WOODALLSCM.com January 2019 - 27 our franchisees and they bring their managers and extended family.We also have been seeing our expo hall fill up. When things are good it just multi- plies and magnifies itself. It really is a catalyst for more growth. You reach more people, you communicate better, we have more product sales and the world turns and things look good. I don’t see it falling back in the next 10 or 15 years. It might have a dip or two, but the future looks bright in camping. WCM: We hear conversations about whether there is enough inventory out thererightnow,enoughplacesforindi- viduals to camp, especially short-term sites. The growth KOA is experiencing plays into that conversation. KOA is stepping up,right? Hittmeier: I think so. I hear that a lot and I think it’s a pretty broad statement when you say there’s no place to camp or that we have to do something about theissue.Ithinkitreallycomesdownto the fact that there are no specific types of sites that people are looking for or there’s no place to camp during a specific holiday weekend. I think, in general, there’s quite a bit of inventory in North America. It’s just that peak season period where it becomes difficult to find just the right full hook-up, pull-through, 50-amp site that’s just the right length, that kind of thing. So, when you broad-brush it and say there’s no place to camp, I don’t think that’s a very accurate statement. WCM: On the expo floor this year there were park models and what lookedlikealmostanexplosionoftents, from tipis to bell-shaped tents and so on. It just continues to highlight the impactthatglampingishavingatyour parks. O’Rourke: We definitely have seen more people looking for lodging options,whetherthatbecabinsorthese unique accommodations. It is all being driven off of customer interest and people looking for unique experiences. WeparticularlyseethatwithMillennials and Millennial families, and our park owners are well-positioned to deliver that unique experience. It just takes our parks another step-up from others. We currently have 85 parks that have some form of unique accommodation and that number is growing. WCM: The term“glamping”has been a buzzword for years,but it appears to be getting some legs now. Hittmeier: Well, it definitely didn’t go away. The first time I heard it was about 15yearsagoandIthoughtitwasn’tgoing to last, but it hasn’t gone away and it’s becoming more and more mainstream. I saw two ads recently. One for Cali- fornia tourism and the ad ends with a glamping tent and another one I think was a Bud Light ad and it takes place in a glamping tent. So, you’re just seeing these things more all the time and I think it’s a good segment for us to deliver a service. WCM: Glamping can be hard to define for the campground sector. No oneseemstobequitesurewhatglamp- ingisatthispoint.Whatdoesglamping look like at a KOA park? O’Rourke: We’ve become pretty involved in glamping over the past year and our takeaway has been that it’s really broad and undefined. So, it could be everything from a tree house in someone’s vineyard to the more full- scale operations that we are seeing pop up around the country. For us at KOA, we think we can deliver glamping really well because we already operate in the outdoors, which is a key component of glamping. Erik Gothberg, our vice president of com- panypropertiesdevel- opment, likes to talk about how it’s a natu- ral conflict between luxury and rustic, and we can deliver upon both of those really well. So what we are talking about with our owners is think- ing about that sense of place on their campground, about where you can set those sites apart from, maybe, the RV sites and everything else. Maybe put your parking elsewhere, so you’re really creating that sense of experience and delivering upon all those details that wouldcomeintothatglamorpartofthe definition. WCM: Does glamping move the campground sector more toward the upscale side of things? O’Rourke: I don’t know, it could, but I think there’s lots of different ways to camp and that’s what we always come back to at KOA. There’s everything from basic tenting, to pop-up trailers, to RVs, to cabins, to unique accommodations. I think it just broadens the spectrum of waystocamp,tothebenefitofeveryone. WCM: So,there is no part of camping that glamping doesn’t include? Hittmeier: Well, I think that providing a glamping experience on a camp- ground requires a little different kind of a twist to creating the atmosphere that campgroundownersarenotnecessarily in tune to just yet. Some have it and some don’t, but you have to follow through with the kind of experience that contrasts the outdoor experience with a more boutique hotel experience. That takes a little bit of creativity and a little bit of design capabilities that we needtobeabletopresenttoourowners. KOAhastohelpthemcreatethatatmos- phereandwhentheydo,Ithinkit’sanice KOAcontinuestobrandparks,likeatthe Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch, which is now a resort.