KOA to Introduce New Rewards Program
Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) in March will launch the private campground industry’s first technology-based rewards and recognition program in which campers can earn discounts and other incentives for staying in KOA campgrounds.
“This whole project is monumental,” Jim Rogers, KOA’s chairman and CEO, told Woodall’s Campground Management. “It’s a milestone certainly in our 46-year history. It’s the culmination of years of promotional analysis, camper research, loyalty program studies and allocating four of my top senior managers to develop the program.”
KOA’s Value Kard Rewards program, which was developed using KOA’s proprietary KampSight online reservation system as well as technology from SmartButton, a consumer database management company, is scheduled to go live March 2. It will replace KOA’s existing Value Kard program, which provided only discounts, with a more sophisticated program that offers savings, rewards as well as camper recognition.
For example, while KOA’s existing Value Kard program offered 10% discounts, the new Value Kard Rewards program will offer:
KOA expects the Value Kard Rewards program to generate increased camping throughout the KOA system. Existing Value Kard members, who account for about 65% of KOA’s business, already visit twice as many KOAs each year, spend twice as many nights at KOAs each year and give KOA 74% more of their annual nights camped each year than KOA members who do not have a KOA Value Kard, according to a KOA handbook on the Value Kard Rewards program. Existing Value Kard members whose memberships have not yet expired will be rolled over to the new program on March 2.
Jef Sutherland, KOA’s vice president of information services, said the personalized web pages offered to Value Kard Rewards members will also provide useful information for campers and KOA campground operators alike. “Campers can type in their own preferences, what kind of rig they have, how often they camp, if they have a dog, and this allows us to speed up their check in,” Sutherland explained. “They can also see their stay history and their future reservations. It also enables them to track their points. And if they never want to give their credit card number out, we can securely store it on file so they don’t have to give it out.”
And unlike credit card-based reward programs, where people earn points for every dollar spent, KOA’s program awards points based on three different price ranges of KOA accommodations. This way, someone who pays top dollar to spend the night at a KOA in the Florida Keys earns more points than someone who rents a cheaper site at a campground in the middle of Wyoming.
“We really wanted to do something that would make a difference, something that would be unique and distinguish our program from other savings programs out there,” Sutherland said.
Membership in the KOA Value Kard Rewards program costs $24 a year. Some restrictions apply. For example, no points are awarded for daily site charges under $20 nor are points awarded for other charges, such as extra persons, pets or utilities. Discounted monthly or other long-term rates also do not qualify for points.
However, numerous incentives are built into the program that can generate eventual financial savings. For example, members receive 250 points every time they book a reservation online at KOA.com. Also, there are no blackout dates for redemption of rewards points earned.
“The game here is how do you make (campers) more loyal to us when they pull into town and have two or three choices,” said Mike Gast, KOA’s vice president of communications.