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Jellystone Franchisees See Growth in ’07

November 13, 2007 by   - () Leave a Comment

The latest report from Leisure Systems Inc. shows that its 71 Yogi Bear Jellystone Park camp-resort franchisees are growing in a challenging camping environment.
LSI president and COO Rob Schutter Jr. shared some positive financial reports during the company’s annual Symposium, Oct. 30-Nov. 2 at the Embassy Suites & NKY Convention Center in Covington, Ky. All but four of the franchise’s camp-resorts were represented at the symposium, which included professional seminars, a trade show, awards banquet and a benefit raffle.
Schutter called it the “smoothest run symposium in the company’s history.”
Despite the challenges posed by continued regulatory issues, high fuel prices, the debt/mortgage crisis, a decline in RV sales and the ongoing challenge of pricey facility maintenance expenses, LSI franchises posted some solid numbers through Sept. 30.
Among the highlights of his 2007 report:

  • LSI gained three new members, and four new camp-resorts are under construction
  • Same-park revenues reached $52.5 million, up 11.1% from 2006
  • Average revenue per park was $780,000
  • Occupancy overall was up 3%, with rental occupancy up 19% and seasonal occupancy up 3%.
    October bookings were holding steady, so Schutter expects to maintain that 11% growth rate for the year.
    In a further breakdown of the numbers by category, Schutter reported that, as expected, site revenues represented the largest share of the pie – 37% of total revenues – but cabin rental revenue was not far behind at 26%.
    Franchisees reported strong growth in all sectors: store sales, paced by “Yogi” souvenirs, were up 14%; ancillary sales, paced by snack shops, were up 24%; equipment rental was up 21%; and vending machine revenues rose 15%.
    Numbers may be on the increase, Schutter suggested, because of several positive factors affecting the camping industry, including:

  • The diversity of camping and RVing continues to grow with the entry of Hispanic campers, non-traditional campers and local traffic
  • Campground consolidation has slowed
  • More financing options are available Woodall’s, Trailer Life, state camping directories, Camping Life, GRAND, Scenic Route, Pop Up Times and on www.gocampingamerica.com.
    LSI’s website, www.campjellystone.com, experienced 762,000 unique visitors through Sept. 30, up 9% over 2006, with several new features, including a Spanish page. Club Yogi, LSI’s loyalty club, had 14,228 members, and monthly e-newsletters were sent to more than 18,000 campers.
    Looking ahead to 2008, LSI plans to increase its PR efforts and will initiate a new print advertising theme titled, “Smarter than the average vacation.”
    Schutter concluded by asking the franchisees to consider 10 questions as food for thought:

  • Have we become too comfortable?
  • Have we forgotten about the little details?
  • Are we “nickel-n-diming” our guests to death?
  • By whose standards are we judging our facilities?
  • Is the customer always right?
  • Where is the next “generation” of industry leaders from our system?
  • How do we “groom” staff to become “key players” in the business?
  • What is the next big innovation for our system?
  • Do we really remember why we bought a campground and why we joined the system?
  • Who is our competition?
    In an interview with Woodall’s Campground Management following his talk, Schutter said LSI franchisees in the West showed the most growth in 2007, with double-digit increases in occupancy and revenues. He found this growth most surprising, in light of rising fuel prices, but used it to support his claim that Americans are rediscovering what’s in their own back yards.
    He anticipates LSI will undergo significant expansion in 2008, as eight prospective park owners attended the symposium to learn more about the franchise.
    And he also expects LSI franchises to continue enjoying good revenues from camping cabins, a fixture at 99% of LSI’s franchisees’ resorts. These cabins constitute 11% of the camping sites, he noted, but generate 30% of overall revenues. The non-traditional campers – people who neither own an RV nor have a camping background – are responsible for a big share of the cabin business.
    LSI Vice Chairman Vic Nolting also thanked the franchisees for their performance in 2007. He said he was proud to be part of the system and concluded by saying that “if you’re going to be in family camping, this is the only place to be.”
    During the Nov. 1 awards banquet, Linda Profaizer, president of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), challenged the resort owners to strive for the theme of this year’s symposium: “Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.” She said the franchisees run “some of the best parks in our industry” and offer “quality camping experiences in a clean and quality environment.”
    To strive toward continued success, she added, franchisees will have to know their customers, keep up with market trends, be open to new ideas, embrace change and new technology.

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