The Campground Owners Expo (COE) is set to kick off its first-ever event on Wednesday (Dec. 15) in Branson, Mo., at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. The event is set to run through Saturday.

Lori Severson, co-owner of the expo, owner of Severson & Associates and executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO), noted to WOODALLSCM.com (WCM) that the expo was continuing to take in attendee registrations. At the end of last week, she said that 100 vendors were set to take part in the expo, with around 250 attendees registered.

Bud Styer, owner of Bud Styer & Associates, is working with Severson to put the show together.

The Branson show will include daily educational seminars covering specific topics, such as marketing, social media and campground rental accommodations, with specifics on park model RVs, cabins, yurts, trailers and other sessions.

Another key component of the conference — and one of the reasons that the COE choose Branson at Christmastime — was to expose attendees to the entertainment business around the city and how it relates to operating a campground. December tradeshow attendees, in fact, will receive backstage access to a Branson stage show and a local bowling alley, which will provide crossover learning opportunities involving marketing, price management and employee management, which park operators can apply to their own businesses.

“We are going to Andy B’s Bowl Social where they will take us through running a full kitchen (breaking it down to several snack shacks), operating a tiki bar, expanding to bowling, escape rooms, karaoke rooms, game centers and shopping, and working with family and staffing for all of these events,” Severson explained.

Severson told WCM that the Presleys’ Country Jubilee is actually going to give attendees a backstage tour.

Lori Severson

Lori Severson

“They are an Ozark family that started working together and began performing in caves and campgrounds,” Severson highlighted. “I think it’s so critical to hear firsthand stories from other industries that share some of the same issues that we do. When you think about this year specifically, I can’t tell you the number of campground owners that I’ve heard from that have just said, ‘I cannot get any help. I’ve had to count on my family.’ The Presley’s have been doing this very thing for over a hundred years. I think it would be fun to ask them some questions like, How does the whole family thing work for you? What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you have had to get over?

“Other topics we may cover with them include cash flow, How do they fill their seats? That could help park owners think about new ways to fill their campsites,” she continued. “There will be several of these types of activities that attendees can choose from and go behind the scenes and learn more about these different industries.”

Severson said that she hopes attendees recognize how to gather ideas from not just the traditional way of learning but from how other industries operate.

During the expo, there will also be a unique beach space provided by Commercial Recreation Specialist, which Severson said should be a neat area for attendees to relax. Other major sponsors of the event, like Coverra Insurance and Blackhawk Bank are also going to be offering different things in their respective beach areas. Coverra is set to serve Bloody Mary’s, while Blackhawk will be providing lemonade and conducting trivia.

“The whole idea is to create this space where attendees can come and just have fun,” said Severson.

While the agenda will keep attendees pretty busy throughout the event, Severson stressed that there will be plenty of chances for attendees to go out and explore Branson.

For more information about the COE visit www.campgroundownersassociation.com or call 608-525-2323.