Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) will be offering a free weekend of camping to children on Father’s Day this year.
“We want to encourage families to get out and enjoy all of the benefits of the outdoors, and camping is one of the very best ways to do that,” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers in a press release. “Allowing children to camp for free with their children will hopefully encourage more families to share the joys of camping on this very important family holiday.”
More than 400 participating KOA locations throughout North America will waive normal camping fees for children under 17 from June 15-17 in honor of Father’s Day weekend.
“Camping is all about connecting with your family,” Rogers said. “There is no better way to cement that bond than by enjoying each other in the Great Outdoors.”
Kampgrounds of America parks offer “camping any way you want it,” with plenty of sites for any type of recreational vehicle or tent. There are also thousands of KOA Camping cabins available, along with new deluxe cabins that sleep up to six and come with full bathrooms and kitchens.
For a list of KOA campgrounds offering free camping for kids for Father’s Day Weekend, go to www.KOA.com.
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.”
Kampgrounds of America Inc.’s (KOA) popular Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend May 11-12 hosted nearly 10% more campers this year than in 2011, according to a press release.
“A combination of great weather, stabilizing fuel prices and fun event planning by our campground owners really brought out the campers,” said Mike Gast, vice president of communications for Billings, Mont.-based KOA. “Of course, it’s the official kickoff to KOA’s 50th birthday, so that didn’t hurt, either.”
Participating KOAs throughout North America logged nearly 42,000 camper nights between last Wednesday and Sunday, a double-digit increase from Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend 2011.
Nearly 400 of the 480 KOA campgrounds in North America participated in the 9th annual event, where campers received a free night of camping last Saturday if they stayed as paying guests on Friday.
The annual event also serves as the largest single fundraiser for KOA Care Camps for children with cancer, the official charity of KOA and the KOA Owner’s Association. KOA Care Camps is a network of 44 specialized summer camps that provide a free summer camp experience for children with cancer and their siblings.
Donations are still being counted from this year’s fundraising efforts, but last year, KOA campers helped raise more than $500,000 to benefit the charity.
“Come Kamp & Care With Us Weekend isn’t just the official start of the summer camping season,” said Gast, “It’s also a pretty good indicator of how things might look for the rest of the summer.”
Advanced reservations for the summer months at KOA are running ahead of last year. The increase in KOA’s inventory of deluxe cabins, which feature full bathrooms and kitchens, is also fueling increased camping by bringing in new campers.
“The public’s desire to reconnect to the outdoors is certainly increasing,” Gast said. “Camping is the perfect, affordable answer.”
Those of you who wiggle out of family camping trips by claiming you’re just not into roughing it will have to find another excuse.
A range of camping options and innovations have made it far more comfortable to eat, sleep and otherwise spend time in the Great Outdoors.
“’Soft rugged’ is what so many Americans are seeking in their outdoor experience today,” says Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Kampgrounds of America, or KOA, which runs about 500 campgrounds around the country. So much so that he now refers to the camping industry as “outdoor hospitality.”
KOA has beefed up some of its campgrounds to include both basic and luxury cabins – the latter being the kind more often equated with family resorts than places to pitch tents. Rental costs $100 to $150 per night. Some sites offer coffee carts, pancake breakfasts, kids’ activities and entertainment.
Campers who want things a bit more – but not much more – rustic can browse the equipment lining the shelves at well-stocked outdoors stores (although some of the fancy new goodies may hike the price of that simple camping trip).
Take, for instance, REI’s Kingdom 8 tent, which is big enough to sleep eight. For $529, the tent is not just waterproof and bug-proof but also has moveable room dividers to create separate spaces with private entrances. Fill it with cots, airbeds and perhaps a ceiling fan created for tents, and you’re bound to get in a good night’s sleep. Toss in another $100, and you can add to it a “garage” to store food or gear — or use it as a place for the family dog to sleep.
Nifty outdoor stoves and cooking gear have made campfire-cooked canned beans and hot dogs moot, unless you really like them.
REI’s camp kitchen, for example, is a folding trove of food-prep workspace and storage – all of which can be carried around in a zipper bag. It even includes hooks for hanging up spatulas, and windproof screens so the elements don’t mess with your cooking.
Coleman, one of the biggest manufactures of camping gear, sells a camping oven that fits handily onto one of the company’s two- or three-burner grills.
To view the entire article click here.
When the Texas KOA Owners Association invited the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) to attend their spring meeting, they got more than a briefing on TACO’s marketing and government affairs services and other member benefits for campgrounds.
According to a news release, TACO executive director and CEO Brian Schaeffer also presented the group with a donation of a free mobi site from AGS. The donation was auctioned off with proceeds donated to KOA Care Camps, the non-profit charity that provides camping trips for children who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Schaeffer provided the donation on behalf of his company, Crowley-based AGS, which provides guest guides and web services for more than 600 campgrounds RV parks and resorts across the U.S. and Canada.
“It was a nice thing to do and we appreciate it,” said Marshal Gray, who serves as owner of San Angelo KOA and president of the Texas KOA Owners Association, which had its spring meeting at the San Antonio KOA on April 16.
A non-profit charity of the KOA Owners Association, KOA Care Camps provide funding that enables children with cancer to visit camps that are specially designed to accommodate children with cancer – www.koacarecamps.org.
Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), celebrating its 50th year, reported the addition of 23 new campground locations throughout North America to its 2012 directory. According to a news release, the new sites bring the total number of KOA campgrounds to 485.
“We do our best to find campgrounds that are just the right fit for our campers and the KOA system,” said KOA Assistant Vice President for System Development Chris Fairlee. “There are more than 8,000 private campgrounds in North America, but we are pretty selective. Not just anyone can fly the KOA flag.”
The 50th anniversary edition of the KOA directory provides campers with not only complete descriptions and “last mile” locator maps to all KOA locations, but also a complete set of state and provincial atlas maps.
“Once again, we’ve done a great job of adding beautiful campgrounds right where our campers want to go,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “For instance, we added two more locations in the Orlando, Fla., area to allow our campers to be right in the middle of the Orlando attractions.”
New KOA campgrounds reported that visitations were up since joining the network. “Being with KOA has already brought our campground a lot more business,” said Robyn Chilson, owner of the Meadville, Pa., KOA. “We have more visibility and the phones are ringing off the hook.”
New KOA campgrounds listed in the 2012 KOA Directory include: Oxford/Talladega/Dandy RV, Ala.; Picacho/Tucson NW, Ariz.; Heber Springs, Ark.; Montrose/Black Canyon National Park, Colo.; Orlando NE/Wekiva Falls, Fla.; Orlando NW/Orange Blossom, Fla.; East Ellijay/Chattahoochee National Forest, Ga.; Waterloo/Lost Island Waterpark, Iowa; Perry Lake/Topeka NE, Kan.; Houghton/Letchworth, NY.; Springwater/Dansville, N.Y.; 1000 Islands/Association Island, N.Y.; Homerville, Ohio; Salem/Lisbon, Ohio; Meadville, Pa.; Hohenwald/Natchez Trace, Tenn.; Bastrop/SE Austin/Colorado River, Texas; Onalaska/Lake Livingston, Texas; Weatherford, Texas; Luray, Va.; Longview North/Mount St. Helens, Wash.; Sturgeon Falls, Ontario; Bas St. Laurent, Quebec.
Editor’s Note: The following is a portion of an interview conducted by Woodall’s Campground Management with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers. KOA, celebrating its 50th year, records over 15 million camper visits annually. To watch a video of the entire interview click here.
WCM: KOA has a storied history. Your brand is the best known in camping circles and among non-campers as well. The company was recently named one of the Top 50 Franchises in the U.S. Tell me what you think are the major company developments and accomplishments and milestones along the way in the past 50 years.
ROGERS: Well gosh, I’d need an hour to do that, maybe even longer. But let me just try to identify some top ones. I think the recognition that we continue to receive that you just mentioned is essential in any franchise organization. The fact that we are receiving great feedback from our franchisees, and that’s what we were measured for, to be one of the Top 50 Franchises in all those hundreds of them out there, so that’s an accomplishment for sure.
A milestone is we just did a Harris Poll in 2011; the Harris organization is a very prominent research group. And we learned that 25 percent of American adults have stayed at KOA at some point in their lives in the last 50 years. So we’ve touched a lot of Americans. And obviously at the heart of our business is the whole idea that we’re helping Americans and visitors to our country and Canada to get outdoors with their family and friends, and that’s certainly a part of our culture.
I think the other milestone is the consistency of our brand. We are known for a great experience no matter where they travel. And again, that’s a tribute to our wonderful owners and staffs. KOA.com, as a website, does twice the traffic of all the others in our business combined. It is a horse. It is a great source of information, and I think the technology that we’ve created to support that effort serves the entire industry well.
I think a milestone of reaching halfway around the world to find a sister company or a partner in the Australian KOA, called the Big 4 Holiday Parks, is another accomplishment. We’ve looked a lot of places, and these people are so great and ahead of us in many ways, and we’ve been working on that for about seven years.
And I think lastly, the greatest milestone of our business and of KOA is that we’re guest-driven. We have done so much in the last 10 to 15 years to indeed orient ourselves and our evaluations, based upon the ultimate umpire, which is our guests.
So I think we’ve had a super history and we’re not going to dwell too much on where we’ve been. We have so much going on that’s going to focus us on where we’re going in the next 50.
WCM: Jim, that was a great segue into my next question. KOA is constantly monitoring its customers’ likes and dislikes, and you have a very sophisticated way to do this. Tell me what you learned in 2011 about your guests.
ROGERS: We started with guest feedback the day we opened 50 years ago. Dave Drum, our founder, actually would go down in the evening and handed out a survey, and we actually have the results from that original survey. So guest feedback and impacting our strategies and driving our business has been critical.
Specifically about what we learn, you have to appreciate is that our owners and operators receive today specific verbatim detail on the experience of their guests yesterday and the day before. So it’s not about necessarily a trend. Certainly at KOA headquarters we look at the data and the verbatims and see if there’s something common, is it a fact or if it’s Wi-Fi problems or is it cleanliness problems or, you know, general kinds of things. But the real true benefit here is there are owners and operators that have such pride about the performance of their parks that are getting specific details, both positive and constructive criticism about what the guests experienced just recently, and that has made it incredibly strong in terms of upgrading the overall quality.
And I think the other thing that has been accomplished in the last four or five years, because we have this measurement and this monitoring, KOA’s overall system quality is improved. Last year alone in what we call the ‘net promoter score,’ which is a device that many, many organizations are using to question their customers about whether they would recommend the brand or their service to others, we saw an 8 percent increase across our system. So KOA continues to make a tremendous commitment to that guest feedback and the fact that we get verbatim detail for each franchisee, makes a tremendous impact on where we’re going.
Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) is offering a free one-day session of its popular KOA Work Kamper Boot Kamp training April 21 at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA Campground, according to a press release.
“Our KOA Work Kamper Program provides our KOA owners with a well-trained, experienced work force, so keeping our Work Kampers up to date is a top priority,” said Mike Booth, assistant vice president of franchisee services for KOA.
The KOA Work Kamper Program currently has approximately 1,500 active teams who are matched with KOA owners offering jobs in their parks. KOA Work Kampers who complete a full camping season are eligible to become KOA All-Star Work Kampers with increased benefits, including travel vouchers at KOA’s when traveling to a campground for work.
“We train KOA Work Kampers to be fully versed in top-level customer service practices and we make them familiar with our quality and facility standards,” said Booth. “Once they become familiar with KOA’s service culture, it’s very easy for Work Kampers to move from one KOA to the next.”
A portion of the April 21 training session will include a “Virtual Job Fair,” where KOA Work Kampers will be able to meet via the internet with KOA owners throughout North America.
The KOA Work Kamper Boot Kamp session at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA is free for subscribed KOA Work Kampers and will include a free breakfast and lunch. To register for the April 21 training or to learn more about the KOA Work Kamper program, go to www.workatkoa.com .
Work Kampers who want to stay at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA are responsible for their own reservations. Just call the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA at 800-562-7701 after registering for Boot Kamp.
KOA Tellico Plains, Tenn., owner William Stokely is thankful, at least, for the timing of the tornado that struck Monroe County on Friday (March 2).
According to a report in the Knoxville New Sentinel, the storm leveled the empty commercial campground a mere two weeks before it was to open for the season, Stokely said.
“I think God was looking out for some people,” he said.
More than a dozen structures on the 30-acre site, including 10 cabins, two lodges and the main office building, were caught directly in the tornado’s path after it swept through downtown Tellico Plains and crossed the Tellico River.
The National Weather Service has since confirmed the tornado was an EF-2 with winds up to 130 mph. Its path was 400 yards wide and 14.6 miles long. No major injuries have been reported.
Stokely estimated the value of the damaged and destroyed structures, all built within the past 10 years, at more than $1 million. He said he doesn’t know how long it may take to rebuild.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is offering two free one-day sessions of its popular KOA Work Kamper Boot Kamp training for subscribed KOA Work Kampers. The first training is scheduled for March 28 at the Branson, Mo., KOA Campground. The second session will be April 21 at the Santa Cruz/Monterey, Calif., KOA Campground.
“Our KOA Work Kamper Program provides our KOA owners with a well-trained, experienced work force, so keeping our Work Kampers up to date is a top priority,” said Mike Booth, assistant vice president of Franchisee Services for KOA.
“We train KOA Work Kampers to be fully versed in top-level customer service practices and we make them familiar with our quality and facility standards,” added Booth. “Once they become familiar with KOA’s service culture, it’s very easy for Work Kampers to move from one KOA to the next.”
A portion of the training sessions will include a “Virtual Job Fair,” where KOA Work Kampers will be able to meet via the Internet and in person with KOA owners throughout North America.
The KOA Work Kamper Boot Kamp sessions are free for subscribed KOA Work Kampers, and will include a free breakfast and lunch. To register for the training or to learn more about the KOA Work Kamper program, go to www.workatkoa.com.