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Campground Convention Season At Hand

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October 5, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Whether they’re known as conventions, symposiums, expos or conferences, the season for these mass gatherings for the outdoor hospitality business gets underway in earnest next month.

Starting with the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) Convention Nov. 6-9 in Las Vegas, Nev., right through to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds’ (ARVC) Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo in Savannah, Ga., Nov. 28-Dec. 1, park owners and operators will get ample opportunity to socialize, get educated on the latest trends in the business and make some key purchases for the 2012 season.

Coincidentally, the RV industry will be holding its 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., the same week as the ARVC conference.

KOA’s will likely be the largest of all the campground gatherings, as officials project attendance of 500 to the four-day event, held at the South Point Hotel & Casino.

Speakers will include KOA’s CEO Jim Rogers and COO Pat Hittmeier, consultants Kevin Freiberg, Dave Mitchell, Tim Gilbert and Ruby Newell-Legner and Evergreen Insurance President Lucas Hartford.

Gilbert, a landscape architect speaking on ADA compliance for campgrounds, is a late addition to the speakers’ roster.

At least 120 vendors, a score of which are first-time exhibitors at a KOA convention, are expected to attend and show their products and services during the Expo on Nov. 8-9. The good turnout from first-timers may bode well for the industry.

“It looks like we’re getting a lot of interest from first-time vendors,” said Jenny McCullough, director of training and events for KOA, who will be heading up her first convention.

The day after KOA’s convention closes, the Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo II opens  on the Internet. This unique event for the campground industry runs two days.  Anyone with computer access may exhibit or visit the event. There is a fee to exhibit;  visitation is free.

Following a sneak preview to potential exhibitors in late August, producer Art  Lieberman promised this year’s event will be slicker for both exhibitors and visitors  than last year’s inaugural event.

More sophisticated software and an attentive software provider staff will make this event a must-see for the industry, Lieberman touted.

For those unable to attend either Nov. 10 or 11, the show will remain in archival form for 60 days thereafter.

Following the virtual event, Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisors of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts will welcome virtually all of their 75 franchisees to a four-day Symposium, starting Nov. 14, in Covington, Ky., located across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

LSI expects about 200 to attend this event, which, like KOA’s, includes education programs, awards presentations and a new product expo. New Yogi Bear-branded merchandise also will be unveiled during the expo.

LSI’s COO, Rob Schutter Jr., will give franchisees a “System Update” on Monday (Nov. 15).

Following two days of pre-conference activities, ARVC’s newly renamed Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo gets underway on Nov. 30 at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Convention Center.

Newness is all over this year’s event, from the name to the educational seminar content, the first-ever Kids’ Camp and even some of the awards ARVC will pass out. ARVC kicks off its new five-level professional certification at this year’s conference.

ARVC also promises a special guest, whose identity was not revealed in time for this issue’s deadline.

It’s too late to sign up for the early-bird registration specials the event sponsors offered over the summer. But there is still time for both campground owners and even exhibitors to register for any of these events.

KOA franchisees should sign up to register at www.ekamp.com. Go to www.outdoorhospitalityexpo.com for information on the Virtual Expo. LSI franchises may register for the Symposium by calling (800) 626-3729. For information on the ARVC Conference, go to ww.arvc.org.

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