Top

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.

Residual Impacts from KOA/’Undercover Boss’

July 8, 2013 by · Comments Off on Residual Impacts from KOA/’Undercover Boss’ 

Paul and Shawn Barrouk at one of the lodges located at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA where they work.

Like many high school and college students in the United States, Morgan Bradley, a junior at Tioga Central High School, is spending her summer break from school working at a camp. Unlike many of those student camp workers, Morgan’s opportunity to work at the Watkins Glen, N.Y. KOA as a “Summershiner” came about in a unique way, the Daily Review, Towanda, Pa., reported.

The Summershine Resort Staffing Ministry, www.summershine.us, is an opportunity for young people to work at resort family campgrounds throughout the United States.

Based out of North Carolina, the Summershine program staffs and manages recreation programs and activities, and is at the Watkins Glen KOA this summer for a fourth straight season. Not only do Summershiners coordinate campground activities for guests, they also help with maintenance around the campground and assist in the front office.

Morgan’s chance to work with the Summershine program initiated from a discussion with family friends Paul and Shawn Barrouk. The Barrouks, who work at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA in Watsonville, Calif., came back east several months ago to visit their children and grandchildren in Pennsylvania. While visiting the area, the Barrouks stayed with Morgan’s family in Nichols. Feeling she possessed the qualities that would be a good match, Paul and Shawn encouraged Morgan to apply for the Summershine program.

The Barrouks knew of the program since their KOA in California uses its services, and they highly recommended it to Morgan. Morgan was ultimately accepted into the program, flew to North Carolina in April for training and subsequently started working at the Watkins Glen KOA on June 22.

The Barrouks both grew up in Owego and northeast Pennsylvania. After their children graduated from high school, and also following the loss of Paul’s mother to cancer, the Barrouks were searching for a new kind of opportunity. Their journey led them to Watsonville, Calif. where they both began working for KOA.

Jim Rogers (left) as we know him and as he appeared on an episode of “Undercover Boss.”

‘Undercover Boss’ Connection

At the campground last year, they were asked to become involved in a special project for Kampground of America’s corporate offices. What they didn’t know was that they were really being filmed for the CBS television show, “Undercover Boss.”

During a phone interview, Shawn commented that neither Paul nor she had any clue that they were being filmed for the television show and it was indeed a surprise when they found out. The KOA “Undercover Boss” episode aired Jan. 11, and recently aired again on June 21. It is available to view on-line at CBS.com.

In the “Undercover Boss” episode, Paul shared his story with Kampground of America CEO Jim Rogers. In appreciation of the Barrouks’ consistent work ethic and giving KOA top priority every day, including their part in helping the Watsonville, Calif., KOA gain the “Founders Award” accreditation (which only 10% of campgrounds receive), Rogers gave Paul and Shawn three gifts. One gift was a $50,000 donation in Paul’s mother’s memory to the KOA Care Camps, a trust that helps children who have cancer enjoy fun and activities while they deal with their illness.

During the television episode, a guest gives Paul a tip for delivering ice. Paul thanked the guest and explained that all such tips go toward KOA Care Camps. A second gift from Rogers was money toward home improvement and the third gift was money to travel back to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends.

Had Paul not mentioned on the television show that he and Shawn desired to go back to Pennsylvania to visit their children and grandchildren, whom they had not seen in a long time, Morgan’s summer would have turned out entirely different.

Actually, Morgan also had a television moment of her own. Camp counselors were recently treated to a New York City trip. The group decided to stop by NBC’s “Today Show” plaza one morning, and while there, Al Roker recognized Morgan’s group on live television, the Watkins Glen KOA Summershiners.

KOA, Kampgrounds of America is the largest chain in North America, with some 450 campgrounds and staffing more than 5,000 employees. The Watkins Glen KOA Camping Resort specializes in family vacations and reunions. Their website is www.watkinsglenkoa.com. The website for the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA, where the Barrouks work, is www.koa.com/campgrounds/santa-cruz.

 

 

KOA: ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode on June 21

June 18, 2013 by · Comments Off on KOA: ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode on June 21 

Re-air date set for June 21.

If you missed the escapades of Kampgrounds of America CEO Jim Rogers on CBS’ “Undercover Boss” last January, you’ll have another chance to see Rogers in action when the episode reairs Friday, June 21, KOA has announced.

The rebroadcast was initially scheduled for June 7, but was removed from the schedule for that date by CBS on June 6.

The original showing of the KOA “Undercover Boss” episode in January easily “won the night,” ranking first in households watching; first in actual viewers; and first amongst both adults in the 25-54 age group and the 18-49 age group.

Ratings for the episode were up 20% over the “Undercover Boss” episode that aired the previous week. The KOA episode was the third-most-watched episode of the 12 shows in the award-winning reality show’s recently concluded fourth season.

The KOA episode will reair at 7 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones, and at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

“Undercover Boss was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to both receive totally unfiltered feedback from employees and our franchisee partners, as well as promote KOAs new Deluxe Cabins, destination attractions, KOA Care Camps, and outstanding guest service to over 9 million viewers,” Rogers said. “We showed North America the great diversity of KOA’s outdoor hospitality.”

The show also provided a bump for KOA.

Reservations across the 485-campground KOA system were up 17% for the weekend of Jan. 11-13, compared to the same weekend last year, and reserved nights at the four KOA properties featured in the episode were up 169% over last year.

KOA’s popular KOA.com website also benefited, with a 128% increase in visits versus the same weekend last year. The initial showing of the “Undercover Boss” episode also set records on KOA’s mobile website, which saw an increase in site visits of 391% over the same weekend in 2012, and an increase in total visitors of 1,218%.

“The effects of our participation in the show will be felt by KOA and our industry for a long, long time,” said Rogers. “You just can’t buy that kind of exposure for your brand.”

 

Bakers Bump KOA ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode

June 7, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

CBS has decided not to immediately re-air the KOA “Undercover Boss” episode featuring  Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), which was scheduled to air tonight (June 7).

Programmers at CBS decided at the last minute to air an episode of American Baking Competition  instead, KOA stated in a news release.

The producer of “Undercover Boss” said that the KOA episode will still air at a later date, yet to be determined.

 

KOA: ‘Undercover Boss’ Hit to Re-air June 7

May 29, 2013 by · Comments Off on KOA: ‘Undercover Boss’ Hit to Re-air June 7 

Rogers on summer rerun of ‘Undercover Boss’ on June 7

If you missed the escapades of Kampgrounds of America CEO Jim Rogers on CBS’s “Undercover Boss” last January, you’ll have another chance to see Rogers in action when the episode re-airs Friday, June 7.

The initial showing of the KOA “Undercover Boss” episode on Jan. 11 easily “won the night,” ranking first in households watching, first in actual viewers and first among both adults in the 25-54 age group and the 18-49 age group, according to a news release.

Ratings for the episode were up 20% over the “Undercover Boss” episode that aired the previous week. The KOA episode was the third-most-watched episode of the 12 shows in the award-winning reality show’s recently concluded fourth season.

The KOA episode will re-air June 7 at 7 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones, and at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

“Undercover Boss was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to both receive totally unfiltered feedback from employees and our franchisee partners, as well as promote KOAs new Deluxe Cabins, destination attractions, KOA Care Camps, and outstanding guest service to over 9 million viewers,” Rogers said. “We showed North America the great diversity of KOA’s outdoor hospitality.”

The show also provided a bump for KOA.

Reservations across the 485-campground KOA system were up 17% for the weekend of Jan. 11-13, compared to the same weekend last year, and reserved nights at the four KOA properties featured in the episode were up 169% over last year.

KOA’s popular KOA.com website also benefited, with a 128% increase in visits versus the same weekend last year. The initial showing of the “Undercover Boss” episode also set records on KOA’s mobile website, which saw an increase in site visits of 391% over the same weekend in 2012, and an increase in total visitors of 1,218%.

“The effects of our participation in the show will be felt by KOA and our industry for a long, long time,” said Rogers. “You just can’t buy that kind of exposure for your brand.”

 

KOA: ‘Undercover Boss’ Yields Major Results

January 30, 2013 by · Comments Off on KOA: ‘Undercover Boss’ Yields Major Results 

“Undercover Boss” episode was a media hit.

Kampgrounds of America Inc.’s (KOA) one-of-a-kind invitation into the world of reality television this month garnered unprecedented attention for the KOA brand, its campgrounds and KOA owners and staffs, according to a news release.

KOA was featured in the Jan. 11 episode of the award-winning “Undercover Boss” show, now in its fourth season on CBS.

“We were absolutely blown away from the reaction across North America,” said Jim Rogers, KOA’s CEO, who took on the persona of Tim Bickford, a mild-mannered, out-of-work accountant from San Francisco.

“Undercover Boss was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to both receive totally unfiltered feedback from employees and our franchisee partners, as well as promote KOAs new deluxe cabins, destination attractions, Care Camps, and outstanding guest service to over 9 million viewers”, Rogers said. “We showed North America the great diversity of KOA’s outdoor hospitality!”

The KOA episode of “Undercover Boss” was the seventh episode of the show’s fourth season, and grabbed the second highest ratings of any show since the season premiere last November.

The KOA episode also “won the night” for CBS, ranking first in households watching; first in actual viewers and first among both adults in the 25-54 age group and the 18-49 age group. The ratings were up 20% over the “Undercover Boss” episode from the previous week.

The show also provided a bump for KOA.

Internet data from KOA

Reservations across the 485-campground KOA system were up 17% for the weekend of Jan. 11-13, compared to the same weekend last year, and reserved nights at the four KOA properties featured in the episode were up 169% over last year.

KOA’s popular KOA.com website also benefited, with a 128% increase in visits versus the same weekend last year.

“The web traffic on Friday, Jan. 11, nearly matched the traffic we would normally see during the weekend before the Fourth of July weekend,” Rogers said. “That is traditionally our busiest weekend of the year for web traffic.”

KOA’s Internet provider, Tempest Technologies of Helena, Mont., reported that the web activity set a new record for KOA internet traffic at Tempest’s data center.

The episode also set records on KOA’s mobile website, which saw an increase in site visits of 391% over the same weekend in 2012, and an increase in total visitors of 1,218%.

“The traffic to our mobile site on Jan. 11 was the highest on record for visits and visitors since we launched the site in March 2011,” said KOA’s head of Marketing Toby Hedges.

Internet page views for the four featured KOA campgrounds (Stockton Delta, Calif. KOA; Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay, Calif. KOA; Ventura Ranch, Calif. KOA; and Williams/Circle Pines, Ariz. KOA) were up from 1,000% to 3,000% over a year ago.

Even KOA’s Facebook site benefited from the “Undercover Boss” exposure, including 1,000 new Facebook fans and more than 13,100 unique page views the day the episode aired.

“We were also able to generate a lot of media attention in some very unusual areas,” Rogers said. “One great example is that we were able to promote the KOA “Undercover Boss” episode on huge electronic billboards right on the Strip in Las Vegas and on Times Square in New York.”

A press release regarding the show was picked up and distributed by more than 2,200 media outlets around the world.

“The effects of our participation in the show will be felt for a long, long time,” said Rogers. “The traffic on our Own A KOA website (www.ownakoa.com) was up more than 935% on Jan. 11, and nearly 90% of those visitors were new to the site. You just can’t buy that kind of exposure for your brand.”

Even KOA’s program for Work Kampers, www.workatkoa.com, benefited, with a 146% increase in visitors.

The KOA Undercover Boss episode is still available for viewing online at the CBS website at www.cbs.com/shows/undercover_boss/.

 

PR Invaluable from ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode

January 14, 2013 by · Comments Off on PR Invaluable from ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode 

Revealing episode on “Undercover Boss”

Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) CEO Jim Rogers learned some invaluable lessons about campground operations – good and bad – during his stealth appearance at four KOA parks in California and Arizona last summer as part of the CBS hit “Undercover Boss,” which appeared nationally Friday night (Jan. 11).

The 4-year-old Emmy Award-winning series, in which business executives leave the comfort of their corner offices for undercover missions within their own companies, gave Rogers and viewers a rare look inside KOA’s $200 million-a-year franchise campground business based in Billings, Mont. — a system consisting of 488 parks, 26 of them company owned.

When it was all over, Rogers revealed his true identify and spread some of his wealth – $165,000 – to the campground owners and staff he had innocently deceived over the course of the filming.

For those who missed the hour-long episode, Rogers, the gregarious head of the world’s largest campground chain, assumes his alter ego and stars as Tim Bickford, an unemployed accountant from San Francisco in the popular series filmed over 10 days last June. A frumpish fellow with his polo shirt all buttoned and shorts hitched up, “Tim” allegedly is a contestant touring those four campgrounds for the launch of a pilot TV show.

Rogers helps tidy up a cabin for the next guests.

He was assigned as a “front line” employee at each of the parks.

“My front line assignments on ‘Undercover Boss’ affirmed the importance of creating KOA systems that maximize the time that campground staff members can spend with guests,” Rogers told Woodall’s Campground Management, a sister publication of RVBusiness, prior to the episode’s airing. “I learned that the great people we have on the front lines can always use more time to better know and serve our guests. Our campground owners and their staffs are the real heroes of KOA. Being undercover gave me an unobstructed view of where our business gets done.”

As for his alter ego in the episode, “I’m more like Forest Gump than Jim Rogers,” says the affable Rogers, describing his disguise that included a dyed mustache and a pair of white socks. Rogers, who shaved his signature beard for the show, succeeds in coming off nerdy, once prompting Paul, the guest services manager at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA in California, to remark, “If I was picking teams for a pickup football team, I would not pick Tim.”

Rogers cleans a shower stall.

Paul, efficient and engaging, opens up to Rogers and shares his life philosophy, the essence of which is that family and friends come before money. Paul also notes that showing appreciation to employees is important, noting that he was disappointed when KOA upper management failed to show any interest in the park’s regular staff workers like him when they gathered at the campground a year earlier.

Rogers says he realizes that he needs to find more time to listen to other people as a result in part of Paul, who subsequently earned a standing ovation at the KOA convention in November when Rogers announced that he made a $50,000 donation to KOA’s Care Camps in Paul’s name.

Since Rogers spends part of each summer working at KOA campgrounds, taking on the variety of tasks given him – ripping out a tree with a backhoe, paving and doing routine maintenance – came easily to him. What he didn’t like, however, was some of the poor customer service he witnessed first hand, questionable or spotty business procedures and the lack of perceived appreciation from the home office.

Sadie, the overworked office manager at the Tower Park Resort in Stockton, Calif., loses her patience with a potential guest who is kept waiting on the phone for five minutes while she helps campers in her store and blames a system she calls “archaic, not user friendly.” Rogers, who stood by nonchalantly and witnessed the chaos, confesses later, “It was ripping me apart inside.”

At the Ventura Ranch KOA near Los Angeles, Rogers (who is afraid of heights) gets his now well-chronicled ride on an 800-foot-long zipline and helps to adjust some housekeeping practices. “We need to whip this program into shape up here. It’s clear we have work to do.”

Rogers helps Nathan make a bed.

Rogers seems most pleased by the KOA in Williams, Ariz., near the Grand Canyon where owners Bruce and Lori are expanding their cabin inventory and want to install a golf course and go-cart track for their guests. When Tim mentions that his typical work week is 40 to 50 hours, Bruce replies that is “half a week here.” Rogers endorses their enthusiasm in striving to make their park the best KOA in the system.

Near the end of the episode, Rogers reveals his true identity to the campground staffs he worked with and announces some generous giving. Beyond the $50,000 donation to Care Kamp, Rogers gives him $10,000 to fix his travel trailer and $10,000 to finance a trip to see his granddaughters in Pennsylvania. Nathan at Ventura Ranch KOA gets an an all-expense paid trip to KOA’s training grounds in Billings and $5,000 to take his wife and three kids to a theme park. Bruce and Laurie in Arizona got $25,000 to purchase another deluxe cabin and $10,000 to spend on a vacation at nearby Lake Powell.

Rogers and Nathan discuss their jobs at one of the campsites.

In addition, he promises Sadie at Tower Park Resort that her software will be upgraded plus a job to develop KOA’s new outdoor program, $5,000 plus additional expenses for a week’s vacation with her family. Sadie, who has since left KOA to start her own skin care business, is reduced to tears by Rogers’ generosity.

All in all, Rogers felt the show provided good PR not just for KOA, but also for the entire campground business. “’Undercover Boss’ is great entertainment, but it also does a great service by taking the general public behind the scenes of popular companies,” he observed. “Every episode is a case study in business management.”

In particular, Rogers said he got a first-hand look at the cabin and lodging business at the four KOAs and came away with a better understanding of how to fine-tune the emerging “covered shelter” business at RV parks. “One thing that is true for the entire campground sector, not just KOA, is housekeeping,” he added. “We are moving as aggressively as we can into deluxe cabins but with that comes a housekeeping requirement. There are ways to do that well. We have spent a year finding the right suppliers, but we have work to be more consistent in the delivery of standards.

“I spent 18 years in the casino business,” Rogers continued. “I know it can be done. There is a process that is required. We have to deliver on this new service, and I know many owners are saying, ‘We’re not going to do it.’ In our case, we have a certain standard we have to live up to. We have a ways to get there.”

Click here to visit the CBS site and learn more about the episode.

Ventura Ranch KOA: Beautiful Site Hosts CBS

January 11, 2013 by · Comments Off on Ventura Ranch KOA: Beautiful Site Hosts CBS 

The Ventura Ranch KOA has an 800-foot-long zip line, likely the one company CEO Jim Rogers will be shown riding on during tonight’s episode of “Undercover Boss” on CBS TV.

The Ventura Ranch KOA Campground outside Santa Paula, Calif., will be featured in tonight’s episode of the CBS reality show “Undercover Boss.”

“The Ventura Ranch KOA location is pretty spectacular visually,” Chris Carlson, the show’s executive producer told the Ventura County Star. “It looks gorgeous, and it’s close to the beach. It’s the most beautiful campsite in KOA system. It stands up to the KOA sites near Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.”

On “Undercover Boss,” corporate leaders work incognito among lower-level employees to get a different look at their companies. The episode that will air at 8 p.m. Friday features Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc., a system of franchised and company-owned campgrounds with 486 locations in North America.

Rogers goes undercover as Tim Bickford, an out-of-work accountant from San Francisco, at Ventura Ranch KOA.

Rogers was in New Zealand and unavailable for an interview. Ventura Ranch KOA franchise owner Scott Cory did not participate in the show’s taping but said he is eager to watch the episode.

“I’m anxious to find out what happened. Everybody has been very, very hush-hush. We had no idea they had been checking on us. They sure know how to do their disguises,” Cory said.

KOA CEO Jim Rogers in disguise at the Ventura Ranch KOA. Photo by Sonya Flemming, CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Carlson said the results of the undercover assignment are kept quiet until the show is broadcast.

“We make the show, and the companies need to take a leap of faith,” he said. “They are brave enough to do the show, going on an undercover journey. They know they’ll hear from employees with an unfiltered lens to see what’s working or not working.”

Cory said he hopes the show will reflect the uniqueness of the Ventura Ranch KOA campground, which has hiking trails through the Santa Paula River and Los Padres National Forest.

The campground used to be a county park but went private 30 years ago, Cory said. KOA took it over as a franchise and has spent $1.7 million in improvements. Campground options range from primitive sites to deluxe lodges, and activities include a giant jumping pillow and dual zip line.

Cory, of Thousand Oaks, said he bought the franchise with partner Steven Bitter, of Westlake Village, after working at the KOA corporate offices.

“I saw this campground, and it had great bones. It was in great disrepair and needed a lot of capital improvements so I left corporate work to become franchisee,” Cory said.

The KOA Ventura Ranch campground has had visitors from 26 countries and 48 states.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in the local community. Business has been fabulous,” Cory said. “We have scouting groups coming in very strong — Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. Family reunions and weddings have become a popular part of this campground.”

The site’s proximity to Los Angeles International Airport and beaches contribute to that success, he said.

 

PCOA Promoting ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode

January 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on PCOA Promoting ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode 

The Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA), in cooperation with eight Pennsylvania Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) franchise campgrounds, is promoting the Emmy Award-winning “Undercover Boss” segment airing Friday (Jan. 11) on CBS.

Jim Rogers, CEO of KOA, appears in the segment as Tim Bickford, an out-of-work accountant from San Francisco. As part of the promotion, the home page of http://pacamping.com (shown here) has been modified to include a YouTube video previewing the segment, according to a news release.

Additionally, on the home page is information about a social media contest to win free camping at the participating campgrounds, which are also featured on the page. The contest directs consumers to PCOA’s Facebook page, which features the YouTube video and will host a contest occurring live during the airing of the show.

“The Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association is pleased to be able to interact using social media with our camping families and create a fun and engaging contest promoting this event and our participating parks,” says Jason Vaughan, PCOA vice president and marketing chairperson. “We are happy for the participation of our PA KOA Campgrounds and hope that the segment is as fun to watch as the preview.”

The eight participating KOA parks are:

  • Bellefonte/State College KOA.
  • Delaware Water Gap KOA.
  • Elizabethtown/Hershey KOA.
  • Gettysburg KOA.
  • Honesdale Pocono KOA.
  • Jonestown KOA.
  • Meadville KOA at Brookdale Campground.
  • Philadelphia/West Chester KOA.

PCOA is a non-profit trade association representing the proud RV parks and campgrounds in the great state of Pennsylvania. Each of our member campgrounds is individually owned and operated.

 

Another Look at ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode

January 7, 2013 by · Comments Off on Another Look at ‘Undercover Boss’ Episode 

Editor’s Note: Here’s one more story about this week’s telecast of “Undercover Boss,” featuring Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA). This version comes from the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal.

Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) CEO Jim Rogers shaved his beard and donned a hairpiece for 10 days to tape an episode of “Undercover Boss,” a reality show that sends executives to the front lines of their business to see how they perform in the trenches.

“They gave me glasses and made me a kind of a Forest Gump, if you will, with my top button buttoned and high white socks and tennis shoes,” said Rogers, who appears on the show this Friday. Rogers, who splits his time between Reno and Billings, Mont., cleaned toilets, piloted boats, cut down trees with a backhoe and rode a zip line during the taping.

“This was 10 days in the making,” Rogers said. “We were probably shooting eight to 10 hours a day, and at times there were six to seven cameras on me.”

Rogers is an Eagle Scout, so he knows his way around a campground. His biggest fear was that he’d be discovered.

Fake reality show explains cameras

So, how do you explain all those cameras? Rogers said employees thought they were participating in a pilot for a show called “Life Swap.” Rogers was introduced as Tim Bickford, an unemployed accountant from San Francisco and a contestant on “Life Swap,” the fake show. It gets more complicated when, at the end of the show, Rogers changes disguises again and plays an investor, who wants a report on how Bickford is performing as a campground worker.

Eventually, the CEO comes clean. “At one point I announce that I’m not Tim, I’m Jim and you’re on ‘Undercover Boss.’ ” Rogers told me that the employees were shocked to learn the man they had spent supervising was really their boss and not Tim the unemployed CPA.

“It was absolutely so much fun,” said Rogers, who played five different people on the show.

The producers loved taping in the outdoor campgrounds, and in Reno.

Rogers said the show provides an opportunity for people to see behind the scenes at some of America’s most popular companies.

“It gives a perspective on small business, and at the end of the day, it’s small business that’s going to bring America back,” he said.

The Reno connection

The show reinforced what he learned from 20 years working at Harrah’s: that customers want personal engagement.

“This is what’s so wonderful about Reno,” he said. “When you look at the hospitality leadership of the Caranos, the Ascuagas, the Farahis, the owners of the Peppermill; the Bill Harrahs of the world, the Harolds of the world — we have such hospitality leadership and those people are spending time involved with their guests.”

“These things don’t happen in Las Vegas,” Rogers continued. “They don’t happen in Indian casinos in California.”

Rogers still believes personal contact is good for business. For example, if he can get the owner of a campground to meet a guest, the overall satisfaction rating by the guest goes up by 16 points.

“I’ve always had a management by walking around sort of style,” he said.

“I always feel the front line is where you find the most innovative sense and greatest creativity, and you really get to find out what the guest is all about.”

What did he learn from the reality show? “It gets people out walking in the shoes of employees and guests, and that’s vital to the success of business today,” he said. “I enjoyed it thoroughly.”

KOA is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and Rogers said he wants his employees to spend time interacting with guests.

In other words, more s’mores and less paperwork. Sounds like a plan.

 

Next Page »

Bottom