Kathy and Stuart Marshall had big plans for the Montpelier Creek, Idaho, KOA when they purchased the small campground in the fall of 2006.
According to a press release, they rolled up their sleeves and dug right in, moving cabins to sit alongside picturesque Montpelier Creek and adding creekside pull-through RV sites. Other additions included authentic teepees, a huge fenced-in dog run, log footbridge over the creek and two Deluxe Cabins.
The Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) home office in Billings, Mont., took notice, and in 2012 named the Marshall’s KOA a “Rising Star” campground, adding to their stack of annual KOA President’s and Founder’s Awards.
Now, the Montpelier Creek KOA has one more distinction. It’s the first site to become a KOA Journey campground, one of three new brand categories being added to the 485-campground KOA system in North America.
“We’re very excited to become the first KOA Journey,” said Kathy Marshall. “If we didn’t believe in it, we wouldn’t be doing it.”
The new giant, yellow KOA Journey sign at the entrance to the park caught camper’s attention the very first day.
“The morning after it went up, there was an RVer from Utah out there taking a picture of the sign,” Stuart Marshall said. “There was interest right away.”
While the Marshalls had three new KOA “brand positions” to pick from, they decided the Journey brand – geared to appeal to overnight campers looking for a relaxing stop before the next leg of their journey – was their best fit. KOA is also adding KOA Holidays for longer, base-camp-like stays and KOA Resorts for a more luxury camping experience.
“The strength of the KOA brand speaks for itself,” Kathy Stuart said. “But we think KOA Journey is going to entice campers to make us part of their journey’s planning process. It will help better define what they can expect when they get here.”
The Marshalls reported that the facility recently had 15 rental RVs. “Many show up without reservations as they are on their way to or from Yellowstone National Park,” Kathy Marshall said. “We think the KOA Journey name will lead to less confusion about what we have here. Plus, we know that we can still impress them when they get here with all of our extras.”
Although the campground is small with 50 sites, the Marshalls and their staff of four KOA Work Kampers concentrate on quality over size.
“The creek itself is one of our best assets,” Kathy Marshall said. “We moved our five camping cabins to face the creek, and added two Deluxe Cabins along with adding very popular pull through sites along the creek. You can fish for rainbow, brown and brook trout right from your site.”
While becoming the first KOA Journey has been exciting, making the decision wasn’t easy.
“But we know it’s the right decision for us,” Kathy Marshall said. “We are truly excited about all of the new branding. We think it will make more new campers comfortable with their decision to visit us.”
When the economy gets tough, vacationing Americans apparently tighten the belts and head for the great outdoors.
That’s one take on new figures showing that campgrounds and RV park revenues this year largely kept pace with 2008, according to the Wisconin State Journal and Capital Times.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) reports that many of the largest campgrounds had increased visitors.
For example, Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the nation’s largest campground chain with 430 locations in the U.S. and Canada, had 1.1% more visitors in 2008 while revenues were up 5.6%.
And Leisure Systems Inc. — which franchises roughly 70 Jellystone Park resorts, including one in Wisconsin Dells — is reporting an overall 5% jump in revenues, although occupancies fell slightly.
“Private parks have performed well in this economy,” said Linda Profaizer, president ARVC, which represents commercially owned parks nationwide.