More than 200 people are expected to attend the annual Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) Symposium Nov. 14-17 at the Embassy Suites in Covington, Ky.
The event is open to all franchisees of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts and their families in the U.S. and Canada.
The theme for this year’s symposium is “Jellystone Parks: Always A Winning Hand” and will revolve around a Monte Carlo night theme, according to Kelly Jones, LSI’s director of franchisee development.
The “Winning Hand” theme will be apparent throughout the week’s events. “We’re doing quite a bit of our classes focusing on the marketing end of the business, to build a better hand at the table,” she explained.
Keynote speaker, Mike Rayburn, a world-class guitarist and stand-up comedian, will focus on simple but powerful tools in urging his audience to view old things in a new way and to leap beyond their perceived limitations.
Rob Schutter Jr., LSI’s COO, will update franchisees on the year’s performance during his System Update on Monday.
This year’s symposium will feature some new wrinkles. For the first time, LSI will offer what it’s calling “The Next Generation,” a four-hour seminar for the children of franchisees who are 18 years old or younger. “We will focus on topics like ‘Growing Up in a Campground,’ ‘Working With Your Parents,’ ‘Supervising People Who Are Older Than You’ and ‘Guest Relations,’” said Jones.
The seminar instructors have all grown up in the campground business, she noted.
At the closing banquet, LSI will hand out the following awards: Camp Resort of the Year, Operator of the Year, Facility of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, The Carroll Award (for the highest inspection score), the Pinnacle Award (for a 95% or higher inspection score), the Excellence Award (for a 90% or higher inspection score), the Customer Service Award, the Recreation Award, the Jim Webb Spirit Award and the Maple Leaf Award (for Canadian parks).
Here’s a brief review of the agenda for the week:
• Sunday: Yogi Advisory Council meeting, followed by opening reception.
• Monday: System Update by Rob Schutter Jr., educational classes, elections of officers for CARE (Caring About Recreation and Entertainment) and Yogi Advisory Council.
• Tuesday: More educational classes and preview of 2012 Yogi Bear merchandise.
• Wednesday: 4-hour ‘The Next Generation” seminar for franchisees who are 18 years or younger; Trade Show.
• Thursday: Trade Show and closing banquet.
LSI franchisees may register for the symposium by contacting the office at (800) 626-3729.
Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts are among the highest rated campgrounds in the country, with 20% of Jellystone Parks receiving 5W / 5W ratings in the 2011 edition of the Woodall’s North American Campground Directory.
“We’re obviously pleased that Woodall’s finds many our parks worthy of their highest ratings,” Rob Schutter, COO of Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., said in a press release.
While Jellystone Parks are noted for offering their guests unique family activities and special themed weekends, the Woodall’s rankings focus on the park’s recreational and physical facilities, including its physical grounds, roads, campsites, hookups, and restrooms. Woodall’s rates park by assigning them 1W to 5W ratings for both park facilities and recreation.
According to the Woodall’s 2011 directory, top rated parks in the Jellystone Park system are located in the following cities: Amboy, Ill.; Fremont, Ind.; Lawrence, Kan.; Hagerstown, Md.; Frankenmuth, Mich.; Austin, Minn.; Pelahatchie, Miss.; North Hudson, N.Y.; Gardiner, N.Y.; Woodridge, N.Y.; Harrisville, Pa.; Mill Run, Pa.; Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Caledonia, Wisc.; Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.; Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Launched in 1969, the Jellystone Park system is the second largest chain of campgrounds in the United States, boasting 75 campgrounds with more than 15,000 campsites in 28 states and Canada. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts are franchised through Leisure Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Park River Corp., Cincinnati, Ohio.
Gloucester Point Family Campground has become the fifth campground in Virginia to join the Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts chain.
“We’re in the conversion process right now,” Eileen Gedicke, park owner, stated in a news release, adding that Jellystone’s name recognition, marketing and reputation for fun family activities will help increase revenues and occupancies at the 230-site park, which is located less than a half-hour from Williamsburg.
“We’re putting in a splashpark for the 2011 season,” Gedicke said. “It’s going to have two slides that come off of a 12-foot high platform as well as six water features and a zero-entry swimming pool.”
The park, which is located on the Severn River, a tributary to Chesapeake Bay, is also a popular destination for kayaking and boating enthusiasts. “From our docks they can get out into open water,” Gedicke said.
The campground is also upgrading some its rental accommodations, replacing several travel trailers with new park model cabins that include full size bathrooms and kitchens.
Jellystone Parks are widely known for having unique activities and special themed weekends, which is something Gloucester Point Family Campground has offered for years. This year’s events will include a carnival, numerous competitive games, parades, Karaoke and game nights and a “Chocolate Extravaganza” as well as Halloween themed events. Of course, all these activities will have an extra element of fun with Yogi Bear participating. Yogi will be on site daily to greet campers, pose for photo ops and take part in events.
Launched in 1969, the Jellystone Park system is the second largest chain of campgrounds in the United States, boasting 75 campgrounds with more than 15,000 campsites in 28 states and Canada. Its Camp-Resorts are among the best campgrounds in the industry with a quality reputation for being fun, friendly, clean and service-oriented parks. Additionally, each Jellystone Park is themed with Yogi Bear elements providing instant recognition and consumer appeal. It is truly a place “Where You Camp With Friends.”
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts are franchised through Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), a wholly owned subsidiary of The Park River Corp., Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information, visit www.campjellystone.com.
With cartoon character Yogi Bear serving as a very recognizable “host,” Leisure Systems Inc.’s Jellystone Park network has grown to include more than 15,000 campsites in 29 states and three Canadian provinces since it was launched in 1969. On April 15, the network will add Delaware to its expanding roster of states with franchise parks as the former Cedar Creek Landing Campground reopens as Jellystone Park Camp Resort at Delaware Beaches.
“We think this is the right move for us,” said park owner Brent Fannin. “Jellystone Parks are known nationally as being fun family oriented parks, and with our close proximity to the beach and all the activities offered in and around our campground, we thought the Jellystone Park model was the perfect fit.”
Founded two years ago, the resort is one of Delaware’s most modern campgrounds with amenities that include a large swimming pool, playground, volleyball, game room, camp store, laundry facility and 277 spacious big rig-friendly RV sites, all with full hookups including free cable television and wireless Internet service.
The rechristened Jellystone Park at Delaware Beaches also will offer organized activities every weekend beginning April 15th, with daily activities and themed weekends beginning Memorial Day weekend running through Labor Day weekend. Upcoming themed weekend events include Memorial Day Weekend — the official kick off to summer with Yogi and Friends — a Father’s Day superhero contest June 19th and 20th, a Mardi Gras weekend June 24th to 26th, a family Olympics weekend July 8th to 10th, a Christmas in July weekend with a campsite decorating contest on July 22nd to 24th and a Death by Chocolate Weekend Aug. 5th to 7th. Halloween weekend events, with trick or treating and campsite decorating contests, are also scheduled for the last two weekends in October.
The tiny community of Harrisville, Penn., is about to increase its population by one — sort of — as TV and cartoon character Yogi Bear becomes the official host of newly converted Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest, the latest franchisee of Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI).
“We are eagerly looking forward to being affiliated with Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Parks,” park owner Denny Quigley said. “The nationwide system of full-service Jellystone campgrounds stands for clean, safe, family fun and convenience and that is exactly what we have strived to provide our guests for the past 11 years. That’s what made us feel Jellystone Park was a good fit for us.”
The Quigley family has owned the resort, formerly known as Kozy Rest Kampground, since 2000.
Located 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, the 34-acre park offers RV and tent camping along with yurts and full-service cabin rentals, a swimming pool, miniature golf course, children’s playgrounds and planned activities. For the kids, Yogi Bear will make regular appearances. Opening date for the newly converted facility, which has 170 campsites, is April 15th.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Parks experienced significant revenue growth in 2010 as a result of increased occupancies, successful cross marketing promotions with Warner Bros.’ “Yogi Bear” movie, and the addition of seven new campgrounds to the Jellystone Park chain, according to a news release.
Same park revenue was up 6% in 2010, compared to a year earlier, while the addition of seven new campgrounds increased overall revenue by 11%, said Rob Schutter, COO of Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts.
Jellystone Park business levels should continue to increase this year, Schutter said, citing the continuing promotional benefits of the Yogi Bear movie, which will be available on DVD March 22, as well as new camper incentives for the Club Yogi Rewards program and an expanded merchandise line that now boasts nearly 400 items. Leisure Systems also plans to continue to grow the Jellystone Park chain this year, Schutter said, noting that four additional parks have joined the chain since January.
Schutter presented the business update during Leisure Systems’ Spring Conference, which took place March 8-10 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Covington, Ky. The three-day event included roundtable discussions on new park management and marketing ideas as well as instructive sessions on ways to motivate teen workers as well as the CARE recreation training program.
John Ellison, Leisure Systems’ vice president of operations, provided two days of training for managers of aquatic facilities as part of the National Recreation and Park Association’s Aquatic Facility Operator Certification Program. The AFO program is fast becoming the leading training program for pool operators and aquatic facility managers in the United States.
Guest speakers included representatives of Leave No Trace, the Boulder, Colo.-based non-profit organization that develops educational programs designed to help children and adults take better care of the environment, as well as Gregg Cantalano, the “physician of phun,” who talked about new ideas on recreation for children, teens and families.
Launched in 1969, the Jellystone Park system now boasts 75 campgrounds with more than 15,000 campsites in 30 states and three Canadian provinces. Its Camp-Resorts are among the best campgrounds in the industry with a quality reputation for being fun, friendly, clean and customer service-oriented parks. Additionally, each Jellystone Park is themed with Yogi Bear elements providing instant recognition and consumer appeal. It is truly a place “Where You Camp With Friends.”
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts are franchised through LSI, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Park River Corp, Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information, visit www.campjellystone.com.
With 67 RV sites, cottonwood trees, rock climbing walls and a three-acre fishing lake stocked with trout and catfish, Rancho Jurupa Park in Riverside, Calif., lives up to its billing as “a perfect setting for a quick escape from the city.”
Operated by the Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space District, it’s also one of a growing number of government-run parks investing in park models as rental accommodations.
“We did a feasibility study and a master plan, and one of the features that was called out was cabins for folks who want to get outdoors and have a nice recreational experience, but don’t have a camping unit themselves,” said Scott Bangle, general manager of park district.
Riverside County just installed six Silvercrest/Western Homes Division park models at Rancho Jurupa Park, and the county plans to add more park models to other county parks in the future. “I could see having a handful of units at every park,” Bangle said. “(They) will be part of our inventory at all of our major regional parks someday.”
Riverside County, of course, isn’t the only government agency that’s investing in park models as rental units. Phoenix, Ariz.-based Cavco Industries Inc. just delivered 25 park model cabins to Lassen National Park in Northern California, and the company is in discussions with other California counties about purchasing parks models for use as rental accommodations, said Tim Gage, vice president of Cavco’s Specialty Division.
“We believe that the government campground parks are a marketplace that hasn’t been fully explored at this point,” said Gage.
Private parks, for their part, have been stepping up their investments in park model cabins in recent years. But despite the significant purchases of park model cabins as rental units by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) and operators of independent parks, North America’s private campground sector is still a long way from being saturated with rental accommodations.
In fact, the KOA system, which purchased 317 park models last year, is now waiving royalty fees on park model income for one year on any new units that its franchisees purchase this year.
“The idea is to encourage more KOAs to invest in lodging,” said Mike Atkinson, director of lodging for the Billings, Mont.-based franchisor, adding that park models are “becoming an absolute necessity to grow your campground income.”
Necessity or not, park models accounted for 1,168 of KOA’s 1,530 fully equipped (with bathrooms) rental accommodations systemwide in 2010 and generated over three times as much income as typical RV sites. “Park models have the longest short-term occupancy and you get over three times the money,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson added that most people who could be potential campground accommodations guests have not even been exposed yet to the concept.
Of course, Atkinson cautions that simply purchasing park models doesn’t turn into immediate revenue hikes because they have to be marketed. He says it typically takes three years for them to reach their marketing potential.
Nevertheless, some park operators find that these ordinarily rustic-looking units outperform their expectations.
Scott Cory, managing partner of Ventura Ranch KOA in the mountains southeast of Santa Barbara, Calif., installed four Cavco park models at his park in June of last year. It was the first time his park offered accommodations and he found that his guests responded very favorably to his investment.
“Lodging is the biggest ‘wow’ factor we’ve done at our park,” he said, adding that he plans to purchase six more park models this year. He also complements his park models with glamour tents and teepees.
Manufacturers, for their part, are increasingly rolling out more park model rental options, not only to accommodate rising demand for rental units, but to make up for recent declines in sales to consumers who traditionally purchased park models and placed them on leased campsites for use as their own private vacation cottage.
“We’re looking at doing more rentals because more and more campgrounds are realizing the benefits of having park models versus transient RV sites,” said Tyler Steele, vice president of Canterbury RV in Goshen, Ind.
“Listening to the needs and desires of campground owners and then turning that input into an affordable and profitable cabin design has been a crucial key to our growth,” said Andy Davis, sales manager for Pinnacle Park Homes in Ochlocknee, Ga.
Some park model manufacturers, however, still focus most of their attention on producing units for consumers who want to buy them for use as vacation cottages that they can place on leased or purchased campsites in campgrounds, RV parks or resorts.
“We’re probably about 10% for campground rentals, while 90% of our production is for retail sales,” said John Soard, general manager of Fairmont Park Trailers in Nappanee, Ind.
Joe Follman, sales manager for Chariot Eagle Inc. in Ocala, Fla., added that park operators that rent or lease sites to park model owners can benefit from having a steady income stream. “I think there’s still a lot of room to grow in this industry, both in the Sunbelt and up north,” he said. “There’s still plenty of business out there. We’re such a small percentage of the RV business.”
A continuing roadblock is the availability of financing, both for consumers and parks that want to purchase park models for use as rental accommodations.
“You can show how quickly they can be paid off, and how it’s a great investment to put cabins in. But the lenders are just not buying aggressively,” said Dick Grymonprez of Athens Park Homes in Athens, Texas. “If we could get financing, all of us would be building more cabins. I can’t tell you how many campgrounds tell me, ‘If you can get us financing, we’ll buy six.’ I can’t tell you how many roadblocks we face getting them financed.”
But there is money out there. Parks are continuing to purchase park models. And, increasingly, manufacturers say that the best sources are local lenders rather than nationally known lenders that have little knowledge or experience with the park model product.
The same approach can also help consumers find sources of financing for park models they’d like to purchase as private vacation cottages. “We’re recommending that dealers work with their local banks and educate them about the lack of defaults in the park model world and why it’s a good business model for them,” said Steele of Canterbury RV.
These, of course, are not regular times. These are post-recessionary times — emphasis on recessionary — when the U.S. is digging out of a tough situation. And, as you know, we’re still digging, more so in some areas of the country than others.
Yet, as sister publications RVBusiness’s and Woodall’s Campground Management’s small staff sat down to review the year that was, we couldn’t help but marvel at the top-ranked story in our list below — the fact that the industry had indeed outperformed many other American business sectors for the second year in a row.
Without looking a gift horse in the mouth, it’s hard to figure in times like these.
But maybe that’s the point: Maybe times like these in some cases bring out the best of those lucky enough to enjoy them. Maybe we’ll just chalk it up to North America’s drive — lust might be a better word — for affordable recreation, a habit that the average family has retained throughout the global recession.
We’ve seen it at the tollgates in large public parks like Yellowstone and at the registration desks of hundreds of private campgrounds and resorts enough to know that it’s real. Having said that, here’s a quick look at our Top Ten campground news stories for 2010:
(1): RV park and campground business again bucks recessionary pressure to post gains in 2010. “Our members are generally reporting a better year than 2009, with the exception of the Gulf Coast areas,” Linda Profaizer, retiring president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), noted in her President’s Message.
“It appears that snowbirds are returning in bigger numbers than last year as well,” she added. “Most parks report an increase in rental accommodations and tenting is still a major part of the picture.”
Indeed, in his remarks during ARVC’s annual meeting, ARVC Chairman David L. Berg said the economic downturn has actually created new business opportunities for private parks as families and other travelers look for more affordable ways to enjoy weekend getaways and vacation time.
It’s not just an isolated trend. Industry leader Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) reported year-over-year gains in each of the first 10 months of 2010 with total revenues up 8.5 % over 2009. For the summer camping season, same store revenues were up 6% and camper nights up 4.5%.
Leisure Systems Inc. ((LSI), franchisors of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, reported same park revenue up 5% in 2010. While site revenue was down 4%, rental income was up 15%, store revenues grew 15% and miscellaneous revenue was up 19%. And LSI looks for more of the same in 2011, thanks in part to the release in late 2010 of a new “Yogi Bear” Warner Brothers movie starring the voices of Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake.
(2) The RV Centennial, the focus of which was in June when the ARVC Business Forum ventured to Elkhart, Ind., along with much of the recreational vehicle industry for Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) joint Annual Meeting and Committee Week proceedings and a party at the RV/MH Hall of Fame.
RVIA determined that 2010 was the centennial year for the industry, and what a year it was. The Go RVing Coalition promoted events throughout the year in conjunction with the centennial. The Coalition’s “Ambassadors of Affordability” cartoon characters appeared in Go RVing TV spots, and “Centennial Charlie,” a stuffed bear, made a PR tour across the country. The highlight of the year came in early June with a big bash in Elkhart, but other events were held across the nation at campgrounds, RV dealerships and elsewhere. It was, by most accounts, a public relations extravaganza.
(3) Gulf Coast RV parks share with other commercial segments in negative oil spill spillover. An explosion on April 20 at a Deep Water Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 men working on the rig and set off a massive oil leak that would ultimately send more than 250 million gallons of oil into the Gulf and threaten hundreds of miles of ocean frontage.
The oil fouled beaches from Florida to Louisiana, stifling tourism for months. Business was down significantly at campgrounds across the region, even where the beaches were never involved. It was a major PR problem for the tourism industry, which was still gradually recovering at year’s end.
(4) Flash flood kills 20 campers in June at Arkansas campground. Heavy rains the night of June 11 sent a wall of water in the “Loop D” area of secluded publicly operated Albert Pike Campground nearly Langley in western Arkansas. In all, 20 campers at the 54-site park were killed in the disaster,
The Caddo and Little Missouri rivers — two normally gentle waterways — rose by 20 feet overnight, engulfing the hikers and campers who were spending the night in tents along the rivers in the isolated Ouachita Mountains. “Within ten minutes the water had rose and campers were floating down,” a survivor told ABC News. “If they didn’t get out of their camper within five, ten minutes, they weren’t getting out.”
(5) Succession at ARVC — Linda Profaizer retiring and Paul Bambei succeeding her. Profaizer announced in the spring that she would be retiring after 10 years at ARVC’s helm and 40 years in the industry — a tenure that included her time as president of then Chicago-based Woodall Publications Corp.
ARVC looked both inside and outside the RV park and campground sector for her successor and recently hired Comcast Corp. veteran Paul Bambei. He never owned a campground, but he’s an avid RVer and was touted as an expert marketing executive. He was introduced at ARVC’s InSites Convention in December.
(6) Succession at KOA — Pat Hittmeier named president of KOA in February, succeeding Shane Ott. A 29-year veteran of the Billings, Mont.-based franchisor’s front office, Hittmeier was named president on Feb. 28 after Shane Ott stepped down. Hittmeier held several positions at KOA before taking on the presidency of the 475-member campground chain, and so far, from all we can gather, his relatively quiet demeanor and astute business instincts are serving him well.
(7) Virtual Campground Expo breaks ground on new era of trade shows. Campground vendor Art Lieberman earned praise in 2010 for introducing the industry’s first virtual online trade show, a “Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo” that kicked off in early November and continues today for those choosing to pay the site a visit.
While some argue that these online expos are the way of the future, Lieberman gets an “A” for effort, but a “C” for the site’s actual performance due to software issues that soured some on this landmark event. Lieberman, owner of MCPS for Campgrounds, was up front about the problems and pledged to try again, if not in 2011, then in 2012.
(8) Best Parks in America expands membership to 71 by year’s end. Best Parks in America, launched in 2004 by industry consultant and entrepreneur David Gorin as a marketing network, must be somewhere close to reaching critical mass by now, as the 71-park organization held its annual meeting and a slate of seminars Dec. 1-2 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on the brink of the ARVC InSites convention.
Now, having made some serious changes over the past year, Gorin says Best Parks is getting ready to grow to the next level as an organization that will provide more business tools yet remain “a system of independent unique parks.”
(9) CalARVC takes lead on holding tank chemical ban in California, despite legislative headwinds. Based on the premise that formaldehyde-containing products used in RV holding tank waste treatments have troubled RV park and campground septic systems for years, the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) decided earlier this year that it was time for a change.
So, CalARVC lobbied extensively to ban six specific chemicals from all holding tank treatment solutions utilized in the Golden State, and the California State Assembly passed landmark legislation in late summer. However, outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill to ban the chemicals and referred the matter to a state agency for remediation while CalARVC Executive Director Debbie Sipe has vowed to march on with an education program.
(10) ARVC’s ongoing headquarter saga. The national trade association announced in late spring its decision to move from Larkspur, Colo., a rural location to which it had moved in 2009 from Washington D.C.’s suburban Virginia, to more urban Castle Rock in the Denver area on the premise that it would be a better place in which to do business.
Then, in December, after some internal debate a few weeks ago, the ARVC board voted unanimously not to move to Castle Rock and instead authorized new CEO Paul Bambei to look elsewhere for suitable space in the greater Denver area.
The upcoming (Dec. 17) release of a new Warner Brothers’ “Yogi Bear” movie offered an ideal backdrop for Leisure System Inc.’s (LSI) annual Symposium, held Nov. 8-11 at the Embassy Suites in Covington, Ky., a Cincinnati suburb located near the company’s home office in Milford, Ohio.
The event attracted nearly 200 people from 65 of the 78 campgrounds affiliated with LSI’s Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp-Resort franchise for four days of professional seminars, briefings by LSI management, a trade show, social networking and the concluding awards ceremony that took on the motif of an Academy Awards-style presentation.
Over 60 vendors took part in the trade show displaying their products and services. An outside display featured four new park models. The trade show also afforded franchisees an opportunity to purchase their Yogi Bear brand merchandise from an offering of more than 300 items for the coming season.
In addition, LSI franchisees could attend an all-day Americans with Disabilities Act compliance workshop the day before the symposium at which they were briefed on new ADA recreation guidelines passed this year as well other proposals that are likely to be passed in 2011.
Buddy Rice was the keynote speaker on Tuesday and took franchisees through a series of exercises that helped them and their staffs identify the major touch points they have with customers.
LSI also honored Linda Profaizer for her longtime service to the RV park and campground industry. Profaizer is retiring at the end of this year as president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
Schutter Briefs Franchisees On Major Developments
Rob Schutter Jr., LSI’s chief operating officer, updated franchisees on major developments within the franchise. In a Power Point presentation, Schutter noted several “bright spots” for the campground industry in 2010:
- Occupancies are up between 1% and 3%.
- Extended stay is up 5%.
- Revenues are up between 1% and 3%.
- Fuel prices are holding steady.
- Fifty-seven percent of campground owners are adding rentals.
- Sixteen percent of all RV buyers are first-timers.
On the “down side,” however, Schutter pointed out that Gulf Coast business was off between 30% and 50% due to the disastrous BP oil spill while many campers continue to make spontaneous last second reservations and the industry as a whole should not expect true economic growth until 2013.
For LSI in particular, “same park” overall revenue among its 78 parks is up 5% in 2010. While site revenue was down 4%, rental income was up 15%, store revenue grew 15% and miscellaneous revenue was up 19%.
Customer satisfaction surveys, by the same token, offered mixed results. Schutter reported that overall customer satisfaction was down slightly, from a score of 8.20 in 2009 to 8.14 in 2010. Repeat customers, referrals and Internet bookings generated 90% of revenues at a majority of LSI parks.
Just 19% of respondents replied that they had a problem during their visits to Jellystone parks. However, he pointed out, 64% of those said their problems were not resolved.
Schutter outlined a number of LSI initiatives for 2011, including an increase in its marketing staff and a recreational park trailer program that it is launching in conjunction with Thor Industries Inc.
There are 10 prospective new member parks for 2011, he noted.
“Yogi Bear” Movie Marketing Will Tout Namesake’s Brand
LSI and its franchisees expect the new “Yogi Bear” movie to have a significant impact on their business in the coming months and years as the movie reintroduces the cartoon character to an entirely new generation.
Thirty-three Warner Brothers/Jellystone Park partnership events are planned in major movie markets around the U.S. following the movie’s Dec. 17 release. Franchisees will provide costumed Yogi and Boo Boo bear costumes and will make appearances in exchange for promotional mentions. The events include TV appearances, parades and Christmas tree-lighting ceremonies. For example, a Chicago appearance will feature an autograph signing appearance with movie co-star Dan Aykroyd.
Other marketing developments include the recent release of a new strawberry/kiwi-flavored water beverage by Hint Water. The product will come in a Yogi Bear-shaped bottle. Franchisees were able to place orders for the new product at the symposium.
Franchisees also will receive a new Yogi Bear book published this year.
LSI Honors Franchisees at Awards Ceremony
A grand finale awards presentation on Nov. 11 took on an Academy Awards night feel as the audience viewed several trailers from the “Yogi Bear” movie and received a brief videotaped “shout out” from cast members Anna Faris, Tom Cavanaugh and T.J. Miller.
A large movie filmstrip adorned the area behind the stage and honorees walked a red carpet en route to accepting their awards.
Among the awards winners:
- Franchise System Entrepreneur of the Year, Revenues Over $1 Million: Mill Run, Pa.
- Franchise System Entrepreneur of the Year, Revenues Over $500,000: Canyon Lake, Texas
- Franchise System Entrepreneur of the Year, Revenues Under $500,000: Milton, Pa.
- Franchise System Operator of the Year, Parks Under 200 Sites: John Wagenhoffer, Emporia, Va.
- Franchise System Operator of the Year, Parks Over 200 Sites: Bruce Bryant Management, Warrens, Wis.
- Franchise System Inspection Leader, “The Carroll Award”: Tabor City, N.C.
- Jim Webb Spirit Award, The Coleman Family: Tabor City, N.C.
- Maple Leaf Award: Toronto, Ontario.
- Franchise System Facility of the Year, Parks Under 200 Sites: Memphis, Tenn.
- Franchise System Facility of the Year, Parks Over 200 Sites: Fremont, Ind.
- Franchise System Camp Resort of the Year: Luray, Va.
2010 Special Recognition award recipients were:
- Rookie of the Year – Owner: Garry & Debbie Ingram, Forsyth, Mo.
- Rookie of the Year – Manager: Steve Stafford, Burleson, Texas.
- Most Improved Inspection: Knightstown, Ind.
- Facility Theming: Robert, La.
- Landscaping: Niagara Falls, Ontario
- Camp-Resort Store Design: Waller, Texas
- Camp-Resort Comfort Station: North Hudson, N.Y.
- Internet Web Site Design: Canyon Lake, Texas.
- Brochure Design, Kingston: Nova Scotia.
- Recreational Programming: North Java, N.Y.; Tabor City, N.C.; Branson, Mo.; Mill Run, Pa.; and Luray, Va.
Other Symposium Activities
The Yogi Advisory Council (YAC) met on Nov. 7 for a daylong meeting to discuss franchise issues independent from LSI management. Upcoming events for franchisees include Camp Training for new owners and operators, Jan. 24-28 in Milford, Ohio; and the Spring YAC meeting, March 7, the Spring Meeting for all franchisees on March 8 and the CARE (Caring About Recreation and Entertainment) meeting March 9-11, all in Covington, Ky.
New YAC officers are Gina Lenhard, chairwoman, North Hudson, N.Y.; Ray Aljets, vice chairman, Sioux Falls, S.C.; Jayne Cohen with Adventure Bound Camping, secretary; and Mike Ciero, treasurer, Millbrook, Ill. Keith Russell, Memphis, Tenn., was elected parliamentarian.
No date has been set for the 2011 symposium.
Leisure Systems Inc. chose a Hollywood movie premiere and theme “Lights! Camera! Action!” for the backdrop of this year’s Symposium & Trade Show, set for Nov. 7-11 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and Embassy Suites Hotel in Covington, Ky.
This year’s theme really was a “no-brainer” for the LSI staff, what with the much-awaited release of the all-new “Yogi Bear” movie scheduled for Dec. 17 in theaters across the country,” the Milford, Ohio-based company reports. The movie is expected to introduce the iconic cartoon character from the 1960s to an entirely new generation, many of whom may be drawn to further the Yogi Bear mystique at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts across the U.S. and Canada.
This year’s event could be the franchisor’s biggest in years with 250 individuals from most of the 76-member camp-resorts expected to attend, said Dean Crawford, LSI vice president.
LSI, in its 41st year of operation, is undergoing a growth spurt of sorts with four new parks joining in the spring and one over the summer, said Crawford. “We’re hoping to hit 80 parks for next year,” he said. “Right now, the sales team has five or six prospects which will probably be coming to our convention.”
Franchisees should generally be in a good mood heading into this year’s symposium, Crawford surmised, because LSI saw its systemwide occupancies increase by 4% through the end of August, while revenues were up 3%. Anecdotal evidence points to a successful year at many parks.
“We had a Yogi Advisory Council meeting last week (middle of September) and from what I hear, only one out of 10 parks did not exceed last year’s revenues,” Crawford said.
LSI COO Rob Schutter Jr. will give franchisees an update on the state of the franchise the afternoon of Nov. 8.
Franchisees also will get their first look at Yogi Bear merchandise the afternoon of Nov. 9 and be able to order items for the coming season.
Symposiums Seminars: The educational component at LSI’s Symposium is always strong and this year is no exception, starting with an all-day Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Seminar at the Embassy Suites on Nov. 7. The Yogi Advisory Council will be meeting that afternoon.
Keynote speaker Buddy Rice will present the “Customer Focus Program” on Tuesday morning (Nov. 9). Rice will take his audience through a series of exercises that will help them and their teams identify major touch points that they have with their customers. The goal is to create loyalty – customers who come back and talk about their campground experience to their friends and associates.
Vendor Show on Nov. 10-11: A crosssection of vendors serving the RV park and campground industry will be displaying their products and services at the trade show, scheduled for Nov. 10 and 11. The soft economy may keep the number of vendors down from previous years, Crawford said, but LSI franchisees historically come to this event in a buying mood and vendors say they are happy with the show, Crawford noted.
Awards Banquet on Nov. 11: The movie theme will be most apparent at the awards banquet, set for the night of Nov. 11 at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Trailers for the Yogi Bear movie will be shown, and the banquet room will be decked out with movie posters and other paraphernalia.
LSI tried to bring in one of the stars from the Yogi Bear movie, Crawford revealed, but the talent fee was beyond the budget. Still, Crawford said, franchisees will be pleased with the evening’s atmosphere. Copies of the new Yogi Bear book, “Life’s A Picnic,” also will be available for distribution at the banquet.
Are You Ready for Some Football? By coincidence, the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals will be hosting archrival Pittsburgh Steelers in a Monday Night Football game just across the Ohio River from the convention site the night of Nov. 8. Crawford said convention activities have been curtailed for that evening so franchisees, if they so choose, may attend the game or watch it on TV.
2010 Symposium Agenda
Sun. – Nov. 7
9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ADA Compliance All Day Seminar (Including Lunch)
9 a.m. – noon Yogi Advisory Council Meeting
noon – 1 p.m. Lunch
1 – 5 p.m. Yogi Advisory Council Meeting/LSI
1 – 5 p.m. Registration
5:30 p.m. Opening Reception
Monday – Nov. 8
8 a.m. – noon Registration
10 a.m. – noon Welcome/Travel Log
noon – 1 p.m. Opening Luncheon
1 – 3:45 p.m. LSI Updates with Rob Schutter
Club Yogi Rewards Update – Marketing Strategists
4 – 5 p.m. YAC/CARE elections and YAC General Session
Tuesday – Nov. 9
9 a.m. – noon The Customer Focus- Buddy Rice
noon – 1 p.m. Lunch
1 – 2:15 p.m. Increasing your Shoulder Season with Youth/School Groups with Carrie Cirrito
1 – 2:15 p.m. Motivating Employees through Rewards Programs with Cheri Lenhertz
2:30 – 4 p.m. Putting the Fun back into FUNdraising with Holli Rapp & Rachael Stine
2:30 p.m., to 6 p.m. View Yogi Merchandise – sales orders in by 5 p.m.
Wednesday – Nov. 10
8:30 – 10 a.m. So Help Me…Customer Service Program-Jayne Cohen
8:30 – 10 a.m. Marketing through Facebook with Chris Treadaway
10:30 a.m. – noon Theme Weekend Planning Workshop with Bridget Bender
6 – 8:30 p.m. Social/Auction/CARE Raffle
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tradeshow
Thursday – Nov. 11
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Sure Vista/Customer Satisfaction Survey with Blake Ashdown
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Going Mobile/ITI Marketing with Chris O’Flaherty
4 – 5 p.m. Pictures – Captain’s View
5:30 – 7 p.m. Awards Presentations
7 – 8 p.m. Awards Dinner
8 – 10 p.m. Entertainment
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tradeshow
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch during Tradeshow
2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Vendor break down and move out