Although they were rocked by this year’s crazy weather patterns like other RV park and campground operators nationwide, Leisure Systems Inc.’s (LSI) 77 franchisees are posting a pretty good year as they prepare to converge Nov. 13-17 in Covington, Ky., for the 2011 Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Symposium & Trade Show.
“Well, I tell you what, Mother Nature was pretty brutal earlier in the season,” LSI Executive Vice President Dean Crawford told RVBUSINESS.com, “You know, tornados hit two of our parks, a lot of tree damage. We had a couple of parks in the Northeast that are on rivers and experienced major flooding problems.
“And, of course, they had the fires down in Texas,” added Crawford, whose company is based in the Cincinnati suburb of Milford, Ohio. “I mean, it’s been brutal, and, unfortunately, you’ve got to deal with it. So, I can’t give you a number as to exactly how much we’re up (in terms of overnight stays for the system at large). But I do know that overall our system has fared well, and it was a good season.”
The bulk of the convention’s meetings and workshops will be held at Embassy Suites Hotel Cincinnati-RiverCenter, while the 65-vendor trade show will be located nearby at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. Social events, a charity auction and a Thursday awards banquet and casino night will all be part of LSI’s traditional late year symposium at which park operators try to relax and reload for the year ahead.
The motivational keynote speaker is Mike Rayburn, a world-class guitarist and standup comedian and an authority on personal development and human potential.
“As far as our turnout with our franchisees,” said Crawford, “we’re looking for a great turnout. I’m guessing that out of 77 franchisees that we have, maybe five can’t make it. So, that’s normal. We always get about 90% of our franchisees coming to the event, which totals roughly 200 people, right around there, mostly managers and owners.”
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 Kelly Jones, LSI’s director of franchisee development.
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.