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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.”

 

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.

Estes Park, Colo., KOA Opens For Summer

May 4, 2015 by · Comments Off on Estes Park, Colo., KOA Opens For Summer 

The Estes Park (Colo.) Kampgrounds of America (KOA) campground, located at 2051 Big Thompson Avenue in Estes Park, opened for the 2015 camping season on Friday (May 1), the Trail-Gazette reported.

The Estes Park KOA is one of 485 open-to-the-public KOA campgrounds in the KOA system in the U.S. and Canada.

“As KOA begins its 53rd year of providing quality camping to North American families, we are proud to claim this campground as part of the KOA family,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “No matter where your travels take you, we have a KOA campground nearby tailored to your needs. Just like this local KOA, our folks in yellow shirts are always ready to give you a top-notch camping experience.”

To celebrate 53 years of serving campers, KOA is partnering this summer with Keystone RV Co. and Cabela’s to offer a great prize package through the “What’s Behind The Yellow Sign? Giveaway.” Beginning today (May 4), campers can enter to win a new Keystone Passport 171EXP (valued at $19,500) and a Cabela’s prize package worth $2,000.

The giveaway will run through August 30, 2015. Enter at www.BehindTheSignGiveaway.com.

For the original story, click here.

Camping Winding Down At Nev. KOA Site

September 23, 2014 by · Comments Off on Camping Winding Down At Nev. KOA Site 

Vegas KOA at Circus Circus

Las Vegas KOA at Circus Circus (photo courtesy of KOA)

Since MGM Resorts International decided to close the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) campground near Circus Circus and make it the City of Rock, campers have known their time was limited, television station KLAS reported.

MGM is making room for the Rock in Rio open-air venue; making it the end of an era for the 350-space campground that has sat north of Circus Circus for 35 years.

Guests staying at the campground say this KOA isn’t your typical RV park.

“I like it very much because it’s so close to the Strip and you can walk there. It’s really great. I didn’t expect it was possible to be so close,” said Peter Ofner, visiting from Austria.

Beginning in May of 2015, all of that will change. The Rock in Rio USA festival is expected to host 300,000 people over two weekends in May.

Camper Becky Quigley, who is visiting from Nebraska, isn’t sure where she will stay in the future.

The next closest RV park to the Strip is downtown.

KOA plans to make an announcement about the move of the campground soon, according to the campground’s site on KOA.com.

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.

KOA Reports 5% More Camper Nights So Far

May 28, 2014 by · Comments Off on KOA Reports 5% More Camper Nights So Far 

More than 110,000 campers flocked to Kampgrounds of America (KOA) parks over the Memorial Day Weekend, according to a written announcement from the company, based in Billings, Mont.

The 486 KOA locations in North America saw 3% more camper check-ins this year, compared to results from the Memorial Day Weekend in 2013.

Thus far in the 2014 camping season, KOA has seen an increase in short-term camping nights of nearly 5% compared to the same period in 2013.

The 2014 KOA summer camping season is off to a fast start.

KOA campgrounds saw a more than 6% increase in camper nights during the recent KOA Care Camps Big Weekend May 9-10, and advance reservations for the rest of the summer season are also running ahead of 2013 results at this point in the season.

“Campers are obviously anxious to get back outdoors and camp after a long, hard winter,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Our owners are making significant investments in improvements in their campgrounds, and we know campers are going to appreciate the enhanced camping experiences they are going to have on KOAs throughout North America.”

While camper interest in KOA continues to grow, there are still plenty of good campsites and cabins available throughout the summer, KOA reported.

Woodbury: Elevators In A KOA Campground?

May 12, 2014 by · Comments Off on Woodbury: Elevators In A KOA Campground? 

The following column is Chuck Woodbury’s in his latest newsletter from RVTravel.com.

When is the last time you stayed in a campground with an elevator? Or one with “hotel-like suites?” My guess is never. Same here.

So I must say, I was intrigued recently by a headline in Woodall’s Campground Management with the headline “KOA resort redefining camping,” followed by news of Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) new and improved park in Cape Hatteras, N.C., that includes an elevator and “eight hotel-like suites.”

“We are redefining it [camping],” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. “Camping is not about the buildings or the pools, it’s about people and the way we act. What we’re doing is attracting a mix of people who have never been to a campground. We call it genuine engagement … 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 in the article.

So, let’s see. A campground with hotel suites is helping us reengage in some way with the great outdoors? Did he really say that?

It sounds to me like KOA may be “redefining the RV park industry,” but I hope the company does not believe that elevators and hotel suites are synonymous with a camping experience. Heaven knows, even camping in our RVs is not roughing it compared to the old days when many of us camped in tents. KOA’s PR person Mike Gast told me that KOA has no plans for other campgrounds with elevators and hotel suites. But we’ll see. Jim Rogers comes from the hotel industry and he’s a smart businessman. If Cape Hatteras fills its hotel suites (which it likely will), my bet is other high end KOA “resorts” will follow (watch a video where Jim Rogers explains the new, three-tier KOA classification system).

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.”

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