b'2021LSI SYMPOSIUMnBY JEFF CRIDERLSIHighlightsSignificant Growth, Honors Numerous Parks at Annual SymposiumLeisure Systems Inc. (LSI) hosted hundreds of Yogi Bears Jellystone Park Camp-Resort franchisees at its 2021 Symposium & Trade Show from Nov. 7-10 at the North-ern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Ky. To kick off the symposium, LSIs CEO and President Rob Schutter highlighted up-dates and trends and focused on how the system has fared over the past year. Owners and managers had much to celebrate with system revenues up 47% and growth of 40% or more in all categories of park performance. The Jellystone Park brand enjoyed a sharp increase in new campers, 45% of whom had never stayed atLSIs expo offered park owners a chance to try out a a Jellystone Park location before, Schutter reported. The system has also been rec- number of different products before they bought them. ognized from top-tier business magazines, including Entrepreneur and Franchise Business Review. What an incredible year. Its amazing what you have all accomplished. We expe- I believe customers are transactional. They come and go, but fans never leave, rienced unprecedented demand over the past year, Jon Burek, executive vice pres- Cole said. If you create an unforgettable experience, you will be unstoppable, and ident of LSI, said in his opening remarks. everyone will talk about you. LSI franchises more than 75Cole told park operators about a couple of Savannah Banana fans who drove 40 Jon Burek, executive vice president of LSI, presents hisJellystone Park locations acrosshours from Utah to see the team perform.observations on Jellystone Parks performance. the U.S. and Canada, althoughWhat type of experience would you have to deliver to encourage people to drive Canadianfranchiseowners40 hours to your park? he asked. were unable to attend the Sym- Its a provocative question, particularly for franchisees who take pride in delivering posium because of the COVID- unique family camping experiences. But creating fans can pay big dividends long related border closure.term. Myra Jimison, LSIs directorThink of long-term fans over short-term profits, Cole said. of finance, said total park rev- He provided a few examples of experiences that create fans out of customers. enues were up 47%, while storeEvery person that buys a ticket from us, we call them and thank them, he said. revenues increased by 41% andWe have players deliver roses to little girls in the crowd. Its those little moments ancillary revenues from waterthat matter. So, how do you create them? attractions and other activitiesCole challenged park operators to eliminate friction points between themselves were up 51%.and their guests. Camper nights increased by 12% with weekday nights up 8% and weekend nightsPut yourself in your customers up 18%. Rental unit nights were up by a whopping 40%.shoes and find a way to eliminate Meanwhile, seasonal sites were down by 17%, reflecting the rising demand forfrictionintheexperience.Dont overnight campsites, which command higher rates than seasonal sites.focus on the competitors. Focus on Renata Evans, LSIs vice president of corporate retail, said Jellystone Park storeyourself. What are the friction points revenue increased dramatically, with sales driven by new merchandise, includingin your industry?more than 400 new items in 2021, as well as the large numbers of first-time campersHe encouraged park operators to who had never purchased Yogi Bear-themed merchandise before. The typical Jelly- experiment constantly. To prove stone Park store generated $223,000 in sales in 2021.the value of experimenting and tak-While the flood of first-time guests has resulted in unprecedented sales for Jelly- ing risks, he asked park operatorsSteve Stafford, center, general manager of the stone Park operators, the Yogi Bear-themed camp-resort network is also expanding.which baseball player had the mostNorth Texas Jellystone Park in Burleson, chats with Three more campgrounds joined the Jellystone Park franchise network in 2021,career strikeouts in history.a vendor during LSIs tradeshow. including a park in Carver, Mass., owned by Northgate Resorts of Grand Rapids,Only one park operator knew it Mich.; one in Mansfield, Penn., owned by Four Points RV Resorts of Lake Charles,was Reggie Jackson. Few people remember his failures, Cole said. What they do re-La.; and the former Mark Twain Landing in Monroe City, Mo., which is owned bymember are his successes, like hitting three consecutive home runs during game six The Jenkins Organization of Houston, Texas.of the 1977 world series. Four new locations are expected to join the Jellystone Park franchise network inPark operators, Cole said, must take chances and try new things. 2022, including parks in Augusta, Maine; Groesbeck, Texas; Hurricane, Utah; andIf you want to create fans, he said, you have to invent and create new experi-Lake Hartwell, Ga.ences. Trent Hershenson, LSIs vice president of marketing, said visitation to the fran- LSI also presented its annual awards to exemplary Yogi Bears Jellystone Park chise networks newly designed website at JellystonePark.com has also generated anCamp-Resorts franchisees throughout the U.S. and Canada. increased interest, with user sessions up 28% compared to last summer with newSome of the key winners are listed below:user sessions comprising 74% of website visits in 2021.Camp-Resort of the Year: Caledonia, Wis. This is LSIs highest honor overall. It is The demographics of Jellystone Park guests are heavily weighted toward affluentgiven to the Camp-Resort location whose facilities and operations exceed all the families with young children. During the peak season, 54% of Jellystone Park guestsJellystone Park standards. Recipients must be Pinnacle Club members, meaning they reporthouseholdincomesofrate 95% or higher on the annual LSI assessment of their facilities and operations. $100,000 or more and 23% of guestsAward recipients also must have achieved strong growth in business, implemented have household incomes exceedingsustained improvements, and be leaders in the industry. $150,000. Thirty-four percent haveRegional Camp-Resorts of the Year: This is LSIs highest regional honor. It is incomesbetween$50,000andawarded to the four Camp-Resort locations based on the same criteria as the overall $99,000, with 12% having incomesCamp-Resort of the Year: below $50,000. Eastern Region: Harrisville, Pa. While demand remained strong, Central Region: Caledonia, Wis. many Jellystone Park guests held off Southern Region: Golden Valley, N.C. makingreservationsuntilshortly Western Region: Sioux Falls, S.D. before they planned to stay. Fifty- Jesse Cole, the founder of the Savannah Bananas,Operator of the Year: Chris and Michelle Barber, Indianapolis East, Ind., in the four percent of peak season guestsgave the keynote at LSIs Symposium. category for locations with less than 225 sites, and Jennifer DiToro, Woodridge, N.Y., booked their reservations less thanin the category for locations with more than 225 sites. two months in advance, while 39% booked theirs less than one month in advance.Jim Webb Spirit Award: Ray Aljets, Sioux City, S.D. This award, named after Jim Jesse Cole, the founder of the Savannah Bananas, gave the keynote at the con- Webb, who played a major role in the success of the Jellystone Park franchise network vention. Known worldwide for its hilarious and wide-ranging antics, the Savannah,in its formative years and beyond, is presented to the franchisee who best embodies Ga.-based team plays its own version of baseball, and its fans cant get enough of it.the same tireless spirit, enthusiasm and commitment to Jellystone Park locations Entertain always! Cole said early on in his remarks to Jellystone Park franchisees.that Webb displayed. Most companies dont think they are in the entertainment business.Chairmans Award: Randy Isaacson, Caledonia, Wis. This award is presented once But when you stop to consider what Jellystone Park operators provide, its enter- every five years to a franchise operator who has had the greatest influence on others tainment more than it is camping. The challenge, Cole said, is to make the campingwithin the franchise. This individual, through effort, deeds and by example, demon-experience even better. Parks can do that by creating experiences that are so uniquestrates what it means to be a true leader. and unexpected that they convert their guests into fans who keep coming back. Next years Symposium will be held Nov. 6-9 in Charleston, S.C. WCM 20 January 2022Woodalls Campground Magazine'