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KOA Announces Leadership Change

December 30, 2015 by · Comments Off on KOA Announces Leadership Change 

The Olendorf Family from the Point South/Yemassee KOA Journey accepts the 2016 KOA Franchisee of the Year Award, presented by KOA President Pat Hittmeier (L) and CEO Jim Rogers

The Olendorf Family from the Point South/Yemassee KOA Journey accepts the 2016 KOA Franchisee of the Year Award, presented by KOA President Pat Hittmeier (L) and CEO Jim Rogers

After 15 years at the helm of Kampgrounds of America Inc., Jim Rogers will be stepping down as KOA’s chairman and CEO.

KOA President Pat Hittmeier has been promoted to the role of president and CEO, effective Jan. 1.

“In Jim’s tenure, he has transitioned KOA into a dynamic and progressive company and built a foundation of customer service that has elevated KOA to a premier position in the camping marketplace,” said Oscar Tang, chairman of KOA’s parent company, KOAH Inc. “His ebullient personality and organizational strategy have built a corporate culture that will be to KOA’s benefit for many years.”

KOA CEO Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers

Rogers will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors of KOAH Inc. and will consult on special projects for KOA.

Hittmeier will also serve on the board of KOAH Inc.

Rogers also serves as a member of the KOA Care Camps Trust board of directors. The KOA Care Camps Trust raises funds to support more than 100 specialized summer camps throughout North America for children with cancer.

Rogers came to KOA in 2000 as the new president and CEO after a long career with Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. in Nevada. He rose to the rank of senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Reno. He had previously worked for KOA for two years in the early 1970s.

Hittmeier has had a 34-year career at KOA that has seen him in leadership roles in several key KOA departments. Early in his KOA career, he worked in KOA’s Company Owned Properties Division, and later was in the field, involved in the construction of several new KOA properties.

Pat Hittmeier talks to KOA franchisees at the 2015 convention.

Pat Hittmeier talks to KOA franchisees at the 2015 convention.

He’s also served as the leader of KOA’s Franchisee Services Department, a complex operation that provides education and support services to Kampgrounds of America’s 490 locations throughout North America.

Hittmeier was also the vice president of the KOA System Development Division. He was named chief operating officer of KOA Inc. in 2009 and was promoted to president in 2010.

KOA Holdings Inc. owner Oscar Tang addresses the gathering at KOA's 50th anniversary convention.

KOA Holdings Inc. owner Oscar Tang.

“Pat has done an outstanding job as KOA’s president, leading the company to achieve record financial and quality results for the past five years,” Tang said. “Pat’s many years of experience and success will ensure a seamless succession for KOA staff and its franchise system as he takes on his new position as chief executive at KOA.”

 

Rogers Talks To Calif. Entrepreneurs Group

May 7, 2015 by · Comments Off on Rogers Talks To Calif. Entrepreneurs Group 

KOA CEO Jim Rogers

KOA CEO Jim Rogers

For years, franchisees of Kampgrounds of America (KOA) touted their sites as the best in America — until a survey of campers found out otherwise, recalled Jim Rogers, chief executive officer of the world’s largest organization of privately held campgrounds.

The San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Tribune reported that Rogers addressed a group of about 30 students and budding business owners Wednesday (May 6) at the SLO HotHouse, an initiative created by Cal Poly, the San Luis Obispo Community, and the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Rogers spoke about his decision to seek customer feedback through a thorough analysis and how that led to specific improvements such as replacing the front desk clerk, repairing infrastructure or adding visitor-friendly amenities such as pools.

Several of the franchisees — who cater to RV travelers in addition to recreational campers — had to take a close look at their businesses, he said, such as replacing a family member at the front desk or adding a pool or deluxe cabin.

The company also improved customer satisfaction by increasing interaction between customers and KOA sites’ owners.

The owners who made a point to engage with more campers at their sites showed improved ratings for customer service.

“What we’ve discovered through studies is that people remember and appreciate meeting the owner, and they want to come back after they do,” Rogers said.

The executive with a background in the hotel and casino industry said he’d make trips to KOA campground sites and talked with franchisees who proclaimed their site was the best KOA in America.

“Everywhere I’d go, they’d say, ‘We’re the best in America,’” Rogers said. “I’d ask them, ‘Well, how do you know that?”

Rogers said the company decided to use a system that asked customers to give an evaluation and score of their experience, and the result was a surprise for some franchisees.

“We had our convention in Las Vegas and told people where they ranked,” Rogers said. “A lot of the people went into the bathroom and cried. They thought they were number one, and it turns out they’re 236th.”

Rogers said the ratings caused initial shock and some denial, but the subsequent upgrades to their sites — whether it was personnel or campground improvements — were valuable.

“It was one of the best things we could have done,” Rogers said.

For the full story click here.

KOA CEO’s “Undercover Boss” Airs Again

July 1, 2014 by · Comments Off on KOA CEO’s “Undercover Boss” Airs Again 

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 2.21.05 PMCBS TV announced that it will rebroadcast the popular episode of “Undercover Boss” featuring Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) CEO Jim Rogers, KOA said in a written announcement.
The KOA episode will air Friday (July 4) in the regular “Undercover Boss” prime time time slot of 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time, and 7 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones.
The episode originally premiered in January 2013. It received some of the highest Friday Night ratings of the show’s fourth season. The episode has since received high ratings in cable reruns, and recently was broadcast as far away as Australia.
The episode features Rogers going “undercover” at several KOA campgrounds as an out-of-work accountant interested in starting his own campground business.During the episode, Rogers interacts with several KOA staffers and owners as he experiences the daily duties involved in operating a KOA.

For more details on the show, click here.

KOA’s First Franchise Celebrating 50 Years

June 9, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The Cody/Yellowstone KOA sits near the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

The Cody/Yellowstone KOA sits near the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

The first campground to join the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) franchise system is celebrating 50 years.

The Cody/Yellowstone (Wyo.) KOA has a weekend of special activities planned June 13-15, according to a written announcement from the campground.

“Fifty years of camping memories have been made here at Cody KOA,” said Jean Mickelson, general manager of the campground located on the eastern edge of Cody. “We want to be able to celebrate this accomplishment and all of our wonderful campers who have stayed with us over those last 50 years.”

“Bringing families together is what camping is all about, and we are excited to celebrate both our anniversary and Father’s Day,” said Mickelson, who is in her 14th summer at the Cody KOA. She said in addition to special weekend activities at the campground, kids will stay free to mark the occasion.

KOA founder Dave Drum created his first campground on his property along the Yellowstone River south of Billings, Montana, in 1962 to meet needs of people traveling to the Seattle World’s Fair. On June 18, 1964, Cody landed the first franchise of the company, which now has more than 485 campgrounds across North America. Ernest Goppert and M.C. Calkins were partners in the Cody franchise, one of a handful of campgrounds that struck deals with KOA in 1964.

“We’re delighted to congratulate Cody KOA on its special anniversary,” said Jim Rogers, CEO of KOA since 2000. “It has long been one of our most popular campgrounds, one that provides our campers with a wonderful gateway to the Yellowstone region.”

The campground was awarded the 2014 KOA President’s Award for receiving top scores in customer service surveys and KOA’s Quality Review. It is one of 10 franchises owned by Recreational Adventures Co., a family-operated business headquartered in Hill City, S.D.

The birthday celebration starts early Friday, June 13, with a special pancake breakfast and winds down with a wine-tasting event featuring samples from Buffalo Jump Winery.

The festivities continue Saturday, June 14, with birthday pancakes served up by local Boy Scouts. Campers will be eligible for $50 giveaways and other prizes Saturday morning. A climbing wall will provide fun for kids, campers can sign up to tie dye special anniversary T-shirts and lessons in Dutch-oven cooking will be conducted, including in a special dessert. Birthday cake will be served at the evening ice cream social. Campers can also visit a photo booth that will provide fun pictures to memorialize their stay.

Sunday, June 15, is Father’s Day, and the Cody KOA will again serve up birthday pancakes.

The campground is one hour from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park and minutes away from the five museums of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Cody Nite Rodeo and Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center. Fly fishing and whitewater rafting draw many travelers to the area.

KOA Cody offers more than 200 campsites, 20 cabins and five deluxe cabins. There is a heated swimming pool, hot tub and a wading pool with spray fountain. Campers can enjoy Wi-Fi, bike rentals, a horseshoe pit and basketball court, a giant checkers and chess set, jumping pillow, game room and many other activities.

 

KOA & Lazydays RV Plan First-Ever Joint Rally

June 2, 2014 by · Comments Off on KOA & Lazydays RV Plan First-Ever Joint Rally 

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.09.02 AMOktoberfest at Okeechobee KOA is the first time Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is putting on an RV rally, and they’re doing it at the Florida site with the help of Lazydays RV and Fantasy RV Tours.

The rally will happen Oct. 17-20, and the organizers are billing it as an “historic event,” one that’s “part expo, part carnival and all fun,” according to a written announcement from KOA and information from Fantasy RV Tours.

“This will be a great chance for campers to enjoy a true rally atmosphere while staying at one of our best KOA campgrounds,” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. “KOA camping is all about relationships and the fun of interacting with other campers. Rallies like ‘Oktoberfest at Okeechobee’ can be a showcase for great KOA camping.”

John Lebbad, chief marketing officer for Lazydays RV, said, “Lazydays is proud to be partnering with KOA to present this incredible rally to our loyal customers.”

There will be 360 RV sites dedicated to the rally, which includes catered pool parties, an Oktoberfest “biergarten,” a golf tournament, a Lazydays show, seminars, cooking, a tennis clinic, photography and crafts workshops, a pet parade and other events, plus prizes.

Rogers’ Reasons RV Industry’s In Good Shape

May 8, 2014 by · Comments Off on Rogers’ Reasons RV Industry’s In Good Shape 

Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) CEO and Chairman Jim Rogers talked to a gathering of hundreds of the top leaders in the North American RV industry today (May 8) at the RV Industry Power Breakfast in Elkhart, Ind.

Rogers offered his list of “10 reasons you should buy RV stock or marry the son or daughter of an RV executive:”

1. He started with, “70% of existing RVers intend to buy again. That is amazing.”

2. “Baby boomers are the prime target for you. It’s going to be huge. It’s 26% of the population.”

3. “Fifteen million American campers camped last year without an RV. Wow.”

4. “You may think about the deluxe cabin and say ‘Oh my goodness Jim, those guys are never going to buy an RV.’ We watch those people tour the campground … those people are first-timers to a good extent. They are potential buyers for the RV industry.”

5. “Mom was right. Go outdoors. From a health standpoint, take a hike and call me in the morning. Kids that are in this experience outdoors, it’s powerful. You are putting them there.”

6. “Long-term petroleum industry forecast is for abundant gasoline supply and stable pricing. That will have a major impact on the RV vacation.”

7. “Outdoor enthusiasts want “soft rugged.” An RV is perfect for soft rugged. I hook my bike on the back, I get in the unit, I don’t have to unpack.”

8. Lorne Armer, KOA’s VP of brand development, detailed KOA’s new branding, and said, “ Camping is a lifestyle choice.”

9. Rogers jumped back in, saying in today’s society, “We don’t take the moment and make the most of it. We call it genuine engagement at KOA. We actually talk to somebody. That is what we need more of in this society.”

10. “We are creating a better tomorrow by delivering superb RVs, outstanding outdoor hospitality and the campfires for s’more genuine engagement.”

RV Industry, Campgrounds See Bright Future

May 8, 2014 by · Comments Off on RV Industry, Campgrounds See Bright Future 

KOA's Jim Rogers listens to another speaker at the RV Industry Power Breakfast May 8, 2014.

KOA’s Jim Rogers listens to another speaker at the RV Industry Power Breakfast May 8, 2014.

When 558 leaders of the North American RV industry gathered together May 8 in Elkhart, Ind., for the RV Industry Power Breakfast, the future of RVs — and camping — were a major topic of discussion.

The attendees heard from Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) CEO and Chairman Jim Rogers and leaders of the Go RVing industry-wide marketing campaign about what they’re doing to grow the North American camping market.

Rogers served as keynote speaker for the first power breakfast in 2013, and he took the stage again for the second-annual event, held at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and facilitated by RVBusiness Magazine, sister publication to Woodall’s Campground Management.

Rogers told the crowd, “Last year we came in and we talked a little about going on ‘Undercover Boss’ and what came out of that. Our theme going forward is ‘What’s behind the yellow sign.’ What we learned in that TV show is people did not know what KOA was,” Rogers said.

He described the growth KOA is seeing. “We’re up 10% looking at reservations for this summer vs. last summer at this time, and last year was a record year for KOA,” Rogers told the crowd.

In the summer of 2013, KOA — with roughly 62,000 sites at about 500 locations across North America — saw a 7% rise in short-term RV stays, an 8% increase in long-term RV stays and an increase of 16.1% in stays at the “KOA Deluxe Cabin” park model RVs, Rogers told the group.

“We still have a huge opportunity to think about what it is that people don’t know about us,” and he suggested that applies to the RV industry as much as it applies to KOA. “We only have about 9 million households who are RV owners. We have plenty of room for growth,” Rogers told the gathering.

“Our goal here is for us to work together to sustain the good times,” not only for each others but for campers, Rogers said. “It’s not about the tires, it’s about the heart and soul and the joy of getting people outdoors,” he said before debuting KOAs new commercials.

The ads focused on the lifestyle of RVing, in much the same way as the RV industry’s Go RVing “Away” marketing campaign.

Go RVing has been around for 17 years, said James Ashurst, vice president of marketing for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which spearheads the marketing push along with the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), with help from the campground sector.

“This is a lifestyle campaign,” Ashurst said. Unlike other industries competing for advertising attention, “our industry competes day-in, day-out on the product space, but what we do (with Go RVing) is focus on the lifestyle.”

Go RVing’s “Away” campaign in 2013 sunk in very well with the core audience of baby boomers and 30- to 49-year-olds, Ashurts said, and the initiative continues to reach out in targeted ways with the $20 million budget for national advertising.

Bob Wheeler, president of Airstream Inc., serves as one of the co-chairs for the campaign. “I look at the Go RVing campaign really as the stand-in marketing agency for the industry,” Wheeler said. “You talk about the rising tide that raises all ships, I relaly look at Go RVing as a part of that tide.”

Phil Ingrassia, president of the RVDA, said “Go RVing is invested in lifestyle shots, people using RVs.”

As Wheeler put it, “We make things that people use to create great stories, great experiences.”

Richard Coon, president of RVIA, said, “If you look at one area in the industry that we haven’t paid enough attention to, it’s the campground industry. We’re trying to get better acquainted with the campground industry and the big players in that industry and how the industry is changing,” he said.

One major trend is the growth in extended-stay campers. “What’s developing is where people have found out, ‘Hey, this is a pretty nice campground.’ They buy a park model or an RV and they’ll park it at the campground and leave it there for a season,” Coon said.

Roughly a third of KOA’s campground nights are people staying 30 nights or more per season.

“They come to love us, they come to find they love this destination,” Rogers explained. “The campgrounds have structured a rate process to fit this destination, seasonal guest.”

Seasonal stays are simplers for RV owners, Rogers said. “There’s less maintenance, they know what’s there. It’s growing. It’s nothing that we’re promoting. The guest’s convenience has led to this phenomenon.” Like many other campgrounds, KOAs store units at campgrounds that have the space.

Leaders in the RV industry responded favorably to what they heard from Rogers. Doug Gaeddert, general manager at Forest River Inc. and chairman of RVIA, said, “Just like Jim Rogers said, we’re in a sweet spot in the industry.”

Todd Cleveland, president of RV supplier Patrick Industries Inc., said, “our future really depends on tapping those individuals who haven’t been part of the RV experience, the RV lifestyle.”

Jim Rogers: KOA Resort Redefining Camping

May 5, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

photo3Sandy Rogers, wife of Jim Rogers, the CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), perfectly summed up the unique quality of the Cape Hatteras KOA Resort as she pushed a button on the ground floor of the large clubhouse: “How many campgrounds have elevators?”

Answer: About as many as have a floor of suites upstairs from the front desk and camp store.

Welcome to Cape Hatteras KOA Resort, the newest KOA property to adopt the KOA Resort brand, and the first company-owned property to do so.

The campground was nearly wiped off the map in 2011 when Hurricane Irene flooded Hatteras Island. KOA put $6.5 million into rebuilding the campground to the criteria of the KOA Resort brand.

The campground had a formal grand reopening celebration over the weekend, ending yesterday (May 4).

During that time KOA people from all over the country joined guests to show off all the amenities of the resort: An expanded pool, improved sites, deluxe cabins elevated enough to park a car beneath them, and, of course, the eight hotel-like suites — all in addition to hundreds of RV sites, tent sites and basic cabin sites.

“We are redefining it. What is camping? Camping is not about the buildings or the pools, it’s about people and the way we act,” said Jim Rogers, standing near the pool with a steel drum playing in the background.

“What we’re doing is attracting a mix of people who have never been to a campground,” Rogers told Woodall’s Campground Management.

“We call it genuine engagement. At it’s fundamental, it’s providing something that’s missing every day. We block ourselves up, we’ve hooked ourselves up to a phone or an iPad or whatever, we don’t have that genuine engagement. Campgrounds do,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the best and brightest minds in the campground industry put the effort into the rebuilding of the Cape Hatteras KOA Resort. Eric Kelch, KOA’s facilities director for the company-owned properties, led the work. Kelch grew up on a KOA campground in Tennessee and has camping in his DNA, as Rogers put it.

The campground has features designed to block future waves, the main building’s water is heated entirely by the sun, Kelch described. “Everything sparks something else,” he said.

Rogers said, “It’s never one thing, it’s thousands of little things. It’s the best that can be done in our industry.”

So far, Cape Hatteras joins one KOA Resort in Michigan and one in Ohio, but KOA spokesman Mike Gast said more are coming soon.

Many more have adopted the KOA Journey and KOA Holiday brands, with about 110 of the roughly 500 KOAs across North America already using the brands, said Pat Hittmeier, president of KOA. Hittmeier said he expects that number to keep growing.

VIDEO: Rogers Discusses New KOA Brands

September 24, 2013 by · Comments Off on VIDEO: Rogers Discusses New KOA Brands 

Today’s video comes from Chuck Woodbury, editor of RVtravel.com. He interviews Kampground of America Inc.’s (KOA) CEO Jim Rogers who describes KOA’s three new brand designations.

Rogers Praises Route 66 RV Network Partner

September 20, 2013 by · Comments Off on Rogers Praises Route 66 RV Network Partner 

Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), addressed the opening session at a recent rally of Route 66 RV Network dealers and partners in San Antonio, Texas.

In highlighting KOA’s partnership with Route 66, Rogers said, “We couldn’t be more excited about our growing relationship with the Route 66 RV Network. As local Route 66 dealerships and KOA campgrounds begin working together, campers will quickly experience the benefits of these two brands aligned.”

RVBUSINESS.COM reported that the Route 66 RV Network drew 235 dealers and partners to its Sept. 4-6 rally. With nearly 155 locations in the United States and Canada, Route 66 has “grown well beyond the founding partners expectations,” according to a press release.

Click here to read the entire story.

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