Leisure Systems Event Caps Strong Season

November 14, 2013 by · Comments Off on Leisure Systems Event Caps Strong Season 

Attendees enjoy the LSI Symposium in Covington, Ky., Nov. 13, 2013.

This week’s Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) Symposium in Covington, Ky., is seeing a “great turnout,” said Dean Crawford, executive vice president for LSI, the franchise company for Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts.

Crawford said 74 of the existing Jellystone parks sent representatives, and a handful of prospective parks were there, too.

Rob Schutter, LSI president, said it was a good year for Jellystone franchisees, with systemwide income up 10% over last year in existing parks and 11% including new parks. “Our occupancy was up a little over 4%,” Schutter said.

The number of cabins continued to grow across the Jellystone system, with 13.6% growth last year, Schutter said. The demand for those continues to grow, since they attract three types of users: People looking for a hotel substitute, people who are campers but don’t own recreational vehicles, and people who are just starting out in the outdoor lifestyle. “We’ve been very strong in continuing the introduction of the full-service-style cabins to the marketplace,” Schutter said, and those attract people with higher incomes who spend more in the parks.

The symposium turnout was high this year, with “meetings completely packed,” Schutter said.

Yogi and Crawford

In addition to sessions on in-park activities, “most of the sessions have had some kind of employment focus,” Schutter said. This year’s sessions included information on regulatory requirements, from I-9 federal forms to Obamacare to the Americans With Disabilities Act rules.

There are 75 vendors at the show. “That’s about average for us,” Crawford said. “There’s a wide variety of vendors here, and it’s just right, about one per campground. Vendors love this show because people are here to buy.”

The event started Monday (Nov. 11) and ends tonight (Nov. 14).


LSI Leverages Brand with Yogi Movie Debut

November 18, 2010 by · Comments Off on LSI Leverages Brand with Yogi Movie Debut 

Leisure System's Rob Schutter Jr. addresses Symposium attendees.

The upcoming (Dec. 17) release of a new Warner Brothers’ “Yogi Bear” movie offered an ideal backdrop for Leisure System Inc.’s (LSI) annual Symposium, held Nov. 8-11 at the Embassy Suites in Covington, Ky., a Cincinnati suburb located near the company’s home office in Milford, Ohio.

The event attracted nearly 200 people from 65 of the 78 campgrounds affiliated with LSI’s Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp-Resort franchise for four days of professional seminars, briefings by LSI management, a trade show, social networking and the concluding awards ceremony that took on the motif of an Academy Awards-style presentation.

Over 60 vendors took part in the trade show displaying their products and services. An outside display featured four new park models. The trade show also afforded franchisees an opportunity to purchase their Yogi Bear brand merchandise from an offering of more than 300 items for the coming season.

In addition, LSI franchisees could attend an all-day Americans with Disabilities Act compliance workshop the day before the symposium at which they were briefed on new ADA recreation guidelines passed this year as well other proposals that are likely to be passed in 2011.

Buddy Rice was the keynote speaker on Tuesday and took franchisees through a series of exercises that helped them and their staffs identify the major touch points they have with customers.

LSI also honored Linda Profaizer for her longtime service to the RV park and campground industry. Profaizer is retiring at the end of this year as president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

LSI honors ARVC President and CEO Linda Profaizer, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Schutter Briefs Franchisees On Major Developments

Rob Schutter Jr., LSI’s chief operating officer, updated franchisees on major developments within the franchise. In a Power Point presentation, Schutter noted several “bright spots” for the campground industry in 2010:

  • Occupancies are up between 1% and 3%.
  • Extended stay is up 5%.
  • Revenues are up between 1% and 3%.
  • Fuel prices are holding steady.
  • Fifty-seven percent of campground owners are adding rentals.
  • Sixteen percent of all RV buyers are first-timers.

On the “down side,” however, Schutter pointed out that Gulf Coast business was off between 30% and 50% due to the disastrous BP oil spill while many campers continue to make spontaneous last second reservations and the industry as a whole should not expect true economic growth until 2013.

For LSI in particular, “same park” overall revenue among its 78 parks is up 5% in 2010. While site revenue was down 4%, rental income was up 15%, store revenue grew 15% and miscellaneous revenue was up 19%.

Customer satisfaction surveys, by the same token, offered mixed results. Schutter reported that overall customer satisfaction was down slightly, from a score of 8.20 in 2009 to 8.14 in 2010. Repeat customers, referrals and Internet bookings generated 90% of revenues at a majority of LSI parks.

Just 19% of respondents replied that they had a problem during their visits to Jellystone parks. However, he pointed out, 64% of those said their problems were not resolved.

Schutter outlined a number of LSI initiatives for 2011, including an increase in its marketing staff and a recreational park trailer program that it is launching in conjunction with Thor Industries Inc.

There are 10 prospective new member parks for 2011, he noted.

“Yogi Bear” Movie Marketing Will Tout Namesake’s Brand

Movie premiers Dec. 17

LSI and its franchisees expect the new “Yogi Bear” movie to have a significant impact on their business in the coming months and years as the movie reintroduces the cartoon character to an entirely new generation.

Thirty-three Warner Brothers/Jellystone Park partnership events are planned in major movie markets around the U.S. following the movie’s Dec. 17 release. Franchisees will provide costumed Yogi and Boo Boo bear costumes and will make appearances in exchange for promotional mentions. The events include TV appearances, parades and Christmas tree-lighting ceremonies. For example, a Chicago appearance will feature an autograph signing appearance with movie co-star Dan Aykroyd.

Other marketing developments include the recent release of a new strawberry/kiwi-flavored water beverage by Hint Water. The product will come in a Yogi Bear-shaped bottle. Franchisees were able to place orders for the new product at the symposium.

Franchisees also will receive a new Yogi Bear book published this year.

LSI Honors Franchisees at Awards Ceremony

A grand finale awards presentation on Nov. 11 took on an Academy Awards night feel as the audience viewed several trailers from the “Yogi Bear” movie and received a brief videotaped “shout out” from cast members Anna Faris, Tom Cavanaugh and T.J. Miller.

A large movie filmstrip adorned the area behind the stage and honorees walked a red carpet en route to accepting their awards.

Owners and management of the Jellystone Park in Luray, Va., winners of the Camp Resort of the Year award

Among the awards winners:

  • Franchise System Entrepreneur of the Year, Revenues Over $1 Million: Mill Run, Pa.
  • Franchise System Entrepreneur of the Year, Revenues Over $500,000: Canyon Lake, Texas
  • Franchise System Entrepreneur of the Year, Revenues Under $500,000: Milton, Pa.
  • Franchise System Operator of the Year, Parks Under 200 Sites: John Wagenhoffer, Emporia, Va.
  • Franchise System Operator of the Year, Parks Over 200 Sites: Bruce Bryant Management, Warrens, Wis.
  • Franchise System Inspection Leader, “The Carroll Award”: Tabor City, N.C.
  • Jim Webb Spirit Award, The Coleman Family: Tabor City, N.C.
  • Maple Leaf Award: Toronto, Ontario.
  • Franchise System Facility of the Year, Parks Under 200 Sites: Memphis, Tenn.
  • Franchise System Facility of the Year, Parks Over 200 Sites: Fremont, Ind.
  • Franchise System Camp Resort of the Year: Luray, Va.

2010 Special Recognition award recipients were:

  • Rookie of the Year – Owner: Garry & Debbie Ingram, Forsyth, Mo.
  • Rookie of the Year – Manager: Steve Stafford, Burleson, Texas.
  • Most Improved Inspection: Knightstown, Ind.
  • Facility Theming: Robert, La.
  • Landscaping: Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • Camp-Resort Store Design: Waller, Texas
  • Camp-Resort Comfort Station: North Hudson, N.Y.
  • Internet Web Site Design: Canyon Lake, Texas.
  • Brochure Design, Kingston: Nova Scotia.
  • Recreational Programming: North Java, N.Y.; Tabor City, N.C.; Branson, Mo.; Mill Run, Pa.; and Luray, Va.

Other Symposium Activities

The Yogi Advisory Council (YAC) met on Nov. 7 for a daylong meeting to discuss franchise issues independent from LSI management. Upcoming events for franchisees include Camp Training for new owners and operators, Jan. 24-28 in Milford, Ohio; and the Spring YAC meeting, March 7, the Spring Meeting for all franchisees on March 8 and the CARE (Caring About Recreation and Entertainment) meeting March 9-11, all in Covington, Ky.

New YAC officers are Gina Lenhard, chairwoman, North Hudson, N.Y.; Ray Aljets, vice chairman, Sioux Falls, S.C.; Jayne Cohen, Adventure Bound Camping, secretary; and Mike Ciero, treasurer, Millbrook, Ill. Keith Russell, Memphis, Tenn., was elected parliamentarian.

No date has been set for the 2011 symposium.

Private Campgrounds Keeping Pace with 2008 Traffic

September 30, 2009 by · Comments Off on Private Campgrounds Keeping Pace with 2008 Traffic 

Campground and RV park occupancies and revenues have largely kept pace with 2008 figures, despite the recession, according to an informal survey of parks by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the nation’s largest campground chain with more than 450 locations across the U.S. and Canada, was 1.1% ahead of 2008 occupancy figures systemwide through the end of September, while revenues were up 5.6%, according to Mike Gast, a company spokesman.

Meanwhile, Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises 73 Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, which are mostly located east of the Mississippi River, has experienced a 5% jump in revenues, although its systemwide occupancies have fallen slightly, largely because of wet weather in the Northeast, said Dean Crawford, LSI’s executive vice president.

“The campground and RV park business continues to be the most vibrant segment of the travel and tourism industry,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of ARVC, which represents commercially owned parks nationwide.

“Private parks have performed well in this economy,” Profaizer said, “because they are the most affordable vacation option, they increasingly offer fun family activities, and they are located in the most sought after destinations in the country.” Many private campgrounds and RV parks also offer unique accommodations, such as park model or site-built cabins, yurts, safari tents and teepees for people who don’t have their own RV or tent, but still want to enjoy a recreational experience in the Great Outdoors, she said.

Here’s a sampling of year-to-date business levels and occupancies reported by independently owned campgrounds and RV parks across the country:

  • Branson KOA in Branson, Mo.: Occupancies at this park are up 9% so far this year, although the park has seen a slight dip in lodging bookings. However, the park saw its average length of stay increase this year, from 4.5 nights to five nights, with more walk-ins than ever, said park owner Ralph Newell. “We had the best July and August we’ve ever had, due to our new jumping pillow and kids’ activities. Fall is looking better than last year.”
  • Buttonwood Campground in Mexico, Pa: This central Pennsylvania park reported a 3.2% increase in overnight campers through early September, compared to last year, with big gains in canoe and kayak rentals and cabin rentals. “We have about 170 open sites and cabins and have enjoyed an average weekend occupancy rate of 80% plus for the summer,” said park owner Dennis McFarland.
  • Country Acres Campground in Ravenna, Ohio: This park, located roughly 50 miles southeast of Cleveland, has seen a 9.6% increase in its overall camping business this year. “That is mostly due to an increase in seasonal campers, up 14%, and tenters, up 6%, while RV sites are pretty even to last year,” said park owner Anthony Palmentera, adding that he has seen an increase in the number of young couples in their 20s who are starting to camp with older pop-up trailers or large tents. Palmentera, however, has also seen a 7% decline in bookings for his 10 cabins and park models. 
  • Cross Creek RV Park in Lake Ozark, Mo. This park, which is open April 1 to Nov. 1, experienced an 83% increase in tent camping, a 73% increase in cabin rentals and a 56% increase in RV site usage during the past six months, compared to the same period last year, according to park hosts John and Wendy Peters.
  • Falcon Meadow RV Campground in Falcon, Colo. : This park, located 15 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, experienced a 4% gain in :occupancies during the summer months compared to the same period last year, said park owner Jim Ozburn.
  • Lawrence / Kansas City KOA in Lawrence, Kansas: This park, located 40 miles west of Kansas City, Kan., has seen an 11% increase in occupancy compared to last year. “During the holiday weekends, we had to turn people away because we had a completely full park,” said Harold Hays, KOA park manager.
  • Normandy Farms in Foxboro, Mass.: This park, which is situated about 22 miles southwest of Boston, experienced a 6.5% drop in occupancy in June compared to the same period last year, largely due to rainy weather in the Northeast. However, park occupancies were up 4.6% and 1.3% in July and August, respectively, while weekend bookings remain strong through October, said park spokeswoman Kristine Daniels.
  • Parkview Riverside RV Park in Concan, Texas: This Hill Country park has seen a 2-3% decline in year to date occupancies, largely because of the drought, which has caused the Rio Frio River to fall to levels that were too slow and too shallow for river tubing, said park owner Doug Shearer.
  • Premier RV Resort in Redding, Calif.: This park has seen a 4% increase in gross revenues during the first eight months of this year compared to last year. “We are seeing a nice increase in first-time visitors who are staying from two to four days while they are vacationing in the area,” said park owner Paul Williams, adding that the increase in demand from RVers has prompted the park to add 21 new pull through sites, which will be available in early October.
  • Sandy Pines in Hopkins, Mich.: This 2,220-site park, one of the largest RV resorts in country, saw a 7% increase in camping reservations this year compared to last year, with an 8% increase in rental cabins. “The economic conditions are not very good in Michigan, but camping is still an inexpensive activity for a family and they are doing what they can there with limited money,” said Max Gibbs, the park’s managing director. Sandy Pines is about 30 miles south of Grand Rapids.
  • The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, Calif.: 2009 occupancies are running slightly ahead of last year’s figures at this low desert park, which is located just outside of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, said Daniel Wright, the park’s general manager.
  • Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort and Water Playground in the Wisconsin Dells: This park reported close to a 10% gain in occupancies this year. However, overall park revenues declined nearly 7% as many of its park guests downsized to more affordable accommodations and campsites. “As we have eight types of outdoor lodging starting at $49 and six types of ‘bear-rific’ campsites starting at $19 for a family of four, there were plenty of alternatives to choose from,” said park spokesman Brent Gasser.