The San Diego Metro KOA Campground was named 2013 KOA Franchisee of the Year on Friday (Nov. 16) during Kampgrounds of America’s annual International Convention at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla.
The San Diego Metro KOA is the first repeat winner of the award in KOA’s 50-year history. The Bell Family, owners of the San Diego campground and another park – Williams/Grand Canyon KOA in Arizona – also won the award in 1985.
“The Bell Family is a perfect choice to be our top campground for 2013,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “The Bells have three generations currently working at the campground. That park has literally been their lives for the past 45 years.”
The San Diego Metro KOA is a tree-lined jewel in the heart of Chula Vista, just south of downtown San Diego. Patriarch Ted Bell built the campground in 1967 while working his “other” job as a detective for the Chula Vista Police Department. His son, Mike worked at the campground since age 13 and made the KOA his full-time job right after college. Mike’s sons and daughter – Josh, Clint and Molly – were all raised on the campground and all still working for the family business.
“The Bells run a very tight ship, and they do everything right,” Hittmeier said. “Their values, work ethic and desire to provide the best experience possible for their guests align perfectly with Kampgrounds of America.”
Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) recently announced the winner in its 50th Anniversary Giveaway, presenting Marcia Maslyn with a travel trailer from Keystone RV Co.
According to a press release, Maslyn was selected from among 250,000 entries to win the trailer, valued at $40,000.
“This is just unbelievable,” Maslyn said. “We’ve had a Keystone Cougar fifth-wheel in the past, but we decided to was a bit too big. This new Keystone is going to be so much fun.”
Camping enthusiasts from throughout North America have been entering the KOA contest since last March. Maslyn’s name was randomly selected on Nov. 1.
Rob and Rachel Kaiser, owners of KOA franchises in Medina and Houghton, N.Y., made the short drive to Maslyn’s residence in Clifton Springs to deliver the news.
The Maslyns are dedicated campers, logging thousands of miles on cross-country camping trips. “We always love our KOA stays,” she said. “And now we’ll get to travel in that beautiful new Keystone RV. I just can’t believe it.”
KOA reported it will be working with Keystone again in 2013 in the next giveaway.
Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) is expecting a record crowd of park operators, vendors, staff and industry friends when it convenes Nov. 15-18 for the Billings, Mont.-based, campground franchisor’s annual KOA Convention.
The event, slated for the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., will mark the KOA system’s 50th year as a leader in the RV park and campground business.
In fact, things couldn’t have been looking much better for 488-park KOA’s November birthday bash, themed “Celebrate 50 Years of Fun – 1962-2012,” when Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) touched bases on Sunday (Oct. 28) with Mike Gast, vice president of communications.
“Yes, we’re going to have record attendance,” said Gast. ”We have a grand total of 717 attendees representing 272 campgrounds. We can now officially say we have a record number of both people and campgrounds attending. This time last year we had 230 campgrounds registered.
“We sold out the Expo with more booths than we’ve ever had before. There’s about 140 vendors now, including prominent displays from the cabin manufacturers like preferred vendors Breckenridge (the Nappanee, Ind.-based Thor division) and Cavco (Cavco Industries Inc., Phoenix, Ariz.).”
Cabins have been a real point of emphasis for KOA, says Gast, adding that KOA’s system is up 25% this year in cabin rentals.
The highlights of the convention include the main social event – the 50th anniversary party and KOA Owners Association’s annual charity auction for the KOA Care Camps for kids with cancer on the last night of the event.
“Of course, Orlando’s a great location and people make their family vacations out of it, which really helps attendance,” adds Gast. “But it’s really only the second time in the history of KOA that Oscar Tang, the owner, is going to be there and speak at a general assembly meeting on Friday. The last time he spoke at a KOA convention was at our 40th anniversary in Nashville 10 years ago.”
Also on hand for the first time will be the entire KOA Holdings Inc. board, a group that includes KOA President and CEO Jim Rogers.
“And we’ve got some major things to talk to the franchisees about that will be announced there – organizational things about where we go in the next 50 years,” adds Gast. “That’s really a pretty major directional change. I can’t say that much about it now, but everyone will find out when they get there.”
Don Lowe, CEO of Franchise Services Inc. and a former executive with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), was honored recently with the Darrell Booth Lifetime Achievement Award by KOA.
Both Franchise Services Inc. of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Kampgrounds of America Inc. of Billings, Mont., are owned by KOA Holdings Inc., according to a news release.
The award, named after Darrell Booth, the first KOA president, was presented during Franchise Services Inc.’s recent national convention in Baltimore. Lowe currently heads a franchise management company that includes Sir Speedy, PIP Printing and TeamLogic IT. Sir Speedy and PIP are the largest printing and marketing services franchises in the world.
Raised in rural Kentucky, Lowe learned that fairness and integrity were prized values that could shape an organization. Lowe first joined the KOA Holdings family in 1972 as KOA’s national merchandising director. His KOA career included many promotions, and he was the senior vice president of KOA prior to his Sir Speedy assignment. Lowe’s franchise expertise was considered exceptional, and he demonstrated his natural leadership through a philosophy of fairness and respect to build relationships with franchisees.
When KOA was looking to acquire another franchise company, they learned of Sir Speedy, a struggling printing franchise that was in bankruptcy. KOA purchased Sir Speedy in 1978 and selected Lowe to lead the revival of the new sister company.
Under his direction, the Sir Speedy franchising model and its business practices changed dramatically — beginning with the franchisor/franchisee relationship. That solid relationship allowed Sir Speedy to lead its network through many changes, including offering consumers the newest technology offerings of color, faxing, desktop publishing, digital printing, print-on-demand, online ordering and document management.
Under Lowe’s leadership, Sir Speedy Inc. realized unprecedented growth that positioned the company to expand, and prompted the creation of a holding company, Franchise Services Inc. (FSI).In January 1996, FSI purchased MultiCopy, the largest franchise printing chain in Europe. Later that same year, FSI had the opportunity to purchase PIP Printing, the nation’s first quick printing franchise brand. Under his leadership as CEO, FSI has gained worldwide market share. Today the company includes more than 500 locations in 13 countries.
During his career, Lowe has helped over 1,500 people fulfill their desire to own their own business, control their own destiny and provide for their families. Lowe’s son, Richard Lowe, is now president and chief operating officer of Franchise Services Inc.
The Darrell Booth Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to deserving individuals whose values and achievements mirror those of Booth, who laid the foundation for Kampgrounds of America Inc. to become the world’s largest and most successful system of family-oriented campgrounds. The first recipient of the award was Richard A. Cutler, a founding partner in the Cutler and Donahoe Law Firm in Sioux Falls, S.D., and also president of the Recreation Adventures Company, which owns and operates 10 KOA campgrounds in the U.S.
Franchise Services Inc., (FSI) is a franchise management company that owns the franchise brands, Sir Speedy, PIP Printing and Marketing Services, Signal Graphics, Copies Now, MultiCopy and TeamLogic IT. Franchise Services has a 40-year history managing award-winning brands that support the small- to medium-sized business market. The company’s brands and worldwide affiliates encompass more than 500 locations in 13 countries. FSI’s brands have received numerous awards and recognition including; the Franchise Times Top 200, Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500, Quick Printing Top 100, Printing Impressions 400, Franchise Times Fast 55, Franchise 50 and the International Franchise Association’s Franchisee of the Year Award.
Kampgrounds of America is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2012. KOA was born on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Mont., in 1962.
Almost 43 million Americans participated in camping last year, according to a new study released today by The Outdoor Foundation and sponsored by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and The Coleman Co. Inc. According to a press release, that equates to 14.9% of Americans over age six. The findings are part of the 2012 American Camper Report, a leading report tracking participation in camping in the United States.
The Outdoor Foundation’s American Camper Report provides data and analysis on overall camping participation and explores preferences, buying behavior and the future of camping. For the first time in the history of this report, people within the camping industry share trends that they are seeing in the field, and the report takes an in-depth look at Hispanic American campers to examine this growing minority’s unique motivations, preferences and barriers. The findings are based on an online survey of more than 38,000 Americans ages six and older and a supplementary survey of camping participants 18 and older.
“The American Camper Report shows that camping gained popularity in 2011 – adding nearly three million participants since 2010,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “The information and analysis in this report will help the outdoor industry and all stakeholders engage even more Americans in camping and transform non-participants into active outdoor enthusiasts and committed environmental stewards.”
KOA’s CEO Jim Rogers stated, “2012 is KOA’s 50th anniversary and KOA hopes that its outdoor hospitality legacy will continue to expand along with the businesses of other outdoor enterprises as we learn more about the needs, trends and outdoor behaviors of the American camper. The report’s special focus on Hispanic campers also aligns with KOA’s goals to find new ways to increase the engagement of ethnically diverse populations in camping and outdoor fun.”
“Throughout our 112-year history, Coleman has maintained a reputation for creating innovative, high-quality outdoor gear. Insights from studies like the American Camper Report are a foundational piece of Coleman’s ability to build and maintain that reputation,” said Robert Marcovitch, President and CEO of Coleman. “Thanks to the knowledge we gain from the Camper Report, Coleman continues to develop exciting gear for both the new and experienced outdoor enthusiast alike.”
The insights detailed in the 2012 American Camper Report are critical to understanding both campers and non-campers and building participation in the activity.
Some additional findings include:
Overview of Camping Participation
* Almost 43 million Americans went camping in 2011 for a total of 534.9 million days. Participation is up from 39.9 million campers and 514.8 million days in 2010.
* Almost all age brackets added participants, except the adolescent group.
* Camping gained a net of 2.6 million participants from 2010 to 2011, but it has a fairly high churn rate at 16 percent.
* Reports from public and private campsites and the Outdoor Industry Association illustrate a general uptick in camping participation.
* The Mountain Region has the highest camping participation rate.
* Seventy-seven percent of all campers are married or living with a domestic partner.
* Eighty-four percent of campers participate in multiple outdoor activities.
Profile of a Camping Trip
* Sixty-seven percent of participants camped the most in public campgrounds.
* The average camper went on 4.97 camping trips.
* Participants traveled a mean of 190.6 miles away from home to camp.
* Almost half of all American campers plan their trips at least one month in advance.
* Seventy percent of all trips are taken with friends.
* Hiking is the most popular activity to participate in while camping.
* More than half of camping participants are employed, and 29 percent are students.
* Battery lighting was the most popular purchase during the past year and was especially popular among older campers.
* Most camping purchases are planned at home before taking a camping trip.
Hispanic Campers: A Focused Look
* At 5.52 camping trips per year per participant, the average Hispanic participant goes camping more than the average Caucasian participant.
* Hispanics bought more camping equipment in the last 12 months than non-Hispanics.
* Twenty-three percent of Hispanic campers ages 18 and over tried camping for the first time in 2011.
Future of Camping
* Campers are planning an average of 4.33 camping trips next year.
* Fathers are the most likely person to take someone camping for the first time.
* The most cited reason for reducing the number of camping trips is a lack of time due to work and family commitments.
Editor’s Note: The following is an article that appears in the October issue of Woodall’s Campground Management profiling Kampground of America Inc.’s (KOA) CEO Jim Rogers. To read the entire story click here.
Late in 1999, Oscar Tang, owner of KOA Holdings Inc., reached out to the hotel and casino industry and hired Jim Rogers, who served as vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Reno, to succeed Peterson, who retired.
Under Rogers, KOA redirected its focus by curtailing international development, leaving the RV storage business and setting plans in motion to increase the number of its affiliated campgrounds.
The changes, according to Rogers, who was interviewed early in 2000 by RVBusiness magazine, should result in a closer relationship with franchise holders and, ultimately, an increase in the number of nights campers stay in KOA campgrounds.
He began to chart a course that KOA follows to this day.
“We are evolving,” Rogers said in that interview. “We are going to retrench on the segment of the business that we want to focus on and grow. We have an opportunity to expand with company-owned campgrounds and franchises. We have some major markets where we would like to establish campgrounds.”
As early as 2000, Rogers said KOA completed marketing surveys in Detroit, Houston and Seattle that “tell us we are very trusted, recognized for our family-oriented reputation.
“Our thinking is about going forward, being more aggressive to take advantage of our reputation,” he said. “Our research has created some focus that will allow us to be more effective in our marketing.”
Under Rogers, KOA has capitalized on its superior understanding of the campground marketplace and adopted cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of its competition.
It ranks among the top 50 franchise operations in the U.S.
A 2011 Harris Poll found that 25% of American adults have stayed at KOA at some point in their lives in the last 50 years.
To read the entire article click here.
Editor’s Note: The following is a story profiling Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) founder Dave Drum. Authored by Steve Bibler, its part of a series of stories commemorating the 50th anniversary of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) that appear in the October issue of Woodall’s Campground Management.
KOA founder Dave Drum was born March 7, 1923, in Rushville, Ind., but he grew up on a ranch near Miles City, Mont. He earned a Purple Heart serving with the U.S. Marines in World War II and then served his country again during the Korean Conflict. In between wars, he earned a business degree, in 1947, from the University of Montana.
“He was a cowboy with an IQ of 180,” says former KOA CEO Art Peterson.
He says that in a polite sense, as Drum did all manner of things to better himself.
“He was a smart guy and very successful,” adds KOA historian Jim Graff, “but he soon lost interest when things got up and running at KOA – and Dave moved on to other ventures.”
Drum’s place in the history of Montana, not to mention the outdoor hospitality business, was cemented in 1962 when he took a leap of faith and got into the campground business. His simple idea expanded dramatically during its first decade, with 262 franchises opening in the first seven years.
KOA went public in 1969, offering more than 300,000 shares of stock over a three-year period.
Drum remained active on KOA’s board of directors until 1972 and after selling his KOA shares in 1975, lived in Polson with his wife, Dorothy, and wintered in Palm Springs, Calif.
Everyone who knew Dave Drum has a favorite story about him. For Pat Hittmeier, KOA president, it’s when he was sent in the mid-1980s to negotiate a land sale with Drum for choice property Drum owned near Polson in northwest Montana. KOA wanted to put a campground there. By this time, Drum had already “made millions and lost millions a couple of times,” Hittmeier reckoned.
Hittmeier pitched KOA’s offer while Drum watched the Col. Oliver North trial on TV in his home.
“He started going on over all the things we would do if we built the campground, the kinds of people it would attract and how we might attract people there, but I could never get him to give me a price for the land,” Hittmeier said. “Ultimately, I had to buy land from somebody else.”
In addition to KOA, Drum’s business adventures included cattle ranching, feedlots, apple orchards and land development. He helped establish the Billings Metra, a large complex used for concerts, expositions, sporting events, livestock shows and the Montana Fair.
Meanwhile, Drum served in the 1967 Montana Legislature, was a member of the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1976 against John Melcher to fill the Senate seat vacated by Mike Mansfield.
In 1986 Drum told a reporter for U.S. News & World Report, “(Money) doesn’t mean a hell of a lot because chances are you’re still going to live with the same gal and drink the same whiskey.”
Drum died Oct. 19, 1994, in Billings.
Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Jim Rogers, president and CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), for the October issue of Woodall’s Campground Management. KOA is celebrating its 50th year.
No matter where you turn, you’ll find evidence that future prospects for outdoor activity and campground occupancy growth are extraordinary. KOA intends to combine the best of its past with its best innovation and leadership for the future to assure its continued success for its franchisee partners.
Whether you are reading Dr. Richard Curtin’s “The RV Consumer in 2011,” the 2010 Harris Interactive Research on “RV Perceptions and Purchase Motivators” or the “Outdoor Industry Foundation/Coleman/KOA Special Report on Camping,” you can only conclude that the outlook for all types of camping are outstanding.
Our campers, our prospects and the marketplace they create have changed dramatically, as have the ways we can effectively communicate with them. KOA believes that sales and service strategies going forward must be pro-active and align directly to personal needs, wants, travel/recreational preferences and economics.
KOA will adapt its marketing and services to better attract and serve the ethnic diversity that is present within our population. Today’s outdoor participants are over 80 percent Caucasian. But America’s largest camper base lives in California where the Hispanic population is approaching 40 percent. Population forecasts further confirm a much wider ethnic diversity throughout the United States in the future. These factors represent significant incremental growth for KOA campgrounds.
KOA will further emphasize its operational focus of thinking from the “outside in” not the “inside out.” We think about our customers/guests from their perspective. Outdoor enthusiasts pursue a variety of activities in different ways. A backpacker may own an RV, a kayaker may hike, fish, bike, and use both public and private campgrounds. RVers and campers want greater cooperation between us all. They just want us all to make it easy for them to find and service their gear and to enjoy the many activities that the outdoors provides them.
You can’t pick up your favorite form of media and not see a story about the outdoors. It is prevalent in discussions today as it relates to health, youth, tourism economics, adventure travel, the need people have for an “unplugged” peaceful environment and affordability.
The Harris Interactive study concluded that nearly “10 million households nationwide should be categorized as potential RV owners.” Wow! Curtain’s update pointed out the fact that over one quarter of all former RV owners intend to re-enter the RV lifestyle and that is significant.
The 2011 Special Report on Camping sponsored by the Outdoor Foundation, Coleman and KOA reiterates the magnitude of the camping marketplace. The report on camping estimated that approximately 40 million Americans or 15 percent camp annually. The most cited reason for reducing the number of camping trips was a lack of time due to work and family commitments.
KOA believes that loyal returning customers are the best customers we have. They buy more, recommend to others, reduce marketing costs and are less price sensitive. They are word of mouth/mouse champions and promoters. They also help us by introducing new people to the life style and outdoor fun. And KOA’s one-of-a-kind marketing technologies will only improve its abilities for targeted initiatives and improved ROI’s on marketing investments for our franchisees and the company.
Camper research also confirms that over half of private campground guests today are “regional” if not “local.” Due to time constraints, fuel prices, and the availability of great destination campgrounds close to home, RV families are taking advantage of nearby campgrounds. This trend is here to stay and our campgrounds are rapidly adapting to the different hospitality requirements of these trends.
We know that uncertainty is here to stay. Market indicators substantiate that there are plenty of prospects and a growing interest in camping/outdoors. KOA’s high-tech, high-touch strategies are aligned to optimize these trends for years to come.
Editor’s Note: The following story, authored by Steve Bibler, appears in the latest issue of Woodall’s Campground Management profiling Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) as the company marks its 50th anniversary. To view the entire article click here.
The 50th year of operation for industry leader Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), headquartered in Billings, Mont., reaches a crescendo during the company’s golden anniversary convention, scheduled for Nov. 15-18 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention center in Orlando, Fla.
“I look forward to the largest gathering of ‘KOA Nation’ in history,” President Pat Hittmeier told Woodall’s Campground Management. “Our (advance registration) numbers look like that could happen, which I think is exciting for a 50-year-old company to get that much interest by its participating members to gather.”
The 488-member family, the world’s largest chain of campgrounds, has completed another successful summer season with same-campground revenues through August up 4.5 percent over a year ago, Hittmeier reported. Numbers were up for KOA’s Care Camp Weekend in May, Father’s Day in June, July Fourth holiday weekends and Labor Day weekend.
“I suppose you can say we’re hitting on all cylinders. It’s all working well together this year, it’s hitting its stride,” Hittmeier continued. “It’s been a great summer in every aspect.”
KOA again sponsored a major RV promotion with Keystone RV Co. this year, with a $40,000 Vantage RV going to the grand prize winner, as well as daily and weekly free camping promotions all year long via its social media outlets.
Meanwhile, KOA announced that the more than 350,000 members of KOA’s Value Kard Rewards program earned the opportunity to camp for free Sept. 15at participating KOAs throughout North America. KOA Value Kard Rewards members who stayed as paying guests at a participating campground Sept. 14 received a free night of camping the following night.
And the positive developments are far from over, with a major announcement expected during the convention.
“We have some exciting news to present to them that will get a lot of attention. I am looking forward to that reaction. It will get a lot of attention,” Hittmeier said, without tipping his hand.
KOA’s overall performance underscores what Hittmeier calls the willingness of the American camping public to patronize the best known brand in the RV park and campground industry.
The desire to associate with KOA is apparent as the company continues to work with prospective new franchisees. Several new prospects were in the pipeline as the final quarter of 2012 approached. “It’s touch and go whether we’ll hit 500 by the end of this year,” Hittmeier said. “It would be nice to do that on our 50th anniversary but I don’t know. We’ll see.”
To read the entire article click here.
The ROUTE 66 RV Network recently completed its 9th Annual Rally in Peachtree City, Ga., with network dealers and partners touting the gathering as “the best rally yet,” according to a press release.
Overland Park, Kan.-based ROUTE 66 reported that attendance at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center was over 200 strong, representing nearly 90% of the network’s dealerships and 30 vendor partners.
“Our rallies are designed to deliver good golf, good food and a great relationship-building opportunity for our dealer management teams and our partners,” said Rob Merrill, partner in the ROUTE 66 RV Network. “And this year you could sense a unity and commitment to the team like no other past rally.”
While many new programs and initiatives were launched during the Sept. 10-12 meeting, the major announcement was the partnership with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), as previously reported on RVBUSINESS.com.
Dave Francis, ROUTE 66 partner, noted, “Suffice it to say, you’ll be seeing the classic ROUTE 66 shield and famous yellow KOA logo together quite a bit in the months and years to come. When you pull the best and largest campground network together with the best and largest RV dealer network like we’ve done, you can’t help but positively impact an RVer’s overall experience and satisfaction.”
Lorne Armer, KOA’s vice president for brand development, attended the rally and addressed the dealers shortly after the formal announcement. “This partnership is a step in the natural evolution KOA has seen occur in camping over the last 50 years,” Armer said. “KOA and ROUTE 66 are always looking for new ways to evolve the industry forward to better meet the needs and serve today’s camper. Quite honestly, our challenge moving forward will be to determine what are the best of the great ideas on the table and focus our efforts there.”
Another major topic of conversation focused on the Internet side of a dealership’s operation. After two-plus years of intensive web development based on dealer input and fine-tuning, ROUTE 66 detailed the performance of its “RV SmartSites” web platform including visits, leads and sales generated.
Steve Francis, ROUTE 66 partner and RV dealer who has led the development of this proprietary platform, stated, “RVSS is doing exactly what is was designed to do for our network dealers who are currently on the platform. Nearly every critical analytic you track and evaluate is up at least 50% over last year’s numbers and still climbing.”
Other announcements during the rally related to the network’s expanding brand promise of “Wherever the road takes you … you can count on us” by introducing an enhanced ROUTE 66 RV Club and new Roadside/Tech24 program. Dealers were also offered a way to not only continue to increase their dealership’s program rebates but also maintain their participation as a branded ROUTE 66 dealer with no annual membership fee.
“The unanimous sense from this year’s rally was overwhelmingly positive,” said Merrill. “Everyone left Georgia with high expectations and an enthusiastic charge to make 2013 our best ever.”
The ROUTE 66 RV Network currently includes 140 dealer locations in 41 states. For additional information contact Merrill at (913) 317-6678.