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KOA’s O’Rourke Takes Top Operations Role

January 5, 2016 by · Comments Off on KOA’s O’Rourke Takes Top Operations Role 

KOA's Toby O'Rourke talks about marketing on the stage at the 2015 KOA Convention in Daytona Beach, Fla., in November.

KOA’s Toby O’Rourke talks about marketing on the stage at the 2015 KOA Convention in Daytona Beach, Fla., in November.

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Inc.’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Toby O’Rourke has been promoted to the new role of chief franchise operations officer for KOA. 

In her new role, O’Rourke will take responsibility for both KOA’s brand marketing and its franchise operations, President and CEO Pat Hittmeier said, and will have oversight over all KOA departments except finance and KOA’s Company Owned Properties Division. 

“Choosing the next leader of KOA’s franchise enterprise is one of the most important contributions I can make,” Hittmeier said of his decision to promote O’Rourke to her new role. “I considered a host of qualities necessary to make the largest positive impact on our business and our future. I wanted this key individual to have a future perspective, always be seeking new knowledge, be respected, be unselfish and be a good judge of human nature.”

Hittmeier said it was important he find someone who understood the importance of balancing the needs of KOA franchisees, campers and the company.

“I have confidence that Toby O’Rourke has all of the qualities I was looking for,” he said. “In her time with KOA, she has reshaped our brand image, become the ‘go-to’ person for our staff, introduced valuable new processes and has become well respected by our franchisees.” 

He said O’Rourke is also recognized as a marketing leader in the camping and recreation industries.

O’Rourke first came to KOA in 2011 as director of digital marketing.

Prior to KOA, she was the digital marketing manager for Whitewave Foods in Broomfield, Colo. She also served as the assistant brand manager for Silk Soymilk while at Whitewave Foods and also for the Hillshire Farm brand for the Sara Lee Corp. in Downers Grove, Ill.

Prior to her marketing career, O’Rourke gained experience in software development and management consulting.

O’Rourke has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. 

Her promotion is the second major announcement from KOA in a week, after longtime CEO and Chairman Jim Rogers stepped down — though retaining a seat on the board — and Hittmeier assumed the title of CEO.

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.”

 

KOA, Airstream Giving Away A Travel Trailer

September 11, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

IMG_5160Campers may already be planning a final camping trip this fall, but one lucky Kampgrounds of America (KOA) camper will be making that trip in a brand new Airstream travel trailer, according to an announcement from KOA Inc.

KOA and Airstream — two of the most iconic names in camping — have partnered for the 2015 “What’s Behind The Sign?” giveaway.

 Airstream Sport 16The grand-prize winner will receive a new 2015 Airstream 16-foot Sport travel trailer, along with a $100 KOA gift card.    

Campers can enter the contest once each day through Oct. 31 on the KOA Facebook page or at www.behindthesigngiveaway.com.

The contest is open to residents of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all Canadian provinces, except Quebec.

KOA’s Memorial Day Reservations Strong

May 22, 2015 by · Comments Off on KOA’s Memorial Day Reservations Strong 

KOACamping reservations for the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend are running strong at Kampgrounds of America (KOA) campgrounds throughout North America.

Advanced reservations for the holiday weekend are up more than 8% over the same time last year at the 486 locations in the KOA system in North America.

The Memorial Day results are the latest indicator of another strong year of summer-season camping at KOA, according to an announcement from KOA Inc.

Pat Hittmeier

Pat Hittmeier

“Our short-term camper nights are running almost 12% higher than at this point last year,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier.

“All indicators,” he continued, “are that this trend will continue as more and more campers discover what we have waiting for them behind our yellow sign.” 

KOA Care Camps Big Weekend Numbers Up

 Care Camps logoCamper nights for KOA’s Care Camps Big Weekend May 8-9 were up 5.2% over last year. That event serves as the major fundraiser for KOA Care Camps, a nonprofit organization that supports a network of more than 100 summer camps for children battling cancer. In 2014, the charity raised a total of more than $1 million from all sources to support KOA Care Camps. 

This year, campers who stayed as paying guests at a participating KOA Campground on Friday, May 8 received a night of camping on Saturday, May 9 for just $10. That entire Saturday camping fee went to benefit KOA Care Camps, and $110,000 was raised in just a single day.

Father’s Day Weekend Reservations Skyrocket

Advanced reservations for camper nights for the June 19-21 Father’s Day Weekend are currently running nearly 38% higher than the numbers from this time last year, and 4th of July Weekend camper night reservations are nearly 17% over 2014 figures.

KOA is celebrating its 53rd Anniversary in 2015. KOA, the world’s largest network of family-friendly campgrounds, was born on the banks of the Yellowstone River in Billings, Mont., in 1962. For more information, go to www.KOA.com.

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.

Couple Donates $1k to KOA Care Camps

October 7, 2014 by · Comments Off on Couple Donates $1k to KOA Care Camps 

(From left) KOA owners David and Susan Barton pose with campers Bob Kapitany and Sheryl Dore and with Shirley Mann from 1000 Islands/Ivy Lea KOA.

(From left) KOA owners David and Susan Barton pose with campers Bob Kapitany and Sheryl Dore and with Shirley Mann from 1000 Islands/Ivy Lea KOA.

Bob Kapitany and his partner, Sheryl Dore, have made the 1000 Islands/Ivy Lea, Ontario, KOA a big part of their summers each of the past 25 years, according to an announcement from Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA).

The Ottawa couple treasured the time they spent with their children, Ari Jessy, Casey and Jordan, as they camped, biked and kayaked the area — always using the KOA as their home base.

As a way to say “thank you” for those 25 years of memories, Bob and Sheryl recently donated $1,000 to benefit KOA Care Camps for children with cancer. This very special charity offers a free summer camping experience for children stricken with cancer. KOA Care Camps helps support nearly 100 of the camps throughout North America.

KOA Care Camps hold a special place in their hearts, because son Jordan was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was seven years old.

“I can remember Jordan saying, ‘Dad, if I could just get out to the motorhome, I know I could get better,’” said Bob. Days at the campground became Jordan’s time to heal. He’s now a 21-year-old cancer survivor.

For each of the past several years, The 1000 Islands/Ivy Lea Koa has raised more than $10,000 annually to benefit KOA Care Camps. For more information on KOA Care Camps, go to www.koacarecamp.org.

KOA Announces New Las Vegas Location

September 29, 2014 by · Comments Off on KOA Announces New Las Vegas Location 

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 12.14.29 PMBoyd Gaming Corporation and Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA) today (Sept. 29) announced a long-term agreement that will make Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall the new home of the Las Vegas KOA.

Under terms of the lease agreement, KOA will assume operations of Sam’s Town RV Park, one of the largest and most well-known RV parks in the Las Vegas Valley. Effective Wednesday, the park will be renamed the Las Vegas KOA at Sam’s Town, and become KOA’s exclusive home in Las Vegas.

KOA“We are thrilled to welcome KOA to Sam’s Town, and look forward to a successful and mutually beneficial partnership,” said Steve Thompson, senior vice president of operations for Boyd Gaming’s Nevada region. “KOA is a highly trusted, globally-recognized hospitality brand, hosting nearly one million households each year. By teaming up with KOA, we will significantly increase our national exposure, introducing millions of new customers from around the world to the Sam’s Town brand.”

The agreement returns KOA to Boulder Highway, where the company opened the first Las Vegas KOA in 1971. As one of the most popular destinations for RV enthusiasts in the country, Las Vegas has long been one of KOA’s leading locations.

“KOA offers the best in outdoor hospitality, and we are interested in providing campers a premier place to stay in Las Vegas,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Sam’s Town is a beautiful facility with top-tier services run by a great group of people. The partnership is a winning combination.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 12.18.10 PMWith nearly 500 spaces across two parks, Las Vegas KOA at Sam’s Town will offer both 30- and 50-amp full-hookup sites, spacious pull-through sites, and extended-stay opportunities. The park is fully landscaped, offering shade trees, grass and designated pet areas. Campground amenities include two pools with hot tubs, laundry and shower facilities, cable and Wi-Fi, and a communal barbecue area.

Opened in 1979, Sam’s Town is one of the largest and most established gaming resorts on the Boulder Strip. In addition to a 133,000-square-foot casino, the property offers a wide array of unique amenities, including award-winning restaurants like Billy Bob’s Steakhouse, Willy and Jose’s Cantina and the Firelight Buffet; live entertainment nightly at Roxy’s Lounge; an 18-screen movie theater; a 56-lane bowling center; Shepler’s Western Store; and Mystic Falls Park, home of the Sunset Stampede Laser Light Show. The property also offers regular free shuttle service to the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas.

Las Vegas KOA at Sam’s Town officially opens at 5225 Boulder Highway on Oct. 1. To reserve a stay, or for more information, visit VegasKOA.com, or call (800) 562-7270. For more information on Sam’s Town, visit www.samstownlv.com.

KOA Reports Increase In Labor Day Camping

September 3, 2014 by · Comments Off on KOA Reports Increase In Labor Day Camping 

KOAKampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) saw gains over Labor Day Weekend compared to the same weekend in 2013, according to numbers provided by KOA.

Across the nearly 500 North American campgrounds in the KOA network, check-ins were up 1.9% from Wednesday through Sunday and total camper nights were up 6.2% compared to last year’s Labor Day period, looking at same-campground comparisons.

KOA is still compiling numbers for the peak summer season, since KOA includes this week as part of that season.

Clarks Win RV In KOA, Keystone Contest

July 21, 2014 by · Comments Off on Clarks Win RV In KOA, Keystone Contest 

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 7.29.16 PMFor Lawrence Clark and his wife, Sondra, playing Kampgrounds of America Inc.’s (KOA’s) “Spin To Win” contest this summer was a pleasant part of their morning ritual.
The recently retired couple from Lumberton, Texas, stumbled upon the contest on KOAs Facebook page, according to a written announcement from KOA. Each morning since early spring, they’d grab their first cup of coffee, and then “compete” to see who could spin the wheel and win the higher number of extra contest entries.
Little did they know that their morning habit would pay off handsomely. The Clarks are the official winners of a new 2014 Keystone Passport 238ML towable recreation vehicle and a complete Weber Grill package. The Keystone Passport was the main prize in the first-half-of-summer contest drawing. Nearly 7 million entries were received for the first half of this summer’s “Spin To Win” contest.
The “Spin To Win” second-half drawing will be held after Sept. 14. The second-half drawing prize is a 2014 Keystone Hideout 210HS RV and another Weber Grill package.
“Partnering with KOA is a great way to introduce new people to the joys of camping,” said Keystone RV Company Communications Director Jim Mac. “Today, you can find a Keystone RV for virtually any tow vehicle and lifestyle. We are thrilled to welcome the Clarks into the Keystone family.”
Contestants can still enter the “Spin To Win” the contest by going to the KOA.com website, or the KOA Facebook page.
For the Clarks, winning the new RV spells a drastic change in their retirement lifestyle.
“We really have never tried camping much before,” said Lawrence, who retired seven months ago after a nearly 45-year career with a regional energy company. “We did go to a campground with friends near Gatlinburg, Tennessee last year and thought it was pretty neat. Now, with the RV, we can’t wait to get started.”
With two grown children and six grandchildren, the Passport will likely be visiting a lot of KOA campgrounds.
Kampgrounds of America is celebrating its 52nd Anniversary in 2014.

KOA Adds 14 Locations In 2014 (So Far)

July 17, 2014 by · Comments Off on KOA Adds 14 Locations In 2014 (So Far) 

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 12.12.53 PMCamper Jay Conner of Billings, Mont., was road weary as he and his wife made their way across Northern California’s U.S. 395. They thought they had a ways to go to find their next campground. Then, they saw that familiar yellow Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) sign, the company said in a written announcement about this year’s growth.

“It was a great delight to find this new KOA!” Conner wrote KOA in a letter after their stay at the new Coleville/Walker, Calif., KOA. “We didn’t see a listing in the KOA Directory for this park, so we turned around to look, expecting to just see an old, unused sign.”

What they found instead was one of KOA’s new additions behind a brand-new KOA yellow sign. The campground was formerly known as the Meadowcliff Campground. With 34 sites, it’s far from being the largest KOA, but it’s a beautiful jewel in California’s Eastern Sierras Mountains.

The campground is so new to the KOA system that it just missed publication in the 2014 KOA Directory. But it’s listed on KOA.com or via the KOA app (available for download free at the Apple Store or Google Play).

“We were impressed with the overall cleanliness of the park, and the modern facilities,” Conner said in his letter. All sites include cable TV and free Wi-Fi, and there is an on-site restaurant. There are even private, family-style bathrooms and ATV trail access.

The Coleville/Walker KOA is just one of the 14 new locations KOA has added to its North American system so far in 2014.

And stay tuned, the company said: There are many more great new KOA locations to come.

Other new KOA Locations include:
• Pocatello, Idaho: This quiet campground is back in the KOA system under new management. It’s surrounded by the mountains, and just 30 minutes away from world-famous Lava Hot Springs. Pocatello is the home of Idaho State University, and there is a Museum of Natural History on campus. At the KOA, you’ll find extra-long pull through sites and super clean Cabins.

• Alamogordo/White Sands, N.M.: Just off US-54/70, you’ll find this respite in the desert, with open, shady sites. Just down the road is the New Mexico Museum of Space History, detailing the state’s role in the U.S. Space Program. If hiking is your thing, there are plenty of trails at the nearby White Sands National Monument, where the roads lead through the flour-white gypsum sands.

• Decatur/Wheeler Lake, Ala.: This campground sits on Wheeler Reservoir, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Water activities are the main thing at this KOA, with water skiing, canoeing, sailing, fishing and swimming at the top of the list that also includes photography, hiking, and birdwatching.

• Benbow, Calif.: Visitors to the lost coast of northern California will find this campground along the East Branch of the South Fork Eel River. There are new deluxe cabins where you can sit and admire the mountain views and majestic redwoods. The campground has a nine-hole golf course, putting green and driving cage. You can hike among the giant trees at the nearby Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Rockefeller Forest and Founders Grove.

• Uniontown, Pa.: This KOA, formerly the River’s Edge Campground, is situated between the Youghiogheny River and the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, so every campsite comes with a view of the trail or the river. You can fish for trout or rent a canoe, or set off on a bike ride of any length along the 150-mile trail. This KOA has themed weekends each summer, with live bands, bonfires and dance parties around the new pool.

• Starkville, Miss.: This new KOA, right on the shores of Oktibbeha County Lake, is just minutes from Mississippi State University. You can swim at the beach, enjoy the waterslides, or cast a fishing line. And its just a few miles to the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge and the famed Natchez Trace Parkway.

• Nashville, Tenn., North: This KOA is handy to all Music City attractions, just 13 miles north of the downtown Nashville loop. There’s even a “Little Country Opry,” with music and dinner every Thursday night all summer long. There are 100 sites here, on 8 1/2 acres.

• Hancock/Stevens Point, Wis., South KOA Journey: The newly built KOA in central Wisconsin has a pond, along with a large heated swimming pool. It’s surrounded by vegetable and tree farms, and is near biking trails. It’s just off I-39 in a wooded setting.

• Naples, Maine: This western Maine KOA is a full-service campground in the heart of the Sebago Lakes Region. There’s a huge heated pool, and a kitchen open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rent a canoe for the lake, check out the game room and settle around the campfire at the end of a busy day.

• Sanger/Denton, Texas, North: This is the newest KOA in Texas, nestled just off I-35. It can accommodate any size RV, with 90-foot pull throughs and Wi-Fi. There’s a pavilion for outdoor cookouts, and an Austin stone fireplace to keep away the evening chill.

• Shreveport/Bossier City, La.: This award-winning campground is now back in the KOA system. You can sleep under the tall pines. Enjoy a variety of Louisiana foods at the many nearby restaurants, or try your luck at the casinos down the road. This KOA has two Kamp K9 dog parks, as well as new deluxe cabins.

• Fort McCoy/Lake Oklawaha, Fla.: This new Florida KOA is located on a bluff overlooking the 13,000-acre Lake Oklawaha Rodman Reservoir. It’s also surrounded by the 400,000-acre Ocala National Forest. It has 3,700 feet of privately owned lake frontage.

• Nashville East/Lebanon, Tenn.: This is the newest KOA added to the system. It’s in the countryside of middle Tennessee, only 20 minutes from Nashville. There are both open and shaded sites, a swimming pool, tent sites and a well-stocked camp store. It’s a base camp for the Grand Ole Opry, the Hermitage and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.

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