26 - January 2019 Woodall’s Campground Management Q&A CONVERSATIONS KOA Experiences Eight Consecutive Years of Growth, Continues to See Potential in the Future WCM: Woulditbeanexaggerationto say that KOA is in a good place right now,from every business perspective? Pat Hittmeier: Not at all. I think we are inagoodplace.Wehavealotofmomen- tum going, which tends to create a lot of good opportunities. It seems like every aspectofourbusinessishelpinganother part of our business, so they’re all sort of connected. As one part improves, and our marketing gets better, our revenue goes up and our budget for dollars we Billings,Mont.-based Kampgrounds ofAmer- ica Inc.’s (KOA) senior management team, in- cluding CEO Pat Hittmeier and Presi- dent Toby O’Rourke, paused in the wake of the national fran- chisor’s recent annual convention to answer some questions from Woodall’s Campground Management. The fol- lowing is an edited look at the conversation with Hittmeier and O’Rourke that, among other things, hits on the company’s eighth consecutive year of growth. in the process of being built. I think that’s another good indicator of the health of this market. Hittmeier: It’s quite unusual to see this muchnewconstructionactivity.Itisthe first time in 20 years that I have seen numbers like that for new construc- tions.That is a new aspect of the camp- ground and RV park sector that hasbeentakingplace.Iseemorecamp- grounds being built today than ever before and I suppose it is because with the margins, profit and demand, it makes more sense now. WCM: With about 600 attendees at your 2018 International Convention & Expo in FortWorth,Texas,it appears as though the energy that KOA has seen throughoutthepasteightyearscontin- ues to reflect in other areas as well. Hittmeier: I think attendance was as strong as it’s ever been, and it continues to grow.We get a good attendance from have to spend on marketing goes up. It’s ratcheting itself up all the time. I think we have our technology on track now, which has taken a while, but it’s in a good place and I expect our technology to really support our growth in the future. WCM: 2018 marks eight years of con- tinued growth for KOA in both revenue andcampernights,andalongwiththat the number of parks has grown to 515. For years it would seem like KOA would approach that 500 mark, then there would be some attri- tion.Doyouanticipate seeing the number of parks continuing to grow in 2019? Toby O’Rourke: Yes. We had healthy con- version numbers in 2018 and a few more in the works that are set to close by the end of the year. The other positive thing I think thatweseehappening is people are building campgrounds. We signed four new construction contracts this year — and that is on top of nine others that already have franchise agreements.That’s13newKOAsthatare Pat Hittmeier and Toby O’Rourke KOA’s convention expo was filled with a variety of unique ac- commodations, including this bell-shaped tent from Lotus Belle.