Legacy Resorts Chief Happy With LSI
Well over half of the nation’s campgrounds are small businesses that are independently owned and operated. Many of them are run by husband-and-wife teams. But in recent years, growing numbers of independent campgrounds have joined the Jellystone Park network, taking advantage of Jellystone’s name recognition, its marketing, and its focus on family activities and entertainment, according to an announcement from Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises the Jellystone system.
Larger companies have also invested in the Jellystone Park concept, including Texas-based Legacy RV Resorts, which owns and operates 14 campgrounds, including five Jellystone Parks in five states.
Bruce Bryant, Legacy’s owner, has been in the campground business since 1986. He purchased his first Jellystone Park in 2003. He said he was intimidated at first about getting involved with a Jellystone Park because he thought it would be more labor intensive than running a typical campground.
“But at one point I ended up buying an existing Jellystone Park,” Bryant said, “so I got into the Jellystone Park business by default. And I found that although it is more labor intensive, it can also be much more rewarding from a revenue standpoint.”
Converting an existing campground to a Jellystone Park can also result in substantial gains in revenue of 20 to 30 percent annually, largely because of Jellystone’s name recognition and its focus on families.
“I was really surprised by the amount of business it generated almost immediately after converting our Milton, Pa. location to a Jellystone Park,” Bryant said. “Being a Jellystone says to people in general that ‘This is a family park’ and, to me, the future of camping is families. More than anything, Jellystone Parks speak to families and attract that kind of clientele.”
“I was just amazed at the cachet that comes with Yogi Bear. I was totally astonished because I grew up watching Yogi cartoons and was certainly aware of Yogi and of Jellystone Parks and was amazed to find that so many of today’s kids have heard of Yogi and have watched Yogi cartoons. The kids just love to see the characters — Yogi and Boo Boo and Ranger Smith and so forth. That really adds a lot and solidifies the whole family experience. It gets the kids really excited.”
Merchandise also adds another lucrative dimension to Jellystone Parks.
“That’s one thing that went way beyond my expectations,” Bryant said. “The marketability of all things related to Yogi and Jellystone is absolutely incredible. The kind of sales generated in our stores is nothing short of phenomenal. As people come in to buy those kinds of souvenirs, they almost always buy additional items. That’s been one of the unexpected benefits of being a Yogi franchisee.”
Bryant said he's also been surprised by the amount of freedom LSI has given him as a Jellystone Park franchisee.
“Personally, I put a huge amount of stock in my ability to make my own decisions, to be as independent as I can, and I have to say that was one of the things I was concerned about the most when I took on a Jellystone franchise. How much was the Jellystone franchisor going to want to dip their fingers into my business and start trying to make decisions on my behalf? I was really worried about that. But it hasn’t been that way at all. Aside from meeting certain standards, I have been allowed to make my own decisions about numerous things.”
Bryant said he has also been pleased by the extent to which Jellystone Park franchisees know one another and share ideas and information with each other to help grow their respective businesses.
“Everybody is more than willing to share their information, their successes, and their failures. It’s good to know about both because we always have both. You don’t want to make the same mistakes that someone else has made. I don’t want someone else to make the same mistakes I’ve made, so we’re able to share ideas.”
Leisure Systems also provides extensive training through workshops and symposiums.
“There is no charge to attend the symposium. All the seminars are paid for. All of the meals are paid for.”
LSI also pays for guest-research surveys, which help franchisees improve their operations.
“We have a pretty sophisticated company that does surveys for all the franchisees,” Bryant said. “So we’re able to learn from that information — things about areas where we can increase rates, areas where we need to improve and so on.”
LSI fees and royalties are also very fair, he said.
“I think everything about the franchisor has been very fair, very reasonable,” Bryant said. “It’s been a great partnership.”