Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 324 - April 2017 Woodall’s Campground Management KampgroundsofAmericaInc.(KOA) and its chief franchise operations offi- cer, Toby O’Rourke, received national recognition in March, with KOA win- ning one of only 38 2017 PR Week AwardsnationwideandAdAgenaming O’Rourke to its“40 Under 40” list. The PR Week award went to KOA and its public relations partner, Alli- son+Partners, March 16 in New York City. KOA got the award for its use of analytics in the 2016 edition of the North American Camping Report (for details on the newly released 2017 edition, see page 16).The results of the annual report are used to guide KOA’s PR and marketing efforts and are also shared with the outdoor industry in order to boost the outdoor sector. All award entries were judged by a panel of more than 100 top public r elationsprofessionals,accordingtoPR Week. “The Kampgrounds of America KOA,O’RourkeReceiveNationalRecognitionfromNationalMagazines The 54th Annual Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) Convention and Trade Show turned in yet another successful event, officials said, as it attracted nearly 200 owners and operators from more than 100 campgrounds. Held March 15-19 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wis., the event also featured nearly 180 vendors and some 50 educational seminars by about 40 speakers, WACO Executive Director Lori Severson reported. “It’s always great to get together, espe- cially this time of year when everybody’s anxious to get started on the season,” Severson said. “And it’s always something to come to this event and get some great ideas that you can go back home and put to work right away. Sure, we had a lot of sem- inars on technology and all that, but more than anything it’s the people asking each other for information. ‘What reservation sys- tem do you use? What works for you guys? What doesn’t work?’ It’s those types of con- versations that really make the difference.” For the first two-and-a-half days, the con- ference featured education seminars on a wide variety of topics including “Outdoor Weather Safety,” “Making Your Smartphone Smarter,” “Low & No-Cost Marketing Promotions,” and “Standing Up For Yourself: Handling Employees, Guests & Public Officers.” Opened by members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band, the trade show was so big it spilled out of the convention center and into the hallways and lobby of the Holiday Inn. During the conference, several digni- taries were recognized, including state Sec- retary of Agriculture Ben Brancel and state Sen. Patrick Testin, and several individuals were recognized for their contributions to WACO: Jason Culotta of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce organization and Adam Malsack, a WACO board member and owner of Lake Arrowhead Campground in Montello, Wis., for their work on rewriting the state campground code; Jim Kaplanek of the state Department of Health Services for his work on educating campgrounds on the new code; and Jim Button, a WACO board member and owner of Evergreen Campsites and Resort in Wild Rose, Wis., for his lobbying efforts on behalf of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). In addition, Evergreen Campsites, which has been operated by the Button family for well more 35 years, was inducted into the WACO Hall of Fame. ARVC President Paul Bambei addressed attendees at one point, while other confer- ence events included two meals cooked by celebrity “grillologists” Mad Dog & Merrill and a silent and live auction with Gilbert Brown — the former nose tackle for the Green Bay Packers whose foundation has become a favorite charity of WACO members — and former teammate Santana Dotson serving as comedic auctioneers. In addition, several networking events took place, such as a trip to nearby Bull- heads Bar & Grill — affiliated with River’s Edge Campground — for a Trivia Contest with Bud Styer, a WACO board member, owner of Smokey Hollow Campground and president of campground consulting firm Bud Styer & Associates, as well as a “Best Ideas” cracker barrel discussion with Malsack. Among the best ideas presented were hosting the weekly managers meeting in the rental units so as to inspect its cleanliness and upkeep, partnering with a forestry class for tree and limb maintenance and offering free seasonal rental for campers who recruit three other seasonal renters. Scott Kollock, WACO President and owner of Vista Royalle Campground in Bancroft, was understandably proud of his association’s conference, citing its seminars and trade show as popular draws for the attendees. “Every year we have great educational seminars that go on for basically three days,” he said. “The trade show is second- to-none in the nation, as far as I’m concerned, with the number of vendors we get here. We really try to promote that. We in turn try to help them by encouraging owners to buy from them at the show. Every- thing combines into what we feel is the best show in the country.” With the long Wisconsin winter being nearly over and spring right around the corner, attendees said the timing of the con- ference is such that it serves as a rallying point for the coming camping season, and knowledge gained from the seminars and cracker barrel discussions are invaluable, added Diane Stanek, owner of Lake Dubay Shores Campground in Knowlton, Wis. “Yes, definitely. It generates some enthusiasm and some possibilities of other things that you want to try in your camp- ground. Of course, they always tell you what works for them and what didn’t work for them and what might work in your campground. Every campground is so different. We’re so diversified and yet we’re all united,” Stanek said, adding that she has come to the WACO conference every year since she and her husband bought their 200-site campground in 2001. Rob Brinkmeier and his wife attended the WACO conference as the new owners of Merry Mac’s Campground in Merrimac. The two had been seasonal campers at Merry Mac’s for the past four years, and when owner Pat Rehwinkel heard they were in the market to purchase a camp- ground, he was looking to retire. “We just came to the conference to get some training on everything. The big thing was the pool school for me and food safety for my wife. Also, we’ll get a lot of the items here for the campground and the store,” Brinkmeier said, adding he’d like to spend at least a year getting his feet under him before he makes any major changes to the 40-acre campground in between Madison and Wisconsin Dells. Three men seated at one table were catching up with each other in between seminars — including John Gamble of Log Cabin Resort & Campground in Trego, Pete Ludwig of Whitetail Bluff in Cassville, and Joe Walter of O’Neil Creek Campground in Chippewa Falls — and all mentioned they’re forecasting a good season of camping this year. In fact, Ludwig — in his first year owning a campground — mentioned that not only is he going to expand his 140-site park by adding another 80 full-hookup, 50-amp sites spread out over the next four years or so, but he also will be installing Wi-Fi service throughout the property. On top of that, Ludwig is currently building a second campground, called Coconut Cove, across the Mississippi River from Dubuque, Iowa. Like the others, Walter is already busy taking reservations for the season and, with times as good as they are, also is making huge investments to improve his 380-site park. “Our big addition this summer is the new store. We’ve been building that all winter long, so we’re real excited about that,” he said. —Rick Kessler WCM ‘It’s always great to get together, especially this time of year when everybody’s anxious to get started on the sea- son,’ said Executive Director Lori Severson.The 54th an- nual event included 50 seminars and nearly 180 vendors. Nearly 200 people from more than 100 campgrounds at- tended the 54th Annual Wisconsin Association of Camp- ground Owners (WACO) Convention and Trade Show. CampgroundOwners,VendorsFlockto WACO’s Conference and Trade Show The event featured nearly 180 vendors. Jim Button Adam Malsack and Scott Kollock program was a great effort,” said one judge. “Solid data insights led to positive business results.” O’Rourkewonrecognitionfrom Ad Age for her efforts on behalf of KOA. “Those yellow KOA signs are ubiquitous on American road trips, but it took Toby O’Rourke to turnthemintoagrowthbusiness,” the magazine reported. The significant national award honors those under age 40 who have made significant contribu- tions to the success of their companies through innovation and extraordinary leadership. O’Rourke joined KOA in 2011 as its digital marketing director. She quickly transitioned the company’s traditional print marketing to a targeted digital marketing effort. Record financial and performance results followed, and she was promoted to senior vice president of marketing. Fourmorerecordyearsfollowedand in early 2016 she was promoted to her current role, where she helped lead KOA to the best year in its 55-year history—andKOAiscurrentlyontrack for yet another record year in 2017. O’Rourke also led her KOA team in repositioning300ofthecompany’s500 locations into new sub-brands as well as refining KOA’s “What’s Behind The Yellow Sign?” advertising campaign. Her public relations team also worked withhertoincreasePRimpressionsfor KOA by more than 128%. WCM KOA’s Toby O’Rourke (from left) and Mike Gast receive the PR Week award with Jeannie Horner and Marcus Gamo of Allison+Partners.