Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisor of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, continues to diversify its choice of accommodations while also expanding the organized family activities for campers.
According to a press release, parks are increasingly renting furnished cabins, cottages, yurts and teepees in addition to providing traditional tent camping and RV sites. LSI reported that rentals now account for 2,000 sites across the Jellystone Park network.
“Rentals are key because they enable us to make our parks accessible to families who haven’t camped before or who don’t have their own camping equipment,” Wisher said, adding that cabins and other rental units provided 26% of Jellystone Park revenue in 2013, even though they only accounted for 12% of LSI’s 17,000 sites system wide.
“Rental units contribute a large portion of income to our network. Occupancy levels in rental accommodations are also higher than the typical RV site,” Wisher said.
Wisher noted that several Jellystone Parks also have significant numbers of park model cabins with fully furnished kitchens and bathrooms, providing another option for campers.
Families that visit Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts this month will have a chance to celebrate the holidays early with “Christmas in July” activities, according to a press release.
“It’s one of our most popular themed events,” said Michele Wisher, director of marketing for Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks across the country.
Christmas in July weekends typically include campsite and cabin decorating contests, gift exchanges and visits by Santa Claus. Some parks even have caroling, snowball fights and white elephant gift exchanges, while children’s craft activities range from making Christmas ornaments to painting ceramics for their parents.
Christmas in July events have become so popular at the Jellystone Park in Pittsfield, Ill., that the park has two Christmas themed weekends this month during July 20 – 21 and July 27 – 20.
Meanwhile, the Jellystone Park in Williamsport, Md. has a full week of Christmas- and holiday-themed activities from July 22 – 28. The park will be decked out in holiday lights and carolers from a local high school will sing to campers in the evening. The park is also planning a New Year’s Eve celebration with a DJ dance and a countdown to midnight. The park even has a jumbo screen that shows the ball dropping in New York from the previous New Year’s Eve.
Other Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Parks with a full week of Christmas themed activities include locations in Cherokee, N.C.; East Wareham, Mass.; Lawrence, Kan.; North Java, N.Y.; and Warrens, Wis.
Christmas in July themed weeks and weekends are scheduled at most Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts across the U.S. and Canada.
Editor’s Note: The following article appears in the latest issue of Woodall’s Campground Management detailing the genesis and subsequent growth of Lazy River Campground in New York State. Today, the 170-site Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Lazy River is one of the top Leisure System Inc.’s (LSI) franchises in the country. To read the entire story click here.
When brothers-in-law Glenn Bracklow and John Lawrence and John’s wife, Heidi (Glenn’s sister), decided in the early 1990s that they wanted to go into the outdoor hospitality business, they had two choices: start from scratch or buy an existing campground.
They chose the latter and in late summer 1991 bought a rundown campground in the Hudson River Valley near Gardiner, N.Y. The facilities were meager, John recalled. There was a single cash register in the office and a pop machine outside. “There were a couple of hookups. The place wasn’t nice,” John says succinctly. But the site had some special features. The Wallkill River bordered the mostly level campground on the east side, thick woods covered a portion of the park and a stately barn and 40-foot silo served as a focal point to the 80-acre property.
They kept the campground open that first fall but when the season ended in October, they began to gut the barn and update the sites, running water lines and 30-amp service to 100 sites. They added an inviting covered porch to the barn – which serves as the office and campground store – thereby creating a popular gathering place for guests to sit and chat.
When they reopened in May 1992 as the Lazy River Campground, they had something they could be proud of.
Today, the 170-site Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Lazy River is one of the top Leisure System Inc.’s (LSI) franchises in the country, earning multiple awards from LSI and endearing generations of campers. Sites are spacious. The campground is gated which gives an added sense of security.
“We want to make people feel comfortable where they can let their kids run loose” within reason, John said.
Success has not come without a stiff price. Along the way, these soft-spoken owners have battled brutal hurricanes, several floods and repressive governmental and lending regulations that hamper the future of their investment.
To read the entire article click here.
Sun Communities Inc.’s RV Resorts division has purchased the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park of Western New York located near North Java.
The deal, effective April 18, brings the 100-acre family camping resort in Wyoming County into the corporate network of Sun Communities, which oversees management at 185 communities in 25 states. Jellystone is its first property in New York, Buffalo Business First reported.
Jellystone is part of Sun’s recent expansion into the RV park business. The company announced last month it invested over $250 million over the past 18 months in the acquisition and quality enhancements of RV communities.The purchase price was not immediately disclosed.
Jellystone was owned and managed privately since 2004 by Scott and Sue Crompton. An announcement to customers via email and Facebook issued Saturday (April 20) promised a smooth transition, as well as plans for improvements scheduled to take place during 2013.
Jackie Maguire was named new resort manager. Through its Facebook page, the camp promised the same park, same staff and same “great family camping location” but under new ownership. Plans call for keeping existing pricing in place, with all activities remaining all-inclusive.
The campground, which accommodates tents, RVs and cabin campers, includes a multi-level water playground, a lake for swimming and fishing as well as activities like mini-golf, go-carts and hiking.
Among the improvements completed already for the upcoming season, the park has upgraded its Lakefront Cabins and Boo Boo Chalets and will be adding a new structure to its wooden playground prior to opening weekend in May. Additional changes will include renovations to the pool and mini golf course; installation of a full court basketball court; and a larger golf cart fleet.
Based in Southfield, Mich., Sun Communities is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns and operates manufactured housing and recreational vehicle communities.
Keith Russell, a rising star in the Jellystone Park network and a strong proponent of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), died unexpectedly over the holidays while visiting with his newest grandchild.
According to a press release, Russell, 65, co-owned and operated the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Horn Lake, Miss., with his wife, Penny. He died Jan. 2.
“I counted Keith as one of my closest friends in the franchise system,” said Rob Schutter, who holds dual roles as ARVC chairman and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises Jellystone Parks across the country. “I will greatly miss him, his sense of humor and his counsel.”
Russell built his park from scratch in 2007 and joined the Jellystone Park system in 2008. The Russells were named “Rookies of the Year” in 2009 and won Leisure Systems’ Pinnacle awards each of the following years. Their park also won Leisure Systems’ “Facility of the Year” award in 2010 as well as a “Landscaping Award” for park beautification in 2011.
Russell was well respected in the LSI system and was elected to LSI’s Franchise Advisory Board in 2010, just two years after joining the network.
“He was inspiring to the other franchisees,” Schutter said. “People loved to be around him. He was one of those unique individuals who captures your attention.”
Russell is survived by his wife, Penny, his son, Jimmy; his daughters, Holly, Jessica and Amy; and eight grandchildren.
Leisure Systems Inc., franchisor of Yogi Bear Jellystone Parks, has added two facilities to its nationwide system, according to a press release. Whispering Pines RV & Cabin Resort became the fifth Texas campground to join the network along with Uniontown, Ohio-based Clear Water Park Camping Resort.
Whispering Pines, a 30-year-old park in Tyler, offers 133 RV sites and 18 park model cabins. Owners Don and Jan Tardy, who acquired the park in May, said they wanted to join Jellystone Park chain to expand their marketing reach.
“I like the concept of Jellystone Park and I want to emphasize the fact that we are a park that caters to families,” Don Tardy said, adding that Whispering Pines will officially join the Jellystone Park chain on Jan. 1.
Originally built in 1947, Clear Water Park had been neglected for many years and needed major updating to make it competitive in today’s market.
Mert and Charlene Yoder, who bought the park 10 years ago, spent close to $700,000 in improvements and new amenities, including new pull-through campsites, cabins, a waterslide, a miniature golf course and a gem mining sluice – quadrupling the park’s business base.
“When we reopen May 1, we will reopen as a Jellystone Park Camp-Resort,” Mert Yoder said.
Rob Schutter Jr., president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), promised an upbeat message for LSI’s franchisees at their annual Symposium held Nov. 5-8 in Covington, Ky., and he delivered.
Woodall’s Campground Management reported that during his annual LSI Updates presentation on Nov. 6, Schutter reported to a record gathering of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort operators that LSI’s 78 franchisees outperformed the RV park and campground industry in general as well as many American businesses in 2012.
“There wasn’t one down area in occupancy or revenue numbers in our franchise system from last year; every possible scenario we studied was up. Not many people out there in our industry can say that,” he said.
• System revenue totaled $71.4 million, up 12% from 2011 and up 8% for same parks from 2011.
• Camper nights (general sites) rose 9%.
• Rental unit revenue rose 17%.
• Extended stays were up 2%.
• Online reservations rose 13%.
• Deposits increased 15%.
• Store sales were up 9%.
• Ancillary products sales up 12%.
“This is great,” Schutter said, stating that the fine performance was due in large part to franchisees’ perseverance and dedication to improving customer satisfaction.
The revenue performance was well above industry average of flat to up to 4%, he noted, and the rental unit uptick exceeded the industry figure of 15%.
Rental units are a growing phenomenon for not only LSI franchisees but the entire industry as well, Schutter continued. Rental units with full service typically attract “non-campers” who want niceties they can’t find in a tent or a travel trailer and yet want a unique camping experience. Double-digit growth has been recorded the last three years. “Some people (parks) are not really taking advantage of this. This is an area that we can exploit for many years. We have not maxed out.”
To read the entire story click here.
The way Rob Schutter Jr. sees it, the transition period for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) from the prior administration of Linda Profaizer to CEO Paul Bambei’s tenure two years ago is officially over, and it’s now full speed ahead on a number of initiatives that are already building value for the Centennial, Colo.-based national trade association’s 3,000 members.
Schutter, president and COO of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), the Cincinnati, Ohio-based franchisor of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, made this and other points during a recent interview with Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) Editor Steve Bibler as he wrapped up his first year as ARVC chairman on the eve of the association’s annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, Nov. 26-30 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Schutter will speak to members as part of the chairman’s annual address at a Nov. 29 breakfast meeting and during the “Awards of Excellence Gala” on Nov. 30. Schutter’s message will likely focus on the association’s efforts to concentrate on its core mission and solidify its member base to bridge the gap with non-members and unaffiliated states after experiencing some “growing pains and a learning process” over the past couple years.
“After a period of upheaval, I’m sure some members were curious if bringing in a person from outside (the industry) to run ARVC was right,” he said. “There was the transition from the Washington, D.C., area to two different locales in the Denver area. A lot of things were unsettled. You are now seeing some permanency in place. Members are very pleased things have settled down and the focus is once again on offering value to members.
To read the entire article click here.
Tracking over 230 lost site-nights for cabin rentals prompted Denny Quigley to step up and add two more cabins to his inventory at the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Kozy Rest near Harrisville, Pa.
“Last year, after hearing the reservation staff telling people we are sorry we don’t have a cabin available, I decided to have them start keeping track of the lost sales,” said Quigley, owner of the 164-site park, in a press release. “I was shocked to see the total lost sales from early July through October to be over 230 site-nights.”
The demand for cabin rentals is at an all-time high throughout the outdoor hospitality industry. Quigley stated that his cabin income is up 20% already this year.
That’s when Quigley started to look at cabin manufactures at the Leisure Systems Symposium, ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Convention and the PCOA convention. “We have a 5W park and I was looking for rentals to meet our standards,” Quigley said. “That’s when we went back to Fork Creek Cabins of Paradise, Pa. We had purchased two cabins from them in 2010 and they have been great.”
Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest was recognized as ARVC’s Medium Park of the Year last December, and Quigley says offering quality amenities is very important. “We really try to go after the ‘WOW’ factor in everything we do,” said Quigley. “It means a lot when we escort our customers to the cabins and hear them say ‘WOW’ when they walk through the door. The next thing we hear them say is that they need to show this to their friends or relatives.”
Fork Creek Cabins was Quigley’s choice because “They pay close attention to the details like the cabinetry and trim work. They use quality materials throughout the cabins. Jonathan Allgyer from Fork Creek cabins has been very flexible to work with on the floorplans and details. We wanted Moen faucets and Jonathan worked with his supplier to see that they were installed. From Dan Allgyer, the owner, to Amos the delivery and setup person, they really have our best interest in mind.”
Rising fuel costs have little impact on Thad and Rita Frost, who work as elementary school teachers.
According to a press release, they rent a seasonal campsite at the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Lincoln, Del., which is only 15 minutes away from their home in Milford. They leave their RV there for the whole summer and camp with their two children, 11- and 14-year-old boys, whenever they want, which is usually most weekends.
“Even though it’s close to home, we feel like we’re on vacation,” Thad Frost said. “I don’t have to drive two hours to feel that way.”
“Across the country, growing numbers of families are renting campsites at Jellystone Parks for the entire camping season, including many who live less than a half-hour away,” said Michele Wisher, a spokesperson for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks across the country.
Frost said there are numerous benefits to camping close to home.
For starters, he said, his family can still have a weekend away from home, even if the boys have soccer or football practice. The Frosts can also bring their pets along whenever they want to.
“One of the reasons we picked this park is we have five pets — three dogs and two cats. Being this close, we’ll bring the pets out for a day or two and then take them home.”
Frost said Jellystone Park offers a fun, safe and secure place for families, and lots of organized activities for children, so they feel comfortable letting their kids have the run of the campground without having to supervise them every second.
“When my 11-year-old and I show up at the campground, he takes off as soon as we get there and I don’t see him again until 8:30 or 9 p.m. He meets other kids. He plays with them. He gets involved in activities. He’s always shooting basketball or riding bikes.”
In fact, when they’re at Jellystone Park, both of the Frosts’ children wind up doing more physical activity than they do at home. But since they are away from home, Frost and his wife can actually relax without getting involved in household chores.
During the school year, the Frosts even go to Jellystone Park during the week to grade papers or do other school work in the peaceful campground setting.
Frost said renting a seasonal campsite at a campground close to home is the best way to make use of an RV.
“We’re getting a lot of use out of our RV now,” he said, and it doesn’t matter as much what happens with fuel prices.
When Shawnie and Oliver McMichael took a weekend camping trip with their five kids and other family members a few weeks ago, they didn’t have far to go.
They camped at the Black Canyon Jellystone Park Camp-Resort – just a few minutes away from their home in Montrose, Colo.
“My husband wasn’t convinced it was going to feel like camping because it was so close to home,” Shawnie McMichael said. “But he actually liked it.”
While the campground has RV and tent sites, it also has lodge rooms that families can rent if they don’t have an RV or tent or if they need overflow space for large groups. The park, in fact, has had many improvements in recent years.
Formerly known as Country Village RV Resort, it was acquired three years ago by John Barber and a group of investors bought the park out of bankruptcy court.
“It was in pretty rough shape,” Barber said of the then mostly vacant 140-site park.
But after investing roughly half a million dollars in improvements, including a new swimming pool, a new septic system and new paint and carpeting for the park’s buildings, Barber and his investor group are now targeting the family vacation market by joining the Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts chain.
“We’re officially a Jellystone Park now,” Barber said, adding his park is the third in Colorado to join the national franchise chain, which is famous for offering fun, family activities throughout the camping season.
Barber is already developing an activities schedule that will include ice cream socials, indoor movies and scavenger hunts. He’s also planning several themed weekends, including a murder mystery weekend and a chocolate themed weekend later in summer. Halloween themed weekends are also being planned for the first two weekends of October.
Barber is also continuing to make improvements to his park, including expanding the campground store.
The park is located about 9 miles south of Montrose, 70 miles south of Grand Junction and is about 25 minutes from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Other Colorado Jellystone Parks are located in Estes Park and Larkspur.
Topeka, Ind.-based CrossRoads RV announced today (May 25) the launch of Operation Appreciation, an initiative designed to show its support for the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
According to a press release, CrossRoads RV and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort at Barton Lake in Fremont, Ind., are offering free lodging to any active member of the U.S. military. The park is donating a seasonal lot while CrossRoads RV is supplying a Hampton destination trailer, which the company manufactures, to be used exclusively by active members of the U.S. military and their families free of charge.
Reservations must be made in advance with availability on a first come, first serve basis. An open house marking the event is scheduled for Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Barton Lake park.
“We wanted to do something special for U.S. service men and women to show our appreciation for their sacrifice, bravery and hard work that ensure our freedom and American way of life,” explained CrossRoads President Don Emahiser. “While experiencing the great amenities of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort, they will enjoy luxury accommodations in our Hampton destination trailer that includes a spacious living area, fully equipped kitchen, master bedroom, kid’s bunk room, and full bath.”
Emahiser added that there had been tremendous response from local military families.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort at Barton Lake is located in northeast Indiana 50 miles north of Fort Wayne. Any active member of the U.S. military wanting to make reservations should contact CrossRoads Marketing Director Dave Boggs at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 888-226-7496.
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.
The recreational park trailer segment of the RV industry took its hits just like traditional RV builders during the Great Recession. And its recovery may take a bit longer than the mainstream towable market.
That’s according to William Garpow, executive director of the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), who says park models’ customer base is the cause.
”The reason is, our particular consumer is 55 to 70 years of age,” Garpow told RVBUSINESS.com. ”They are facing retirement and their 401(k) took a 35% dip and their house dropped 30% in value. They haven’t got the time to make back the dollars they had before they retire.
”As a consequence, they still may want to get into a park trailer, but they have to do everything they can to build their nest egg while they are still working.”
Garpow reported that shipments of park trailers reached a high of about 12,000 units in 2006 before falling to about 6,0000 units last year. ”Still, that wasn’t as bad as other segments of the industry and now 20% of what we lost has come back,” he said. ”But it’s slow and gradual.”
One thing going for park trailer dealers during the economic turbulence, Garpow said, was that most weren’t under pressure from lenders to bring down large inventories. ”Park trailers traditionally are not inventoried,” he said. ”The products that we are shipping are custom built, so we weren’t affected by that.”
He said RPTIA, with headquarters in the Atlanta suburb of Newnan, Ga., ”hasn’t lost any significant number of manufacturers,” during the downturn and that business right now ”is steady and it seems to be fairly decent.”
A factor working in favor of the park trailer segment’s recovery is an emphasis on adding park models as rental units at rates several times higher than those charged for regular campground sites by Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Jellystone franchiser Leisure Systems Inc. and other parks.
”We identified this has a very strong potential market about 15 years ago,” Garpow said. ”The rental part has really come alive in the last three or four years.”
For campgrounds in designated rural areas that want to expand their park model inventory, Garpow said the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a viable source of guaranteed financing.
The Virginia Campground Marketing Conference, sponsored by the Virginia Campground Association (VCA), will be held Oct. 18-20 at American Heritage RV Resort in Willliamsburg, Va.
The 2 1/2-day meeting will be entirely devoted to discussing marketing tools and techniques for the 21st century, according to a news release. As the park industry continues to enjoy significant growth and public interest, the industry is becoming increasingly competitive and marketing is considered the key to success for individual parks.
The major speaker at the conference will Blake Ashdown, one of the park industry’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Blake has started 15 businesses over the past 30 years, including 10 RV resorts and campgrounds. He received the “Professional of the Year Award” from the American Resort and Development Association and is a registered resort professional. Ashdown was one of the creators of the Encore brand of RV parks and was the architect of its successful marketing and branding program. His most well-known RV park project is Tropical Palms Fun Resort in Orlando.
For the past four years Ashdown has been a professor at the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at Michigan State University where he taught marketing and business strategy. He is a frequent speaker at industry conventions, conferences and business meetings.
He is the president of SureVista Solutions, a marketing research firm that provides new marketing tools designed to increase revenues.
“Blake has an incredible appreciation for what it takes to market an RV park in today’s rapidly changing world,” said David Gorin, VCA executive. “We’re thrilled to have him as the featured speaker at this first-ever VCA marketing conference. VCA parks have had a good 2010 camping season and parks are improving their game significantly. Staying in the game with great competitors in the Virginia market, requires a real understanding of marketing to today’s consumers. Blake will be a great inspiration and help to park owners who are ready to step up for success.”
In addition to Ashdown, special guests and speakers will include Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), who will share the lessons she’s learned about the park industry in her 40 years in the business. VCA will honor and recognize Profaizer’s long industry career as she prepares to retire at the end of the year.
Mary Arlington, owner of High Plains Camping in Kansas, will also be a special guest. Arlington has fine-tuned the use of social media to build her small campground into a powerhouse small business with national recognition. Affiliated with Best Parks in America, High Plains Camping has received a Guest Review A rating for two years running and is gaining RVer attention throughout Kansas and Middle America. She will discuss her successful social media campaign and how she’s used the cost effective outreach to grow her business.
John Rust and daughter Carol Rust, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, Luray, Va., will also speak, addressing two marketing programs they created during 2010. One program offered a camping discount through Groupon, an Internet marketing program that is sweeping the country in some metropolitan areas. In addition, the Rusts launched a weekly e-mail newsletter to potential and past guests offering specials and most importantly advising on availability for the coming weekend and future weekends. Both of these programs, Groupon and e-mailing, will be part of a panel discussion on new marketing techniques and tools.
The conference is open to park owners throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. For information on program details and registration, please email email@example.com or call David Gorin at (703) 448 6863. Camping is available at American Heritage RV Resort and hotel accommodations are available nearby.