept input city names!

    • Thank you so much for sharing this problem, we’ve seen intermittently in our previews but haven’t been able to narrow down what is causing it. Your report that you’re on a non-GPS iPad may be just the ticket to help us squash this one.

      In the meantime, you may want to try checking into your nearest RV Park to get around the endless GPS vs. City, ST issue… or logging in on a computer. Hopefully our development team will be able to work around or fix this very soon! Our apologies that this is what your first look at RVillage resulted in.

      • Thanks, Cherie. I was finally able to get past it by going out of the program and then coming back in. It brought up the proper log-in page, and now it shows my location on the menu bar, as it should. Still, you shouldn’t have to exit the program to make it work. From what I can see, though, this is going to be a great resource for RV’ers. Our next purchase of a tablet will be cell and GPS equipped. I won this iPad in an eBay survey, and it’s quick and fast, but but limited. The next one will be PC based, and have more ports and other capabilities. My profile picture is on my laptop, so I’ll have to go there to upload the picture.

      • Thanks for the update.. as we said, we know there are rough edges and we are actively working to smooth them out 🙂 The site, unfortunately, is not as optimized right now for mobile devices as it is for desktops & laptops.

  19. Great Idea! Funny I looked at the title and though it said RVvillage Didn’t realize until I watched the video it was RVillage, designedly catchy! Cant wait to be a part of. I’m certain I won’t be the last to say THANK YOU, to you two for all you do for the Rving community and us soon to be fulltimers!

    • You can set your location to the nearest city and state for now, which will introduce you to others also in the area… and we are working on identifying key popular boondocking spots to enter into the system. In our market research however, we found most boondockers didn’t want to reveal their exact location (or have their favorite boondocking spots made public) and preferred just setting a nearby city & state.

  20. I. Am. Astonished.

    I’ve been asking around in various groups if anyone knew of an app that could connect friends and Tribe on the road. Almost universally, my queries were met with hypers conspiracy fears and Big Brother/NSA paranoid hyperbole.

    I was so hurt to realize how many people in this wonderful RV world just wanted to be anonymous. For us, newly setting out this year, half the fun of traveling is meeting new friends. What good is finding an amazing place if it’s empty?

    Then I found this post and I feel redeemed. Now I know I’m not the only one who wants to check in with friends. Or see who may be around me that wants to meet other people. This is an amazing, heartening, and wonderful idea. I can’t wait to try it out and I’m giving you a cyber standing ovation.

    Thank you so much!

    • I’m one of the ones who prefers to stay private, but that said, I think this is a great idea for those folks who would like to participate. And indeed, I may choose to in the future (and if so I will be super glad it exists). I’m not sure why some people’s desire for privacy would be hurtful to you (previous commenter). I know that your desire to be more public doesn’t bother me at all. I like to think there is room for both approaches.

      To Technomadia: I really appreciate that you did research (i.e. asked potential users) and were sensitive to the idea that boondockers might want the option to select a general locality without pinpointing a location. If I do join up, I’d be one of those people, and it feels good that you would like to accommodate others of like mind.

      I do miss “community” when traveling, although for now my private side is winning out (it’s a conundrum for folks like me to balance the two!).

      Here’s to the rousing success and general wonderfulness of RVillage!

      Pen

  21. With all the teasing, you surely did not disappoint! Love the idea. Especially if we can filter for other like-minded folks.

Add your comment now!