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.