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.


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KOA Expecting 100,000 Over Long Weekend

May 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The 486 Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) locations in North America are expecting about 100,000 campers to arrive this Friday for the start of the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend.

The company reported in a written announcement that advanced reservations for the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend holiday are equal to reservations for the holiday weekend in 2013, and are running about 3% ahead of advanced reservations received a week before the holiday weekend in 2012.

Early in the 2014 camping season, KOA’s overall total for short-term camping nights is about 5% higher than during the same period in 2013.

“Our numbers early in 2014 were very strong, and it looks like our early momentum will carry through into the summer camping season,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Our campground owners have been working hard on new improvements and enhancements to their facilities that are sure to be noticed by campers.”

The Memorial Day Weekend numbers nearly mirror the results of the annual “KOA Care Camps Big Weekend” results on May 9-10, which finished with about 6.3% more camper nights than the same event weekend in 2013.

While camper interest in KOA continues to grow, there are still plenty of good campsites and cabins available for the Memorial Day Weekend and throughout the summer, the company noted.

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Rogers' Reasons RV Industry's In Good Shape

May 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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.”

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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

March 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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

March 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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 website.

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VIDEO: Rogers Discusses New KOA Brands

September 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s video comes from Chuck Woodbury, editor of 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

September 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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

September 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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

September 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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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