Kohls, Opp Join Best Parks in America; Restructuring Outlined
David Gorin, president and founder of Best Parks in America (BPA), today (Oct. 10) announced several major changes for the national brand.
These changes will help BPA grow from its present 82 members to "a group of 150 over the coming years," Gorin predicted.
In a news release and during a press conference held today, Gorin announced that Deb Kohls has been named vice president, effective Nov. 1. She joins BPA after 10 years as the senior vice president of Friend Communications and its successor company, Leisure Interactive.
"Deb is deeply immersed in all aspects of business and outdoor consumer marketing, is an expert in the marketing of RV parks and campgrounds to consumers and has a deep technology background in the park industry as well as in the overall larger world of travel and tourism marketing and development," Gorin stated. "I am excited that Deb will be joining us and her presence will enable us to significantly step up our brand and network development."
Kohls will operate from her office in Huntington Beach, Calif.
In addition, Joe Opp, recently retired senior vice president of membership services of Leading Hotels of the World, will also be joining the BPA Team as a senior adviser for brand development.
Opp has a long track record of success in the travel business having served as reservation manager for National Airlines, director of reservations for Avis Rent a Car, director of reservations for Pacific Southwest Airlines and vice president of marketing automation for TrustHouse Forte Hotels.
Opp, based in San Diego, will not be a full-time staff person, but will serve in an advisory role.
Meanwhile, BPA is undergoing a business restructuring that will enable the company to move forward unimpeded by unnecessary and unwarranted legal harassment.
"BPA is reorganizing into a non-shareholder corporation meaning that it is evolving into an association format. This reorganization is being done to protect your right to join your independent and unique business together with other like-minded businesses to work cooperatively to build your business without interference from the federal or state governments," Gorin stated.
"BPA has no intention or interest in competing with any existing association on any level. Our objective is to work with the highly rated parks that voluntarily become members or affiliates of Best Parks in America to help them improve their business operations, provide unique and high quality guest experiences and to grow their revenues and profits.
As part of the restructuring, David Gorin Associates LLC retains ownership of the intellectual property rights that provide the foundation for Best Parks in America. DGA LLC is licensing the IT rights exclusively to Best Parks in America. In addition to her role as BPA Vice President, Kohls is also becoming a member of DGA LLC.
Gorin also announced the composition of the BPA board of directors.
Mike Gurevich, owner of Cherry Hill Park in College Park, Md., will join Gorin and Kohls on the board.
"Mike’s family has been in the park industry since the 1930s I believe, and the park was the first Best Parks affiliate in 2003," Gorin noted. "Mike will initially serve with me and Deb Kohls during the restructuring and will assist us in establishing the new company’s bylaws and the new board. Several other Best Parks owners or managers will be added to the board in the coming weeks," Gorin stated.
Linda Gurevich, Mike's wife, will serve as general counsel.
The Best Parks board will establish standards for membership using today’s rating guidelines as a foundation for the immediate future, Gorin said.
Gorin offered some background on the reasons for the restructuring.
"Throughout 2011, BPA has been responding to a series of legal challenges from a company that represents that they are a BPA competitor and asserts that BPA is selling unregistered franchises. To assure that it is crystal clear that BPA is not a franchise and to assure that BPA can continue to build the brand and operate a nationwide marketing group as we have been doing, Best Parks in America today is announcing a business restructuring that will enable the company to move forward unimpeded by unnecessary and unwarranted legal harassment.
"BPA is reorganizing into a non-shareholder corporation meaning that it is evolving into an association format.
"This reorganization is being done to protect your right to join your independent and unique business together with other like-minded businesses to work cooperatively to build your business without interference from the federal or state governments.
"BPA has no intention or interest in competing with any existing association on any level. Our objective is to work with the highly rated parks that voluntarily become members or affiliates of Best Parks in America to help them improve their business operations, provide unique and high quality guest experiences and to grow their revenues and profits."
Gorin said this restructuring should end the legal dispute BPA has been engaged in with the unnamed BPA competitor.
The Best Parks in America brand was established in 2003 as a marketing group for premium level RV parks. At that time, Best Parks offered affiliates exclusive territories, and offered the consumer a set of signature amenities available at all affiliates. In that year the group also inaugurated the Best Guests in America club, offering members rewards for repeated overnight visits to affiliated parks. There were 23 affiliated resorts at the end of 2005.
To this day, these parks have been extremely loyal to Best Parks and as a group we tried valiantly to add additional resorts to the group. The early years between 2003 and 2007, were heady days for the park industry. RV sales were booming. The economy was strong. Parks were doing just fine without the need to strengthen their marketing activities and were perfectly content to let others – like Woodalls, Trailer Life and AAA – tell consumers which parks could best meet their RVing needs.
The world of marketing today bears little resemblance to that of the early to mid years of the last decade.
In 2009, in an effort to expand the Best Parks base and to seriously begin to grow Best Parks as a business and a recognized brand name, fees were slashed and the focus turned to building an online and print directory to promote Best Parks as a brand targeted at consumers seeking a higher end RVing and campging experience. The lower fees attracted many parks and since that time Best Parks has had over 100 parks enroll into the program.
In the past 12 months, BPA has begun to step up the branding activities, increased fees and have expanded the range of programs and benefits available to the affiliated parks. During this process, some parks dropped out rather than pay the higher fees or take on the branding activities that are necessary to make the brand and Best Parks in America work.
"Today, we have 82 affiliated parks as we prepare to move into the next phase. It is this next phase of the development of the Best Parks in America brand and marketing group that I am pleased and honored to present to you today," Gorin said.
In the press release, he explained:
First – BPA is much, much more than just an online and print directory. If that’s all you desire from being a part of Best Parks and you are not interested in benefitting and being a part of a brand engine called Best Parks in America, than I’ve no doubt that you will re-evaluate whether your affiliation will meet your goals and objectives for your business. Best Parks is not a mere advertising vehicle and you can’t measure its success on a short term basis only by how many times your guests point to the Best Parks directory at check in when asked how they found your park. I certainly hope that BPA will meet your needs and fit into your business plan, but if not, thanks and best of luck to you.
Second – BPA is taking steps now to improve and further develop its presence as the major national brand under which independently owned and operated, highly rated RV parks and campgrounds, with and through highly motivated parks owners and entrepreneurs, can work together to achieve higher levels of business success serving the growing market of people who enjoy being outdoors, who know and want the physical and mental health benefits that come from enjoying an active outdoor lifestyle and who enjoy the RV lifestyle and the social and healthful pleasures and satisfactions of being in the great outdoors.
Third – BPA has secured a significant capital investment that clearly represents and demonstrates a major commitment to the growth and expansion of the brand and the Best Parks system.
Fourth – Best Parks is taking the necessary steps to fulfill an objective some of you may have heard me state before – to become what I’ve called in recent years a “non-franchise” franchise. By that I mean, that BPA will provide a range of services and benefits to its affiliated resorts that will match or exceed those offered not only in the park industry but in many other industries by companies that operate under a franchise model. And we will make those services and benefits available at a cost that is affordable by all serious business owners in the park industry who want to ride the wave of future growth in the higher end of the outdoor hospitality business. BPA is not interested in becoming a partner in your business – we are interested in establishing, growing and protecting a brand, offering a marketing platform, and offering business development tools and programs that will enable each park to take full advantage of its uniqueness and independence while reaping the rewards of being engaged in a close-knit and cooperative network of smart, savy, motivated and highly respected business owners and managers working cooperatively to make the Best Parks in America the No.1 brand for those seeking a quality outdoor travel, recreation, vacation or retirement experience.