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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.

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KOA Adds Forest River To Cabin Builder List

Forest River Inc. of Elkhart, Ind., is the newest approved provider for KOA Deluxe Cabins, according to Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Senior Business Development Consultant and Cabin Program Manager Mike Atkinson.

"Adding Forest River to our line of approved cabin suppliers adds healthy competition and increases the purchasing options for our campground owners, while maintaining the quality of deluxe cabins being added to the KOA system," Atkinson said in a written announcement from KOA.

Other approved deluxe cabin suppliers include Cavco Industries and General Coach of Canada.

Kampgrounds of America now has 2,200 KOA Deluxe Cabins — which include full bathrooms and some kitchens — located at more than 334 KOAs in North America.

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KOA's 2014 Directory Now Available

A million copies of the new 2014 edition of the industry-leading Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Directory have rolled off the presses and are now available to campers throughout North America, according to an announcement from KOA.

This year’s directory has a few enhancements. Each of the 486 KOA campground listings is one-third of a page and may include a full-color photograph supplied by the campground.

Also new this year, the traditional state-grid listing of campground features and amenities has been replaced by colorful icons that will give campers instant information on a campground’s offerings without the need to leave the campground’s listing. And as always, the directory contains detailed state and provincial maps, as well as "last-mile" locator maps, that make the directory a true North American road atlas.

Copies of the new directory have already been shipped directly to the homes of hundreds of thousands of members of the KOA Value Kard Rewards Program. Directories are also available free of charge at all open KOA Campgrounds in North America.

The 2014 directory is also the first consumer marketing piece that speaks to KOA’s three new brand positions: KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort. More than 110 KOA owners have already adopted one of the new brands for their campgrounds. The new brand positions are designed to better identify campground services and amenities for campers, aiding them in making their camping-trip plans.

“The directory is one of our main communication devices to reach campers,” said Toby Hedges, KOA vice president of marketing. “Our goal this year is to tell the story of ‘What’s Behind The Yellow Sign?’ while putting the directory into the hands of KOA campers as quickly as possible.”

The 2014 KOA Directory is also available in digital format. Campers can view or download the digital directory here. The directory can also be ordered by mail through the KOA.com website.

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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.

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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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KOA's Map Illustrating Labor Day Performance

Editor's Note: The following map was provided by data-rich Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and shows KOA system performance over the Labor Day weekend. Mike Gast, vice president of communications, reported, "It was a very successful weekend for us, despite rough weather in New England (the only region with a negative number). But, since that region accounts for only 4-5 % of our total Labor Day traffic, it didn't impact the total too much."

Map courtesy of Kampgrounds of America Inc.

 

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KOA Labor Day Bookings Up 4.5% and 3% YTD

Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) continued its Summer 2013 string of holiday successes over the Labor Day Weekend, posting a 4.5% increase in short-term camper nights compared to Labor Day Weekend last year, according to a news release.

The big Labor Day camper turnout brought KOA’s overall 2013 camping numbers to 3% over year-to-date performance in 2012.

“Camping numbers have been positive throughout the summer,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “We’ve seen positive growth in every section of the country. Fuel prices have been stable, and the weather really cooperated this year to give our campers the maximum amount of enjoyment from their KOA camping lifestyles.”

The positive trend doesn’t show any signs of abating. Advanced reservations for the final week of KOA’s summer “peak season” (which runs through Sept. 8) remain strong at 8.6% over last year. Reservations for KOA’s Value Kard Rewards Appreciation Weekend Sept. 13-14 are running 18.8% ahead of the same period in 2012. Members of KOAs Value Kard Rewards Program receive a free night of camping on Saturday, Sept. 14 when they stay as paying guests on Friday, Sept. 13.

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Jim Rogers to Address RVDA Annual Meeting

KOA CEO Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), will share with dealers the first comprehensive look at actual 2013 North American RV camping results and offer insights KOA has for future RV camping trends when he presents “A Campground Outlook” during the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Annual Meeting on Oct. 3 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

According to a press release, the annual meeting is held in conjunction with the RV Dealers International Convention/Expo, Sept. 30-Oct. 4.

Armed with KOA’s exclusive real-time data from 500 campgrounds across the U.S and Canada, Rogers will provide attendees with perspectives on the evolving needs and habits of America’s campers as well as explain how dealers can benefit from the emerging destination camping market.

“Jim is a dynamic industry leader who has championed a proactive feedback and knowledge-driven outdoor hospitality approach to meeting the wants and needs of camper guests,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia.  “He has a passion for RV travel and the outdoors, and we are delighted he will be sharing his knowledge with us at the annual meeting.”

KOA and Rogers will also be involved in a new initiative at this year’s convention, sponsoring RVDA’s programs for young RV executives. KOA will host a young executives networking reception on Oct. 2, and Rogers will deliver a special workshop on Oct. 3, titled “Luck is When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” There will be track workshops designated for young RV executives in all time slots on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rogers, who was featured earlier this year in the CBS reality series “Undercover Boss,” has been at the helm of KOA – the world’s largest system of family friendly campgrounds – for the past 12 years. The company, born in Billings, Mont., in 1962, is still headquartered near that first campground location and now has 489 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

 

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Forbes – Workamping in 'The New Retirement'

In 2006, a year before they both retired from the Ohio public school system, Chuck and Joyce Fagan moved out of their Springfield home and into a 36-foot trailer parked at a local campground. It was a test, Forbes magazine reported.

“We thought that if we could make it through that winter in Ohio, we could work anywhere during retirement,” recalls Joyce, now 66. “It was 25 below!” The couple, then in their late 50s, got through the big freeze, sold their house and a year later joined the nomadic tribe of boomers known as “work campers.” Chuck, who’s 62, says, “We’ve never regretted our decision.”

The Fagans travel around the country in their RV, working at Kampgrounds of America (KOA) locations a few months at a time, earning roughly the minimum wage at the comfortable, family campgrounds. “For us,” Chuck says, “it’s a great supplemental income that allows us to see as much of this beautiful country as we can.”

Click here to read the entire story.

 

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Camping at Ky. KOA is Growing in Popularity

"The economy is driving people to camping or to RVing, because you can RV anywhere for about 500 bucks a month," said Corey Huetter, who is staying at the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) campground in Bowling Green, Ky.

The campground manager told WBKO-TV, Bowling Green,  she's got a lot more reservations this year than last.

"Friday I've got about 45 reservations already coming in. Plus, we can have a lot of walk-ins too. And then Saturday, we've got about 30 coming in for Saturday for the holiday weekend," said Rhonda Lawrimore.

That's proof of a TripAdvisor survey that reported 33% of Americans plan to travel this Labor Day — 6% more than last year — and 63% of them are driving.

Lawrimore said she thinks it's because gas prices are lower this year.

She also said more people are choosing RV and campground life over hotels.

"I think they like the outdoors. Plus, they can go in and out better than being at other places," she said.

One Nebraska man said he's traveled all over the country in an RV for five years for his business, and overall, RVs are easy to get around in.

"It depends what part of the country, it's much harder to go through mountains and up hills, but it's relatively flat down here so it's not too bad," said Huetter.

He said it's easy to stop at places like Walmart if you need a rest while on the road.

He said he enjoys the atmosphere the most.

"It's kind of like boating. Have you ever boated before? You pull up on the sandbar and within five minutes you're best buddies with the guy next to you. And RVing is pretty much the same way."

And he's had "neighbors" from all around the world.

"It's real safe. I've never had one thing stolen, and I never lock anything up."

Lawrimore said that no matter where visitors are from, everyone loves Kentucky, and the Corvette Museum and area events are probably why they're choosing Bowling Green for their Labor Day.

 

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