If camping can qualify as a strong couple, don't look to Sarah Smith and Kevin Long in Minnesota.
Both use a youthful exterior aesthetic to create a Dyrt online platform, which like a good beacon or reliable breeder is very important for camping.
St. Cloud born, Bemidge raised, Smith lovingly recounted the children's family journeys to and from Northwood and beyond. The long drive to Rosville, where his participation in exploration helped him enjoy a love of nature and a night in a sleeping bag.
Away from home in Portland, Oregon (and sometimes off-road) these days, Dyrt is considered the most widely used camping and commentary booking app. The data backs it up: Last year, the Dyrt website and app saw 27 million visitors. Additionally, the program took six years to collect two million photos, videos and comments from the user camp. Last year, Long said, Dyrt dubbed that content.
Smith got a response you never imagined when he launched the trial version of the Dyrt website in 2014. The first app was launched in 2017, and now there's a premium version, Dyrt PRO, which costs $36 per year as an annual subscription and offers features such as next level planning tools. From a large database for offline use of flights and maps.
"It's really interesting to see people with the same hobbies having the same problem [looking for a campground online]," said Long Dyrt's CEO.
In the near future, they are making money from their massive following by polling members about their experiences and what they want. Those responses, along with the results of two nationwide surveys commissioned by Dirt, were compiled into a camp report, the most notable of which speaks to the rapid growth of the business in the age of the pandemic. Some notable findings:
In a recent interview, Smith and Long spoke at length about the growing “community,” camping trend data, and big dreams for Dirt. Their responses are edited for length and clarity.
About their Minnesota roots and impact
Sarah: My dad was a college professor, so summer was always free. Teachers don't always make a lot of money, so [camp] is what we're going to do over the holidays. I remember camping and fishing on Lake Superior many, many summers with my parents and grandparents. I really enjoy communicating with young people outside. It was very impressive.
Kevin: I was an eagle seeker. It was ingrained in me at the start of my trip to Minnesota with the Boy Scouts.
Get more campers from BIPOC communities
Kevin: The foreign industry in general was very elite and very nice to see [more diversity]. We're creating a camping community for everyone with the most camping sites, the most camping reviews, and the most popular camping app. So we have a tool that can help people overcome the obstacles of camping for the first time. Part of that is using Dyrt as a tool to connect with so many different communities to enjoy natural relaxation so everyone can live with what Sarah and I grew up with. Dyrt is a community. That's why it works.
on growth trends
Kevin: He didn't show up in a specific area – he's actually all over the United States. Camping is a very economical stay, you will relax more and your bank account will not be damaged too much. It's another way of thinking about the holidays that people are used to. I've heard many times from first time visitors that it's worth taking. I would never have thought of camping like this.
Sarah: The pandemic played a big part in that. Suddenly people couldn't get on the planes, couldn't walk to the hotel. The campsite has just been erected. In 2020, we just released Dyrt Pro. He went through the roof. Everyone thought, is this a photo shoot? Will it fall in 2021? In 2021, [Chaslo] continued to grow. In 2020, many newcomers have come out and this barrier has been broken.
Increase the number of camps
Sarah: The number of camps distributed only doubled in the last year. I think it's a camp that people don't understand, but if you realize that, this whole world of public land opens up that doesn't need reservations, and the camp is easily accessible. Understanding how to camp can help ease the pressure on camps.
Kevin: The hardest part is knowing where to go. Shared maps in Dyrt Pro are truly valuable.
About the increase in the use of recreational vehicles
Kevin: Our report found that 57% of holidaymakers who tried new ways to camp in 2021 chose a van and garage. When we see people experimenting with new ways of camping, we see that leap.
Sarah: Twenty-three percent of tourists work in camps. And we have been working on it for six months (from summer 2021). So many people don't see camping as a weekend getaway, when it almost starts out as a way of life, here comes the relationship, the usefulness of Wi-Fi, etc. become even more important.
in a growing user base
Kevin: It's a community. It is not a technical product and it will not work without society. We can remove the internet and get campsite addresses. Like Airbnb, you need photos, videos, and reviews from other users. Camping is no different. And if there is something, even more important. Different camps want certain needs, and each wants something different.
About the Future of Dirt
Kevin: For the next five years, if you've camped anywhere in the world, you'll enjoy Dyrt. This is how. We have raised over $22 million. We have 60 employees scattered all over the place. We will follow Expedia, Tripadvisor or Yelp. We will be that brand for the next five years as you determine the growth of our community data. All this information goes to the platform. Then, quality assurance also comes from the community. We have members who report, edit and correct content. The most interesting thing is to see how this loop flies in time.
Sarah: The reason this community is so dedicated and excited to help with this platform is because they are suffering from the same pain we felt when we started. And the sore point is that it's really hard to find campsites online. You cannot see the photos. What does Joe think of this camp? This is a community that has no campsites and content. So the community is in control – they understand the problem.