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.
“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
Camper 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.
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.
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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.
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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.
“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.”
With 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.
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.
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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.
Camper 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.
"What's Behind Your Yellow Sign" is the focus of this year's Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) convention and exposition, a play on the KOA "What's Behind The Yellow Sign" marketing campaign.
The event moves to Charleston, S.C. for 2014 and will happen Nov. 12-15.
The theme, according to Jenny McCullough, director of training and events for KOA, is a focus on "really honing in on what makes each individual KOA unique to their campers." With nearly 500 sites across North America, there's a significant variety of KOA options out there.
Here's the schedule of events:
Wednesday, Nov. 12
Registration desk open
Kamp green event at the Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA
Welcome reception at Boone Hall Plantation
Thursday, Nov. 13
Welcome to KOA general session
Owners association area meetings
Friday, Nov. 14
President’s and Founder’s awards breakfast
Keynote – Waldo Waldman
Franchisee of the Year and Rising Star Luncheon
Jim Rogers’ fireside chat
KOA expo opening reception
Saturday, Nov. 15
Final night celebration & KOA Care Camps auction
For more details on the show, click here.