The vendor expo held each year during Kampgrounds of America Inc.’s (KOA) annual convention has always been a popular place for KOA owners to do their shopping for the next season.
But officials report that this year’s expo, set for Nov. 18 at the Gaylord Palms Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., is already shaping up to be one of the largest events in KOA’s 50-year history. The actual KOA Convention begins Nov. 15 at the Gaylord Palms.
“We’ve already confirmed more than four times as many vendor booths as we had at this time last year,” said KOA Director of Training and Events Jenny McCullough in a press release. “We are anticipating that this will be one of our largest conventions ever, with nearly 600 KOA owners and managers from throughout North America attending.”
The increased interest in KOA’s 50th Anniversary convention, both from vendors and KOA owners, mirrors the increase in camping numbers at KOA this year. Billings, Mont.-based KOA is reporting a short-term camper night increase of nearly 5% over the same time last year.
“We’ve added nearly 60 booth spaces to our expo this year just to try to accommodate the increase in interest,” McCullough said. “We’re keeping booths costs the same as last year because we don’t want any vendors to miss the chance to present their products to our campground owners and managers.”
McCullough said all expo vendors are also invited to attend the convention’s final night celebration and KOA Care Camps Auction on Nov. 18.
Vendors interested in securing a booth at this year’s 50th Anniversary Kampgrounds of America Convention Expo can visit www.koaexpo.com, or call 1-800-548-7104, ext. 7413.
All signs still point to a successful 2012 camping year at Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).
KOA reported Tuesday (May 29) in a news release that camper check-ins for the May 26-28 Memorial Day camping weekend were up about 7% from the same period in 2011.
“We’re seeing nothing but positive signs for the 2012 summer camping season,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Our annual Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend on May 11-12 was up nearly 10% from last year, and our winter camping season in the Southern states was also very strong.”
Advanced reservations for the rest of the summer camping season are running about 6% ahead of the same period last year.
“North Americans are rediscovering the benefits of the outdoors,” Hittmeier said. “There is no better place to reconnect with family and friends, and no better way to do it than camping.”
Advanced reservations for the 2012 Memorial Day Weekend holiday are running about 8% ahead of the same period in 2011 according to Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), according to a press release.
With just three days to go before the first major summer holiday of 2012, reservations at KOA’s 484 campgrounds in the United States and Canada are still rolling in. In fact, Kampgrounds of America reported it is running about 5% ahead of 2011, year to date, in the number of short-term camper nights in the system.
“We had a strong start to the year in the first few months, and that has carried through to the start of the summer camping season,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Campers are responding well to the efforts our campground owners have made to add more deluxe cabins to our inventory, as well as to the many enhancements they’ve made to their parks in recreation and other amenities.”
The Memorial Day weekend numbers nearly mirror the results of KOA’s annual Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend results on May 11-12, which finished with about 10% more campers than last year.
The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) launched its annual Spring Convention and Tradeshow Sunday with a keynote address by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) President and CEO Jim Rogers, who provided park owners with statistics indicating that Texas is experiencing the strongest campground business in the country.
“Texas is doing better than everybody else,” Rogers said, citing KOA statistics, which showed Texas parks experiencing a 4.7% increase in camper nights and a 1.3% increase in revenue in 2011, compared to the previous year.
According to a news release, the only other area in the country to experience overall increases in business in the KOA system last year was New England, which saw a 2.7% increase in camper nights and a 4.8% increase in revenue, Rogers said, noting that KOAs in the rest of the country experienced modest declines.
With roughly 475 parks across the United States and Canada, KOA statistics provide a powerful indicator of business trends in the campground business and are closely followed by park operators across the country.
But while Texas was clearly in the lead in terms of the overall strength of its campground business last year, Rogers said parks across the Lone Star State also mimic trends that are being observed elsewhere in the country. For example, he said, 59% of the business Texas parks receive is generated by Texas residents as opposed to people coming from other states.
That’s a trend that’s happening across the country, Rogers said. “Our traveler is changing,” Rogers said, noting that people are camping closer to home in response to rising fuel costs and increasing time constraints from work schedules and children’s sports activities.
Texas parks are also seeing rising demand for park models and other rental accommodations, Rogers said, adding that KOAs will continue to add more rental units to the KOA system because they are a great way to introduce people to camping who haven’t camped before. He added that deluxe cabins or park models in the KOA system typically pay for themselves in 3.5 years.
Rogers also told Texas park operators that the future is bright for the campground business, not only in Texas but across the country, citing a recent joint study by KOA, The Coleman Company and The Outdoor Foundation, which estimated that only 15% of Americans camp.
That statistic alone means there is tremendous opportunities for growth in the campground business, Rogers said, adding that the opportunities are even greater when one considers America’s changing demographics and the very small numbers of African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics who currently camp.
TACO’s Spring Convention and Tradeshow is being held from May 5-8 at the Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville, Texas.
The Murphy/Peace Valley KOA Campground in Marble, N.C., the newest addition to the 475-park Kampgrounds of America system, will be hosting its grand June 17-19.
The grand opening weekend will begin with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. on June 10. Saturday’s events include arts and crafts, numerous giveaways, face painting, a fishing tournament, games for dads and kids, an ice cream social, an outdoor movie and pancake breakfast.
On June 19, campers can take part in a church service featuring Pastor Jeff of the Mountainview Community Church.
Campers will enjoy shaded RV and tent sites along the Valley River, as well as four luxurious lodges. At the campground, guests can wade into the water to cast their lines for trout in the stocked river or rent a tube and go on a lazy river float. They can also take a dip in the pool, visit the game room, pitch horseshoes or play volleyball. Pets are welcome, and there is even a one-acre fenced pet play area.
The campground is just a short drive from exciting whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River (Class III and IV rapids) or the mild, family-friendly Nantahala River. Guests can take a scenic ride on the Cherohala Skyway, visit Fields of the Wood Bible Park or join in a class at the famous John C. Campbell Folk School.
The Fayetteville/Wade KOA Campground and Bill Plemmons RV World are teaming up for a special RV show May 13-15 at the campground at 6250 Wade-Stedman Road in Wade, N.C.
More than 15 new travel trailers, fifth-wheel units and motorhomes will be available for inspection during the three-day event, according to a news release.
The event will also serve as a celebration for the completion of nearly seven months of renovations and improvements at the Fayetteville/Wade KOA, according to manager Tom Dreyer.
“We’re happy to announce that we’ve doubled the size of the KOA,” Dreyer said. “We now have 160 full-service sites available for our local, regional, national and international travelers.” Other improvements at the spacious campground include a second swimming pool with bathhouse, laundry facility and pavilion.
The Fayetteville/Wade KOA Campground is an award-winning campground in the North American KOA system, which now totals 475 locations. The KOA is a favorite spot for campers traveling along Interstate 95, and its proximity to Fort Bragg makes it popular with military personnel and those working in the Fayetteville area.
The RV Show will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Campers are urged to make their reservations for this special event as soon as possible by calling (800) 562-5350 or visiting www.KOA.com.
The Fayetteville/Wade KOA is managed by Tom Dreyer, and operated by RV Management Services Group, which also operates the Richmond North/Americamps, Virginia KOA and the Pine Grove/Twin Grove Park KOA in Pennsylvania.
Park operators aren’t doing enough to attract a diverse business base that reflects America’s changing demographics, said Larry Brownfield, a senior business development consultant for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).
“Do we want to survive?” Brownfield asked Tuesday (May 3) during an educational workshop at the spring meeting of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO). “We’ve got to be aggressively targeting ethnic diversity.”
According to a news release, Brownfield shared a KOA handout that included 2010 Census data showing that white Caucasians account for only 66% of the U.S. population, while African Americans and Hispanics make up 17% and 12% of the population, respectively. Five percent of the U.S. population is Asian.
White Caucasians represent 87% of American campers, however, according to a 2009 Outdoor Foundation survey, while Hispanics, African Americans and Asians represent a mere 6%, 3% and 4%, respectively.
And if you fast forward to 2050, the U.S. Census estimates that white Caucasians will account for only 46% of the population, while Hispanics, African Americans and Asians will account for 30%, 15% and 9%, respectively. “It’s a wakeup call for us,” Brownfield said.
Addressing other topics, Brownfield noted that today’s consumers are increasingly demanding and more informed than ever, thanks in part to the Internet. We are living in an “experience economy” and park operators need to pay attention to the type and quality of experiences they offer their guests. “It’s the value that the experience holds for the individual that determines the worth of the offering,” he said.
Brownfield added that KOA owners or managers who meet with their guests receive much higher guest satisfaction scores than those who do not, according to KOA’s Kamper Satisfaction Surveys.
Park operators also need to pay attention to their pet friendliness. Brownfield noted that families account for 26% of KOA’s Texas campers, while campers traveling with pets account for 41%. Nationally, families account for 34% of KOA’s guests, while people traveling with pets represent 35%.
Brownfield was one of several campground industry experts who gave educational presentations at TACO’s Spring Convention Tuesday at Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville.
In addition to providing a keynote address, Lori Severson of Severson & Associates and the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners led a class on maximizing employee potential, while Casey Erick of McKamie Krueger LLP held a session titled, “Facing Legal Challenges.”
Wade Elliott of Utility Supply Group talked about strategies park operators can use to provide recharge services for travelers with electric cars and Bob MacKinnon provided updates on the GuestReviews online survey program as well as a session on how to deal with a negative review. Michael Moore and Matt Taylor from Texas Advertising also led a marketing session titled “Playing the Google Game.”
Kampgrounds of America Inc., the world’s largest system of family friendly campgrounds, is now an official sponsor of the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) annual “Great America Backyard Campout” event.
The Great American Backyard Campout, planned for Saturday, June 25, will bring thousands of people across the nation out into their backyards, neighborhoods, communities, parks and area campgrounds to take part in a one-night event that will provide an experience for all generations to connect with nature, according to a news release.
“The solution for many of society’s current challenges, including obesity and stress, can be found outdoors,” said Kampgrounds of America CEO Jim Rogers. “We’re thrilled to be able to help National Wildlife Federation in their efforts with the Great American Backyard Campout.”
No prior camping experience is required to take part in the June 25 event. Campers are encouraged to go to www.backyardcampout.org to register their campout and receive creative ideas and simple cooking recipes to enhance their Great American Campout experience.
Campers taking part in the event are also encouraged to take pledges to raise donations for National Wildlife Federation programs that address the problem of America’s “indoor childhood’ and the health risks associated with a lack of outdoor activities. The National Wildlife Federation uses 80 cents of every dollar raised during the Great American Backyard Campout to support children’s outdoor programs.
The Great American Backyard Campout is part of the special event series from National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There movement. National Wildlife Federation is celebrating its 75th anniversary as America’s largest conservation organization. National Wildlife Federation works with more than 4 million members, partners and supporters in communities across the country to protect wildlife and reconnect people with nature. Today, 75 years and many successes later, NWF continues to be the nation’s leading advocate for wildlife and wild places.
A second co-sponsor of the event is REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) the world leader in retail recreational equipment sales and service. Both REI and KOA are committed to the success of the Great American Backyard Campground event, and National Wildlife Federation’s mission regarding youth-oriented programs.
The latest Easter Weekend in 68 years, coupled with rough weather in several parts of North America, led to mixed camping results during the holiday weekend, according to Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA)
But KOA Lodge camping was a sure bright spot, with an increase of 90% in lodge camping nights compared to the same calendar weekend in 2010, according to a KOA news release.
“This year, Easter was three weeks later than in 2010,” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. “That makes an ‘apples-to-apples’ Easter holiday week comparison very difficult.”
In 2010, the earlier Easter weekend was just at the end of the traditional “snowbird” winter camping season in the South. The earlier Easter in 2010 led many “snowbird” winter campers to stay around for the 2010 Easter holiday.
This year, with Easter falling during the fourth weekend in April, most snowbird campers had already headed north. That resulted in Easter Week 2011 numbers falling below camping totals for Easter Week 2010.
“But, when we compare the 2011 Easter week to the same one-week calendar period in 2010, we see an increase of 9% in overall short-term camper nights, a 30% increase in KOA Cabin nights, and a 90% increase in KOA Lodge nights,” Rogers said.
KOA Lodges are luxury camping accommodation units now available on nearly half of KOA’s 475 locations that include full bathrooms and kitchens. KOA Kabin and Lodge units open the camping experience to new segment of campers who may not own a recreational vehicle or traditional tenting equipment.
Staying in an accommodation such as a KOA Cabin or Lodge also saves on fuel costs, since campers can drive their smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles to their area KOA, where they still receive a traditional camping experience with all of the comforts of home.
Another factor affecting Easter holiday camping results was a pattern of severe weather that spawned thunderstorms and some tornadoes from the Texas gulf coast to New England. But, that didn’t slow things down in KOA campgrounds such as the Williamsport South/Nittany Mountain KOA in Pennsylvania, owned by Michelle Strock.
”We had more than 30 kids for our Easter Egg hunt,” Strock said. “Luckily, we have a huge indoor recreation hall, so the rain really wasn’t a factor.”
At the sunny San Diego Metro KOA in California, all of the campgrounds Cabin and Lodge units and tent sites were rented, and a plethora of events kept campers – and the Easter Bunny – hopping.
“We started the weekend with Easter arts and crafts, then our hay ride, then an outdoor movie, a pancake breakfast on Saturday, and a massive Easter egg hunt with 750 eggs,” said owner Clint Bell. “Easter was very, very good.”
“The bottom line is that 9% more camping families stayed with us last week than during the same week in 2010,” Rogers said. “That bodes very well for the rest of the 2011 summer camping season.”
The next “big event” at Kampgrounds of America is the annual KOA Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend event May 13-14 at participating KOAs across North America. Campers who stay as paying guests on Friday, May 13, will receive a free night of camping on Saturday, May 14. The event also serves as a fundraiser for KOA Care Camps for children with cancer. KOA campers will have a chance to help raise donations on May 13-14 to help send children with cancer to one of 44 specialized summer camps in North America.
Thousands of North American camping families will head to their favorite Kampgrounds of America locations again in May for the 8th Annual KOA Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend, set for May 13-14.
Last year, more than 25,000 camping families stayed at nearly 400 participating KOA campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada, according to a news release. The event, created in 2004, provides a free night of camping on Saturday, May 14, to all campers who stay as paying guests on Friday, May 13.
KOA campgrounds have several fun events planned that are designed to both entertain campers and help raise funds to support KOA Care Camps, a system of 43 specialized summer camps around North America that provide a true summer camp experience for children with cancer and their siblings. Last year, more than $370,000 was raised during the Come Kamp & Care With Us event to benefit KOA Care Camps.
“This event is a wonderful way for our campers to start their summer camping seasons, and at the same time help raise money to send these very special kids to great summer camps,” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. “This event has proven to be extremely popular with both our KOA franchise owners and their campers, and we’re happy to offer it again this year.”
Campers can to go www.KOA.com to see a list of participating campgrounds and make their reservations. Some campgrounds will be offering their kabins and luxury lodges for the event, so campers are encouraged not to wait to make their reservations.